14.Jesus went up into the temple. We now see that Christ was not so much afraid as to desist from the execution of his office; for the cause of his delay was, that he might preach to a very large assembly. We may sometimes, therefore, expose ourselves to dangers, but we ought never to disregard or omit a single opportunity of doing good. As to his teaching in the temple, he does so according to the ancient ordinance and custom; for while God commanded so many ceremonies, he did not choose that his people should be occupied with cold and useless spectacles. That their usefulness might be known, it was necessary that they should be accompanied by doctrine; and in this manner, external rites are lively images of spiritual things, when they take their shape from the word of God. But almost all the priests being at that time dumb, and the pure doctrine being corrupted by the leaven and false inventions of the scribes, Christ undertook the office of a teacher; and justly, because he was the great High Priest, as he affirms shortly afterwards, that he attempts nothing but by the command of the Father.
Jamieson, Fuasset, & Brown
Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.
Now about the midst of the feast , [ eedee (G2235) de (G1161) tees (G3588) heortees (G1859) mesousees (G3322)] – rather, ‘Now when it was already the midst of the feast.’ It might be the 4th or 5th of the eight days during which it lasted.
Jesus went up into the temple, and taught , [ edidasken (G1321)]. The imperfect tense used implies continued, and therefore formal teaching, as distinguished from mere casual sayings. In fact, this appears to have been the first time that He taught thus openly in Jerusalem. He had kept back until the feast was half through, to let the stir about Him subside; and entering the city unexpectedly, He had begun His “teaching” at the temple, and created a certain awe, before the wrath of the rulers had time to break in upon it.
15.And the Jews wondered Those who think that Christ was received in such a manner as to be esteemed and honored are mistaken; for the wonder or astonishment of the Jews is of such a nature, that they seek occasion from it to despise him. For such is the ingratitude of men that, in judging of the works of God, they always seek deliberately an occasion of falling into error. If God acts by the usual means and in the ordinary way, those means which are visible to the eyes are — as it were — veils which hinder us from perceiving the Divine hand; and therefore we discern nothing in them but what is human. But if an unwonted power of God shines above the order of nature and the means generally known, we are stunned; and what ought to have deeply affected all our senses passes away as a dream. For such is our pride, that we take no interest in any thing of which we do not know the reason.
How doth this man know letters? It was an astonishing proof of the power and grace of God, that Christ, who had not been taught by any master, was yet eminently distinguished by his knowledge of the Scriptures; and that he, who had never been a scholar, should be a most excellent teacher and instructor. But for this very reason the Jews despise the grace of God, because it exceeds their capacity. Admonished by their example, therefore, let us learn to exercise deeper reverence for God than we are wont to do in the consideration of his works.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
15. And the Jews marvelled] According to the best MSS., The Jews therefore marvelled. ‘Therefore’ should also be inserted in Joh_7:16; Jesus therefore answered them. S. John’s extreme fondness for this particle in narrative is worth keeping in view.
How knoweth this man letters] Or, this fellow, as in Joh_6:42. Their question is so eminently characteristic, that it is very unlikely that a Greek writer of the second century would have been able to invent it for them; he would probably have made them too cautious to commit themselves to any expression of astonishment about Him. The substance of His doctrine excites no emotion in them, but they are astounded that He should possess learning without having got it according to ordinary routine. He had never attended the schools of the Rabbis, and yet His interpretations of Scripture shewed a large amount of biblical and other knowledge. That does excite them. In Act_26:24, ‘much learning doth make thee mad,’ the word there translated ‘learning’ is the same as the one here translated ‘letters.’
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. Act_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—
16.My doctrine is not mine. Christ shows that this circumstance, which was an offense to the Jews, was rather a ladder by which they ought to have risen higher to perceive the glory of God; as if he had said, “When you see a teacher not trained in the school of men, know that I have been taught by God.” For the reason why the Heavenly Father determined that his Son should go out of a mechanic’s workshop, rather than from the schools of the scribes, was, that the origin of the Gospel might be more manifest, that none might think that it had been fabricated on the earth, or imagine that any human being was the author of it. Thus also Christ chose ignorant and uneducated men to be his apostles, and permitted them to remain three years in gross ignorance, that, having instructed them in a single instant, he might bring them forward as new men, and even as angels who had just come down from heaven.
But that of him who sent me. Meanwhile, Christ shows whence we ought to derive the authority of spiritual doctrine, from God alone. And when he asserts that the doctrine of his Father is not his, he looks to the capacity of the hearers, who had no higher opinion of him than that he was a man. By way of concession, therefore, he allows himself to be reckoned different from his Father, but so as to bring forward nothing but what the Father had enjoined. The amount of what is stated is, that what he teaches in the name of his Father is not a doctrine of men, and did not proceed from men, so as to be capable of being despised with impunity. We see by what method he procures authority for his doctrine. It is by referring it to God as its Author. We see also on what ground, and for what reason, he demands that he shall be heard. It is, because the Father sent him to teach. Both of these things ought to be possessed by every man who takes upon himself the office of a teacher, and wishes that he should be believed.
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 (Joh_5:31). If you have sat at the feet of those who taught you, I, too, am a Representative of another; but (the ἀλ λά 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.
