William Kelly Major Works Commentary
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.JOHN - THE SEVENTH CHAPTER
The Lord had thus propounded His humiliation and His death, with His ascension to heaven, completely setting aside the carnal expectations then prevalent as to His kingdom. He had done more than this; He had taught the absolute necessity of appropriating Himself, both incarnate and dying, for eternal life. He had pointed forward all hope to resurrection at the last day, however unintelligible to the Jews, and repulsive even to many of His disciples. They looked for present honour and glory through the Messiah; they could not bear death with Him, opening into resurrection life and glory.
"(And)* after these things Jesus walked in Galilee,136 for He was unwilling to walk in Judæa, because the Jews136a were seeking to kill Him. Now the feast of the Jews, the tabernacles, was near. His brethren therefore said unto Him, Remove hence, and go into Judaea, that Thy disciples too may behold Thy works which Thou doest; for no one doeth anything in secret, and seeketh himself to be in public. If Thou doest these things, show Thyself to the world. For not even did His brethren believe on Him."
* καὶ is read by most uncials and cursives, but not pm D, etc.
Thus we see the Lord in the despised place the True Light, not in the city of solemnities, where darkness reigned the more, because it was least suspected; and in Galilee He walks about on His errand of love. He does not wait for souls to seek Him; He seeks them, that, believing, they might, have life in Him. Judæa He avoids, knowing that the people of that part of the country, identifying themselves with the murderous hatred of their rulers, were seeking to kill Him. He was unwilling, not (one need not say) afraid, to walk about there. He was subject to His Father's will in this. He must complete the work given Him to do. As He said to certain Pharisees who sought to move Him by naming Herod's desire to kill Him, "I cast out demons and accomplish healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I am perfected (that is, reach the end of My course); but I must proceed to-day, and to-morrow, and the next (day), because it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem" (Luke 13:32f.). He knew perfectly the end from the beginning. He feared not man. He goes up at the appointed moment to do and suffer all the will of God, as well as all from man and Satan.
The festival then at hand, the feast of Tabernacles, tests man afresh, or rather our Lord tests by means of it. Those attached to Him by natural kin, His brethren,* were impatient at His Galilean sojourn, at His separateness from the centre of religious life and honour. As the Passover closely connected itself with the truth of the last chapter, so the Tabernacles furnished the occasion for what the Lord brings out here. There the blood of the lamb, itself eaten by the Israelites, points to His death, let them hear or forbear. Here the gathering of the people to rejoice was after the harvest and the vintage, types of the various forms of Divine judgment at the end of the age when Israel, at rest in the land, will remember their former days of pilgrimage, was pre-eminently the season of triumph, which proclaimed the promises fulfilled.
*["His brethren were sons of Mary after His own birth. Of course, we can understand that Romanists have been anxious to make out that they were sons of Joseph, and not of Mary, but they were sons of Mary and of Joseph. They would like to make it out, sons of a former marriage of Joseph. We do not know anything of a former marriage, nor do they. We do know that Scripture is quite plain."-From "Lectures on Jude."]137
But was it really so now? Because Jesus, the Messiah, was there, and working such works as He did, was the time come for the accomplishment of Israel's hopes? So His brethren thought, because they wished it for themselves, though they put forward His disciples, and their need of seeing His works, and this in Judæa. No thought had they of God, not the faintest conception that in the obscurity of Galilee Jesus was glorifying the Father, and manifesting the Father's name to those the Father gave Him. They betrayed their own condition, their ignorance of God, their lack of self-judgment, their unconsciousness not only of their own ruin, but of the world, their unbelief of Him Who deigned to be born of their family: Who He was, and what He had come to do, was in none of their thoughts. They reasoned from self, not from God, and were thus so much the more hopelessly wrong as it concerned the Lord. "No one," said they, "doeth anything in secret, and seeketh to be in public. If Thou doest these things, show Thyself to the world." It was what they would have done. They sought, and conceived that every wise man must seek, present glory. Had they never heard One Who taught even His disciples to do their alms and pray and fast in secret to their Father, Who will render accordingly? If they had, the truth and will of God certainly had left no impression. The real ground of the wish and words was in this, that, as the evangelist solemnly adds, even His brethren did not believe on Him. Such is man, however nearly related, naturally.
"Jesus therefore saith to them, My time is not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth, because I testify concerning it that its works are evil. Go ye up unto the* feast. I go not† up unto this feast, for My time is not yet fulfilled " (verses 6-8).
* ταύτή is added here in Text. Rec., in the pm and eleven other uncials and many ancient versions [as Syrsin], but not in B and some of the best. It was probably taken from the next clause.
