After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.
Verse 1-ch. 8:11. -
3. Christ as the Source of truth. Verses 1-10. -
(1). Treatment of the unbelieving brethren; the hour of his full manifestation not yet come.
Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand.
Verses 1, 2 - And after these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he was not willing to walk in Judaea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Tabernacles, was at hand. The last clause supplies a valuable chronological datum. This great climacteric feast of ingathering and joyful memories of all the goodness of Jehovah was held on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34-36). Consequently, according to John's own statement, six months had elapsed between the transactions at Bethsaida and Capernaum, and those which he now proceeds to describe. During these six months some of the most thrilling events in the synoptic narrative must have been enacted. The Lord "walked in Galilee." He had discussed the whole question of Pharisaic and ceremonial cleansing and food, and the entire principle of revelation and tradition (Matthew 15. and Mark 7.). He had given express illustration of his own teaching by venturing even into heathen cities, and there healing the Syro-Phoenician's child. He had journeyed towards the north of Palestine, into the Greek cities of Decapolis (Mark 7:31), and had made a great demonstration of his healing powers on the mountain heights above the Sea of Galilee. There too (Mark 7:1-9) he had once more fed multitudes by his word, on the second miraculous meal. It is probable that the multitudes were Gentiles, whose stock of food would have been exhausted by a three days' sojourn; that at least they were not excitable Galilaeans, who might come by force and make him a King. The Pharisees assailed him, asking for a sign. The disciples, by the mouth of Peter, had confessed their faith (Matthew 16:13-28) in more explicit form and force than before (John 6:68, 69), and Christ had explained in yet more definite terms than in the synagogue in Capernaum the needs be for his Passion, death, and resurrection. The Transfiguration on the mountain, with its ineffaceable impressions, had followed, with numerous miracles, parables, and connected instructions (Matthew 16, 17, 18.). Jesus walked for six months in Galilee, knowing, as we learn from these verses, that the authorities in Jerusalem were utterly hostile to him, and had neither forgotten nor forgiven the assertion of his special claims when he was on the last occasion in Jerusalem at the unnamed feast (be it the Feast of Passover or Tabernacles, the Feast of Purim or Trumpets). The outburst of hostility which kept him so long from Jerusalem was circulating in angry vibrations to the very borders of Galilee. The hour for the final conflict was in abeyance until he had preached more explicitly the Divine gospel of love and redemption, and had left the indestructible seed in human hearts. There was malice in Galileo as well as in Judaea, but it took a different form. Thoma regards the sixth chapter as the ideal treatment by the fourth evangelist of the events recorded in the synoptic narrative, and, strangely enough, treats the wonders on the sea and on the land as parallels to the synoptic account of the temptation! The objection to this is not so much the underlying dissimilarity of idea as the chronological position assigned by Matthew and Luke to the temptation before John was imprisoned, whereas these events occur after his execution. Further, the synoptists record these two miracles in their proper place in the biography as well as describe the temptation. That the deep inner meaning and teaching of ch. 6. corresponds with that of the last Supper, no reader can miss; nor that this confession of Peter is the highest point of the earlier and later narratives we do not question; but their striking resemblance to each other, instead of transforming this Gospel into a philosophical allegory, appears to us to prove that we have the same historic Christ in Both narratives. The Feast of Tabernacles, the σκηνοπηγία, or tent pitching, called by Philo σκηναί, was the last great feast of the sacred year. It had its relation to the natural and providential goodness of God. Just as the Passover commemorated the opening of the harvest and the first fruits of the grain, and as Pentecost celebrated the completion of the harvest, so the "Tabernacles" implied the ingathering of the fruit of the vine and of the olive, and summed up the joyful acknowledgments for the whole year. Again, as the "Passover" recorded the deliverance from Egyptian bondage by the destroying angel who spared the blood sprinkled home, and the "Pentecost" probably (Maimonides) commemorated the giving of the Law, so the "Tabernacles" recalled in a festive form the time of Israel's wandering in the wilderness, when they dwelt in tabernacles. Joyfulness and astonishing ceremonial characterized the festival. The city of palaces broke out into booths of trees and leaves in every possible space, on walls and housetops in courtyards, and even in waggons and on the backs of camels. The people carried their palm branches and citrons in their hands, and great merriment, almost suggestive of heathen rites, prevailed. It probably gathered up about it, as some Christian festivals have done, other ancient or surrounding customs. The number of bullocks sacrificed during the seven days - one fewer on each day, beginning with thirteen - amounted in all to seventy (13+12+11+10+9+8+7 = 70). This the rabbis regarded as referring to the seventy nations of heathendom. Additional peculiarities were conspicuous in the immense number of priests who were required to take part in the sacrifices. The blasts of priests' trumpets which regulated the ceremonial, the great musical procession employed in brining water from the Pool of Siloam, then within the city wall, added another noticeable feature. The water was brought in a golden goblet, and poured into a silver funnel, which conveyed it by pipes to the Kedron, and was thus supposed to bless the thirsty land. This act was accompanied by singing the great Hallel, and the shouts and songs of Zion were heard far over hill and valley. At night time universal illumination prevailed, and huge candelabra in the temple court shed a radiance over the whole city. These peculiarities of the feast rendered it the most popular, if not the most sacred, of all the feasts ('Ant.,' 8:04, 1, Ἐορτὴ ἁγιωτάτη καὶ μεγίστη). It was a time when the national sentiment often burst into fierce flame. Various historic glories of the past were called to remembrance, and spiritual privileges were symbolized in the ritual. The fact that the feast held this important place in the affections and enthusiasm of the people explains the anxiety of the family of Jesus that, whatever his claims really were, they should be canvassed in the metropolis and decided by the only authorities adequate to the task.
His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest.
Verse 3. - His brethren therefore (pointing to the high significance of this national and triumphant feast) said unto him. These brethren were (Matthew 13:55) James, Joses, Simon, and Judas, and, without entering once more on the much-debated question of their actual relation to Jesus (see John 2:12, and notes), it may be said that this passage in a very marked manner discriminates them from the apostles or disciples, and practically negatives the "cousin" theory derived from the supposed identification of Alphaeus with Cleophas, and consequently of the sons of Alphaeus (James, Judas, and Simon) with the apostles of the same names. The lack of sympathy shown by these men, and the positive assertion of their non-belief in Jesus, is incompatible with the great confession so recently made (ch. 6:68, 69), and cannot (with Hengstenberg and Lange) be diluted into imperfect appreciation of claims which they wished in a secular sense to press forward to full assertion. They appeared here to criticize their Brother's prolonged absence from Jerusalem, and his abstention from the Passover and other national festivals. They would, perhaps sincerely, hurry forward his public demonstration, and compel him to say to the great world what he had been saying in Galilaean villages, in the borders of Tyre, and in the cities of Decapolis. Depart hence, and go into Judaea. "This is the time and place." Thoma sees in this advice the same idea which, on the mount of Transfiguration, was suggested by Moses and Elijah "concerning the departure which the Lord was to accomplish in Jerusalem." The Johannist has clothed the same material insinuation in a dialogue (dialogische Verhandlung). It has been said that this kind of advice is rather in favour of the hypothesis that these brethren were elder than Jesus, and possibly the children of Joseph by an earlier marriage, who thus took upon themselves the function of advisers. Such a hint, however (given by Westcott), seems very shadowy confirmation of the theory. Younger brothers would be just as likely to err in the same direction. In order that thy disciples also may behold thy works which thou doest. The words "thy disciples" may (Godet, Luthardt formerly) have had special reference to the fact that our Lord had made in Judaea "more disciples than had John" (John 4:1), that there were even members of the Sanhedrin who had to some extent looked favourably upon him (John 3:1), and needed confirmation of their faith. There may also have been tacit reference to the circumstance recorded in ch. 6. that his Galilaean disciples had deserted him; but it is more likely (Meyer) that the brethren took it for granted that those who in numerous places had received his word would be gathered together in Jerusalem, and would have an opportunity of seeing with their own eyes and in consociation with each other the works of healing and might which were being variously reported, canvassed, and disputed in the schools of Galilee. "Thy disciples" is a wide word, and may easily refer to all who, whether in Jerusalem or Galilee, went by his name. It is a designation which, however, does not include the speakers. "The works which thou art doing" is sufficiently illustrated from the group of remarkable events which had eternalized the previous twelve months of the Galilaean ministry (see on ver. 1).
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.