Pop Comm Bible Schaff
Joh_7:16.Jesus therefore answered them, and said. My teaching is not mine, but his that sentme. It was the practice of Jewish Rabbis to proclaim from whom they ‘received’ their teaching, and to quote the sayings of the wise men who preceded them. What they proclaimed of themselves the teaching of Jesus proclaims of itself to all worthy listeners. His teaching, though He had never ‘learned’ it in the sense in which they use the term, is yet not His own; neither in its substance nor in its authority must they count it His. As His works were those which the Father gave Him to accomplish (chap. Joh_5:36), so His words were the expression of the truth which He has heard from God (Joh_8:40), and the Father hath given Him commandment what He shall say (Joh_12:49). Hence His words are God’s words, and the teaching comes with the authority of God. Such teaching is self-evidential, where man really wishes to hear the voice of God: for—
17.If any man wish to do his will. He anticipates the objections that might be made. For since he had many adversaries in that place, some one might readily have murmured against him in this manner: “Why dost thou boast to us of the name of God? For we do not know that thou hast proceeded from him. Why, then, dost thou press upon us that maxim, which we do not admit to thee, that thou teachest nothing but by the command of God?” Christ, therefore, replies that sound judgment flows from fear and reverence for God; so that, if their minds be well disposed to the fear of God, they will easily perceive if what he preaches be true or not. He likewise administers to them, by it, an indirect reproof; for how comes it that they cannot distinguish between falsehood and truth, but because they want the principal requisite to sound understanding, namely, piety, and the earnest desire to obey God?
This statement is highly worthy of observation. Satan continually plots against us, and spreads his nets in every direction, that he may take us unawares by his delusions. Here Christ most excellently forewarns us to beware of exposing ourselves to any of his impostures, assuring us that if we are prepared to obey God, he will never fail to illuminate us by the light of his Spirit, so that we shall be able to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Nothing else, therefore, hinders us from judging aright, but that we are unruly and headstrong; and every time that Satan deceives us, we are justly punished for our hypocrisy. In like manner Moses gives warning that, when false prophets arise, we are tried and proved by God; for they whose hearts are right will never be deceived, (Deu_13:3.) Hence it is evident how wickedly and foolishly many persons in the present day, dreading the danger of falling into error, by that very dread shut the door against all desire to learn; as if our Savior had not good ground for saying, Knock, and it shall be opened to you, (Mat_7:7.)
On the contrary, if we be entirely devoted to obedience to God, let us not doubt that He will give us the spirit of discernment, to be our continual director and guide. If others choose to waver, they will ultimately find how flimsy are the pretences for their ignorance. And, indeed, we see that all who now hesitate, and prefer to cherish their doubt rather than, by reading or hearing, to inquire earnestly where the truth of God is, have the hardihood to set God at defiance by general principles. One man will say that he prays for the dead, because, distrusting his own judgment, he cannot venture to condemn the false doctrines invented by wicked men about purgatory; and yet he will freely allow himself to commit fornication. Another will say that he has not so much acuteness as to be able to distinguish between the pure doctrine of Christ and the spurious contrivances of men, but yet he will have acuteness enough to steal or commit perjury. In short, all those doubters, who cover themselves with a veil of doubt in all those matters which are at present the subject of controversy, display a manifest contempt of God on subjects that are not at all obscure.
We need not wonder, therefore, that the doctrine of the Gospel is received by very few persons in the present day, since there is so little of the fear of God in the world. Besides, these words of Christ contain a definition of true religion; that is, when we are prepared heartily to follow the will of God, which no man can do, unless he has renounced his own views.
Or if I speak from myself. We ought to observe in what manner Christ wishes that a judgment should be formed about any doctrine whatever. He wishes that what is from God should be received without controversy, but freely allows us to reject whatever is from man; for this is the only distinction that he lays down, by which we ought to distinguish between doctrines.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
17. If any man will do his will] As in Joh_6:67 and Joh_8:44, ‘will’ is too weak; it is not the simple future, but the verb ‘to will:’ If any man willeth to do His will. The mere mechanical performance of God’s will is not enough; there must be an inclination towards Him, a wish to make our conduct agree with His will; and without this agreement Divine doctrine cannot be recognised as such. There must be a moral harmony between the teaching and the taught, and this harmony is in the first instance God’s gift (Joh_6:44-45), which each can accept or refuse at will. Comp. Joh_14:21.
he shall know] Literally, He shall come to know, recognise. See on Joh_7:26 and Joh_8:55.
whether it be of God, &c.] Literally, whether it proceeds from God (as its Fount), or I speak from Myself. Comp. Joh_5:30, Joh_15:4.
Vv. 16, 17. “Jesus answered them and said, My teaching is not mine, but his that sent me; 17 if any one wills to do his will, he shall know of the teaching whether it comes from God or whether I speak of myself.”
Jesus enters for form’s sake into the thought of His hearers: in order to teach, it is surely necessary to have been the disciple of some one. But He shows that He satisfies this demand also: “I have not passed through the teachings of your Rabbis; but I nevertheless come forth from a school, and from a good school. He who gave me my mission, at the same time instructed me as to my message, for I do not derive what I say from my own resources. I limit myself to laying hold of and giving forth with docility His thought.”
But how prove this assertion as to the origin of His teaching? Every man, even the most ignorant, is in a condition to do it. For the condition of this proof is a purely moral one. To aspire after doing what is good with earnestness is sufficient. The teaching of Jesus Christ, in its highest import, is in fact only a divine method of sanctification; whoever consequently seeks with earnestness to do the will of God, that is to say, to sanctify himself, will soon prove the efficaciousness of this method, and will infallibly render homage to the divine origin of the Gospel. Several interpreters, especially among the Fathers (Augustine) and the reformers (Luther), have understood by the will of God the commandment as to faith in Jesus Christ: “He who is willing to obey God by believing in me, will not be slow in convincing himself by his own experience that he is right in acting thus.”
