John 7:35
Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?
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(35) Whither will he go that we shall not find him?—He had said in John 7:33, “I go unto Him that sent Me,” and in Joh 7:28. He had declared that they knew not Him that sent Him. There is, then, no contradiction between these verses, and their question, strange as it seems, is but another instance of their total want of power to read any meaning which does not lie upon the surface. He is going away, and they will not be able to find Him, and they can only think of distant lands where other Jews had gone, as of Babylon, or of Egypt, or of Greece. Will He join some distant colony of Jews where they cannot follow Him? They have no thought of His death and return to His Father’s home.

Will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?—Better, Will He go unto the dispersion among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles? The word for “dispersion” (διασπορά, diaspora) occurs again, in the New Testament, only in the opening verses of the Epistle of St. James and of the First Epistle of St. Peter, and is in both these passages represented by the English word “scattered.” The only other instance of its occurrence in the Bible, is in the Greek version (LXX.) of Psalm 146:2. (In Authorised version, Psalm 147:2, “He gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.”) It is also found in 2 Maccabees 1:27, “Gather those together that are scattered from us.” (Comp. Jos. Wars, vii. 3, § 3; Ant. xii. 1-3; 15:3, § 1.) The abstract word is used like “the circumcision,” e.g., as a comprehensive title for the individuals included in it. These were the Jews who did not dwell within the limits of the Holy Land, but spreading from the three chief centres, Babylonia, Egypt, and Syria, were found in every part of the civilised world. The Babylonian Diaspora owed its origin to the vast number of exiles who preferred to remain in the positions they had acquired for themselves in their new homes, and did not return to Palestine after the Captivity. They were by far the greater part of the nation, and were scattered through the whole extent of the Persian empire. Of the origin of the Egyptian Diaspora, we find traces in the Old Testament, as in Jeremiah 41:17; Jeremiah 42:18. Their numbers were greatly increased under Alexander the Great and his successors, so that they extended over the whole country (Jos. Ant. xvi. 7, §2). Much less numerous than their brethren of Babylonia, and regarded as less pure in descent, they have, through their contact with Western thought and the Greek language, left a deeper and wider influence on after ages. To them we owe the LXX. translation of the Old Testament Scriptures, and the Alexandrian school of Jewish philosophers, two of the most important influences which first prepared the way for, and afterwards moulded the forms of, Christianity. The Syrian Diaspora is traced by Josephus (Ant. vii. 3, § 1) to the conquests of Seleucus Nicator (B.C. 300). Under the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, they spread over a wider area, including the whole of Asia Minor, and thence to the islands and mainland of Greece. It was less numerous than either that of Babylonia or that of Egypt, but the synagogues of this Diaspora formed the connecting links between the older and the newer revelation, and were the first buildings in which Jesus was preached as the Messiah.

But though thus scattered abroad, the Jews of the Diaspora regarded Jerusalem as the common religious centre, and maintained a close communion with the spiritual authorities who dwelt there. They sent liberal offerings to the Temple, and were represented by numerous synagogues in the city, and flocked in large numbers to the chief festivals. (Comp. Notes on Acts 2:9-11.) The Diaspora, then, was a network of Judaism, spreading to every place of intellectual or commercial importance, and linking it to Jerusalem, and a means by which the teaching of the Old Testament was made familiarly known, even in the cities of the Gentiles. “Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day” (Acts 15:21).

Such was the dispersion among the Gentiles of which these rulers of the Jews speak. They ask the question in evident scorn. “Will this Rabbi, leaving Jerusalem, the centre of light and learning, go to those who dwell among the heathen, and become a teacher of the very heathen themselves?” We feel that there is some fact which gives point to their question, and is not apparent in the narrative. We shall find this, it may be, if we remember that He Himself had before this crossed the limits of the Holy Land, and had given words to teach and power to save, in the case of the Greek woman who was a Syro-Phœnician by nation. (Comp. Notes on Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30.) More fully still do the words find their interpretation in the after history. They are, like the words of Caiaphas (John 11:49-51), an unconscious prophecy, and may be taken as summing up in one sentence the method of procedure in the earliest mission-work of the church. The great high-roads of the Diaspora were those which the Apostles followed. Every apostolic church of the Gentiles may be said to have grown out of a synagogue of the Jews. There is a striking instance of the irony of history, in the fact that the very words of these Jews of Palestine are recorded in the Greek language, by a Jew of Palestine, presiding over a Christian church, in a Gentile city.