Verse 4. - For no man doeth anything in secret, and himself seeketh to be known openly. Vulgate, in palam esse. Lucke translates in Latin, "idemque cupit celeber ease." The αὐτός answers to the subject of the verb "doeth," who yet is denied to exist by the οὐδείς. The ἐν παῥῤησίᾳ εϊναι says Meyer, is "to be the opposite of a shy and timid nature," which is very unmeaning. Grimm says of the phrase ἐν παῥῤησίᾳ, "Is se gerendi modus quo aliquis omnibus conspicuus est," and justifies it by this passage and by John 11:54; Coss. 2:15 (cf. Wisd. 5:1, Τότε στήσεται ἐν παῥῤησίᾳ πολλῇ ὁ δίκαιος). So Luthardt: "It denotes that which is open, in contrast to that which is concealed." Westcott settles the meaning of the word by the remark that "the phrase (בפרהסיא) is commonly used by the rabbinical writers for 'in public,' as opposed to 'in secret.'" The man who persists in quiet, secret ways of acting, and strenuously avoids publicity, is not the man who seeketh to be illustrious and conspicuous. The brethren see a palpable contradiction between the claims which Jesus is making and the comparative retirement to which he is confining himself. The crowds of the Galilaean lake are blank retirement when compared with the metropolis in the great climacteric festival of the year. The brethren call on Christ to solve the contradiction. It cannot be concealed that Jesus had (Luke 8:16; Luke 11:33; Luke 12:2) repeatedly said, "No man lighteth a lamp and putteth it under a bushel, but on a candlestick," etc.; and so the brothers use Christ's words against himself. But the Lord's idea of needful manifestation, both as to degree, time, and place, was accurately realized and represented in both narratives. If thou doest these things. The αἰ is simply the logical premise, without necessarily throwing doubt on the facts. It is not equal, however, to the particle ἐπει, "since." Admitting these works to be real, and these mighty deeds to be correctly reported, there, is from the standpoint of the brethren no other course than that which they suggest: Manifest thyself to the world; i.e. "proceed to the widest arena at once;" "thou art compromising thyself by thy retirement;" "what thou art doing with one hand thou art undoing with the other." "All the Israel world from all lands is crowding to the great feast, thy disciples amongst them; make thyself known; claim the place that belongs to thee." It must be remembered that the disciples (Judas, not Iscariot, especially) said on the very night of the Passion, "How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world?" This slight note of resemblance with the form of the present admonition of the brothers, is more coincident in the letter than the spirit, and received from the Lord a profoundly different reply (see John 14:22, 23, notes).
For neither did his brethren believe in him.
Verse 5. - For not even did his brethren believe in him. The evangelist, writing a generation later, and keenly remembering the attitude the brothers had assumed before the Resurrection, adds, "not even his brothers," who ought to have been the most prominent of his disciples, "did up to this time believe on him," i.e. entrust themselves to him, dispose of their prejudices, change their conceptions, accept his spiritual lead, acknowledge his Divine mission, or know him to be the Holy One of God. They had not come into the position of the twelve. What ideas soever they grasped fell immeasurably short of "eating his flesh and drinking his blood," of coming to him, being given to him and drawn to him by the Father. It was a world Messiah, a theocratic King, a Prophet-Captain, a royal Christ, that they sought and would have been glad to find in him. This treatment of the Lord was another striking parallel to the temptation of Jesus as described by the synoptists, "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me" (see note on ch. 4, and Introduction, VIII. 5). The non-belief of the brothers is in remarkable unison with the widespread unbelief of the people, who were anxious to discern the Christ of their own traditional expectations, and ready to press almost any possible claimant to premature demonstrations. The Pharisees and the people sought some sign from heaven. But while the people demanded it, they expected that he would and might gratify them if he chose. The Pharisees cynically tempted him to proclaim what they believed would prove his irremediable failure (Weiss, 'Life of Christ.,' vol. 3. Eng. trans., pp. 167-188).
Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready.
Verse 6. - Jesus then saith to them (to his brothers), My time (the "season" for my full manifestation to the nation of what I am, or the time to disclose my own idea of my own commission) is not yet present. The season or opportunity for my final self-revelation pauses, and I pause for an intimation of the Father's will. This language corresponds with the reply to his mother, "My hour is not yet come" to do what you blindly desire. The kind of manifestation he subsequently made on that occasion was one of love to the needy, not one of power to dazzle the world (see notes, John 2:11). The underlying thought which the postponement suggested was that the approach of Jesus to Jerusalem with the pilgrim throng would be the signal for the final outburst of bitter hostility which he knew was smouldering in the hearts of the Sanhedrists, and would also be the torch applied to the magazine of combustible passion in which he would sacrifice his life. But your time (the season which is yours) is always ready. The brothers were at liberty at any time to show themselves and their works to the world. They had plans akin to those of the world. They shared the fashion of religious thought, the ideal of the Israelitish world, completely. James, for instance, Nazarite though he may have been, punctilious in traditionary ritual, and honouring the conservative passions of his order, might at any time secure the acclamations or approval of the chief powers of the world - their little world. "I" (Christ implied) "wait for the predetermined hour, for the kind of appearance in Jerusalem which will be the giving of my flesh for the life of the world. You are so much in harmony with the world that at any time you may say all that is in your heart. If I go as you suggest, it must be as Messiah; you go as pious pilgrims to share in this national celebration."
The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.
Verse 7. - The world cannot hate you; but it hateth me, because I bear witness concerning it, that its works are evil. The "world" is here used in the current Johannine sense of "humanity unregenerate, humanity without grace, or apart from God." The hatred of the world to Christ was pressing down upon his spirit like an intolerable load. He admitted that, from its own standpoint, there was some justification for the feeling. The world hates its censor; it repels the judgment passed upon it. It is satisfied with itself and its own idea of righteousness. It is satisfied with its own standards and cries and professions, so that to be accused of wrongful notions, of a depravity under the clothing of Pharisaic propriety, of a hidden leprosy which is eating into its vitals, rouses all its animosity. If Christ were to go, he must deliver his soul. Already the thunder peal of Matthew 22-25, to be shortly delivered after full assertion of the nature of his work, and in the metropolis of the theocracy, was hurtling in his soul, and he foresaw the outburst of maddened rage which would follow; but with melancholy and some gentle irony he said, "The world against which I have to deliver my prophetic burden cannot (οὐ δύναται, moral impossibility) hate you! Your aim is to fall in with its demands, to realize its corrupt and unspiritual dreams. You are violating none of its cherished fancies; you are abasing none of its idols; your time is always ready; my time is not yet come."
Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come.
Verse 8. - Go ye up to the feast. "Join the pilgrim bands. Take part in the ceremonial of sacrifice and lustration. Be there in good time for the booth building. You have no testimony to deliver against the corruption of the holiest service, the hollowness of the ritual thanksgiving." I go not yet unto this feast. The text as it here stands frees the language of our Lord from the charge of Porphyry, or proves that it was founded on false premisses; though the fact that the apparent refusal was so soon followed by a compliance makes it probable that the real point of the sentence rests not so much on the οὔπω as on the ταύτην ἑορτήν. Not as a pilgrim, not in triumphal procession, would he go to the Feast of Tabernacles. He reserved that solemn sacrificial act for a later occasion, He would suffer as the Paschal Lamb, not go to Jerusalem to assert the completion of its acceptable year, and to foment the self-satisfaction of its religious guides. This is not satisfactory, because there is no feast the special features of which seemed to furnish our Lord with more obvious illustrations of his own work and Person. Moreover, he did make his appearance in the midst of the feast. So Godet and Meyer accepted the οὐκ, and urge therefrom the fact that Jesus deliberately altered his intention, so soon as a new motive sufficiently strong presented itself. With the assistance of οὔπω, or with such an emphasis upon the present tense (ἀναβαίνω) as to make it equivalent to the introduction of a νῦν, the passage means. "I am not going up now." Chrysostom, Lucke, De Wette, see in this suggestion the solution of the problem and a preparation for what follows. The word ἐγγύς, "nigh" (ver. 2), may reasonably be interpreted with more latitude than is generally done. It might easily mean a date sufficiently near to be the topic of conversation in the family circle, even were it still a month before the celebration. The preparations may have been made, the pilgrims were beginning to assemble for their long journey, and the "not yet" and the emphasis on the present tense of ἀναβαίνω may easily have been conditioned by some of the special work which had still to be completed in Galilee on the way to Judaea and Persea. Because my season - my special opportunity - has not been yet fulfilled; or, fully come. Probably this clause points to the completion of the predestined hour of his consummation, of the baptism with which he should be baptized, the fire that he would kindle, the work which he would finish.
When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee.