The sense given by Lampe approaches this; he refers the will of God to the precepts of Christian morality: “He who is willing to practise what I command will soon convince himself of the divine character of what I teach.” Reuss, in like manner: “Jesus declares (Joh_7:17) that, in order to comprehend His discourses, one must begin by putting them in practice.” The earnest practice of the Gospel law must lead in fact to faith in the Christian dogma. But, true as all these ideas may be in themselves, it is evident that Jesus can here use the words will of God only in a sense understood and admitted by His hearers, and that this term consequently in this context designates the contents of the divine revelation granted to the Israelites through the law and the prophets. The meaning of this saying amounts, therefore, to that of Joh_5:46 : “If you earnestly believed Moses, you would believe in me,” or to that of Joh_3:21 : “He who practices the truth, comes to the light.” Powerless to realize the ideal which flees before it in proportion as it believes itself to be drawing near to it, the sincere soul feels itself forced to seek rest at first, and then strength, in the presence of the divine Saviour who offers Himself to it in the Gospel.
Faith is, therefore, not the result of a logical operation; it is formed in the soul as the conclusion of a moral experience: the man believes because his heart finds in Jesus the only effectual means of satisfying the most legitimate of all its wants, that of holiness. Θέλῃ, wills, indicates simply aspiration, effort; the realization itself remains impossible, and this it is precisely which impels the soul to faith. The intrinsic and communicative holiness of the Gospel answers exactly to the need of sanctification which impels the soul. See the normal experience of this fact in St. Paul: Rom_7:24; Rom_8:2. Suavis harmonia(between θέλειν and θέλημα), says Bengel. There is a special feature in the teaching of Jesus which will not fail to strike him who is in the way of making the trial indicated in Joh_7:17. This feature will reveal to him in the most decisive way the divine origin of the teaching of Jesus:
If any man will do his will – Literally, if any man wills or is willing to do the will of God. If there is a disposition in anyone to do that will, though he should not be able perfectly to keep His commandments. To do the will of God is to obey His commandments; to yield our hearts and lives to His requirements. A disposition to do His will is a readiness to yield our intellects, our feelings, and all that we have entirely to Him, to be governed according to His pleasure.
He shall know – He shall have evidence, in the very attempt to do the will of God, of the truth of the doctrine. This evidence is internal, and to the individual it is satisfactory and conclusive. It is of two kinds.
1. He will find that the doctrines which Jesus taught are such as commend themselves to his reason and conscience, and such as are consistent with all that we know of the perfections of God. His doctrines commend themselves to us as fitted to make us pure and happy, and of course they are such as must be from God.
2. An honest desire to obey God will lead a man to embrace the great doctrines of the Bible. He will find that his heart is depraved and inclined to evil, and he will see and feel the truth of the doctrine of depravity; he will find that he is a sinner and needs to be born again; he will learn his own weakness, and see his need of a Saviour, of an atonement, and of pardoning mercy; he will feel that he is polluted, and needs the purifying influence of the Holy Spirit.
Thus, we may learn:
1. That an honest effort to obey God is the easiest way to become acquainted with the doctrines of the Bible.
2. Those who make such an effort will not cavil at any of the doctrines of the Scriptures.
3. This is evidence of the truth of revelation which every person can apply to his own case.
4. It is such evidence as to lead to certainty. No one who has ever made an honest effort to live a pious life, and to do all the will of God, has ever had any doubt of the truth of the Saviour’s doctrines, or any doubt that his religion is true and is suited to the nature of man. They only doubt the truth of religion who wish to live in sin.
5. We see the goodness of God in giving us evidence of his truth that may be within every man’s reach. It does not require great learning to be a Christian, and to be convinced of the truth of the Bible. It requires an honest heart, and a willingness to obey God.
Whether it be of God – Whether it be divine.
Or whether I speak of myself – Of myself without being commissioned or directed by God.
18.He who speaketh from himself. Hitherto he has showed that there is no other reason why men are blind, but because they are not governed by the fear of God. He now puts another mark on the doctrine itself, by which it may be known whether it is of God or of man. For every thing that displays the glory of God is holy and divine; but every thing that contributes to the ambition of men, and, by exalting them, obscures the glory of God, not only has no claim to be believed, but ought to be vehemently rejected. He who shall make the glory of God the object at which he aims will never go wrong; he who shall try and prove by this touchstone what is brought forward in the name of God will never be deceived by the semblance of right. We are also reminded by it that no man can faithfully discharge the office of teacher in the Church, unless he be void of ambition, and resolve to make it his sole object to promote, to the utmost of his power, the glory of God. When he says that there is no unrighteousness in him, he means that there is nothing wicked or hypocritical, but that he does what becomes an upright and sincere minister of God.