For “Gentiles,” the margin reads “Greeks,” and this is the more exact translation, but the almost constant New Testament use of the word is in distinction from Jews, and our translators felt rightly that this is better conveyed to the reader by the word “Gentiles.” (Comp. Notes on Mark 7:26 and Acts 11:20.) We must be careful to avoid the not unfrequent mistake of rendering the word as though it were “Hellenist,” which means a Græcised Jew. This is to miss the point of their scorn, which is in the idea of His teaching those outside the pale of Judaism.

John 7:35-36. Then said the Jews, Whither will he go — Jesus spake concerning his death, resurrection, and ascension, but the Jews did not understand him; for they imagined that he threatened to leave them, and go among their brethren of the dispersion. Will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles — Greek, των Ελληνων, of the Greeks, that is, the Jews scattered abroad in different nations, Greece particularly; and teach the Gentiles Τους Ελληνας, the Greeks, the heathen themselves. By Greeks, we are here to understand idolatrous Gentiles, and not Hellenists, or Jews, who used the Greek language; for these were the dispersed among them. There is, therefore, says Dr. Doddridge, a sarcasm “in these words, beyond what commentators have observed. They insinuate that if he was to go into foreign countries, to address himself to the Jews there, who might be supposed not so well instructed as those who lived in Judea and at Jerusalem, he would not be able to make any proselytes, even among these; but would be constrained to apply himself to the ignorant and stupid Gentiles, to seek disciples among them; which, to be sure, appeared to these haughty scorners one of the most infamous circumstances that could be imagined, and most incompatible with the character of the true Messiah.” What manner of saying is this — This saying is unintelligible and absurd: for though his meaning be, that he is going to preach among the Gentiles, surely it is possible for us to follow him thither.

7:31-36 The discourses of Jesus convinced many that he was the Messiah; but they had not courage to own it. It is comfort to those who are in the world, but not of it, and therefore are hated by it and weary of it, that they shall not be in it always, that they shall not be in it long. Our days being evil, it is well they are few. The days of life and of grace do not last long; and sinners, when in misery, will be glad of the help they now despise. Men dispute about such sayings, but the event will explain them.The dispersed among the Gentiles - To the Jews scattered among the Gentiles, or living in distant parts of the earth. It is well known that at that time there were Jews dwelling in almost every land. There were multitudes in Egypt, in Asia Minor, in Greece, in Rome, etc., and in all these places they had synagogues. The question which they asked was whether he would leave an ungrateful country, and go into those distant nations and teach them.

Gentiles - In the original, Greeks. All those who were not Jews were called Greeks, because they were chiefly acquainted with those pagans only who spake the Greek language. It is remarkable that Jesus returned no answer to these inquiries. He rather chose to turn off their minds from a speculation about the place to which he was going, to the great affairs of their own personal salvation.

35, 36. Whither will he go, &c.—They cannot comprehend Him, but seem awed by the solemn grandeur of His warning. He takes no notice, however, of their questions. The Jews, not at all believing the Divine nature of Christ, notwithstanding all that Christ had said, and all the miracles he had wrought, are at a mighty loss to conclude what our Saviour spake of, and whither he would go; they thought he could go no where in the land of Jewry, but they should hear of him, and be able to come where he was; they conclude therefore that he would go into some pagan country. In the Greek it is, Will he go into the dispersion of the Grecians? There were two most famous dispersions, of which we read in history. The first was of the Jews, of which we read in sacred history, in the captivities of Assyria, whither the ten tribes were carried, 2 Kings 17:6; and Babylon, whither the two tribes were carried, 2 Kings 24:14. And that of the Grecians by the Macedonians; when also many of the Jews were dispersed by Alexander the Great, and his successors. Peter directeth his Epistle to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 1 Peter 1:1. And James directs his Epistle to the twelve tribes scattered abroad. They fancy that our Saviour would go into some of these places, and preach; by which means the Gentiles would be taught the mysteries of the Jewish religion, which was what above all things they were impatient of hearing; and yet had reason from the prophecies of the Old Testament to fear, viz. their own rejection, and the receiving in of the Gentiles, which afterward came to pass, Romans 11:15.