Verse 9. - Having said these things to them, he abode in Galilee. Such a respite cannot mean a few days only. Not until after this period, and possibly after the brethren had started on the pilgrimage, did "he steadfastly set his face to go up to Jerusalem." A great question arises as to the possibility of harmonizing this journey with the great intercalated portion of Luke's Gospel (Luke 9:51-18:31). This is not the place to consider the numerous and complicated problems involved. One thing is certain - that the synoptists all describe the final departure from Galilee, which followed a period of partial retirement from the multitude, and of instructions, miracles, and advice rendered in the inner circle of his immediate followers. They also (Matthew 17:24; Matthew 19:1; Matthew 20:17; and Mark 10:1 especially) indicate that, on our Lord's journey to Jerusalem after closing his Galilaean ministry, he went into Judaea, and thence to the land of Peraea on the other side of the Jordan. This latter statement is perfectly in harmony with John's representation (John 10:40), where, after an extended journey in Judaea and the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, we hear that he spent three months beyond Jordan Numerous critics, whose views are well entitled to consideration, urge that on this occasion our Lord did resume his Galilaean ministry and effect his final departure as described in Matthew 19:1. Now, the circumstantial way in which Luke describes incidents upon the last journey to Jerusalem leads many to look for the full chronological detail of this last transaction. It contains, however, many incidents between John 9:51 and John 18:31, where the final events of the last approach to Jerusalem are brought into chronological relations with the other three Gospels, which could not all have been connected with the journey to the Feast of Tabernacles. Edersheim and Weiss alike infer that, since Luke says nothing of the Feast of Tabernacles, he has reckoned in this period the events appertaining to the Peraean ministry and the return to the Feast of Dedication, as well as the final determination to challenge the authorities at Jerusalem, with his assertion of true Messiahship, and the last approach to Jerusalem. Luke does not describe the route taken, but implies on several occasions Christ's growing determination to confront Jerusalem; and also implies that he had visited it "often" (Luke 13:31-34), with the purpose of gathering it under his gracious sway and protection. There are, moreover, a few incidents mentioned which synchronize with the journey to the Feast of Tabernacles. He went through Samaria instead of by the frequented Peraean route on the other side of Jordan (Luke 9:52). There the Samaritans refuse to receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem, and the Boanerges are rebuked for their Elijah-like desire. The incident of the cure of ten lepers, one of them a Samaritan, probably belongs to the same journey; and, above all, the interesting fragment of the visit to Martha and Mary at a certain village. This village may, as Edersheim suggests, have been the retirement from which our Lord emerged in the midst of the Feast of Tabernacles. Many other of the narratives belong to the closing period of our Lord's life. The most difficult event to harmonize with the suggestions of this passage of John and with the subsequent hints of chronological arrangement, is the choice of the seventy disciples, which Weiss regards as a kind of misapprehension, but which Edersheim (loc cit.,vol. 2:135) believes to have been one of the great events of this journey to the Feast of Tabernacles. It must be admitted that it is strangely inconsistent with the journey which was conducted as it were "in secret." It would be more natural to believe that it was one of the incidents of the ministry in Peraea, of which Mark gives traces, and for which John provides the true place (John 10:40). Lunge and Godet argue that between the departure from the capital (ch. 9.) and the Feast of Dedication, our Lord resumed his work in Galilee, and there pursued the abundant ministry recorded between Luke 10. and 18. (see notes of Godet and Lunge, 10:22; 10:40); and that the final departure from Galilee was with a great convoy. Ewald and Meyer regard this as a violent attempt at harmonistic arrangement of the details before us. To resume the narrative -
But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.
Verse 10. - But when his brethren were gone up to the feast, then went he also up, not manifestly, but as it were in secret. The emendation of the text is important, for it draws attention to the fact that, while the brethren went up to the feast, he simply went up, towards Jerusalem - not, however, in the pilgrim caravan, but as a quiet wayfarer, blessing lepers, comforting souls, pouring forth on a favoured few his truth, till he reached the certain village at the very gates of Jerusalem. What a contrast there was between the first visit (ch. 2.), when he appeared suddenly in the temple, and cast out the money changers, or that when (ch. 5.) he went to the "unnamed" feast as a pilgrim! The hostility has deepened; the "world" hates its Saviour, because he would save it from its sins, interpret it to itself, and offer spiritual rather than temporal benediction. The phrase, "in secret," has led some of the Tubingen school to suggest a docetic view of the Person of Christ; but the suggestion is reckless and absurd. Moulten, who conceives that the mission of the seventy disciples preceded this advent, says even this does not clash with the idea of a virtually secret and retired advance.
Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he?
Verses 11-19. -
(2) The controversy among "Jews" concerning Christ - his first discussion with them. Verse 11. - The Jews therefore sought him at the feast. The ruling and hostile powers, the unbelieving hierarchy, Caiaphas and his party (John 6:41, 52; vers. 13, 15), because of his non-appearance in the Galilaean caravan, went hither and thither, saying, Where is he? - ἐκεῖνος, "that notorious Person," whose claims maddened us some months agone, and whose deeds are being talked of throughout the city, whom the Galilaeans would have constrained to take up arms and crown: where is he? Luther said that their malice was so great that they forbore to name him. But we can hardly press the ἐκεῖνος so far as that.
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.
Verse 12. - And there was much murmuring among the multitudes concerning him. This vivid dramatic touch lifts a veil, and we see the eager excitement of those who fancied themselves duped, or who were at least disappointed by his non-appearance. Some said one thing, and some another. One group was loud in his praises, and another suspicious either of his orthodoxy or his patriotism, or both. Some said, He is a good man; i.e. one who was unselfish, kind, true, beneficent, and honest in his intentions, and one personally trustworthy. But others said - or, were saying; i.e. the murmur, the head shaking, of others was a flat denial of his ἀγάθοτης - Nay; but (on the other hand) he leadeth the multitude astray. The "multitude" in this clause is probably the vulgar crowd, and the contemptuous reference to them may be the language of the Jerusalem populace rather than the provincial caravans. The multitude would escape from the Pharisaic leading strings, should they embrace his views either concerning the sabbath or the expected Messiah.
Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.
Verse 13. - Howbeit no man - either those who murmured to each other a favourable or a calumnious judgment - spake out openly concerning him, by reason of (their) fear of the Jews. The hierarchy, the guardians of orthodoxy, the authorities, the rabbis by whose verdict the character and claims of Jesus must be decided, had not publicly delivered their opinion. Those who believed in the "goodness" of Jesus were silenced, or did not proceed beyond a feeble murmur of applause, however much some may have felt the truth of their own impression. Those who came to an adverse opinion were also so much cowed by the "Jews," by the ecclesiastical authorities, that even they did not venture to express themselves save "with bated breath and whispered humbleness," lest they might err in the form of their condemnation. The section vers. 14-36 contains three discourses: one of which (vers. 14-24) describes the nature and ground of his human ministry; vers. 25-29, while treating the insolence of the multitude, portray an animated scene of conflicting opinion, in the course of which the Lord renewed the assurance of his Divine origin, as well as of the Divine sources of his teaching; vers. 30-36 refer to his approaching death or departure, as part of a Divine plan concerning him. Throughout, with dramatic propriety, the varying opinions of different classes of the people are introduced.
Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.
Verse 14. - When it was already the midst of the feast; or, when already the festival had reached the middle stage. Since the feast lasted seven or eight days, this is reasonably supposed to be on the fourth day. We may presume that he had been spending a few days at Bethany (Luke 10:38), front retirement of which he issued rather as a Prophet and Teacher than as the Messiah of the popular expectation. He went up - he came suddenly - into the temple, into the midst of the crowds where his followers would be found, who would shield him, humanly speaking, from the covert designs of his angry assailants. "He was adorned with the wreath of popular veneration, till this wreath was torn and withered by the poisonous breath of their enmity" (Lange). He went up into the temple, and taught (ἐδίδασκε, continuously taught). We can only conjecture the theme of these instructions. They must have been sufficiently varied and peculiar to have excited much attention. Either parable, or apothegm, or stirring appeal, or quotation and interpretation from the Old Testament, or voice from the fathomless depths of his own consciousness, may have formed its staple. In his burning summons to conscience, and his gracious offers of mercy, the people who had listened to him on the mountainside or lakeside were accustomed to say, "He speaks with authority, not as the scribes."
And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?
Verse 15. - The Jews therefore marvelled, saying, etc. "The Jews," as elsewhere, mean the ruling and learned class, the men of power and weight in the metropolis, who must have heard his teaching. The immediate effect of the appearance and words was great astonishment. In spite of themselves, they are moved by the command he manifested over all the springs of thought and feeling. The point of their astonishment is, not that he is wise and true, but that he could teach without having been taught in their schools. How doth this man know letters? (not the "Holy Scriptures," ἱερα γράμματα, nor πάσας γραφάς, but simply γράμματα, literature, such as we teach it; cf. Acts 26:24). He can interpret our oracles; he is acquainted with the methods of teaching, though he has not learned - has never sat in any of our schools. Saul of Tarsus was brought up at the feet of Gomaliel. And ordinarily a man was compelled to undergo a lengthened noviciate in the schools before he was allowed to assume the office of a teacher. The inherited wisdom of the past is in the great majority of cases the basis of the most conspicuous teaching of the most original and unique of the great sages. The "Jews" were sufficiently acquainted with the origin and training of Jesus to be astonished at his knowledge of the interpretations of Scripture and other wisdom. "This tells powerfully against all attempts, ancient and modern, to trace back the wisdom of Jesus to some school of human culture" (Meyer). The attempts to establish a connection between the teaching of Christ and the hidden wisdom of the Zendavesta, or esoteric utterances of Buddha, or even the traditionary teaching of the Essenes, or the Platonizing schools of Alexandria or Ephesus, have failed. The mystery of his training as a man in the village of Nazareth is one of the evidences given to the world that there was an unknown element in his consciousness. He had not even the advantage of the schools of Hillel or Gamaliel. His own wondrous soul, by much pondering on the genuine significance of the Scriptures, is the only explanation to which even his enemies can appeal. Jesus knew the meaning, heard the murmuring of their surprise on this head, and so we read -
Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
Verse 16. - Jesus therefore answered them and said, etc. He met this particular allegation as follows: My teaching is not mine. The "my" refers to the teaching itself, the "mine" to the ultimate authority on which it rests. I am not a self-taught Man, as though out of the depths of my own independent human consciousness I span it. I do not mean you to suppose that my mere human experience is the sole source of my instructions (ch. 5:31). If you have sat at the feet of those who taught you, I, too, am a Representative of another; but (the ἀλλά after οὐκ is not equivalent to tam...quam. It introduces here the absolute source of all his teaching) it is the teaching of him who sent me. I have not learned in your schools, but am uttering the thoughts that come from an infinitely deeper source. "He who sent me" gave them to me. I have been in intimate communion with HIM. All that I say is Divine thought. I have drawn it all from the Lord of all. I came from him, and represent to you the will of God. This is a lofty prophetic claim, more urgent, more complete, than that made by Moses or Isaiah. Special messages, oracles, and burdens were delivered by the prophets with a "Thus saith the Lord." But Jesus says his thoughts are God's thoughts, his ways God's ways, his teachings not his own, but altogether those of him who sent him.