Ver. 18. “He that speaks from himself, seeks his own glory; but he that seeks the glory of him that sent him, this one is true, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”
The messenger who seeks only the glory of the master who sends him, and does not betray any personal interest in his communications, gives, in this very fact, proof of the fidelity with which he delivers his message; as certainly as he does not say anything with a view to himself, so certainly also he does not say anything as self-moved. The application to Jesus which is to be made of this evident and general truth is left to the mind of the hearers. The teaching of Jesus presents a characteristic which is particularly fitted to strike the man who is eager for holiness: it is that it tends altogether to glorify God, and God alone. From the aim one can infer the origin; since everything in the Gospel is with a view to God, everything in it must also proceed from God. Here is one of the experiences by means of which the moral syllogism is formed, through which the soul eagerly desirous of good discerns God as the author of the teaching of Christ. There is, at the same time, in this saying, a reply to the accusation of those who said: He leads the people astray. He who abuses others, certainly acts thus for himself, not with a view to God. In order thoroughly to understand this reasoning, it is sufficient to apply it to the Bible in general: He who is glorified in this book, from the first page to the last, to the exclusion of every man, is God; man is constantly judged and humbled in it. This book, therefore, is of God. This argument is the one which most directly affects the conscience.
The last words of Joh_7:18 : And there is no unrighteousness in him, contain the transition from the teaching of Jesus (His λαλεῖν, Joh_7:17-18) to His conduct (His ποιεῖνJoh_7:19-23), but this not in a general and commonplace way. If Jesus comes to speak here of His moral conduct, it is because there was thought to be discovered in it a certain subject of reproach which was alleged against the divinity of His teaching and His mission, and with reference to which He had it in mind, by this argument, to justify Himself.
Without the following verses, we might think that these last words: And there is no unrighteousness in him, apply only to the accusation stated in Joh_7:12 : He is an impostor. But the argument contained in Joh_7:19-23 shows clearly, in spite of the denials of Meyer, Weiss and Keil, that Jesus is already thinking especially of the accusation which was still hanging over Him as violating the Sabbath, since His previous visit to Jerusalem (chap. 5). This was the the offense by which the summary judgment: He deceives the people, was justified in presence of the multitude. The term ἀδικία, unrighteousness, therefore, does not here signify, as some think: falsehood: but, as ordinarily:unrighteousness, moral disorder. Jesus passes to the accusation of which He was the object in chap. 5, because He is anxious to take away with reference to this point every pretext for unbelief.
Pop Comm Bible Schaff
Joh_7:18.Hethat speaketh from himself seeketh his own glory. If a man speaks from himself, giving out all that he says as coming from himself, it is clear that he is seeking the glory of no one but himself. If one who so acts is a messenger from another (and here the thought in the later words, ‘him that sent him,’ seems intended to apply to the whole verse), it is plain that his attitude is altogether false: he represents as ‘from himself’ that which really is ‘from him that sent him.
But he that seeketh the glory of him that sent him, the same is true, and there is no unrighteousness in him. From the maxim contained in the first clause of this verse it follows at once that whoever is not seeking his own glory does not speak from himself. But every word of Jesus shows that He seeks His Father’s glory: hence it cannot be that He is speaking from Himself.—But as a messenger speaking from himself and aiming at his own glory is false to his position and work, so he that seeks the glory of the sender only is true to them, and there is no unrighteousness in him,—his work and duty as messenger are fully accomplished. These last words, like the first clause of the verse, are perfectly general, though absolutely realised in Christ alone. By Him the condition is completely fulfilled: of Him the freedom from unrighteousness is absolutely true. This verse connects itself with what precedes and with what follows: (1) A will to do God’s will will lead to right judgment respecting Christ (Joh_7:17), because he who has such a will can discern the complete submission of Jesus to the will of God, His complete freedom from self-seeking (Joh_7:18); (2) Is it thus proved to every one who is seeking to do God’s will that Jesus is the real messenger of God, accurately teaching His will, then the accusation which is in the minds of His enemies (Joh_7:21-22), that He has contradicted God’s will in the matter of the Sabbath (chap. Joh_5:18), must fall to the ground of itself.
25.Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem; that is, those to whom the rulers had communicated their plots, and who knew how much Christ was hated; for the people at large — as we saw lately — looked upon this as a dream, or as madness. Those persons, therefore, who knew with what inveterate rage the rulers of their nation burned against Christ, have some reason for wondering that, while Christ in the temple not only converses openly but preaches freely, the rulers say nothing to him. But they err in this respect, that in a miracle altogether Divine they do not take into account the providence of God. Thus carnal men, whenever they behold any unusual work of God, do indeed wonder, but no consideration of the power of God ever enters into their mind. But it is our duty to examine more wisely the works of God; and especially when wicked men, with all their contrivances, do not hinder the progress of the Gospel so much as they would desire, we ought to be fully persuaded that their efforts have been rendered fruitless, because God, by interposing his word, has defeated them.
Some therefore of them of Jerusalem (oun tines ek tōn Ierosolumeitōn). The people of the city in contrast to the multitude of pilgrims at the feast. They form a separate group. The word is made from Ierosoluma and occurs in Josephus and 4Maccabees. In N.T. only here and Mar_1:5. These Jerusalem people knew better than the pilgrims the designs of the rulers (Vincent).
Is not this? (ouch houtos estin). Expecting affirmative answer. Clearly they were not as familiar with the appearance of Jesus as the Galilean multitude (Dods).
They seek (zētousin). The plural refers to the group of leaders already present (Joh_7:15) to whom the Jerusalem crowd probably pointed. They knew of their threats to kill Jesus (Joh_5:18).
John 7:26 And behold he speaketh openly (see Joh_7:4 and Joh_7:13), 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) isf15 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.