† οὐκ DKMΠ and the most ancient versions [inoluding Syrr.] and fathers [Epiphanius, Chrysostom, Cyril]; οὔπω in BLT and eleven other uncials, etc. [Lachm., W. H., Weiss; but Blass adopts οὐκ, as did the American Revisers for their text.]138
In no sense does flesh profit, and the friendship with the world is enmity with God, Satan taking advantage of both against man as well as God. Jesus abides in perfect dependence (to speak of this only). His movements were invariably in obedience. In everything it was a question to Him of the Father. His single eye saw that His time to show Himself to the world was, and could be, not yet. Death, as He had implied even before His Galilean ministry began (John 2:19-22), and is still more emphatically opened out in John 6, was before being displayed to the world. This will be in its due time; but here, as ever, the order is the sufferings that pertain to Christ, and the glories after these. First must He suffer many things and be rejected of this generation. Man's time, contrariwise, was always ready. They spoke as of the world, and the world heard them. They loved the world, and the things of the world; and the love of the Father was not in them, but, what they valued more, they were loved by the world as its own. Terrible position for His brethren, but not more terrible than true! How could the world hate those who so prized its honours? Jesus it did hate with a deadly hatred, because He bore witness about it that its works are evil a testimony most of all galling to the religious world, to the men of Judæa and Jerusalem. Hence the Lord bids them go up to this feast, while He tells them that He goes not up, His time not yet being fulfilled.
The significance of this is the more marked by His action in contradistinction from theirs, and, as read above all, in the light of His subsequent testimony on the great day of the feast."* Having said these things to them,† He abode in Galilee. But when His brethren had gone up, then He Himself also went up, not manifestly, but as in secret. The Jews therefore sought Him at the feast, and said, Where is He? And there was much murmuring about Him among the crowds. Some said, He is good;139 others said, No; but He deceiveth the crowd. No one, however, spoke openly about Him because of the fear of the Jews" (verses 9-13). The seventh chapter of John has this point of view, for the truth taught is based on the sixth; it supposes the Lord not only in death, but in ascension. There is a manifest break with the world, and flesh is treated as proved no longer capable of association or communion. It really never was; but now it takes its own way, and the Lord withdraws. His brethren go up to the feast of Tabernacles without Him; He does not go up, but abides in Galilee. Only after they had gone does He go, and then not manifestly, as they desired, but as in secret-more so than ever before. He is content to be, as it were, hidden: type of that which He really is now, and we with Him, as far as our life is concerned, hid in God.
* δὲ is added in many uncials.
† For αὐτὸς DKLXΠ, etc., excellent authority gives αὐτοῖς, "to them" [So W. H. and Weiss; but Blass accepts neither.]
This gives rise to questions and whispers about Him among the crowds, some speaking patronisingly, others with the utmost ill-will and contempt; but even so there was no discourse in public, or plainly. The leaders of Judæa kept men in fear.
That the Lord had a deeper purpose in view was soon apparent. He had refused to go with His brethren; He had affirmed that the fit moment for displaying Himself to the world was not come. But God had a present mission for His Son. and He goes to Jerusalem to fulfil it.
"But now in the midst of the feast Jesus went up unto the temple and taught. The Jews therefore* wondered, saying, How knoweth this (man) letters, having not learned?140 Jesus therefore† answered them and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me. If one desire to do His will, he shall know about the doctrine whether it is of God or I speak from Myself. He that speaketh from himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh the glory of Him that sent Him-He is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him."
* οὖν BDLTX, some cursives, etc.; καὶ as in Text. Rec., most uncials cursives, and versions.
†Text. Rec., with DLX and few cursives, etc., omits οὖν.
There was no secrecy now: Jesus was teaching in the temple. It was His actual work. Soon He would suffer in atonement. Now it was the time for giving out the truth, to the astonishment of those who lived in the region of law and ordinance, who could only ask how He could know since He had not learned. They knew Him not, they rose not above human sources. Jesus was quick and careful to vindicate His Father. What is learned from man man is proud of. His doctrine He would not allow to be His own in the sense of independence, any more than the derivation from human teaching, which they owned to be out of the question. It was not of man, but of Him that sent Him. Was this a high claim and easily made? Any one of single eye would soon see its reality. Faith alone gives a single eye. Others speculate and err. God guides and teaches him who desires to practise His will, as Christ gives the positive assurance that he shall know concerning the doctrine whether it is of God or whether He speaks from Himself. How comforting as well as surely verified! The Son was making known the Father; and God is faithful in this as in every other way. He Who counts every hair of our heads, and apart from Whom not a sparrow falls to the ground, cares for His children.
