John 7
Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.
'Chap. 7-10.] Jesus the light of the world. The conflict at its height.

7:1-52.] Jesus meets the unbelief of the Jews at Jerusalem. The circumstances (vv. 1-13).

1.] The chronology of this period is very doubtful. I have remarked on it in my note on Luke 9:51. Thus much we may observe here, that μετὰ ταῦτα cannot apply emphatically to ch. 6, but must be referred back to ch. 5, as indeed must the Jews seeking to kill Him, and the miracle alluded to in ver. 23. But it will not follow from this, that ch. 6 is not in its right place: it contains an independent memoir of a miracle and discourse of our Lord in Galilee which actually happened in the interval, and only serves to shew us the character of this Gospel as made up of such memoirs, more or less connected with one another, and selected by the Evangelist for their higher spiritual import, and the discourses arising from them. I would understand this verse as merely carrying on the time from ch. 5 and ch. 6,—and its contents as introductory to the account of Jesus not going up at first to the feast. Ch. 6 is in some measure presupposed in our ver. 3, as indicating that He had not constantly observed the festal journeys of late.

2.] See Deuteronomy 16:13-17. Josephus, Antt. viii. 4. 1, calls this ἑορτὴ ἁγιωτάτη καὶ μεγίστη. It began on the 15th (evening of 14th) of Tisri [Sept. 28], and lasted till the evening of the 22nd [Oct. 6].

3-5.] Respecting the brethren of the Lord, see note on Matthew 13:55. They seem to have had at this time a kind of belief in the Messianic character of Jesus, but of the very lowest sort, not excluding the harsh and scoffing spirit visible in these words. They recognized his miracles, but despised his apparent want of prudence and consistency of purpose, in not shewing himself to the world. In the ἵνα καὶ οἱ μαθ. σου κ.τ.λ. there is perhaps a reference to the desertion of many of his disciples just before. Nay, more than this: the indication furnished by this verse of the practice of our Lord with regard to His miracles up to this point is very curious. He appears as yet to have made His circuits in Galilee, and to have wrought miracles there, in the presence of but a small circle of disciples properly so called: and there would seem to have been a larger number of disciples, in the wider sense, in Judæa, or to be gathered in Judæa by the feast, who yet wanted assuring, by open display, of the reality of His wonderful works.

In ver. 5 (as well as by οἱ μαθηταί σου, ver. 3), we have these brethren absolutely excluded from the number of the Twelve (see ch. 6:69); and it is impossible to modify the meaning of ἐπίστευον so as to suppose that they may have been of the Twelve, but not believers in the highest sense. This verse also excludes all of His brethren: it is inconceivable that John should have so written, if any among them believed at that time. The attempt to make the words mean, that some of his brethren did not believe on him, is in my view quite futile. In that case we should certainly have had some such expression as ἦσαν γὰρ καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἀδελφῶν αὐτοῦ, οἳ οὐκ ἐπίστευον εἰς αὐτόν. No such attempt would ever have been made by a Greek scholar,—except for the fiction which has been so long, and, strange to say, is still upheld with regard to our Lord’s brethren.

The emphatic expression, οὐδὲ γὰρ οἱ ἀδ., is a strong corroboration of the view that they were really and literally brethren: see also Psalm 69:8.

6-9.] ὁ καιρ. ὁ ἐμ. can hardly be taken as directly meaning ‘the time of my sufferings and death,’—but as ἡ ὥρα μου in ch. 2:4: ‘My time for the matter of which you speak, viz. manifestation to the world.’ That (ch. 12:32) was to take place in a very different manner. But they, having no definite end before them, no glory of God to shew forth, but being of the world, always had their opportunity ready of mingling with and standing well with the world. Then (ver. 7), ‘you have no hatred of the world in your way: but its hatred to Me on account of my testimony against it, causes me to exercise this caution which you so blame.’