If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
Verse 17. - The moral test is then applied to the great dictum which he had just uttered. If any man willeth - not merely desires, but performs the distinct act of willing - to do his will - as his will - he shall know; i.e. his intellectual faculty will be quickened into high activity by this moral and practical effort. If the Divine will concerning conduct meets the spontaneous act of the human will, if a man's will is set to fulfil the Divine will, to will and do what is revealed to him by God, the eye of the soul will be opened to see other things as well, and especially will have power to discern the all-pervading Divine element in this teaching of mine. He shall know concerning (περί) the teaching, whether it be of (ἐκ) God, or whether I speak from myself - from the simple ground of my own independent, self-taught humanity. The first and natural application of this mighty dictum and condition was a test by which the Jews might come at once to the understanding of his more than prophetic claim to teach - he having never learned in their rabbinical schools. It amounted to this: Your moral harmony with the will of God as already revealed to you will be the sure index and confirmation of the great fact I have just referred to. You will discern the Divine in my words, the absolutely true in my teaching. Here the Lord again refers to the great principle, "He that hath heard of the Father, and learned, cometh unto me;" "He that is of the truth heareth my voice." This moral submission to God will quicken all your powers to discern and come to an invincible assent as to my claims. This is not the deep subjective testimony of the inner intuition of those that already believe, by which a verbal assent becomes a fall consent, an unchangeable conviction, or "the full assurance of faith;" but it is addressed to unbelievers, and assures those who are bewildered by the novelty and sweep of his own words that, if they are set on doing the will of God, they will become perfectly satisfied that his own teaching, such as it is, is a stream of heavenly truth bursting from the very heart of God. The text has been cited by certain writers as the sum totel of the Christian revelation, almost as though it substituted practical obedience for true thinking, as though people might well be content with holy living, and might safely leave the decision of all difficult problems of thought and revelation to shift for themselves. Nothing could be further from its real meaning, either at the time or in any of its subsequent or universal applications. The solemn utterance has a wide outlook, and is constantly establishing its own verity. A profound and voluntary desire to do the will of God is the best preparation for intuitively perceiving the Divine authority of Christ and of his religion. The desire for holiness of principle and life sees in Christ not only the loftiest ideal of perfection, but the surest satisfaction to its conscious weakness, and casts itself upon his promises of saving power. The faith which is satisfied with Christ is not merely a conclusion drawn by logical processes from satisfactory premisses, it is the consequence of a new nature or a moral regeneration. In other words, it is the more practical and expanded form of the truth first of all addressed to Nicodemus, and also lying at the heart of the Beatitudes: "Except a man be born anew [from above], he cannot see the kingdom of God." If he is born again he will see it. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." "No man can come unto me except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him." The sentence presents the truth in a hopeful and positive form, and puts the criterion of the Divine informant within the reach of practical ethics. It is an appeal to the conscience as well as to the understanding. Apart from the subjective moral element, all other evidences of the presence of the Divine in nature, in history, in Christ, will be unimpressive and unimportant. A willingness to do the will of God is not a substitute for, but a condition of, true knowledge.
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.
Verse 18. - The following sentence is perfectly general and applicable to all teachers of Divine truth, though it only reaches its highest expression in Christ himself. But while it has numerous applications, its first use is to ratify the previous statements, and prepare the way for what is to follow. He that speaketh from himself. This was an act which he, in his own case, disclaimed. The "himself" was here the personality which then was in question as a human Teacher. He that speaketh from himself as the Source of all his instructions. He who would take the credit of being the primal Cause and Orion of the message which he delivers is a man who seeketh his own glory, his own reputation, at the expense of those who instructed him. The Jewish schoolmen were most anxious at all times to found their instructions on Rabbi "This," or "That," who had himself quoted from some more ancient father of their erudition. A man who should presume to teach in his own name would be one who was manifestly not seeking any higher end than his own glory. Ambition of personal glory and renown is the very thing the absence of which the multitude condemned in Christ's case. The brethren of Jesus had tauuted him with the lack of bold self assertion. Our Lord's own position just taken was that his teaching was not self-originated, but was the teaching or message "of him that sent him." But whoso (he added) seeketh the glory of him that sent him, whether the sender be a mortal man and earthly teacher, or be the Lord God of the whole world, i.e. "whoso loses his own individual purpose in the will of God, and is content to be nothing so that God may be glorified," this person (οῦτος) is true, trustworthy; his message is not perverted by any of the contaminating influences of the self-hood, or flesh, and there is no unrighteousness (a)diki/a is a stronger antithesis to ἀληθής than ψεῦδος is. It is the moral basis out of which falsehood springs) - no unrighteousness in him. The sentence is general, but has its prime application to Christ's own ease. It is a reply to the charge that "he deceiveth the people." It is a further challenge to those who are willing to do the will of God. It is a summons to proceed a step further, and recognize the fact that the glory of God, and not his own glory, was the sole end of his teaching, and that the direct command from him that sent him formed the substance of his doctrine, however much it might clash with their preconceived ideas or dominant prejudices.
Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?
Verse 19. - Jesus was not unaware that serious charges were brought against his interpretation of the sabbatic law; that the Jews sought to kill him for his identification of his own mind and working with the Father's mind and working. On this account for a considerable time he had confined his ministry to Galilee. The old story of the sabbath healing was now rife once more, doubtless augmented with the rumors of the healing of the man with the withered hand, and other actions profoundly in harmony with the deep meaning of the sabbath rest. To the mind of the fourth evangelist; the explanation given by Christ to the authorities in Jerusalem was of prime significance in the whole sabbatic controversy; and he has recorded the defence Jesus made of his doctrine which placed him at once on the platform of the men with whom he was now beginning a life-and-death conflict. He used their methods, and, so far as the adequate grounds of connection were concerned, he was triumphant, Did not Moses give you the Law? - the whole revealed Law of God concerning moral conduct and daily ritual, a violation of the real spirit of which would be ἀδικία, and of which you accuse me - and (yet) none of you doeth the Law? Does he here call attention to the universal disobedience of mankind? Is he forestalling the declaration that "all have sinned, and come short;" that "in many things all offend"? Certainly not. He is about to show at greater length that the charge of ἀδικία stands equally against the justifiable transposition of the letter of the lower law by the incidence of a higher law. They must all know the innumerable occasions in which the letter of the law of the sabbath gave way to the law of mercy, to the law of hunger, to the exigencies of the temple services. "None of you doeth the Law," i.e. in the sense in which you are (from other motives) expecting me to do it. He said enough to strike their consciences and charge home their cherished if secret purpose. Why do ye seek to kill me? With what right, since this is the case, do ye vent your malice against me? Meyer and Godet here differ as to the emphasis laid upon the "me." The position of the enclitic με before ζητεῖτε gives it a prominence not to be overlooked. The interpretation of many - that the intention or desire to kill Jesus is the inward proof that the conscience of the Jews would admit that they were not keeping the Law which said, "Thou shalt not kill" - is very far-fetched, and weak in its force, although, according to the entire old covenant, there was much killing which was not murder. Such a reference would not correspond with the profoundly Hebrew response made by our Lord. Calvin here makes this reply of Christ a text on which to denounce, in his own day, the corruption of the papal court.
The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?
Verses 20-24. -
(3) Treatment of the ignorance and insolence of the multitude. Verse 20. - The multitude, who broke out in angry and ignorant remonstrance, answered (and said). Thou hast a daemon. Who is seeking to kill thee? Thou must have some evil spirit tormenting thee with such cruel and melancholy foreboding (cf. John 8:48; John 10:20). This was an outburst of insolent and ignorant amazement on their part, that One who taught so wonderfully "should imagine what they deem a moral impossibility and dark delusion" (Meyer). The design rankling in the hearts of the authorities was too well known to our Lord, and, not deigning to notice the interruption and the insult, he continued -
Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel.
Verse 21. - Jesus answered and said to them; i.e. to the multitude wire had so coarsely treated him, and to the "Jews" who were present, who were all marvelling together at the line he was taking. The very interruption was a proof both of the extent and consequence of their wonderment. One work I did, and ye are all marvelling. This one work was a very small fraction of his mighty signs, but it was one which, from its manner of operation, and from the fact that it was immediately brought before the religious authorities as an unlawful act (ch. 5.), and which, moreover, became the occasion for one of the greatest of his discourses, and for his solemn claim to be the Son of God and the Arbiter of life and death, of resurrection and judgment, made the profoundest impression on the Sanhedrin, compelled them to think that he was a Man who must be sooner or later arrested, and who deserved condign punishment. He must be either submitted to, confined as a madman, or killed as a blasphemer.
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.