Every one that is of the truth hears the voice of Christ. Whatever their pretensions, all others are not of the truth: else they would know that His teaching is of God. Where we do not know, we must suspect ourselves, not blame God; if we really desired to do, we should soon learn God's will. Certainly He did not speak from Himself. Yet of all men He was most entitled. But if He is the true God, He is true man, and came to exalt His Father, not Himself. He had no private ends to serve. Lord of all, He became the servant of all-above all, of God. Self is what blinds the race, even the faithful, so far as it is allowed to act. He that speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but Jesus never did so-always served to the glory of Him that sent Him. There is, there can be, no solid guarantee of the truth where God's glory is not sought and secured. Christ in this was perfect; and so He here declares that He is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. As self is what hinders the truth, so it is just to neither God nor man. Jesus is both true and righteous.
Further, when men boast, they are sure to be wrong, not only in other things, but most where they are haughtiest. Did the Jews pique themselves on the law of Moses? How vain to boast of that law which none of them practised! Yet so it was, as the Lord pressed on their consciences here. They reasoned, but what was their walk?" Hath not Moses given you the law? and none of you doeth the law. Why do ye seek to kill Me?" (verse 19). Jesus is ever the touchstone. One might never have learnt their murderous malice but for Him Who brought God close and convicted them of sin. This they could not bear, and so sought to get rid of Him, in their zeal for the law violating it utterly, and in their dark rebelliousness rejecting Him Who gave it by Moses. But is it now uncommon to glory in the law and hate the truth?
Yet the people in general were not aware how far hatred was impelling the leaders, and had no suspicion that they were bent on the death of Jesus. "The crowd answered, Thou hast a demon: who seeketh to kill Thee? Jesus answered and said to them, One work I did, and ye all wonder because of this.141 Moses hath given you circumcision (not that it is of Moses, but of the fathers), and on a sabbath ye circumcise a man. If a man receiveth circumcision on a sabbath, that the law of Moses may not be broken, are ye angry at Me because I made a man entirely sound on a sabbath?" (verses 20-23). In their ignorance the crowd spoke with rash irreverence and violence against the Lord, Who stops not to notice it, but draws attention to the absurdity of their quarrelling as well as of wondering at one work of His, the cure of the infirm at Bethesda on the sabbath. Yet it was a common matter of course to circumcise a male child on the eighth day spite of its being a sabbath, and this in honour of the law of Moses, though, in fact, circumcision was rather of the fathers. The Lord closes His reproof with an exhortation which touches the root of their cavils, "Judge not according to sight, but judge the righteous judgment" (verse 24). They had not brought in God, and were consequently wrong, not on the surface merely, but altogether. If the readings (as in Tischendorf's text) be κρίνετε . . . κρίνατε, the first warns against the evil habit in general, the second urges the righteous judgment they should follow on this occasion. It is clear that one wants Divine guidance, if we are not to judge according to appearance; but that is what God is so willing to vouchsafe His children, not teaching only, but direction and judgment. Knowing all, He knows also how to communicate what is needed by His own.
The Lord's plain speaking surprised, if the multitude, not such as knew the enmity of the rulers. "Some therefore of those of Jerusalem said, Is not this He Whom they seek to kill? And, behold, He speaketh openly, and they say nothing to Him. Did the rulers indeed decide that this is the Christ?142 Howbeit we know Him whence He is; but when the Christ cometh, no one knoweth whence He is.143 Jesus therefore cried144 in the temple, teaching and saying, Ye both know Me and ye know whence I am; and I have not come from Myself, but He that sent Me is true, Whom ye know not. I know Him, for I am from Him, and He hath sent Me" (verses 25-29). The men of Jerusalem, knowing too much of the rulers to accept their decisions absolutely, indulge in irony; but they, too, prove their ignorance like the rest. They did not know whence Jesus was, whilst they ought to have known where and when the Messiah was to be born. Isa. 7 and Micah 5 taught much more.