In ver. 8, it is of little import (see var. readd.) whether we read οὐκ or οὔπω: the sense will be the same, both on account of the present, ἀναβαίνω (not ἀναβήσομαι, which would express the disavowal of an intention to go up), and of οὔπω afterwards. οὐκ ἀναβ. would mean, I am not (at present) going up. Meyer attributes to our Lord change of purpose, and justifies his view by the example of His treatment of the Syrophœnician woman, whom He at first repulsed, but afterwards had compassion on. Matthew 15:26 ff. The same Commentator directs attention to the emphatic ταύτην, as implying that our Lord had it in His mind to go up to some future feasts, but not to this one.

οὔπω πεπλήρ., is not yet fully come: see Luke 9:51 and note.

10.] οὐ φαν., i.e. not in the usual caravan-company, nor probably by the usual way. Whether the Twelve were with Him, we have no means of judging: probably so, for they appear ch. 9:2; and after their becoming once attached to the Person of our Lord as Apostles, we find no trace of his having been for any long time separated from them, except during their mission Mat_10, which was long ago accomplished.

11.] These Ἰουδ. are, as usual, the ἄρχοντες, as distinguished from the multitudes. Their question itself (ἐκεῖνος) shews a hostile spirit.

12.] οἱ ὄχλ. (the different groups of which ὁ ὄχλος was composed) would include the Galilæan disciples, and those who had been baptized by the disciples in Judæa,—whose view ἀγαθός ἐστιν would represent,—as expressed mildly in protest against His enemies.

πλανᾷ τὸν ὄχλον, possibly in reference to the feeding of and then the discourse to the multitude, which had given so much offence.

13. παῤῥ.] This was true only of the side who said ἀγαθός ἐστιν: they dared not speak their mind: the others spoke plainly enough. Here again οἱ Ἰουδ. are distinguished from the ὄχλοι.

14-39.] Jesus testifies to Himself in the Temple.

15-24.] His teaching is from the Father.

14, 15.] τ. ἑορ. μεσ., about the middle of the feast. Probably on a sabbath (see Wieseler, Chron. i. 309). It appears to have been the first time that He ἐδίδασκεν publicly at Jerusalem;—whence (οὖν) the wonder of the Jews, i.e. the rulers of the hierarchy.

γράμματα—generally letters; but also particularly, scripture-learning—perhaps because this was all the literature of the Jews: see reff. Probably His teaching consisted in exposition of the Scripture.

μὴ μεμ., never having been the scholar of any Rabbi. He was θεοδίδακτος. These words are spoken in the true bigotry and prejudice of so-called ‘learning.’

These words of His enemies, testifying to matter of fact well known to them, are, as Meyer observes, decisive against all attempts of unbelievers to attribute our Lord’s knowledge to education in any human school of learning. Such indications are not without their value in these times.

16.] Here only does our Lord call His teaching διδαχή, as being now among the διδάσκαλοι, the Rabbis, in the temple. It is often so called by the Evangelists, see reff.

The words may bear two meanings:—either, ‘the sense of Scripture which I teach is not my own, but that in which it was originally penned as a revelation from God;’ or, My teaching (generally) is not mine, but that of Him who sent me. The latter is preferable, as agreeing better with what follows, and because the former assumes that He was expounding Scripture, which, though probable, is not asserted.

17.] θέλειν τὸ θέλ. αὐτ. ποιεῖν is equivalent to τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ θεοῦ ἔχειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, ch. 5:42. The θέλειν should not have been slurred over in the E. V., for it is important. If any man’s will be, to do His will, &c. As it now stands in the E. V., a wrong idea is conveyed: that the bare performance of God’s outward commands will give a man sufficient acquaintance with Christian doctrine:—whereas what our Lord asserts to the Jews is, that if the will be set in His ways, if a man be really anxious to do the will of God, and thus to fulfil this first great commandment of the law,—be, as Meyer expresses it, in ethical harmony with God,—the singleness of purpose, and subjection to the will of God, will lead him on to faith in the promised and then apparent Messiah, and to a just discrimination of the divine character of his teaching.