That this is the very Christ? – In most of the common printed editions αληθως is found, the Very Christ; but the word is wanting in BDKLTX, twenty-two others, several editions; all the Arabic, Wheelock’s Persic, the Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, Slavonic, Vulgate, and all the Itala but one, Origen, Epiphanius, Cyril, Isidore, Pelusian, and Nonnus. Grotius, Mill, Bengel, and Griesbach, decide against it. Bishop Pearce says, I am of opinion that this second αληθως, in this verse, should be omitted, it seeming quite unnecessary, if not inaccurate, when the words αληθως εγνωσαν, had just preceded it.
Calmet observes that the multitude which heard our Lord at this time was composed of three different classes of persons:
1. The rulers, priests, and Pharisees, declared enemies of Christ.
2. The inhabitants of Jerusalem, who knew the sentiments of their rulers concerning him.
3. The strangers, who from different quarters had come up to Jerusalem to the feast, and who heard Christ attentively, being ignorant of the designs of the rulers, etc., against him.
Our Lord addresses himself in this discourse principally to his enemies. The strange Jews were those who were astonished when Christ said, Joh_7:20, that they sought to kill him, having no such design themselves, and not knowing that others had. And the Jews of Jerusalem were those who, knowing the disposition of the rulers, and seeing Christ speak openly, no man attempting to seize him, addressed each other in the foregoing words, Do the rulers know indeed that this is the Christ? imagining that the chief priests, etc., had at last been convinced that Jesus was the Messiah.
27.But we know whence this man is. Here we see not only how great is the blindness of men, when they ought to judge about the things of God, but this vice is almost natural to them, to be ingenious in contriving what may hinder them from arriving at the knowledge of the truth. It is frequently, indeed, from the craft of Satan that offenses arise, which cause many to turn away from Christ; but though the road were plain and smooth, every man would contrive an offense for himself. So long as the rulers were opposed to Christ, their unbelief would of itself have kept back this multitude; but when that obstacle has been removed, they contrive a new reason for themselves, that they may not come to the faith. And even though it were proper that they should be influenced by the example of their rulers, they are so far from following what is right, that they willingly stumble at the first step. Thus it frequently happens, that men who had begun well fall away quickly, unless the Lord conduct them to the very end of their career.
But when Christ shall come. The argument by which they obstruct their own progress is this: “The Prophets have testified that the origin of Christ will be unknown. Now we know whence this man is, and therefore we cannot reckon him to be the Christ. ” Hence we are reminded how pernicious it is to mangle the Scriptures, and even Christ himself, so as not to admit more than the half of him. God promised that the Redeemer would be of the seed of David; but he frequently claims this office as peculiar to himself; therefore, he must have been God manifested in the flesh, that he might be the Redeemer of his Church. Thus Micah points out the place where Christ would be born. Out of thee, Bethlehem, he says, a Prince shall come, to govern my people But, immediately afterwards, he speaks of another going forth which is far loftier, and then he says that it is hidden and secret, (Mic_5:2.) Yet those wretched men, when they perceived in Christ nothing but what is liable to contempt, draw the absurd conclusion, that he is not the person who had been promised. On the mean condition of Christ in the flesh let us therefore learn to look in such a manner, that this state of humiliation, which is despised by wicked men, may raise us to his heavenly glory. Thus Bethlehem, where the man was to be born, will be to us a door by which we may enter into the presence of the eternal God.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
27. when Christ cometh] Better, when the Christ cometh: see on Joh_1:20.
no man knoweth whence he is] Literally, no man comes to know (see on Joh_7:26 and Joh_8:55) whence He is. ‘Whence’ does not refer to the Messiah’s birthplace, which was known (Joh_7:41-42); nor to His remote descent, for He was to be the Son of David (ibid.); but to His parentage (Joh_6:42), immediate and actual. This text is the strongest, if not the only evidence that we have of the belief that the immediate parents of the Messiah would be unknown: but the precision and vivacity of this passage carries conviction with it, and shews how familiar the ideas current among the Jews at that time were to S. John. It never occurs to him to explain. The belief might easily grow out of Isa_53:8, ‘Who shall declare His generation?’ Justin Martyr tells us of a kindred belief, that the Messiahship of the Messiah would be unknown, even to Himself, until He was anointed by Elijah. (Trypho, pp. 226, 336.)
Vv. 25-27. “Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said therefore, Is not this man here the one whom they seek to kill? 26. And behold, he speaks openly, and they say nothing to him. Can the rulers indeed have recognized the fact that he is the Christ? 27. But as for this man, we know whence he is, while as for the Christ, when he shall come, no one will know whence he is.”
So great freedom and eclat in the preaching of Jesus struck some of the dwellers in Jerusalem with surprise (οὖν, therefore). Knowing the intentions of the priestly authorities better than the multitude who had come from outside (ὁ ὄχλος, of Joh_7:20), they were on the point of drawing from this fact conclusions favorable to Jesus; but they feel themselves arrested by an opinion which was generally spread abroad at that time, and which seemed to them irreconcilable with the supposition of His Messianic dignity: that the origin of the Messiah was to be entirely unknown. We find an opinion which is nearly related to this expressed by Justin. About the middle of the second century, this Father puts into the mouth of the Jew Trypho these words: “The Christ, even after His birth, is to remain unknown and not to know Himself and to be without power, until Elijah comes and anoints Him and reveals Him to all.” “Three things,” say the Rabbis, “come unexpectedly: the Messiah, the God- send and the scorpion” (Sanhedr. 97a, see Westcott).