Jesus in replying contrasts their assumed knowledge of Him and His origin with their positive ignorance of the Father Who sent Him. He assuredly knew the Father, as He was from Him and sent by Him. And the Father was not only truthful, but true, as the Son could attest in all its force, not the Jews, who knew not the Father. This drew on Him the open desire to lay hold of Him with which He had charged them. How little man knows himself any more than God, as Jesus shows! "They sought therefore to seize Him, and none laid hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. But many of the crowd believed on Him, and said, When the Christ cometh, will He do more signs than these* which this (man) did?"* (verses 30, 31).145 Those who rejected the Lord for their tradition and will were only the more exasperated by the truth; but they were powerless till His hour came. God abides God, spite of man and Satan. His purpose stands, though the enemies betray and commit themselves; but even when they do their worst, they but fulfil the Scriptures they deny and the will of God they detest. Another effect also appears: "many of the crowd believed on Him." The truth might not enter conscience, and so the result be human; but at least it was felt and owned that from the Messiah none need expect more signs. Still all is vain Godward but Christ and the faith that receives Himself from the Father that sent Him.
* ἐποίησεν, the common reading, is supported by corr.BLT and the body of the uncials and cursives, save pmD, 13, 69, and a few versions, which read ποιεῖ, "doeth." [So Blass. Syrsin has "showeth."] The best witnesses omit τούτων, "these" also.
The religious leaders are disturbed at any impression made on the multitude, and show their fear as well as their enmity. They dislike the truth they did not themselves possess, and would gladly get rid of Him Who told it out. "The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things about Him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees* sent officials to seize Him. Then said Jesus,† Yet a little while am I with you, and I go unto Him that sent Me. Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find‡; and where I am, ye cannot come" (verses 32-34). The Lord speaks with a solemn calmness. All efforts to apprehend Him would be vain till the appointed moment; nor need they hurry. It was but a little while for Him to be with them: then He is going to His Father. So it is ever in this Gospel. It is no question only of the rejection of men nor of the Jews despising Him, though both were true and fully set out by the Synoptic evangelists; but here the Spirit shows us One fully conscious of where He was going, and so speaking to all, if any by grace might believe and see God's glory in Him. Soon unbelief would seek and not find Him. What does the world know of the Father? Heaven is to it more dreary than the earth. "Where I am, ye cannot come;" nor would they if they could. Nothing is so repulsive to a sinner as the light, presence, and glory of God.
*There is high authority for the transposition here as compared with the Text. Rec.
†There is little authority for adding αὐτοῖς "to them," as in Text. Rec.
‡BTX with a few cursives and ancient versions [as Syrsin] add με, which Lachmann edits here, and in verse 36 too.
"The Jews therefore said unto each other, Where is this (man) about to go that we shall not find Him? Is He about to go unto the dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What is this word which He said, Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find; and where I am, ye cannot come?" (verses 35, 36). It was blindness indeed; nor is any darkness so dense as that of unbelief. But it is striking that what the unbelieving pride of the Jew deemed incredible is what God has made true of Christ exalted to His right hand. It is not more certain that He went on high than that He came and preached peace to the Gentiles that were far off and peace to them that were nigh (Jews), giving both access by one Spirit to the Father. The dispersed among the Greeks* are those that Peter shows to have found in Him the object of their faith, believing on Jesus in the Father's house as they believed on God; and Paul no less clearly shows that he is teaching the Greeks. To those that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God's power and God's wisdom-Christ crucified, let others count it an offence or foolishness. But He is none the less the Lord of glory, which none of the princes of this age knew: had they known it, they would not have crucified Him. And so it was that Scripture was verified, man humbled, and God glorified; even as those that dwelt in Jerusalem and their rulers, not knowing Him nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath, fulfilled them by their judgment of Him. And now is God pleased to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, "which is Christ among you the hope of glory." He is lost meanwhile to the Jew, who, seeking Him not in faith, cannot find Him nor come where He is; for He is in heaven, and they, given up more and more to an earthly mind, grovelling after filthy lucre.
*The late Dr. Alford says (the Greek Test. in loco): "The διασπ. τ. Ἑλλ. must not be interpreted 'the Hellenistic Jews,' for the Ἕλληνες are always distinguished from the Jews; and this would convey hardly any meaning The sense of διασπορὰ is-see reff. James, 1 Peter-'the country where Jews lay scattered, as qualified by the succeeding genitive, where one occurs, as here. So here ἡ δ. τ. Ἑλ means 'the dispersed in the Gentile world.'" This seems a singular mystification of plain Greek. The meaning unquestionably is the Jews dispersed among the Greeks as representative of Gentiles in general. The country is in no way expressed, but at most implied. The Dean further confused the meaning in his Prolegg. to 1 Peter (Greek Test., iv., third edition, p. 123) by saying that δ. "may well designate the engrafting of Gentile (!) converts into dispersed Israel."
