John 7:50
Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)
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(50) On the character of Nicodemus, see Notes on John 3. His position here is that of a friend of Jesus, who still does not dare to declare himself His open follower.

He that came to Jesus by night.—Comp. Note on John 3:2. The better reading here is, probably, he that came to Him before.

Being one of them contains the answer to their question, “Hath any one (as above) of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him?” (John 7:48).

John 7:50-53. Nicodemus, he who came to Jesus by night — Having now got a little more courage; being one of them — Being present, as a member of the great council, saith to them, Doth our law judge (κρινει, condemn) any man before it hear him — Before the magistrate, appointed to execute it, summon him into his presence, that he may hear from him what he has to say in his own defence; and know what he doeth — Namely, from credible witnesses? As if he had said, Do not we ourselves act as if we knew not the law, if we pass sentence on a man before we hear him? They answered — By personal reflection; the argument they could not answer, and therefore did not attempt it. For, notwithstanding that perfect knowledge of the law, and that high reverence for its precepts, which they made such boast of, they were acting directly contrary to the most essential principles of equity established by it. But, being greatly exasperated by Nicodemus’s reproof, which was the more poignant and provoking, because it was well founded; and being in a violent passion with him, for condemning their conduct, and speaking favourably of Jesus, they asked him, with an air of disdain and surprise mixed with fierceness, Art thou also of Galilee — Art thou one of his party? One of the ignorant, low faction, that has leagued to support a Galilean Messiah in opposition to the law, which has determined the Messiah’s nativity to Bethlehem? Search and look; for out of Galilee ariseth (or rather, hath arisen, as ουκ εγηγερται properly signifies) no prophet — They could not but know the contrary. They knew Jonah arose out of Gath-hepher; and Nahum from another village in Galilee. Yea, and Thisbe, the town of Elijah the Tishbite, was in Galilee also. They might, likewise, have known that Jesus was not born in Galilee, but at Bethlehem, even from the public register there, and from the genealogies of the family of David. Add to this, that many of the people had heard the shepherds declare, on the testimony of the angel, that he was born at Bethlehem, and had wondered at the words which had been told them by the shepherds, Luke 2:15-18. Nay, and the chief priests and Pharisees were not ignorant that the wise men from the East went to Bethlehem to worship him soon after he was born, as king of the Jews: the memory of which facts could not be lost in the space of thirty years. Here, then, we have a striking instance of the power of prejudice to shut men’s eyes against the clearest truth. Dr. Campbell, however, thinks they did not mean all that they expressed; because, when men’s passions are inflamed, they are not wont to be accurate in their words, or distinct in recollecting, on the sudden, things which make against them; and that therefore this expression of the Pharisees, whom prejudice, pride, and envy had concurred in blinding, need not appear surprising to us. And every man went unto his own house — The council separated immediately: for, being conscious that their poor answer would not bear examination, they took care, by rising up and dispersing, to prevent a reply. So that short, plain question of Nicodemus, spoiled all their measures, and for the present frustrated their designs. A word spoken in season, how good is it! especially when God gives it his blessing.

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.Nicodemus - See John 3:1.

One of them - That is, one of the great council or Sanhedrin. God often places one or more pious men in legislative assemblies to vindicate his honor and his law; and he often gives a man grace on such occasions boldly to defend his cause; to put men upon their proof, and to confound the proud and the domineering. We see in this case, also, that a man, at one time timid and fearful (compare John 3:1), may on other occasions be bold, and fearlessly defend the truth as it is in Jesus. This example should lead every man entrusted with authority or office fearlessly to defend the truth of God, and, when the rich and the mighty are pouring contempt on Jesus and his cause, to stand forth as its fearless defender.

50-53. Nicodemus—reappearing to us after nearly three years' absence from the history, as a member of the council, probably then sitting. Of Nicodemus we read, and of his coming by night to Jesus, John 3:1,2. He now, being one of this great court, stands up to speak for Christ, yet faintly, or at least very prudently and warily. He saith no more for him than he ought to have spoken for the greatest malefactor, viz.

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.

Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)
John 7:50-51. The Pharisees in the Sanhedrim had expressed themselves as decisively and angrily against Jesus, as if His guilt had already been established. But Nicodemus, who had secretly been inclined towards Jesus since his interview with Him by night, now raises a protest, in which he calmly, plainly, and rightly points the excited doctors to the law itself (see Exodus 23:1; Deuteronomy 1:16-17; Deuteronomy 19:15).

πρὸς αὐτούς] to the Pharisees, John 7:47.

ὁ ἐλθὼναὐτῶν] who had before come to Jesus, although he was one of them (i.e. of the Pharisees), John 3:1.

μὴ ὁ νόμος, κ.τ.λ.] The emphasis is on ὁ νόμος: “our law itself does not,” eta They had just denied that the people knew the law, and yet they were themselves acting contrary to the law.

τὸν ἄνθρ.] the man; the article denotes the person referred to in any given case; see on John 2:25. We are not to supply ὁ κρίτης to ἀκούσῃ (Deuteronomy 1:16-17) and γνῷ, for the identity of the subject is essential to the thought; but the law itself is regarded and personified as (through the judge) examining and discerning the facts of the case. For a like personification, see Plato, de Rep. vii p. 538 D. Comp. νόμος πάντων βασιλεύς from Pindar in Herod. iii. 38.

τί ποιεῖ] what he doeth, what the nature of his conduct is.

John 7:50. To this strong expression one of their own number (and therefore to their great surprise), Nicodemus, the same person who had visited Jesus under cover of night, takes exception and makes a protest. [Tisch[61] deletes the clause ὁ ἐλθὼν νυκτὸς πρὸς αὐτόν, and no doubt it has quite the appearance of a gloss. At the same time it is John’s manner thus to identify persons named. And at John 19:39 the similar clause is not deleted.] This was a bold step. For he must have known it was useless; and he might have persuaded himself to evade all risk by silence. His remonstrance is based on their implied claim to know the law: μὴ ὁ νόμοςποιεῖ; their own action is suspiciously like a violation of the law. “Does our law pass judgment on the suspected person before it first hears him and knows what he is guilty of doing?” For the law regarding trials see Deuteronomy 1:16 and Stapfer’s Palestine, p. 108, on the administration of justice. The construction is simple; “the law” which the Sanhedrim administered is the nominative throughout.

[61] Tischendorf.

50. he that came to Jesus by night] The better reading seems to be, he that came to Him before. See on John 3:1-2. His ‘being one of them’ contradicts what is implied in John 7:48, that no member of the Sanhedrin believed on Him.

John 7:50. Λέγει, saith) Often those who had been timid where there was no danger, in the very crisis of danger prove to be defenders of the truth. [Comp. ch. John 19:39 (after the crucifixion, when others stood aloof), “Then came Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.”]—εἷς ὤν, who was one) This clause is connected with saith.

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. John 7:50He that came to Him by night (ὁ ἐλθὼν νυκτὸς πρὸς αὐτὸν)

The texts vary, either substituting πρότερον, before, for νυκτὸς, by night, or omitting the whole clause, and reading, Nicodemus saith unto them, being one of them.

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