This idea probably arose from the prophecies which announced the profound humiliation to which the family of David would be reduced at the time of the advent of the Christ (Isa_11:1; Isa_53:2). It was true that it was not unknown, that the Messiah would be born at Bethlehem; but the words: whence He is, refer not to the locality, but to the parents and family of the Messiah. Those who speak thus imagine of course that they are acquainted with the origin of Jesus, in this second relation also. Comp. Joh_6:42. Thus they sacrifice the moral impression produced upon them by the person and word of the Lord to a mere critical objection: a bad method of reaching the truth!
Howbeit (alla). Clearly adversative here.
This man (touton). Possibly contemptuous use of houtos as may be true in Joh_7:25, Joh_7:26.
Whence he is (pothen estin). The Galilean Jews knew the family of Jesus (Joh_6:42), but they knew Jesus only as from Nazareth, not as born in Bethlehem (Joh_7:42).
When the Christ cometh (ho Christos hotan erchētai). Prolepsis of ho Christos and indefinite temporal clause with hotan and the present middle subjunctive erchētai rather than the more usual second aorist active elthēi as in Joh_7:31, a trifle more picturesque. This is a piece of popular theology. “Three things come wholly unexpected – Messiah, a godsend, and a scorpion” (Sanhedrin 97a). The rulers knew the birthplace to be Bethlehem (Joh_7:42; Mat_2:5.), but some even expected the Messiah to drop suddenly from the skies as Satan proposed to Jesus to fall down from the pinnacle of the temple. The Jews generally expected a sudden emergence of the Messiah from concealment with an anointing by Elijah (Apoc. of Bar. XXIX. 3; 2Esdr. 7:28; 13:32; Justin Martyr, Tryph. 110).
28.Jesus therefore exclaimed in the temple. He bitterly reproaches them for their rashness, because they arrogantly flattered themselves in a false opinion, and in this manner excluded themselves from a knowledge of the truth; as if he had said, “You know all things, and yet you know nothing.” And, indeed, there is not a more destructive plague than when men are so intoxicated by the scanty portion of knowledge which they possess, that they boldly reject every thing that is contrary to their opinion.
You both know me, and you know whence I am. This is ironical language. With the false opinion which they had formed concerning him, he contrasts what is true; as if he had said, “While you have your eyes fixed on the earth, you think that every part of me is before your eyes; and therefore you despise me as mean and unknown. But God will testify that I have come from heaven; and though I may be rejected by you, God will acknowledge that I am truly his own Son.”
But he who hath sent me is true. He calls God true in the same sense that Paul calls him faithful If we are unbelievers, says he, he remaineth faithful, he cannot deny himself, (2Ti_2:13.)
For his object is to prove, that the credit due to the Gospel is not in the smallest degree diminished by the utmost exertions of the world to overthrow it; that though wicked men may attempt to take from Christ what belonged to him, still he remains unimpaired, because the truth of God is firm and is always like itself. Christ sees that he is despised; but so far is he from yielding, that, on the contrary, he boldly repels the furious arrogance of those who hold him in no estimation. With such unshaken and heroic fortitude all believers ought to be endued; nay, more, our faith will never be solid or lasting, unless it treat with contempt the presumption of wicked men, when they rise up against Christ. Above all, godly teachers, relying on this support, ought to persevere in maintaining sound doctrine, even though it should be opposed by the whole world. Thus Jeremiah appeals to God as his defender and guardian, because he is condemned as an impostor: Thou hast deceived me, O Lord, says he, and I was deceived, (Jer_20:7.)
Thus Isaiah, overwhelmed on all sides by calumnies and reproaches, flies to this refuge, that God will approve his cause, (Isa_50:8.) Thus Paul, oppressed by unjust judgments, appeals against all to the day of the Lord, (1Co_4:5,) reckoning it enough to have God alone to place against the whole world, however it may rage and storm.
Whom you knew not. He means that it is not wonderful that he is not known by the Jews, because they do not know God; for the beginning of wisdom is, to behold God.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
28. Then cried Jesus] Better, Jesus therefore cried aloud. The word translated ‘cried’ signifies a loud expression of strong emotion. He is moved by their gross misconception of Him, a fact which the weakening of ‘therefore’ into ‘then’ obscures. Comp. Joh_7:37, Joh_1:15, Joh_12:44.
in the temple] S. John well remembers that moving cry in the Temple; the scene is still before him and he puts it before us, although neither ‘in the Temple’ nor ‘as He taught’ is needed for the narrative (see Joh_7:14).
Ye both know me, &c.] Various constructions have been put upon this: (1) that it is a question; (2) that it is ironical; (3) a mixture of the two; (4) a reproach, i.e. that they knew His Divine nature and maliciously concealed it. None of these are satisfactory. The words are best understood quite simply and literally. Christ admits the truth of what they say: they have an outward knowledge of Him and His origin (Joh_6:42); but He has an inner and higher origin, of which they know nothing. So that even their self-made test, for the sake of which they are willing to resist the evidence both of Scripture and of His works, is complied with; for they know not His real immediate origin.
and I am not come of myself] ‘Of Myself’ is emphatic; and (yet) of Myself I am not come. Comp. Joh_8:42. The ‘and’ introduces a contrast, as so often in S. John: ‘ye know My person, and ye know My parentage; and yet of the chief thing of all, My Divine mission, ye know nothing. See on Joh_7:30.
but he that sent me is true] The word for ‘true’ here is the same as occurs Joh_1:9 in ‘the true Light’ (see note there): the meaning, therefore, is not ‘truthful’ but ‘real, perfect;’ He that sendeth Me is a real sender, One who in the highest and most perfect sense can give a mission But perhaps here and in Rev_3:7; Rev_19:11 the distinction between the two words for ‘true’ is not very marked. Such refinements (the words being alike except in termination) have a tendency to become obscured.