Then said the Jews among themselves,.... That is, the unbelieving, scoffing Jews; it may be the officers, at least some of them, that were sent to take him:

whither will he go that we shall not find him? what distant, or obscure part of the world will he betake himself to, and there hide himself, that so he cannot be found?

will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles? or Greeks; and so may design the Jews, who were scattered abroad in the times of the Grecian monarchy, under the successors of Alexander, and particularly Antiochus, in distinction from the Babylonish dispersion; or the strangers scattered through Pontus Galatia, &c. to whom Peter writes, 1 Peter 1:1. The Arabic version renders it, "the sect of the Greeks" by which the Hellenistic Jews seem to be meant: or the Jews in general, wherever, and by whomsoever scattered, who might be thought to be more ignorant than the Jews in Judea, and therefore more easily to be imposed upon: hence, in a flouting manner, they inquire, whether he will go to those when he is rejected by them. The Syriac and Ethiopic versions read, "will he go into the countries, or country of the Gentiles"; into Heathen countries, not to the Jews there, but to the Gentiles themselves:

and teach the Gentiles? suggesting, that he was more fit to be a teacher of them, than of the Jews, and might meet with more encouragement and success among them, who would not be able to detect him.

Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the {h} dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?

(h) Literally, to the dispersion of the Gentiles or Greeks, and under the name of the Greeks he refers to the Jews who were dispersed among the Gentiles.

John 7:35-36. An insolent and scornful supposition, which they themselves, however, do not deem probable (therefore the question is asked with μή), regarding the meaning of words to them so utterly enigmatical. The bolder mode of teaching adopted by Jesus, His universalistic declarations, His partial non-observance of the law of the Sabbath, would lead them, perhaps, to associate with the unintelligible statement a mocking thought like this, and all the more because much interest was felt among the heathen, partly of an earnest kind, and partly (comp. St. Paul in Athens) arising from curiosity merely, regarding the oriental religions, especially Judaism; see Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 110 f. ed. 3.

πρὸς ἑαυτούς] the same as πρὸς ἀλλήλους, yet so that the conversation was confined to one party among the people, to the exclusion of the others. See Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 6. 20.

οὗτος] contemptuously, that man!

ὅτι] not to be arbitrarily supplemented by a supposed λέγων put before it, or in some other way (Buttmaim, N. T. Gr. p. 305 [E. T. p. 358]); but the simple because: “Where will this man go, because, or seeing, that we are not (according to his words) to find him?” It thus states the reason why the ποῦ is unknown.

εἰς τ. διασπ. τ. Ἑλλ.] to the dispersion among the Greeks. Comp. Winer, p. 176 [E. T. p. 234]; and upon the thing referred to, Schneckenburger, N. T. Zeitgesch. p. 94 ff. The subjects of the διασπορά are the Jews,[268] who lived beyond Palestine dispersed among the heathen, and these latter are denoted by the genitive τῶν Ἑλλήν. Comp. 1 Peter 1:1, and Steiger and Huther thereon. Differently in 2Ma 1:27; LXX. Psalm 146:2. The abstract διασπορά is simply the sum-total of the concretes, like περιτομή and other words. See 2Ma 1:27. Ἕλληνες in the N. T. invariably means the heathen, Gentiles, not the Hellenists (Graecian Jews), so even in John 12:20; and it is wrong, therefore, to understand τῶν Ἑλλήν. of the latter, and to take these words as the subject of the διασπορά (Scaliger, Lightfoot, Hammond, B. Crusius, Ammon), and render διδάσκ. τ. Ἑλλ.: “teach the Hellenists.” The thought is rather: “Will Jesus go to the Jews scattered among the Gentiles, in order to unite there with the Gentiles, and to become their teacher?” This was really the course of the subsequent labours of the apostles.

John 7:36. τίς ἐστιν] Their scornful conjecture does not even satisfy themselves; for that they should seek Him, and not be able to come to Him—they know not what the assertion can mean (τίς ἐστιν, κ.τ.λ.).