18.] This gives us the reason why he, who wishes to do God’s will, will know of the teaching of Christ: viz. because both are seeking one aim—the glory of God:—and the humility of him, whose will it is to do God’s will, can best appreciate that more perfect humility of the divine Son, who speaks not of himself, but of Him that sent him,—see ch. 5:41-44, of which this verse is a repetition with a somewhat different bearing. In its general sense, it asserts that self exaltation and self-seeking necessarily accompany the unaided teaching of man, but that all true teaching is from God. But then we must remember that, simply taken, the latter part of the sentence is only true of the Holy One Himself; that owing to human infirmity, purity of motive is no sure guarantee for correctness of doctrine;—and therefore in this second part it is not τοῦ θεοῦ, which would generalize it to all men, but τοῦ πέμψ. αὐτόν, which confines it to Himself.

19.] There is a close connexion with the foregoing. Our Lord now takes the offensive against them. The θέλειν τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ ποιεῖν was to be the great key to a true appreciation of His teaching: but of this there was no example among them: and therefore it was that they were no fair judges of the teaching, but bitter opponents and persecutors of Jesus, of whom, had they been anxious to fulfil the law, they would have been earnest and humble disciples (ch. 5:46). The law was to be read before all Israel every seventh year in the feast of tabernacles (Deuteronomy 31:10-13):—whether this was such a year is uncertain: but this verse may allude to the practice, even if it was not.

ζητεῖτε ἀποκτ.] In their killing the Lord of Life was summed up all their transgression of God’s law. It was the greatest proof of their total ignorance of and disobedience to it.

20.] The multitude, not the rulers, replied this. Indeed their question, τίς σε ζητεῖ ἀποκτεῖναι; shews their ignorance of the purpose of their rulers, which our Lord had just exposed and charged them with. It would not now be their policy to represent Him as possessed.

21.] The one work was the sabbath-healing in ch. 5.

22.] διὰ τοῦτο is variously placed; either at the end of ver. 21, so as to come after θαυμάζετε, (Cod. , lat. q, Theophyl., Beza, and many of the moderns, Lücke, De Wette, Stier, Lachmann, &c.,)—or at the beginning of this verse (Codd. , , , , , , , Δ, Λ, [, , Γ, Π,] ., the syriac versions, ., ., , Chrys., Cyril, Grotius, &c.). I prefer the latter arrangement: because (1) I believe τοῦτο would not be used in the sense required by the other, but αὐτό (nor can I see that the ἓν ἔργον makes the τοῦτο any more applicable (see Stier, edn. 2, iv. 315); nay, it seems to me to take the attention off from the particular work done, and fix it on the mere ἓν ἔργ. ποιῆσαι, abstractedly—‘Ye wonder that I have acted at all’): and (2) because I find διὰ τοῦτο joined with ὅτι to be a usual mode of speaking with our Evangelist, see ch. 5:16, 18; 8:47 (θαυμάζειν διά τι is used Mark 6:6: Revelation 17:7: see also John 3:29). (3) I see an appropriateness of meaning in ver. 22 with the διὰ τοῦτο, which it has not without it. Moses on this account gave you circumcision, not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers; (the repetition of ἐκ τ. Μωυ. ἐστ. does not necessarily imply a parenthesis: John constantly uses these formal repetitions: this in answer to Stier, iv. 315, edn. 2)—i.e. it is no part of the law of Moses, properly so called,—but was adopted by Moses, and thereby becomes part of his law. The meaning of οὐχ ὅτι, ‘not that,’ implying ‘I mean not, that,’ does not seem to suit the context so well, because it would leave the preceding διὰ τοῦτο without any thing to refer to. Now you circumcise on the Sabbath, to avoid breaking the law of Moses, &c. If our Lord had said these last words (in ver. 23) merely, the argument would not have been strict: they might have answered, that circumcision was not only a command of the law, but anterior to it: whereas ver. 22 takes this answer from them; reminding them that though they regarded its sanction as derived from Moses, it was in fact older,—and tacitly approving their doing it on the Sabbath. Then the argument is, If this may be done on the Sabbath:—if an ordinance strictly Mosaic (which the Sabbath in its Jewish mode of observance was) may be set aside by another, Mosaic also, but more ancient, and borrowed from a more general and direct command of God (“circumcisio est antiquior rigido otio sabbati per Mosen imperato”—Grotius), how much more may it by a deed of mercy, a benevolent exercise of divine power, the approval of which is anterior to and deeper than all ceremonial enactment?