Jesus therefore cried—lifted up his voice in such a way as to cause wide astonishment. (The word is found in Joh_1:15 of John the Baptist, and Joh_1:37 and Joh_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 Joh_7:14, 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 I am not come from myself (see Joh_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 (Joh_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.
30.Therefore they sought to seize him. They had no want of will to do him mischief; they even made the attempt, and they had strength to do it. Why, then, amidst so much ardor, are they benumbed, as if they had their hands and feet bound? The Evangelist replies, because Christ ’s hour was not yet come; by which he means that, against all their violence and furious attacks, Christ was guarded by the protection of God. And at the same time he meets the offense of the cross; for we have no reason to be alarmed when we learn that Christ was dragged to death, not through the caprice of men, but because he was destined for such a sacrifice by the decree of the Father. And hence we ought to infer a general doctrine; for though we live from day to day, still the time of every man’s death has been fixed by God. It is difficult to believe that, while we are subject to so many accidents, exposed to so many open and concealed attacks both from men and beasts, and liable to so many diseases, we are safe from all risk until God is pleased to call us away. But we ought to struggle against our own distrust; and we ought to attend first to the doctrine itself which is here taught, and next, to the object at which it aims, and the exhortation which is drawn from it, namely, that each of us, casting all his cares on God, (Psa_55:22; 1Pe_5:7,) should follow his own calling, and not be led away from the performance of his duty by any fears. Yet let no man go beyond his own bounds; for confidence in the providence of God must not go farther than God himself commands.
31.And many of the multitude believed in him. We might have thought that Christ preached to deaf and altogether obstinate persons; and yet the Evangelist says that some fruit followed. And, therefore, though some may murmur, and others scorn, and others slander, and though many differences of opinion may arise, still the preaching of the Gospel will not be without effect; so that we must sow the seed, and wait with patience until, in process of time, the fruit appear. The word believe is here used inaccurately, for they depended more on miracles than they relied on doctrine, and were not convinced that Jesus was the Christ; but as they were prepared to listen to him, and showed themselves willing to receive instruction from him as their Teacher, such a preparation for faith is called faith When the Holy Spirit bestows so honorable a designation on a small spark of good disposition, it ought to encourage us, so as not to doubt that faith, however small it may be, is acceptable to God.
33.Yet a little while am I with you. Some think that this sermon was addressed to the assembly of the people who were present, and others, that it was addressed to the officers who had been sent to seize Christ. But for my own part, I have no doubt that Christ particularly addresses his enemies, who had taken counsel to destroy him; for he ridicules their efforts, because they will be utterly ineffectual, until the time decreed by the Father be come And at the same time, he reproaches them for their obstinacy, because they not only reject, but furiously oppose, the grace which is offered to them; and threatens that ere long it will be taken from them. When he says, I am with you, he rebukes their ingratitude, because, though he had been given to them by the Father, though he had come down to them from the heavenly glory, though, by calling them to be his familiar associates, he desired nothing more than to assist them, still there were few who received him. When he says, Yet a little while, he warns them that God will not long endure that his grace should be exposed to such shameful contempt. Yet he also means, that neither his life nor his death is placed at their disposal, but that his Father has fixed a time, which must be fulfilled.
I go to him who hath sent me. By these words he testifies that he will not be extinguished by his death, but, on the contrary, when he shall have laid aside his mortal body, will be declared to be the Son of God by the magnificent triumph of his resurrection; as if he had said, “Labour as much as you please, yet you will never hinder my Father from receiving me into his heavenly glory, when I have discharged the embassy which he has committed to me. Thus not only will my rank remain undiminished after my death, but a more excellent condition is then provided for me.” Besides, we ought to draw from it a general admonition; for as often as Christ calls us to the hope of salvation by the preaching of the Gospel, he is present with us. For not without reason is the preaching of the Gospel called Christ’s descent to us, where it is said, he came and preached peace to those who were far off, and to those who were near, (Eph_2:17.)
If we accept the hand which he holds out, he will lead us to the Father; and so long as we must sojourn in the world, not only will he show himself to be near us, but will constantly dwell in us. And if we disregard his presence, he will lose nothing, but, departing from us, will leave us altogether strangers to God and to life.
Cambridge Bible Plummer
33. Then said Jesus] Better, as in Joh_7:30 and often, Therefore said Jesus, i.e. in consequence of their sending to arrest Him: probably He recognised the officers waiting for an opportunity to take Him. According to the best MSS., ‘Unto them’ should be omitted: Christ’s words are addressed to the officers and those who sent them.