[268] Not the heathen, as if ἡ διασπ. τ. Ἑλλ. were the same as Dispersi Graeci (Chrysostom and his followers, Rupertius, Maldonatus, Hengstenberg, and most). Against this Beza well says: “Vix conveniret ipsis indigenis populis nomen διασπορᾶς.”

John 7:35. This was quite unintelligible to the Jews, εἶπον οὖνἐλθεῖν. The only meaning they could put upon His words was that, finding no reception among the Jews of Judaea and Galilee, He intended to go to the Jews of the Dispersion and teach them and the Greeks among whom they lived. The διασπορὰ τῶν Ἑλλήνων does not mean, as Chrysostom and Euthymius suppose, the Gentiles διὰ τὸ διεσπάρθαι πανταχοῦ, but the Jews dispersed among the Gentiles, see Deuteronomy 28:25, Jeremiah 34:17, 1 Peter 1:1, Jam 1:1 (cf. Schürer, Div. II., vol. ii., and Morrison, Jews under Roman Rule). But the following clause, καὶ διδάσκειν τοὺς Ἕλληνας, indicates that they supposed He might teach the Greeks themselves: thus ignorantly anticipating the course Christianity took; what seemed unlikely and impossible to them became actual.—τίς ἐστιν οὗτος ὁ λόγος … The saying has impressed itself on their memory, though they find it unintelligible. How they could not go where He could, they could not fathom. Cf. Peter’s “Lord, why can I not follow Thee now?” and the whole conversation, chap. John 13:33 to John 14:6, “No one comes to the Father but through me”.

35. Then said the Jews] The Jews therefore said, i.e. in consequence of what Christ had said, shewing that it is to the official representatives of the nation that His words are addressed.

Whither will he go, &c.] Better, Where does this fellow intend to go, seeing that we shall not find Him? Does He intend to go unto the dispersion among the Gentiles, &c.

the dispersed] Or, the dispersion, meaning those Jews who were dispersed among the heathen outside Palestine; the abstract for the concrete, like ‘the circumcision’ for the Jews generally. The word for ‘dispersion’ (diaspora), occurs James 1:1 and 1 Peter 1:1 (see notes there), and nowhere else in N.T. There were three chief colonies of these ‘dispersed’ or ‘scattered’ Jews, in Babylonia, Egypt, and Syria, whence they spread over the whole world. ‘Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him,’ Acts 15:21. These opponents of Christ, therefore, suggest that He means to go to the Jews scattered among the Gentiles in order to reach the Gentiles and teach them—the very mode of proceeding afterwards adopted by the Apostles. But here it is spoken in sarcasm. Christ’s utter disregard of Jewish exclusiveness and apparent non-observance of the ceremonial law gave a handle to the sneer; which would be pointless if the word translated ‘Gentiles’ (margin ‘Greeks’) were rendered ‘Hellenists,’ i.e. Grecised Jews. Hellenes, or ‘Greeks,’ in N.T. always means Gentiles or heathen. See on John 12:20.

John 7:35. Ποῦ, whither) More unseasonably they afterwards say, Whether will He kill Himself? ch. John 8:22διασποράν) So the Septuag., Deuteronomy 28:25 [ἔσῃ διασπορὰ ἐν πάσαις βασιλείαις τῆς γης, thou shalt be a dispersion—a dispersed remnant—among all the kingdoms of the earth] Deuteronomy 30:4.—τῶν Ἑλλήνων, of the Greeks) in other words, the Jews outside of Palestine. They think that they will drag Him forth to the light by means of letters, wherever throughout the world He may take His dwelling among Jews.