Verse 22. - Moses on this account (for this cause) hath given (assigned) you the circumcision (not that it is of Moses, but of the fathers). If we accept the text as above, the question arises - Does it refer to the parenthetical clause or to the principal verb? Meyer renders as follows: "Therefore Moses gave you circumcision, not because it originated with Moses, but (because it originated) with the fathers, and so ye circumcise," etc., making the precedence of the law of circumcision to the sabbatic law part of the very purport of his appointment. But many others, "For this cause" - to teach this lesson - Moses, who gave the ten commandments, one of which involved the sabbatic rest, took up into the Law which he gave you the still older law of the Abrahamic covenant, and laid down the stringent rule that the rite must be performed on the eighth day (Leviticus 12:3) - a principle which was seen to involve the infringement of the sabbath law. This is, in substance, the view of Moulton, Lange, Westcott, and others. To expound the διὰ τούτο by the οὐχ ὅτι is (Westcott) contrary to the usage of 2 Corinthians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 3:5; Philippians 4:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; but it is still more against the argument. Moses did not give circumcision because it was of the fathers, - at least that is not the point; but Jesus argues that he gave circumcision as a mode of legislation which will involve a modification of his own sabbatic regimen. Stringent as was the law of the sabbath, it would have, on occasion, to yield to the more searching and stringent rule of admission into the covenant of grace. "If the sabbath could give way to a mere ceremonial law, how much more to a work of mercy, which is older and higher than any ritual!" 'Mish. Sabb.,' 19:1, fol. 128, b, "Everything required for circumcision may be completed on the sabbath;" and so 19:2. The reason is given: 'Midrash Tanchuma,' fol. 9, b, "The healing of a sick man dangerously ill, and circumcision, break through the sabbath sanctity."
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?
Verse 23. - If a man on (a) sabbath receive circumcision, which was the removal by surgical means of what was regarded as a cause and sign of physical impurity, as well as the seal of the covenant made with the family of Abraham, that his seed should be heir of the world, and that in that seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed, in order that the law of Moses might not be broken. It is not without difficulty that, in the previous verse, the law of circumcision on the eighth day is declared to be older than Moses, to have come down from the fathers of the consecrated race: how, then, does he call it the law of Moses? Clearly he refers to the fact that this particular law was embodied by Moses and made part of his own code, even though in one respect it was obviously older than the particular form of the fourth commandment, and must frequently clash with the letter of that commandment. The law of Moses, then, as much as the law of the Abrahamic covenant, would have been broken by any infraction of the rule which made circumcision incumbent on the eighth day. The common custom of the people was to adminster this rite on that day, even if it fell on a sabbath. "None of you keepeth the Law" in its Strict integrity, said Jesus. Nay, it is certain that the older laws, which Moses endorsed and embodied in his own code, do themselves demand such violation from you. This appeal to the spirit of the Law - the closest approach that a Jew could make to the will of God - is reproduced in Paul's Epistles (Colossians 2:11; Ephesians 2:11). Are ye then wroth with me (χολᾶτε, χολᾶν (from χολῆ, bile, gall) - to be bitter with wrath, and even mad with rage (Aristoph., 'Nub.,' 833), is found in 3Macc. 3:1, but not elsewhere in the New Testament) - because I made an entire man - i.e. the whole frame of the paralyzed man (not his spirit or mind in contrast with his body) - sound - or, healthy - on a sabbath day? The antithesis is not between healing the wound of circumcision and healing the paralytic. Of the former there does not seem the faintest trace, notwithstanding the conjecture of Lampe. Circumcision was the removal of an offending portion of the human body, the sanitary purpose of which rite was strenuously believed in, but it was a partial cleansing and actual excision of one member of the body. To accomplish this purpose Moses, by his enactment, regarded even the sabbatic law as subsidiary. Why, then are the Jews wrathful with Jesus for making an entire man - a whole physical frame - healthful on the sabbath? The stress laid on the Authorized Version and R.T. translations, "every whit whole," by some commentaries is unfortunate; for it would throw discredit on circumcision altogether, which was far from our Lord's contention here, and would reduce the force of his argument. Christ does not in this argument take up the great line of defence pursued in ch. 5. Nor does he call the healing of the paralytic more than an ἔργον, a "work;" but it must be remembered that he had spoken on the previous occasion of his great miracles as "works," the like to which he saw the Father ever doing.
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
Verse 24. - Judge not according to appearance ? the superficial aspect of things, the merely formal side, the unexplained letter of the Law. Οψις id quod sub visum cadit res in conspicuo posita. According to that, the healing and the bed carrying consequent upon it would be a positive infraction of a certain enactment. But judge righteous judgment. Consider the case, and see that I have done, in this act of healing, less than you are doing yourselves, notwithstanding all your punctilio, and with a higher justification. The aorist κρίνατε involves probably "the one true and complete decision which the case admits" (Westcott).
Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill?
Verses 25-29. -
(4) Special perplexity of some Jerusalemites, and Christ's reply. A second scene is here described, not necessarily on the day of his first appearance in the temple, though it took place in the temple (ver. 28). We see, however, a new wave of feeling. The multitude, or part of it, that gathered round him was maddened with his intimation of the murderous animosity of the authorities; but the dwellers in Jerusalem were better informed of the malignant spirit he had excited. Verse 25. - Therefore - by reason of his bold self-vindication - some of the Jerusalemites (this word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in Mark 1:5) were saying, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? If the multitudes of the provincials were ignorant of the design of the hierarchy, the plot was not a complete secret.
But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?
Verse 26. - And behold he speaketh openly (see vers. 4 and 13), and they say nothing to him. They neither tackle him in argument nor refute his self-vindication, neither do they arrest him or carry out their known project. Have they altered their minds? Are they convinced of his claims? Has he successfully rebutted the charge of sabbath breaking? Does it all vanish on close approach? Then they go a step further, which, if it were the true explanation, would entirely account for their obvious indecision. They even say to one another, with sufficient frequency for the reporter to have heard it, Can it be that the rulers indeed know (μήποτε ἔγνωσαν, did they at any time come to perceive? The particle expects a dubious though negative response, "we don't think so; but is it probable? surely not!") that this (person) is the Christ? The rulers must decide this weighty matter, for us at least who dwell in Jerusalem. The question shows how widespread, how detailed, was the idea of the coming Christ. This supposition with reference to their rulers was momentary, and conflicted with another standing objection to the claims of Jesus.
Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.
Verse 27. - Howbeit we know this Man whence he is; that is, they knew his parentage, the place of his early life, the father, mother, brothers, and sisters (Matthew 13:55, 58). There was none of the mystery about him which they anticipated for their Messiah. It is even intimated that it was known where he was born (vers. 41, 42), and that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem, so that the mere fact of birthplace is not the difficulty that occurred to them. A tradition had gathered, which was perhaps originated by Daniel 7:13 or Malachi 3:1, that he would make a sudden descent on the temple - a dazzling appearance at his Messianic enthronization, coming in the clouds of heaven, and that none would "declare his generation." So, according to 'Sanh.,' 97, a, "three things are wholly unexpected - Messiah, a god-send, and a scorpion" (cf. 'Mid. on Cantic. 2:9'). Justin Martyr puts into the lips of Trypho, 'Dial.,' 8, "But Christ - if he has indeed been born, and exists anywhere - is unknown, and does not even know himself, and has no power until Elias come to anoint him and make him manifest to all." So these Jerusalemites said, When the Christ cometh (ἔρχηται makes his Christwise manifestation - is in act of coming), no one knoweth whence he is. This Messianic manifestation has been tardy and gradual, if it be one at all We know the home, the daily upbringing of Jesus - we know whence he is, or think we do; and so the whole affair clashes with a current expectation. We know enough, too much, of this Jesus for it to be possible for him to fill up this portion of the Messianic programme. This may have been the outcome of the general criticism. Other defects, according to their idea, may have been urged. The many-sidedness of the hope, the vagueness of the dream, as it shaped itself in current Jewish thought, suffered almost any amount of doubt as to the exact form of the approaching manifestation. That to which our Lord especially replied revealed the practical and ethical claim he advanced to their acceptance from himself of the word of the Lord.
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.
Verse 28. - Jesus therefore cried - lifted up his voice in such a way as to cause wide astonishment. (The word is found in John 1:15 of John the Baptist, and ver. 37 and John 12:44; but frequently in the synoptists and Acts, and very frequently in the LXX.) The trumpet peal sounded through the courts of the temple, and the crowds rushed in the direction from which it proceeded. He cried in the temple. This clause is added, notwithstanding the statement of ver. 14, and it intimates a break in the discourse, a sudden and trenchant response to certain loudly uttered murmurs of the Jerusalem multitude. Ye both know me, and know whence I am. Surely (with De Wette, Meyer, Westcott, Moulton) the Lord distinctly concedes to the men of Jerusalem a certain amount of superficial knowledge. It is lamentably defective in respect of that for which they imagine it all-sufficient; and yet this knowledge was highly significant and important as far as it went. Such knowledge of his birthplace and his family, his provincial training, his Galilaean ministry, were all proofs to them of his humanity - that he belonged to their race, was bone of their bone, and sympathizing in their deepest sorrows, understood their noblest aspirations. Such a concession, moreover, repudiates the supposed docetic character of the Christ of the Fourth Gospel. Many commentators regard the exclamation its ironical and interrogatory (Grotius, Lampe, Calvin, Lucke, and even Godet), without sufficient warrant. Our Lord, however, soon shows that, though they are rightly informed about certain obvious facts, there were others of stupendous importance which could go a long way towards rcconciling their many-sided and conflicting ideas of Messiah, of which they were yet in ignorance. And yet (all commentators show that there is a certain adversative force about this third καί; see also ver. 30; John 8:20; John 9:30; Mark 12:12) I am not come from myself (see John 5:30). I have not risen upon the wings of my own ambition. It is not my mere human whim and purpose, or my desire for self-glorification, which brings me before you. You may know the home of my childhood; and watched as I have been by your eager spies, as you had full right to do, you may know all my public proceedings, and yet you have not fathomed the fact that I have not come on my own errand, nor does my humanity as you have grasped it cover the whole of the facts about me. There is a peculiarity, a uniqueness, about my coming that you have yet to learn. I have been sent to you; but he that sent me is real - a reality to me, which makes it an absolute reality in itself. The use of ἀληθινός is somewhat peculiar, and, unless with some commentators and Revisers we make it equal to ἀλήθης, and thus disturb the uniform usage of St. John, we must either imagine under the word a real "Sender," or one really answering to the idea already announced as of One competent to send. "He that sent me, the Father," of whom I spoke (John 5:37) when last we conversed together, is the overwhelming Reality in this case. Whom ye know not. The Jerusalem multitudes were suffering grievously from the superstitious limitations of their own faith, from the traditions, the symbolism, the letter, the form, which had well nigh strangled, suffocated, the underlying truths. They had in many ways lost the God whose great Name they honoured. They failed to apprehend his awful nearness to them, his love to every man, his compassion to the world, the demand of his righteousness, the condition of seeing him, the way to his rest - "Him ye know not." This was a serious rebuke of the entire system which prevailed at Jerusalem. Not understanding nor knowing the Father, they were unable to see the possibility of his having sent to them, through the life and lips of a Man whom they knew, his last and greatest message.