23.] ἵνα μὴ λυθῇ—not,—“ita ut non solvatur”—“salva lege;” which is ungrammatical;—but in order that the Law of Moses may not be broken, viz. that which (after the fathers) ordains circumcision on the eighth day.

ὅλον ἄνθρ.] The distinction is between circumcision, which purified only part of a man, by which he received (ἔλαβεν) ceremonial cleanness,—and that perfect and entire healing which the Lord bestowed on the cripple. Stier (after Bengel) thinks the ὅλον refers to body and soul,—see ch. 5:14,—whose healing is a much greater benefit than circumcision, even viewed as a sacrament: “nam circumcisio est medium, sanatio animæ finis.” But this is perhaps too subtle. The Jews could not have appreciated this meaning, and the argument is especially addressed to them. Besides, it is by no means certain from that passage that such was the case.

24.] No stress must be laid on the article (τήν) with κρίνετε: it is merely expressive of habit,—Let your judgment ( κρ. ὑμῶν) be a just one.

κρίνετε implies habit—in all your judgments: whereas the aorist (see var. readd.) would enjoin right judgment on the present occasion, directing the attention on what had just happened.

25-31.] He Himself is from the Father.

25, 26.] The inhabitants of Jerusalem know better than the ὄχλος the mind of their rulers towards Jesus; and suspect some change in their purpose, on account of His being thus permitted to teach freely.

27.] Perhaps they refer to the idea (see Justin Mart., Dial. c. Tryph. 8, 110, pp. 110, 203) that the Messiah would not be known (ἄγνωστός ἐστι καὶ οὐδὲ αὐτός πω ἑαυτὸν ἐπίσταται) until anointed by Elias, when He would suddenly come forth from obscurity.

They may allude to Isaiah 53:8.

The place of the Messiah’s birth was known, ver. 42.

At all events we see here, that the Jews regarded their Messiah not as a mere man, but one to be supernaturally sent into the world.

28, 29.] ἔκραξεν,—in the same open undisguised manner referred to in παῤῥησέᾳ λαλεῖ above; but διδάσκων, in the course of His teaching.

κἀμὲ οἴδατε.…] It has been questioned whether these words are to be taken ironically, interrogatively, or affirmatively. I incline to the last view, for this reason:—obviously no very high degree of knowledge whence He was is implied, for they knew not Him that sent Him (see also ch. 8:14, 19), and therefore could not know whence He was, in this sense. The answer is made in their own sense:—they knew that He was from Nazareth in Galilee, see ver. 41,—and probably that He was called the son of Joseph. In this sense they knew whence He was; but further than this they knew not.

καὶ ἀπʼ ἐμ … and moreover—and besides this—not = but.

The sense of ἀληθινός must be gathered from the context. I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is ἀληθινός—ye know Him not; I know Him,—for I came from Him, and He sent Me. The matter here impressed on them is the genuineness, the reality of the fact:—that Jesus was sent, and there was one who sent Him, though they knew Him not, and consequently knew not πόθεν ἐστίν. The nearest English word would be real: but this would not convey the meaning perspicuously to the ordinary mind;—perhaps the E. V. true is better, provided it be explained to mean objectively, not subjectively, true: really existent, not ‘truthful,’ which it may be questioned whether the word ἀληθινός will bear, although it is so maintained by Euthym., Cyril, Chrys., Theophylact, Lampe, Baumgarten-Crusius, Tholuck, and many others. See on this, ch. 8:16 and note. With the δέ of the . omitted the sense becomes more emphatic. It was probably inserted on account of the apparent want of connexion, as has been the case very frequently throughout the Gospel. We have here an instance of a usage of ἐκεῖνος which is very common in St. John, as emphasizing the main subject, not (as more commonly) diverting the attention to one more removed. In ignorance of this usage, Hilgenfeld, “Die Evangelia nach ihrer Entstehung, u. s. w.,” has argued from ch. 19:35, that the writer of this Gospel cannot himself have been an eye-witness of the crucifixion, because he there distinguishes that witness by ἐκεῖνος from himself. In consequence of this assertion, an article appeared in the Stud. u. Kritik. for 1859, pt. 3, by G. E. Steiss, in which the use of ἐκεῖνος by St. John is gone into, and Hilgenfeld’s mistake (which Köstlin had committed before him) was exposed. Referring to that article for the full treatment of the subject, I merely cite from among many other instances of the usage, ch. 1:18, 33; 5:11; 6:57; 10:1; 12:48; 14:12, 21, 26; 17:24.