Verse 35. - The Jews therefore said among themselves, Whither will this Man go, that we shall not find him? With their murderous designs they are blinded even to the meaning of his words. They pretend that he was not making any reference to their sworn purpose of rejecting his claims. They would not lift their thoughts to that eternal glory in which he would soon, by their own execrable acts, be enshrouded. They could not grasp the eternal life involved in the acceptance of the Father's revelation in him. They are resolved to put ironical and confusing meaning into his words, to pour an air of contempt over his reply; and to insert veritable though unconscious prophecy of their own into his words. Will he go to the Dispersion (of) - or, among - the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? The word "Greek" is, throughout the New Testament, the Gentile, the Pagan world, at that time so largely Greek in speech, if not in race. Another word, "Grecian" or "Hellenist," is used for the Jews who had adopted Greek ideas, habits, and speech. Whatever may be the strict meaning of that word (see Roberts's 'Discussions on the Gospels,' and other works, where that writer seeks to establish the Greek-speaking peculiarity of all Palestinian Jews, and limits the word to Greek ideas rather than to Greek speech), the word "Greek" is the antithesis to "Jew" in every respect. The Dispcrsion (τῶν Ἑλλήνων) may mean

(1) the Jewish dispersion among the Greeks beyond the limits of Palestine (2 Macc. 1:27). It is also found in Josephus for the outcast of Israel (see LXX. Psalm 146:2; cf. James 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1). There was a wide "dispersion" in Babylon and Syria, throughout Persia, Egypt, Asia Minor, and Cyprus, even in Achaia, Macedonia, and Italy. The Dispersion was the Greater Israel. Most intimate relations subsisted between these scattered Israelites and their political and ecclesiastical centre in the metropolis. Often those at the greatest distance front the temple were the most passionately loyal and patriotic. But for the Messiah to commence a prophetic career among them, after having been repudiated by the great council of the nation, was a bitter sarcasm. But

(2) the "Dispersion" may refer to the wide scattering of the Greeks themselves, the natural antithesis to God's covenanted people. Now

(1) is certainly a very awkward and unique rendering of the genitive, and

(2) applies the "dispersion" in a peculiar sense not elsewhere used. Alford says the word means the land where the Jews are scattered. Still,

(2) appears to me a fair rendering of the words, especially as it is followed by "and teach the Greeks." Nothing could more adequately express the utter scorn of the Jewish mind for a pseudo-Messiah who, failing with his own people, and here in the courts of the Lord's house, would turn to the Gentiles. Such a bare supposition would bring utter discomfiture, as they thought, upon his claims. What a forecast they made in their malicious suggestions! Long before John reported this speech he himself had taken up his seat in Ephesus. In all the great cities of the empire it was avowed on both sides that "in Christ Jesus there was neither Jew nor Greek." Had not Jesus already given indication of this laxity as to the privileges of Israel: "Many shall come," etc. (Matthew 8:11)? Had he not referred to the ministry of Elijah and Elisha severally to the Syro-Phoenician and the Syrian (Luke 4:25-27)? Had he not shown culpable leniency to the hated Samaritan? Surely they meant to suggest the uttermost treason to the traditions of Israel, when they thus chose to put a meaning into his words. Like Caiaphas in John 11:49-51, they said and prophesied more than they knew. Archdeacon Watkins says, "The irony of history is seen in the fact that the very words of these Jews of Palestine are recorded in Greek, by a Jew of Palestine, presiding over a Christian Church in a Gentile city." John 7:35Will He go (οὗτος μέλλει πορεύεσθαι)

Literally, whither does this man intend to go, or whither is He thinking of going? The A.V. misses the contemptuous insinuation in this man (Rev.).

We shall not find him (ἡμεῖς)

The pronoun is emphatic; we, the religious leaders, the wise men, who scrutinize the claims of all professed teachers and keep a watchful eye on all impostors.

The dispersed among the Gentiles (τὴν διασπορὰν τῶν Ἑλλήνων).

Literally, the dispersion of the Greeks. The Jews who remained in foreign lands after the return from the Captivity were called by two names: 1. The Captivity, which was expressed in Greek by three words, viz., ἀποικία, a settlement far from home, which does not occur in the New Testament; μετοικεσία, change of abode, which is found in Matthew 1:11, Matthew 1:12, Matthew 1:17, and always of the carrying into Babylon; αἰχμαλωσία, a taking at the point of the spear; Ephesians 4:8; Revelation 13:10. 2. The Dispersion (διασπορά). See on 1 Peter 1:1; see on James 1:1. The first name marks their relation to their own land; the second to the strange lands.

The Gentiles (Ἕλληνας)

Literally, the Greeks. So Rev. See on Acts 6:1.

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