But the Faithful Witness speaks. "Now in the last, the great,146 day of the feast Jesus stood147 and cried, saying, If any one thirst, let him come unto Me* and drink. He that believeth on Me, even as the Scripture said, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.148 But this said He of the Spirit, which they that believed† on Him were about to receive, for (the) Spirit‡ was not yet,‡ because Jesus was not yet glorified" (verses 37-39).
*Tischendorf omits πρός (or ἐμὲ ), "unto me," on the testimony of pmD and a few other witnesses contrary to the great mass [as Syrsin, and so the other Edd.].
† πιστεύοντες the vast majority, πιστεύσαντες BLT, etc. [Syrsin].
‡ ἅγιον and δεδομένον are evident additions, contrary to the best authorities. [KTΠ, etc., followed by most Edd., as Blass, The Vatican has the added words, which Weiss accepts.]
It is not the new birth, but the Holy Ghost in power of testimony, rather than of worship. Thus is it distinguished not merely from John 3, but also from John 4, even though He be given at the same time to be a fountain of living water springing up to life eternal within the believer, and rivers of living water flowing out, which suppose the soul already born afresh. It is not here, however, communion with the Father and the Son in the energy of the Spirit which goes upward in adoration; but the same Spirit going outward to refresh largely the weary and parched in the wilderness from the inmost affections of the believer. Both figures are strikingly true, but they are different, though enjoyed by the same individual. They are the characteristic power and privilege of the Christian, not only the Divine life, but this in the power of the Spirit going up to its source in praise, or flowing out actually in testimony to Christ in a dry and thirsty land. Here it is the glorified man Who is the object, as in chapter 4 the Son of God is the giver.
Even so there is the most careful guard against coming to the Lord merely for teaching as a scholar or for material as a teacher: both in Divine things attitudes of peril to the soul. "If any one thirst, let him come unto Me and drink." It is the heart met in its own need, not men invited to draw for others, but to drink for themselves; and thus it is they safely and best learn so as to teach others also. "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." Such is the general testimony of Old Testament Scriptures; and so the Lord urges even more distinctly. But this follows not only the coming, but the glorification of Jesus founded on His work. Only then could the streams flow thus abundantly from "the inward parts," truth being there already, and God on His part perfectly glorified in the cross. The Holy Spirit could act freely and in power, on the owned ruin of the first man, to the glory of Him Who is at God's right hand, and in those who are His for a little while in a dry and thirsty land where otherwise no water is. But now, to His praise Whom the Spirit is here to glorify, water is given, not alone the fountain to refresh within, but rivers to flow out. The Israelites never rose to this even in figure. They drank of water from the smitten rock; and after, when the rod of priestly power had budded, the rock was but to be spoken to in order to yield abundantly. But no Israelite, not even a Moses or an Aaron, could be the channel of living water, as every believer now; and this, let it be repeated, no premium on the Christian, but solely in witness of God's delight in Christ and appreciation of His work, wherein as He is, so are we in this world.
The feast, and the day of it so noted, are not without deep significance. It was not Pentecost as might be thought natural in view of the gift of the Spirit, but Tabernacles. Indeed, if the feast of Weeks was ever the epoch of any acts or discourses of our Lord in the fourth Gospel, it is carefully kept out of sight; and this because it falls within the province of Paul, rather than of John, whose characteristic truth is the revelation of God and of the Father in the man Christ Jesus on earth, not the Head of the body on high. It is not therefore the Spirit baptizing into one body which is here treated, but power of testimony, and this from the most intimate enjoyment of the soul, through that Spirit Who comes from Jesus glorified.
We are not in heaven yet, but passing through the wilderness. The day of glory is not come; but He Who died in atonement is in glory, and thence sends down the Spirit on us who are here that we may have a Divine association with Him there. What could give such force to testimony? There is more than the brightest hope; for the Spirit is a present link with Him Who is on high; yet is there all the power of hope bearing us onward and above surrounding circumstances. For the glory itself does not yet appear, though He Who will introduce it is already in it, its centre and in its highest sphere. His hour will come to show Himself to the world. Meanwhile we are in the secret of His exaltation and waiting for His display; while we have the Holy Ghost sent down by Him from that glory which He gives us to know, and so much the more to feel the dreary desert through which we pass. This is not our rest; it is polluted; and here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. But we are awaiting, not righteousness nor the Spirit of glory, but through the Spirit by faith the hope of righteousness (that is, the glory of God). And He Who is not only in the glory, the Head and Heir of all things, but will shortly come to bring us like Himself there, gives us the Spirit as rivers of living water to fill us inwardly and to flow abroad, let the wilderness be ever so parched.