But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me.
Verse 29. - (But) I know him; because I am from him - my inmost nature, the centre of my ego, proceeds, is derived, from him. I have come forth from him. There is that about me and my origin which has brought me into such intimate relations with the Father that I know him as ye do not know him (cf. John 8:55) - and he (whom I thus know, and to whom I refer, ἐκεῖνος) sent me. This sending is a further condition of the knowledge which you fail to appreciate, but which would make all things plain to you. If this knowledge should break as the daystar on their darkness, would they not at once see that, up to that point at least, in their experience they did not know, or had not known, whence he was, in the grandest sense. The charge of ignorance and the claim of supernatural knowledge, Divine origin, Divine commission, was too much for these Jerusalemites. They thought it blasphemy.
Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.
Verses 30-36. -
(5) The divided opinions and conduct of the different groups around him; the attempt on his life, and its failure. Verse 30. - They sought therefore to seize him: and (equivalent to "but;" see ver. 28) no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. It was in their heart to combine with "the Jews," but none dared to touch him. There were political considerations, there were lingering and coruscating fires of enthusiasm burning in the hearts of those who had seen his great works; and probably an awe, a superstitious fear, of some stroke of his reputed power held them back. The evangelist once more notices the true cause of this arrest of their malignity: "The hour" for the termination of his self-revelation, for the completion of his self-surrender, the hour which to the beloved disciple's eye was the very consummation of the ages, had not struck.
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?
Verse 31. - The antagonism and the faith come into sharper expression. As the spirit-like words stir up malignant passion, they also excite new and deepening confidence. The flash of lightning, which reveals to many the glory of a landscape, may strike others blind or dead. While the authorities are harder, more unspiritual and blinder, than before, yet many of the multitude - i.e. off the general crowd, whether belonging to Jerusalem or not - believed on him, passed into the glorious illumination which falls on his own Person, and all things else. We cannot say that the whole was cleared up to them, but it was an acceptance by them to some extent of his Messianic claims. He was more than a mere Prophet to them, or Leader, as is obvious from the tone of the speech which follows: And they said (were saying to one another), while others, perhaps, so soon as they had taken his side, began to urge his claims on those that doubted - When the Christ shall come, will he do more signs than those which this Man hath done? The omission of τούτων makes the question refer to the entire group of signs which had been already performed, and not confine itself to the proceedings of Jesus in Jerusalem. They expected Messiah to give proof of his Divine commission (cf. Matthew 11:4, 5, 20-25). Has not Jesus satisfied all reasonable claims? The question was like fire in touchwood. A conflagration might at any moment burst from the excitable throng which no decision of the Sanhedrin could repress. Something must at once be done to allay the excitement. In the crowd which was pressing the claims of Jesus were many Pharisees, an immensely larger element in the population than the chief priests, and therefore more likely at once to bring such information to the central religious authority.
The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.
Verse 32. - The Pharisees heard the multitude (generally) murmuring these things concerning him; repeating the language of those who believed, comparing their expectations with the reality. They seem to have occasioned a hasty and informal session of the Sanhedrin, and we read that the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers - servants "clothed with legal authority," and therefore intimating a decision already come to in the supreme council (cf. John 11:53; John 18:3, 12; John 19:6; Acts 5:22, 26) - to seize him (cf. this description of the Sanhedrin in Matthew 21:45; Matthew 27:62). The "chief priests" - a phrase often occurring in the writings of Luke, and here for the first time in this Gospel - cannot be confined to the official "high priest," but may include the ex-high priests, perhaps the heads of the twenty-four courses of priests and the chiefs of the priestly party, though there is no proof of it. The Pharisees and priests were often at enmity, but there were several occasions during our Lord's ministry when they combined against a common foe. The Pharisees had been his most steady opponents in Galilee. The eighth and ninth chapters of Matthew, with parallel passages, reveal the growing animosity of their demeanour, and their disposition to misunderstand, to oppose, and to crush every great self-revelation made by him. Their chiefs were in Jerusalem, and doubtless formed a powerful element in the great council. The formality of this session of the council may be reasonably questioned. There had been orders then for the arrest, which they had only to put at any time, if they dared, into immediate operation.
Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me.
Verse 33. - Jesus therefore said. We are left in doubt to whom he addressed these weighty words, probably to the entire group of friends and foes. Yet a little while am I with you (six months would bring round the last Passover). The movement had not escaped him. It is as though he had said, "I see all that will happen. This is my death struggle with those whom I am sent to teach and save. For a little while only will the possibility of approach to me for life and peace be continued. You have taken steps to shorten my career. You would even now silence me." And I go unto him that sent me. I am going; you are hurrying me back to the Father who sent me on this commission of instruction and of life giving. This was in a sense enigmatical and puzzling. It might bear other meanings than the one which we now see it to have borne. It is quite extravagant of Reuss to describe the misunderstandings of Christ's hearers as an intolerable contradiction. We are not so ready or able to understand any of our Lord's words in all their fulness even now.
Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.
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.
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?
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."
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?
Verse 36. - What is this word (λόγος) which he spake, Ye shall seek me, and ye shall not find (me), and where I am, ye cannot come? This verse is simply a repetition of the Lord's sentence, which, notwithstanding their damaging interpretation and unconscious prophecy of great events, haunted them with a weird power, and left them, as his word left the officers who were silenced and paralyzed by it, with a sense of undiscovered and awful meaning. Both here and in ver. 45 we see that the evangelist had access to the ideas and converse of the "Jews," which proves that he had special sources of information to which the ordinary synoptic tradition was strange. The thought grows upon one that John was more than the mere fisherman of the lake. He was a friend of Nicodemus, and known to Caiaphas. It is clear that some further time elapses. This conversation, of which we have the prominent items, the chief utterances, was producing its effect upon the two-sided multitude, upon "the Jews," the "Pharisees," the city party, the chief priests. The Lord probably retired once more to the house of Lazarus or of John.
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.
