John 7:51
Does our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he does?
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(51) Doth our law judge any man?—He identifies Himself with them. He, like they, is an expounder of the Law. The force of the question is in the word “Law,” which they had used but the moment before in their scorn for the people who knew not the Law. “Well, this Law, which we do know and understand, doth it judge without open investigation?” Did they in their blind zeal forget such passages as Exodus 23:1; Deuteronomy 1:16-17; Deuteronomy 19:15? They had determined a death, and were seeking to carry their sentence into effect in direct contravention of the Law. This holy people, instructed in the Law—they were the Law-breakers.

Before it hear him.—The better reading is, unless it hear first from him.

And know what he doethi.e., know the deed for which he is tried.

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.Doth our law ... - The law required justice to be done, and gave every man the right to claim a fair and impartial trial, Leviticus 19:15-16; Exodus 23:1-2; Deuteronomy 19:15, Deuteronomy 19:18. Their condemnation of Jesus was a violation of every rule of right. He was not arraigned; he was not heard in self-defense, and not a single witness was adduced. Nicodemus demanded that justice should be done, and that he should, not be condemned until he had had a fair trial. Every man should be presumed to be innocent until he is proved to be guilty. This is a maxim of law, and a most just and proper precept in our judgments in private life. 51. Doth our law, &c.—a very proper, but all too tame rejoinder, and evidently more from pressure of conscience than any design to pronounce positively in the case. "The feebleness of his defense of Jesus has a strong contrast in the fierceness of the rejoinders of the Pharisees" [Webster and Wilkinson]. That no law of God or nature condemneth any man before they had heard him speak, or had what he did deposed by witnesses before them, that they might know what he did. Doth our law judge any man,.... Or condemn any man; or can any man be lawfully condemned:

before it hear him: what he has to say for himself; is this the usual process in our courts? or is this a legal one to condemn a man unheard?

and know what he doth? what his crimes are. This he said, having a secret respect for Christ, though he had not courage enough openly to appear for him.

Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know {n} what he doeth?

(n) What the one who is accused has committed.

51. Doth our law] ‘Law’ is emphatic. ‘You condemn the multitude for not knowing the law; but are we not forgetting the law in condemning a man unheard?’ These learned theologians and lawyers were forgetting such plain and simple texts as Deuteronomy 1:16-17; Deuteronomy 17:8; Deuteronomy 19:15; involving the most elementary principles of justice.

any man, before it hear him] Literally, the man (prosecuted) except it first hear from himself.John 7:51. Ὁ νόμος) the law, which ye suppose that ye alone know: John 7:49, “This people, that knoweth not the law, is accursed.”—κρίνει, judge) that is, teach us to judge.—τὸν ἄνθρωπον, a man) any one whatever, and this man.—ἀκούσῃ, it shall have heard) Understand, he who judges. [This rule, that a man should be heard before he is judged, has so strong evidence in its favour, that it is obvious even to a little child; notwithstanding men of the highest authority frequently offend against it. A considerable part of the injustice with which the world abounds, if these considerations were rightly weighed, would be banished out of it. And truly nowhere are such considerations less attended to, than in cases where the cause of Christ is at stake—V. g.]Any man (τὸν ἄνθρωπον)

Literally, the man, whoever he may be, that comes before them.

Before it hear him (ἐὰν μὴ ἀκούσῃ παρ' αὐτοῦ)

Rev., more correctly, except it first hear. Hear him, is an inadequate rendering of παρ' αὐτοῦ, which is, as Rev., from himself; παρά, implying from beside, i.e., from his side of the case.

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