I do not know a stronger expression of the intimacy of the Spirit's indwelling in us as contrasted with His working of old even though by saints. But here there is supposed such a deep intermingling with the inner man's affections and thoughts as is eminently characteristic of the Christian's possession of the Spirit, and the more remarkably because it is in view of a rich outflow of testimony to Christ on high. Hence there could be no such privilege till Jesus was glorified consequent on His glorifying of God morally by the death of the cross.
The phraseology of verse 39, though at first it may sound strange, is strictly accurate and suitable. The Spirit is beyond doubt a person, but He is viewed here as the characterising fact of a state not yet in being. Hence it is πνεῦμα without the article. Again it is ἦν, not ἐγένετο. He never began to exist, for His being was Divine and eternal. But it was not yet a fact for man on earth. At Pentecost He was sent down from heaven. Compare Acts 19, where the question was, Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? and the answer is, We did not even hear if the Holy Spirit was (lit. is). The meaning is not at all as to His existence, but His baptism, of which John the Baptist had testified to His disciples.149
We have had, then, the Lord's anticipative declaration of the power of the Spirit that the believer was about to receive, which he did receive at Pentecost and thenceforward: not the quickening of the unbeliever; nor yet power rising up in worship, but flowing forth abundantly from the inner man in testimony, both eminently characteristic of Christianity. How painful that Christendom should now, and for ages, show itself incredulous and hostile! But thus it is that God's warning must be verified in every little. In man's hands each dispensation makes manifest nothing so much as faithlessness to its own special privileges and responsibility. Thus Israel not only rebelled against the law, but renounced Jehovah for heathen vanities, the returned even rejecting their own Messiah. Is the Spirit now sent down and present since Jesus was glorified? Christendom, since the apostolic days, ran greedily after law and forms, reinstating thus the first man, to the denial of the cross on earth and of the Second man in heaven about to come again. It opposes itself to no truth so expressly as that to which it is called above all to testify in word and deed.
The words of our Lord made a certain impression;150 but all is in vain unless conscience be reached before God. "(Some)* of the crowd, therefore, when they heard these sayings,† said: This is truly the prophet; others said, This is the Christ; others‡ said, Doth the Christ then come out of Galilee? Did not the Scripture say that the Christ cometh of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was? A division therefore took place in the crowd on account of Him; and some of them wished to seize Him but none laid his hands on Him" (verses 40-44).
* πόλλοι is added by some eleven uncials and most cursives, etc., as in Text. Rec, contrary to BDLTX and some other of the most ancient authorities.
† τῶν λόγων BDECHKLMTUΓΔpmΠ and many more witnesses, many of which give TOVTCOV also, contrary to Text. Rec., which on inferior authority has τὸν λ.
‡Text. Rec. adds δὲ with some cursives [and Syrsin].
Men do not only join what God separates, but separate what God joins. Some called Him the prophet, others the Christ, as we have seen from the beginning of this Gospel: a distinction then prevalent but unfounded. The objections which lack of knowledge makes expose an ignorance which the least conscientious inquiry must have dispelled. With faith too there may be, and often is, want of light; but, spite of obstacles, it holds on to what it discerns to be of God, instead of being stumbled by a difficulty which further knowledge would have shown to be unreal. Bartimaeus, when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was at hand, did not fail to cry, "Son of David, have mercy on me;" and his faith reaped the blessing immediately. None the less was He the Messiah from Bethlehem,151 and of David's line, because He was the despised prophet of Galilee. But unbelief is blind to His glory, and finds but an occasion of division152 in the only centre of union. Yet, whatever the hostility of men, they could not take Him till the hour was come, little as they thought it, for God to accomplish the reconciliation in His cross.
There were darker traits, however, in the religious leaders than in the crowd; and this the Spirit next brings before us. "The officials therefore came unto the chief priests153 and Pharisees, and these said to them, Why did ye not bring Him? The officials answered, Never man so spake as this man.* The Pharisees therefore" answered them, Are ye also deceived? Did any one of the rulers believe on Him, or of the Pharisees? But this crowd that knoweth not the law, they are accursed" (verses 45-49). Here conscience answered to the words of the Lord in such a manner at least as to draw out before their masters an involuntary confession of the power with which He spoke. It was not as the scribes. But the Pharisees, with invincible hardness, retort on their weakness, challenge them to produce any of the rulers or of the Pharisees that believed, and betray their contempt for the mass of their countrymen. Boasting in law, they by transgression of the law and far worse were then dishonouring God. But God brings forward an unexpected, even if feeble, witness from among themselves, not only a Pharisee, but a ruler.