Verses 37-39. -
(6) The claim to be Organ and Giver of the Holy Spirit. Verse 37. - Now on the last day, the great day of the feast. A question arises - Was the last day the seventh or the eighth day? and why was it called the great day? The question cannot be finally answered. The Feast of Tabernacles, according to Numbers 29:12 and Deuteronomy 16:13, is said to last seven days; and, so far as the Mosaic ceremonial goes, the ceremonial of the seventh day was less imposing and festive than either of the preceding days. But Numbers 29:35 shows that the eighth day was also celebrated as a solemn assembly, on which no servile work could be done (cf. Leviticus 23:36; Nehemiah 8:18). In 2 Macc. 10:6 eight days of the feast were spoken cf. On the day of holy convocation the people removed or left their booths, and thus commemorated, with great rejoicing, the close of the wilderness period and the commencement of their national history. It may, moreover, have been called "the great day" because it was the closing day of all the festivals of the year. Josephus calls it "the very sacred close (συμπέρασμα) of the year." The LXX. gives the curious translation ἐξοδίον, for azereth, equivalent to "assembly." This ἐξοδίον Philo ('De Septenaris') describes as the end of the festivals of the sacred year. Meyer, Alford, Godet, Lange, and many others regard the eighth day as that here referred to by the word "great," and find, in the very absence of the ceremonial of drawing water from the Pool of Siloam, the occasion which provoked the reference of our Lord to his own power to meet the spiritual thirst of mankind, thus repeating what he had said to the woman of Samaria of his own grace, with further and nobler expansions. The songs which had been sung on every previous day of the feast were sung without the special rejoicings and water ceremonial. Hence some have thought that the very contrast between the previous days and this last day, "great" in other respects, may have made the reference quite as impressive as if the following words had been spoken in some pause, or at the conclusion of the great Hallel of the seventh day. So Westcott. It should, however, be noted that Rabbi Juda (in the Genesisara on 'Succah') asserts that the water pouring took place on the eighth day as well. This is supposed, by Lange, to be inaccurate or a later addition. Edersheim, however, has given strong reasons for believing that very special ceremonial took place on the seventh day. The people, all carrying in both hands their palm, myrtle, and citron branches, divided into three companies, one of which waited in the temple, one went to Moya to fetch willow branches to adorn the altar, and a third repaired with music to the Pool of Siloam, where the priest filled his golden goblet with water, and returned, with blast of trumpet, by the water gate, to the court of the priests. There he was joined by other priests with vessels of wine. The water was poured into the silver funnel, and at this act burst forth the great Hallel (Psalm 113-118) in responsive chorus. The people shook their palm branches as they sang the words, "Oh, give thanks unto the Lord." On the last day, the great day of the feast, the priests compassed the altar seven times before the sacrifices were kindled, and the songs accompanying the ceremony of this day were called "the great Hosanna." As the people left the temple they shook off their willow leaves on the altar, and beat their palm branches to pieces. Edersheim thinks that it was at the moment when the pause after the great Hallel occurred that Jesus lifted up his voice, and there is much probability in the suggestion. Alford, accepting the non-pouring of the water on the eighth day, considers that the very absence of that ceremonial provided the opportunity for the great utterance which follows. Chrysostom says, on the eighth day, "when they were returning home, he g - adopting an unusual attitude of command, and unaccustomed energy of voice (John 1:35 and ver. 28, note) ? If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink. Christ thus identifies himself with the deepest meaning of the Old Testament and the Hebrew ritual. The sabbath and the temple found the highest expression of their meaning in his life and work. Godet thinks that the underlying reference here was to that of which the ceremonial was a memorial, and pointed to the smiting of the rock in the wilderness, from whose hidden depths the rushing waters flowed. The cry, "If any man thirst," might certainly recall the terrible drought in the wilderness, though there does not seem to me any definite reference to it in what follows. The libation of water was certainly not offered to the multitudes to drink, but the ritual use of water treats it as an dement absolutely essential to our human life. The people gave thanks that they had reached a land where fell the early and latter rain, and fountains and wells and springs of living water ran. Christ offered more than all - the utter final quenching of all torturing thirst. The people sang Isaiah 12:3, "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." He said, "Come to me," and your joy shall be full. To the woman at the well he had said that the water he would give should be in the soul as a well of water springing up into eternal life. but in this connection he promised a much more precious gift.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
Verse 38. - He that believeth on me. The ὁ πιστεύων in the nominative absolute, followed by another construction, gives great force to the mighty words. This is not the first time that Christ has represented believing under the form of both "coming" and "drinking." The one term seems to cover that part of faith in Christ which unites the soul to him, which sides with him, which utterly abandons self to take his word as true and his power as sufficient; the other term, when applied to participation in his blood, implies receiving into the soul the full solace of his imparted life. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall rush torrents of living water. From his newly given, divinely imparted life shall proceed, as from the innermost depths of his consciousness, illimitable supplies of refreshment and fertility for others as well. Each soul will be a rock smitten in the thirsty land, from which crystal rivers of life-giving grace shall flow. Godet urges, against Meyer, the great sufficiency of this particular illustration of the rock in the wilderness as justifying the reference to the phrase, "as the Scripture hath said," and points especially to Exodus 17:6, "Behold, I will stand before thee there... in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and out of it (מִמֶּנּוּ) water shall come, that the people may drink" (cf. Numbers 20:11; Deuteronomy 8:15; Psalm 114:8; passages read during the feast). He thinks the κοιλίας αὐτοὺ corresponds with "from out of it" of Exodus. Hengstenberg laid long and fantastic emphasis on the Canticles,where the κοιλία of the bride of Jehovah is described. It is certain that the numerous passages in the Old Testament, in which the gift of refreshing water is made the symbol of national mercies and spiritual blessings, do, for the most part, fall short of this remarkable expression. Still, Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 55:1; Isaiah 58:11; Joel 3:18; Zechariah 14:8, all more or less approach the thought; but Ezekiel 47:1-12, where from the altar the living, health giving, mighty river flows for the healing of the nations, is so akin to the saying of the Lord, as soon as we recognize the fact that he is greater than the temple, and that his Church is God's temple, and each body of man a temple of the Holy Ghost, that all real difficulty vanishes. The whole history of the Church is one continuous comment and illustration of the exhaustless fulness of his Word. Just as a soul of man comes and drinks of the water of life, he becomes himself a perennial source of life to others. He supplies not cisterns of stagnant water, but rivers of living water (Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16). Chrysostom adds, "One may perceive what is meant, if he will consider the wisdom of Stephen, the tongue of Peter, the vehemence of Paul; how nothing withstood them - not the anger of multitudes, nor the uprising of tyrants, nor plots of devils, nor daily deaths - but, as rivers borne along with loud rushing sound, they went on their way."
(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.)
Verse 39. - This spake he, said the evangelist, concerning the Spirit, which they that believe on him were to receive: for the (Holy) Spirit was not yet (given), because Jesus was not yet glorified. This verse has a great weight, as the evangelist's interpretation of the previous words of the Lord, nor can they be put aside. The history of the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost, and the mighty gift of the risen and glorified Jesus to those who believed on him, are their abundant justification. If the thirty-eighth verse were not an immense advance upon the promise of the thirty-seventh verse, it would not be easy to show how the words of the first promise could only find fulfilment in a future and as yet unrealized condition. Eternal life is a present gift. Satisfaction of the thirst of the soul was an immediate bestowment of Christ, and had been realized by untold multitudes of those who had been inwardly cleansed by the Spirit, who had come to the waters of life, who had received the Logos, and known that they were sons of God. But the thirty-eighth verse speaks of a new and nobler life flowing to others from belief in Christ. It looks forward to the production of a worldwide blessing conditioned by what was yet to happen. So that we cannot doubt that John saw more deeply into the Lord's words than some of those who have criticized his comment. John, says Weiss, does "not mean to explain the metaphor of the living water, but he intends to prove the truth of Jesus' promise from his own blessed experience." "The (Holy) Spirit was not yet" is, however, a strange and startling statement. The work and Person of the Spirit are spoken of throughout the Old Testament - from Genesis 1:2; Genesis 6:3; Job 26:13; Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30; Psalm 139:7; to Zechariah 4:6. The redeeming and renewing, quickening powers of the Spirit are represented as equipping judges, artists, warriors, and prophets for their work, as sanctifying the individual soul (Psalm 51:11; Ezekiel 3:24, 27), and building the temple of God (Haggai 2:5). The prophetic gift is especially referred to the Spirit by St. Paul (1 Corinthians 12:10, 11; 2 Peter 1:21; πᾶσα γραφή is Θεοπνευστος, 2 Timothy 3:16). More than this, our Lord himself is, in the synoptic Gospels, said to be conceived by the Holy Spirit, and his humanity baptized and anointed, empowered and directed throughout by the Spirit, and kept by him in sacred consecration and personal union with the Logos. The union of the Divine and human nature of Christ is maintained by that same Spirit who is the union of the Father and of the Son. In what sense can it be said, "the Holy Spirit was not yet"? Our Lord himself has thrown most light upon this perplexing saying when, on promising the Paraclete, he said, "He shall not speak of [or, 'from'] himself: he will take of mine, and show unto you" (John 16:13, 14); and when he declared (John 16:7-10) that he must himself go to the Father, resume his antenatal glory, carry our nature, dishonoured by man, but now clothed with an infinite majesty, to the very throne of God, as the condition of the gift of the Paraclete. There was, in the constitution of nature, in the order of providence, in the revelations of the prophets, in the Person of the Son of man, that wherewith the blessed Spirit was ever and ceaselessly working; but not until the atonement was made, till God had glorified his Son Jesus, not until the Person of the God-Man was constituted in its infinity of power and perfection of sympathy, were the facts ready, were the truths liberated for the salvation of men, were the streams of living water ready to flow from every heart that received the Divine gift. In comparison with all previous manifestation of the Spirit, this was so wonderful that John could say of all that had gone before - "not yet," "not yet." The Baptist's expression, "I knew him not" (see note, John 1:31), and the scene described in John 20:21, 22, do not contradict this (see note). This is the first time that John mentions the glorification of the Son of mart. Jesus certainly looked at his death, with what followed it, as his glory (see John 12:23, etc.; John 13:31; 17:5). This evangelist does not, so clearly as St. Paul (says Westcott), discriminate the two stages of "humiliation" and "glory" (cf. Philippians 2 with 1 John 3:5, 8).
Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.
Verses 40-53. -
(7) The conflict among the hearers, and divers results of this series of discourses. The Sanhedrin and its officers. Verse 40. - Either "some," or "certain," or "many" must be supposed to complete the text of the oldest manuscripts. [Certain] of the multitude therefore, when they heard these words (λόγων, referring to vers. 37, 38), said, This is of a truth the Prophet. In all probability "the Prophet" predicted by Deuteronomy 18:15, whom the Lord God would raise up to them (cf. Acts 3:22; notes, John 1:21 and John 6:14). This was one of the grand features of the Old Testament conception of the Coming One. Whether even the wisest of them had learned to combine all these features of Prophet, Priest, and King, of Shiloh, of the Branch of the Lord, of the Lamb of God, and Prince of Peace, into one individual, is open to doubt. They might believe that their eyes saw much, and yet wait for more (cf. John the Baptist's message from the prison).
Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?
Verse 41. - Others said, This is the Christ. These must have pressed the argument further. The Lord must have seemed to them to combine the yet more explicit signs, not only of the Prophet that should come into the world, but of the anointed King and Priest - the Christ of their current expectation. But some said, Both the Christ come out of Galilee? Here criticism was at once at work upon obvious appearances, but misunderstood facts. Was he not called "Jesus of Nazareth"? His life had been spent there, his ministry in the main restricted to the northern province. These questions give a vivid scene and portray a great emotion. The people are resting on the letter of prophecy (Micah 5:2), where the Messiah, as understood by their own teachers (see Matthew 2:5), was to proceed from Bethlehem; but they overlook the remarkable prediction in Isaiah 9:1, where Galilee is spoken of as the scene of extraordinary illumination.
Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?
Verses 42, 43. - Hath not the Scripture said, That the Christ cometh of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was? Therefore a division arose in the multitude because of him. De Wette, Baur, Weisse, Keim, and others have tried to prove from this that the evangelist was ignorant of Christ's birth at Bethlehem. "Hilgenfeld candidly owns that this passage assumes the author's knowledge of this very fact" (Godet). It was unknown to the multitude, who were not at that moment aware how this argument would ultimately be pressed by the first preachers of the gospel. John leaves the objection unanswered, because he knew that all his readers, familiar with the synoptic narrative, would answer it for themselves. As respects the well known belief current in John's later years, and confirmed by the ecclesiastical tradition of Hegesippus (Eusebius, 'Hist. Eccl.,' 3:19, 20), that the relatives of Jesus were summoned, as descendants of David, into the Emperor Domitian's presence, it is clear that Jesus was believed to be the humble heir of David's throne and family, so that his readers would see that he fulfilled not only the prophecy of Micah 5:2, but those of Isaiah 11:1 and Jeremiah 23:5, passages which anticipate the Messiah's descent from David. These were minor points in the great tableau of John's Gospel. He who believed with overwhelming conviction that Jesus was the Logos made flesh, the Son of God, and the risen and glorified Lord, bestowing the Spirit of his own wondrous Person upon his Church, would not trouble much about these mistakes of the people concerning the ancillary details of his earthly career which, when he wrote, had become universally known. It was, however, instructive, half a century later, to see how flimsy, unveracious, and worthless the objections were which passed from lip to lip at this crisis in the life of our Lord. A Greek of the time of Hadrian would be surely very unlikely to have represented this condition of the Jerusalem mind. Now, some of those who believed that he was a great Prophet, the predicted Prophet, yet refused to agree with others who hailed him as the Christ. The division or violent party split (σχίσμα) in the crowd on that "last great day of the feast" may have had persons friendly to him on both sides; but on one side at least there were those who were ready to side with Pharisees and "Jews" and lay hands upon him.
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.
Verse 44. - And some of them; i.e. of those who refused to accord him Messianic reception because he had not commenced his ministry at Bethlehem, and had not flaunted his Davidic ancestry. Some of the multitude were ready on their own account to act, or at least to aid or abet the baffled officers of state in their task: would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him. The same mysterious power, the same conflicting fear of the result among the enthusiastic crowd then waving their palm branches and shouting "the great Hosanna," nay, the all-wise providence of God, restrained them yet again. "His hour was not yet come."
Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?
Verses 45, 46. - In ver. 32 we learn that Pharisees and chief priests had sent "officers" to lay hands on him, to seize their opportunity for an arrest; but, sharing somewhat the outburst of enthusiasm which wavered between his claims to be the Prophet or the Christ, and only subsided for a moment on a miserable and unveracious plea, they did not dare to execute the command of their masters. The officers therefore came to the chief priests and Pharisees (the absence of the article τούς before Φαρισαίους shows that they were regarded as one body, who had charged these officers to undertake the duty in which they signally failed); and they (ἐκεῖνοι, the latter) said to them, Why did ye not bring him? Foiled in their intention to carry out the order of the committee of the council, they return empty handed, and to some extent baffled and chagrined. They had fallen into the dominant enthusiasm of the crowd for a moment. They had heard the shouts which hailed him as the great Prophet, nay, as Messiah himself, and their reply, according to the curtailed text, was, Never man so spake. It matters little whether the additional clause, "as this Man speaks," was in the original text or not, the idea is the same; and it confirms the supposition to which we have often referred - that John only gives us the great sentences which the Divine Lord made the text of a discourse. An overwhelming impression was produced that the Speaker had a deep secret to disclose, vast treasure to bestow, unlimited power to meet the thirst of man, and even to make those who utterly yield to his influence the fountains of benedictions to others. An awe as of unseen things fell on the officers and the people. They could not resist the sense of benediction which, like some sacred perfume, some supernatural glamour, fell upon them in his reval words. "Never man thus spake." The whole experience is new and wonderful. "These sayings of the Prophet of Nazareth are more than words; they have living powers; they have confounded and disarmed us."
The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.
Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?
Verse 47. - The Pharisees therefore answered them. Evidently the Pharisees were the leading spirits in this assault upon Jesus. The guardians of the orthodoxy of Israel, in the haughty pride of their order, are piqued and angry. Have ye also - the chosen servants of the august council of the nation - been led astray? In Matthew 27:63 these Pharisees speak of the Divine Lord as "this deceiver (ἐκεῖνος ὁ πλάνος)." Are folly and weakness, if not treachery and corruption, at work so near the centre of our authority?
Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?
Verse 48. - Hath any one of the rulers believed on him, or of the Pharisees? They soon find they have reckoned on the emphatic negative of the query (μή τις;) too soon. There is, however, a touch of weakness in the question. They seem to say, if one of the rulers, one of the Pharisees, had taken a different course, there might be some colour for the pusillanimity of the officers. The question which they put, thus expecting a negative answer, might be answered differently. There were Pharisees who had shown some sympathy with Jesus. Certain steps, moreover, taken by him were not so hopelessly hostile to their own views. In their momentary animosity, blinded by passion, they are ready to ignore this and other facts as well. Some of the higher classes in Galilee had already admitted his claims (see John 4:46; Luke 7:36, etc.). The language of the Pharisees has been a stock objection to every great spiritual movement in its beginning. The writer thus reveals a knowledge of proceedings to which he must have had some exceptional means of access. The obvious familiarity which he suggests with Nicodemus and with friends in the high priest's palace (ch. 18:15) is the simplest explanation.
But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.
Verse 49. - But this multitude, which knoweth not the Law, are accursed. This is a most contemptuous expression - am-ha-'arez, equivalent to "this scum of the earth," "the unlettered rabble." The Pharisees were accustomed to show sovereign contempt for those who had no admission to their own culture and methods of knowledge. Edersheim and Wunsche quote 'Pes.,' 49, b; 'Baba,' B. 8, b; and 'Chetub.,' 3:6 in proof of the utter inhumanity of their judgments. This language did not endorse a formal excommunication of the multitude - a supposition in its own nature impossible and absurd - but it expressed the brusque and harsh contempt with which the Pharisees then present wished to correct the weak compliance of their own servants. Lange presses the utterance too far. We cannot see in it more than the bitter outburst of their pent-up spite.
Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)
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.
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.
Verse 52. - They answered and said to him, Art thou also, as he is and his supporters are, from Galilee? and, therefore, is this criticism of yours on our baffled plan the dictate of provincial pride? They sought to fix a contemptuous country cousin sobriquet upon this distinguished man, instead of replying to his sensible inquiry. Search, and see, that out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. The present tense has very nearly the force of the perfect, and denotes the general rule of the Divine providence in the matter. The prophetic order can scarcely be thought to have been recruited from the northern province. Even Hosea had his origin in Samaria. Amos was an inhabitant of Tekoah; twelve miles south of Jerusalem. Nahum the El-koshite cannot be proved to have sprung from the Galilaean town of Elkosh; though it is not impossible, it is at least probable, that Elkosh in Assyria, on the Tigris, two miles north of Mosul and south of Nineveh, was the place whence Nahum and his prophecies issued. Elijah the Tishbite, of the land of Gilead, cannot be claimed as a Gallilaean. The case is different with reference to Jonah of Gath-Hepher, of the tribe of Zebulon (2 Kings 14:25), who, as a solitary and by no means morally impressive character, might almost as an exception prove the truth of the general statement. The historical error is far from difficult to account for in the stress of the discontent which these Pharisees were now manifesting towards everything Galilaean. Godet, on the authority of ἀγήγερται, being the text, would have it that "there has not now arisen in the Person of Jesus a Prophet." Baumlein presses this still further, by making the "prophet" mean "the Messiah." There is no reasonable ground for charging on these Pharisees "an incredible ignorance or incomprehensible misunderstanding." Such a charge is more like one of the incomprehensible misunderstandings of the modern critical school whenever a chance opens of assailing the authenticity of the Fourth Gospel.
And every man went unto his own house.
Verse 53. - They went every man to his own house. This clause belongs to the pericope of the woman taken in adultery, and is encumbered with the textual and other difficulties involved in that paragraph. The words apply most imperfectly to the preceding narrative, which terminates with a private conversation between Nicodemus and other members of the Sanhedrin, and, at the same time, rather suggest the scattering of the crowd or the return of the pilgrims to Galilee, both of which form a very improbable consequence of ver. 52.