It is very difficult to decide on the precise meaning of Christ’s words. Perhaps the simplest interpretation is the best. ‘I must remain on earth a little while longer, and during this time ye cannot kill Me: then ye will succeed, and I shall go to My Father. Thither ye will wish to come, but ye cannot; for ye know Him not (Joh_7:28), and such as ye cannot enter there.’ This is the first formal attempt upon His life. It reminds Him that His death is not far off, and that it will place a tremendous barrier between Him and those who compass it. It is the beginning of the end; an end that will bring a short-lived loss and eternal triumph to Him, a short-lived triumph and eternal loss to them.
unto him that sent me] One suspects that here S. John is translating Christ’s words into plainer language than He actually used. Had He said thus clearly ‘unto Him that sent Me,’ a phrase which they elsewhere understand at once of God (see on Joh_7:30), they could scarcely have asked the questions which follow in Joh_7:35. Unless we are to suppose that they here pretend not to understand; which is unlikely, as they speak not to Him but ‘among themselves.’
34.You shall seek me. They sought Christ, to put him to death. Here Christ alludes to the ambiguous signification of the word seek, for soon they shall seek him in another manner; as if he had said, “My presence, which is now irksome and intolerable to you, will last for a short time; but ere long you shall seek me in vain, for, far removed from you, not only by my body, but also by my power, I shall behold from heaven your destruction.” But here a question may be put, of what nature was this seeking of Christ? For it is plain enough that Christ speaks of the reprobate, whose obstinacy in rejecting Christ had reached the utmost point. Some refer it to doctrine, because the Jews, by foolishly pursuing the righteousness of works, did not obtain what they desired, (Rom_9:31.) Many understand it as referring to the person of the Messiah, because the Jews, reduced to extremities, in vain implored a Redeemer. But for my own part, I explain it as merely denoting the groans of distress uttered by the wicked, when, compelled by necessity, they look in some manner towards God.
And shall not find me. When they seek him, they do not seek him; for unbelief and obstinacy — by shutting up their hearts, as it were — hinders them from approaching to God. They would desire, indeed, that God should aid them, and should be their Redeemer, but, by impenitence and hardness of heart, they obstruct their path. We have a very striking example in Esau, who, on account of having lost his birthright, not only is oppressed with grief, but groans and gnashes his teeth, and breaks out into furious indignation, (Gen_27:38; Heb_12:17.) But yet so far is he from the right way of seeking the blessing, that, at the very time when he is seeking it, he renders himself more unworthy of it. In this manner God usually punishes the contempt of his grace in the reprobate, so that, either afflicted by severe punishments, or oppressed by a conviction of their misery, or reduced to other extremities, they complain, and cry, and howl, but without reaping any advantage; for, being always like themselves, they nourish within their hearts the same cruelty which they formerly displayed, and do not go to God, but rather wish that he were changed, since they cannot destroy him. Hence let us learn that we ought to receive Christ without delay, while he is still present with us, that the opportunity of enjoying him may not pass away from us; for if the door be once shut, it will be vain for us to try to open it.
Seek the Lord, says Isaiah, while he may be found; call upon him, while he is near,
We ought therefore to go to God early, while the time of his good pleasure lasts, as the prophet speaks, (Isa_49:8;) for we know not how long God will bear with our negligence. In these words, where I am, you cannot come, he employs the present tense instead of the future, where I shall be, you shall not be able to come
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 Joh_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 Pro_1:28 and Amo_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 (2Co_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.
35.Whither will he go? This was added by the Evangelist, for the express purpose of showing how great was the stupidity of the people. Thus not only are wicked men deaf to hear God’s instruction, but even dreadful threatenings are allowed by them to pass by in mockery, as if they were listening to a fable. Christ spoke expressly of the Father, but they remain fixed on the earth, and think of nothing else than a departure to distant countries.
Will he go to the dispersion of the Greeks? It is well known that the Jews gave the name of Greeks to all nations beyond the sea; but they do not mean that Christ will go to the uncircumcised nations, but to the Jews, who were dispersed through the various countries of the world. For the word dispersion would not apply to those who are natives of the place, and who inhabit their native soil, but applies well to the Jews, who were fugitives and exiles. Thus Peter inscribes his First Epistle παρεπιδήμοις διασπορᾶς, to the strangers of the dispersion, that is, to the strangers who are scattered through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, (1Pe_1:1;) and James salutes the twelve tribes ἐν τὣ διασπορᾷ, in the dispersion, that is, scattered abroad, (Jas_1:1.) The meaning of the words therefore is, “Will he cross the sea, to go to Jews who dwell in a world unknown to us?” And it is possible that they intended to teaze Christ by this mockery. “If this be the Messiah, will he fix the seat of his reign in Greece, since God has assigned to him the land of Canaan as his own habitation?” But however that may be, we see that the severe threatening which Christ had uttered did not at all affect them.
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 Ἑλλ ήνων) 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. Psa_146:2; cf. Jas_1:1; 1Pe_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 hero 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. (Mat_8:11)? Had he not referred to the ministry of Elijah and Elisha severally to the Syro-Phoenician and the Syrian (Luk_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 Joh_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.”
Pop Comm Bible Schaff
Joh_7:36.What is this word which he spake, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, ye cannot come? This verse contains little more than a repetition of the Saviour’s former statement, but is useful in reminding us that the Jews, whose bitter words we have just been considering, were themselves perplexed by what they heard. We must not suppose that they pondered and then rejected the teaching of Jesus: their enmity rendered impossible that patient thought which would have found the key to His mysterious language; they understood enough to have been attracted, had they only been willing listeners, by the light and the life of His words. Their ignorance resulted from the absence of the will to learn and do God’s will (Joh_7:17).