*Besides a difference in collocation, , etc., add λαλεῖ; others omit the clause, perhaps by ὁμοιοτέλευτον, or through love of brevity.
† D, twelve cursives, etc., omit οὖν.
"Nicodemus* saith unto them, being one of them, Doth our law judge the man, unless it have first heard from him and know what he doeth? They answered and said to him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search and see that no prophet ariseth† out of Galilee" (verses 50-52). Unable to resist the righteous requirement of their own law, they proved that their insubjection had a deeper root by their haughty contempt, not now of the ignorant rabble, but of not the least of their own chiefs; and, as usual, they manifest that men are never so sure to err as when most confident in an arm of flesh. Indeed, it is the fatality of tradition-mongers to be always astray, whether in Judaism or in Christendom. Scripture alone is reliable; and those who profess to be ruled by Scripture as interpreted by tradition will be found, like all who serve two masters, to hold to tradition and its uncertainty, and to despise Scripture spite of its Divine authority, with a blindness to their own state which is truly pitiable, though not less censurable also. Thus Eusebius of C., though by no means the least able or the most superstitious of the Fathers, makes the grossest mistakes in reporting ecclesiastical facts from the Acts of the Apostles, or elsewhere.
*Text. Rec. adds ὁ ἐλθὼν νυκτὸς πρὸς αὐτὸν, with EGHMSΓΔ, most cursives (probably from xix. 39), some, as KUΔΠ, putting ν. after π. αὐ., and others, as corr.BLT, etc., omitting ν. and adding πρότερον [W. and H., Weiss], and others giving both, as X and some cursives and ancient versions. Tischendorf omits the clause with pm, etc. [so Blass].
† ἐγείρεται BDKSmgTΓΔΠ, many cursives, Latin and other ancient versions [as Syrsin, and followed by Edd.]; ἐγήγερται "is risen," Text. Rec. following many uncials, cursives, etc.
So here the Pharisees assume that no prophet arises out of Galilee. They were wrong in every possible way. Were they prophets to speak for God at that time? Had they never heard of Jonah or Nahum? The greatest of the prophets who wrote not-the mysterious Tishbite-who had arisen, and will yet again arise, was of Gilead, and so even more severed than Galilee from the seat of religious pride, being on the east of the Jordan. But the truth is, that the One their soul abhorred, on Whom the poor of the flock waited, had come forth out of Bethlehem-Ephratah, Whose goings forth are from of old, from the days of eternity. (Micah 5:2.) Of Him they were profoundly ignorant, though law and prophets everywhere testified to Him; but the pillar of the cloud which encompassed Him gave no light to the proud men of Jerusalem. Their darkness comprehended not the true light.
NOTES ON THE SEVENTH CHAPTER
136John 7:1-5. - There is further recognition here of the Galilean ministry.
136a John 7:1. - "After these things." That is, about six months after the discourse of John 6.
"The Jews." Cf. John 2: 8, 54.
137John 7:3. - As to the Lord's "brethren being uterine" - that is, His mother's children - see Psalm 69:8, and cf. Acts 1:14, 1 Corinthians 9:5. This belief is maintained, after Tertullian, by M'Clellan, Farrar ("Early Days of Christianity" chapter 19), Mayor (Introduction to "Commentary on Epistle of James"), and by Professor Swete (Commentary on Mark). For the theory that Joseph was married previously, see Lightfoot ("Dissertation" in his edition of the Epistle to the Galatians) and salmon. It must be borne in mind that Origen and Jerome, who supported the idea of Mary's continued virginity, were influenced by Apocryphal Gospels. Mr. Card seems to have changed his opinion Since he wrote the note in his Cambridge edition of Matthew's Gospel (see his note on present passage).
On what we are told in verse 5, Kinnear remarks: "His divinity was hidden in the absolute perfection of His humanity" (p. 71).
138John 7:8. - The reading "not yet" seems to have arisen from a desire to meet Porphyry's imputation to Jesus of inconstancy. But the Lord's not going up then was but an illustration of what this Evangelist speaks of elsewhere - His dependence on the Father, by whose direction He was governed day by day, in respect both of speech (verse 16) and action (v. 19). Any real difficulty is removed by the natural explanation of Westcott and Plummer - that the Lord meant, not to keep the feast.
139John 7:12. - "Good": in the sense of "benevolent."
139a "The Jews." Here the special meaning that the title acquires in this Gospel is very clear.