30.] Namely, the rulers,—instigated by what had been above remarked by the people, vv. 25, 26. There was some secondary hindrance to their laying hands on Him,—possibly the fear of the people: but the Evangelist passes at once to the real cause;—that God’s appointed time was not yet come.

31.] The δέ here contrasts with what went before—nay, many &c.

The indefiniteness of ὅταν ἔλθῃ implies their belief that the Christ had come.

32-36.] He will return to the Father.

32.] The wavering of the multitude appears to the Pharisees a dangerous sign: and the Sanhedrim (οἱ ἀρχ. κ. οἱ Φ.) send officers specially to lay hold on Him.

33, 34.] The omission or insertion of αὐτοῖς makes very little difference. The words were spoken, not to the officers only, but to all the people.

ἔτι χρ. μικ …] This appears to be said in reference to ver. 30, to shew them the uselessness of their attempting to lay hands on Him till His hour was come, which it soon would be.

πρὸς τ. πέμψ. με] It has been asked, ‘If Jesus thus specified where He was going, how could the Jews ask the question in ver. 35?’ but De Wette answers well, that the Jews knew not τὸν πέμψαντα αὐτόν, and therefore the saying was a dark one to them.

ζητ. με, κ. οὐχ εὑρ.] These words must not be pressed too much, as has been done by many interpreters (Chrysost., Theophyl., Euthym., Meyer, Tholuck, but not in his 6th edn.), who would make them mean, ‘Ye shall seek My help and not find it’ (viz. in your need, at the destruction of Jerusalem); for this would not be true even of the Jews, any one of whom might have at any time turned and looked on Him whom he had pierced, by faith,—and have been saved;—nor again must it be taken as meaning, ‘Ye shall seek to lay hands on Me, and shall not be able’ (, Grot.),—which is vapid and unmeaning. Neither of these interpretations, nor their cognates, will agree with the parallel place, ch. 13:33, where the same words are used to the disciples. The meaning is simply (as in reff.), ‘My bodily presence will be withdrawn from you; I shall be personally in a place inaccessible to you:’ see ch. 13:36.

εἰμί, am; not εἶμι, ‘go,’ which is never used in the N.T. Nor need we supply τότε; the present tense is used in the solemn sense of ch. 1:18, and ch. 3:13, to signify essential truth. Compare οὐ δύνασθε addressed to the Jews, with οὐ δύνασαί μοι νῦν ἀκολ., ἀκολουθήσεις δὲ ὕστερον to Peter, ch. 13:36, and it will be evident that the Lord had their spiritual state in view: ‘Ye cannot, as ye are now, enter there.’

On the whole, see Luke 17:22.

35, 36.] The Jews understood not his death to be meant, but some journey which he would take in the event of their rejecting him.

The διασπ. τ. Ἑλλ. must not be interpreted ‘the Hellenistic Jews,’ for the Ἕλληνες are always distinguished from the Jews; and this would convey hardly any meaning. The sense of διασπορά is,—see reff. James, 1 Pet.,—‘the country where Jews lay scattered,’ as qualified by the succeeding genitive, where one occurs, as here. So here ἡ δ. τ. Ἑλ. means ‘the dispersed in the Gentile world;’—and their intent is, to convey contempt and mockery. They do not however believe the hypothesis; but ask again, τίς ἐστιν ὁ λόγος οὗτος

Henry Alford - Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

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