140John 7:15. - "Letters" - i.e., rabbinical learning (Acts 16:24: πολλὰ γράμματα, "much learning"). In the Gospel records we are told of the Lord Jesus' writing (John 8:6), and of His reading (Luke 4:16). The one reading book of the synagogue school was the Bible. Cf. notes 23, 56 on Mark.
141John 7:21 f. - "One." Heitmüller treats this as inconsistent with John 7:21. But the Lord is not Himself the speaker there. The expositor takes "because of this" as part of verse 21, but Govett, as the revisers, with "Moses," as beginning of verse 22.
141a John 7:23. - The ὅλον goes with ἄνθριωπον rather than (as A.V. and R.V.) with ὑγιῆ - "a whole man" (so Wetstein).
142John 7:26. - Observe that it is the rulers ("the Jews") who fail to recognise the Lord's Messiahship, and only those of the crowd influenced by them (verse 41).
143John 7:27. - See note at John 9:29.
144John 7:28. - "Cried." For the Lord's exceptional uplifting of His voice (Matthew 12:19), cf. verse 37 and John 12:44.
"He allows that they have spoken rightly of His human origin" (Barth "Chief Problems," p. 162). We may suppose, however, that our Lord is but reminding them of their own words recorded in John 6:42 - i.e., taking them on their own ground.
145John 7:31. - See Micah 5:2.
145a "I am." Cf. John 3:13.
146John 7:37. - "The great." According to Numbers 29:12, the feast was to last seven days; another day had been added by custom, but on this day no water was drunk from the pool of Siloam, to be poured on the altar. Jesus was the true Shiloh ("sent"). But cf. Jeremiah 2:13. This statement shows exact knowledge on the part of the writer.
147 "Stood . . . thirst." His attitude now, as well as His manner, emphasized His words. Connect with this, "I will stand upon the rock in Horeb" (Exodus 17:6; cf. Numbers 20:11).
148John 7:38. - "As the Scripture said." Reference may be made to such passages as Isaiah 12:3; Isaiah 35:6 (cf. Matthew 11:4-6); Isaiah 44:3, Isaiah 55:1, Isaiah 58:11; Joel 3:13; Ezekiel 47:1.
149John 7:39. - "Spirit was not yet." On this Schmiedel, who is followed by Burkitt (p. 248) and Scott (p. 336), has the following remark: "The Holy Spirit had no existence before the exaltation of Christ," and cites 2 Corinthians 3:17 (col. 2,530). One might fairly expect a writer of such pretension (he has edited Winer's "Grammar") to be acquainted with a use of the negative which appears in other passages of this Gospel, such as John 9:3 and John 11:4, and also in 2 Corinthians 3:10. From there being no article before "Spirit," some (as Norris and Govett) would explain it of spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12, 14), which now represents the gifts of the Spirit predicted of the days of Messiah. See, however, the Exposition, p. 450, note. As to misunderstanding by the Evangelist of the Lord's utterances (alleged by Reuss and others), see note at John 2:21.
150John 7:40. - Cf. verse 46 for Christ's words being evidential. As to "the prophet," see note 118. For the connection of this verse with verse 52, see Carr, "Horæ Biblicæ," p. 76 ff. He considers that "the" should be understood before "prophet" in the Pharisee's question (p. 83). This suggestion, which commends itself, is reproduced in the same writer's annotated edition of the R.V. of this Gospel. Cf. Abbott, "Johannine Grammar," p. 358.
151John 7:42. - "Bethlehem." Critics wonder why John (Wendt and others would say his "editor"), if he knew of the Bethlehem birth, did not here mention it. Perhaps we have in this an instance of what Dr. Salmon described as the Evangelist's "irony," as in John 6:42. We have examples of something of the kind in the Pauline Epistles. The important point is that the Jews, as Govett remarks, "in this the chief of questions had not interest enough to push their inquiries."
152John 7:43. - "Division." This illustrates Luke 12:51. So, again, in John 9:16, John 10:19. The word in each passage is "schism."
153John 7:45 f. - "The chief priests." These represent the Synoptic "Sadducees," who, together with the Pharisees, made up the Sanhedrin.
"Never man" - i.e., a mere man (ἄνθρωπος).
Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand.
His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest.
For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world.
For neither did his brethren believe in him.
Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready.
The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.
Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come.
When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee.
But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.
Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he?
And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people.
Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.
Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.
And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?
Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.
Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?
The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?
Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel.
Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man.
If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill?
But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?
Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.
Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not.
But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me.
Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.
And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?
The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.
Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me.
Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.
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?
What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.
Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?
Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?
So there was a division among the people because of him.
And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.
Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?
The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.
Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?
Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?
But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.
Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)
Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?
They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.
And every man went unto his own house.