Jesus told his brothers that he was not (currently) going to this feast of Tabernacles, yet he went a little while later. Then he taught in public in the temple. Jesus challenged the rulers to judge with a righteous judgment and stop being lawbreakers who were seeking to kill him for (allegedly) breaking the law. They sent officers to arrest Jesus. The people’s opinion about him were divided. The officers returned and said his teaching was unprecedented, so they could not arrest him! Nicodemus steps forward and defends Jesus.
As I write in every introduction:
This translation and commentary are for everyone who needs an online reference, but the commentary is mainly for readers in developing and persecuting countries, where Christians cannot afford or do not have access to excellent printed Study Bibles or commentaries. The main goal is missional.
The translation is mine. I offer it only to learn what the Greek says. It tends to be literal, but complete literalness and readability are impossible, so I had to make adjustments.
Readers can go to biblehub.com and use the interlinear link to look up every Greek word, and then the links go to every occurrence of the word. They can also visit biblegateway.com for many translations.
A GrowApp section is offered after every passage of Scripture, which asks challenging questions for deeper discipleship.
Links are provided for further study.
Jesus Says No to His Brothers (John 7:1-9)
1 So afterwards, Jesus traveled around in Galilee, for he did not want to travel around in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill him. 2 The Jewish feast of tabernacles was getting closer. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Move on from here and go to Judea, so that your disciples also may observe you and your works which you do, 4 for no one does anything in secret and yet he himself seeks to be in public! If you do these things, show yourself to the world!” 5 For neither did his brothers believe in him. 6 So Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet appeared, but your time is always ready. 7 The world is unable to hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. 8 You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast because my time has not yet been accomplished.” 9 After saying these things, he himself remained in Galilee.
Since the verb believe and the noun faith are so important in John’s Gospel, I would like to plant word studies at the beginning of each chapter. Then you can scroll back up here to read what the terms mean. I post this word study in nearly each chapter because in online writing I don’t have to worry about costs per printed page.
The verb believe (verb is pisteuō, pronounced pih-stew-oh) and the noun faith have to penetrate one’s whole being. Now let’s study them more formally. The noun faith is pistis (pronounced peace-teace or pis-tiss), and it is used 243 times. Its basic meaning is the “belief, trust, confidence,” and it can also mean “faithfulness” and “trustworthy” (Mounce p. 232). It is directional, and the best direction is faith in God (Mark 11:22; 1 Thess. 1:8; 1 Pet. 1:21; Heb. 6:1) and faith in Jesus (Acts 3:16; 20:21; 24:24; Gal. 3:26; Eph. 1:15; Col. 1:4; 1 Tim. 3:13). Believing (verb) and faith (noun) is very important to God. It is the language of heaven. We live on earth and by faith see the invisible world where God is. We must believe he exists; then we must exercise our faith to believe he loves us and intends to save us.
A true acronym:
Forsaking All, I Trust Him
The bottom line is that for John’s Gospel believing and faith must not get stuck in an intellectual assent. “I believe that God exists and Jesus lived.” This may a good start, but everyone who believes or has faith must put their complete trust in God’s Son. One has to surrender totally to the Lordship of Jesus.
Now let’s move on.
Jesus was already in the north, at Capernaum. “travel around” means to travel about and minister. Literally the Greek reads “walk around” or “walk about.” Carson says that Jesus ministered in Galilee for about a year (comment on v. 1). Mounce says that Jewish law said that anyone within fifteen miles (24.1 km) of Jerusalem had to go to the capital.
The Jews = the Jerusalem establishment.
Here are some basic facts about the Feast of Tabernacles (booths) or Sukkoth:
Time of Year in OT: seventh month, Ethanim / Tishri fifteenth day of the month and lasts eight days.
Time of Year in Modern Calendar: September / October
How to celebrate it:
On the first day, the Sabbath, the people are to hold a sacred assembly (meet at the tabernacle), when they are not to do any work. For seven days they present food offerings, and then on the eighth say the hold a closing sacred assembly and do no regular work. The festival begins after the people had gathered all the crops of the land. Lev. 23:40-43 offers these further instructions:
On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. … 42 Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters 43 so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’” (Lev. 23:40-43)
Num. 29:12-38 lays out the commands for the offerings the community had to bring, on each day. They are too numerous to discuss here. The reader is invited to click on the link.
Purpose: Bring in crops and celebrate the Lord’s bounty and to teach descendants that the Israelites lived in temporary shelters when the Lord brought them out of Egypt.
To find out how the NT fulfils this festival, so that it does not to be kept, unless someone voluntarily wishes to do so, please see this post:
In these two verses we have the narrative scene staged or set up for the dialogue between him and his brothers.
Let’s take care of a word study first:
“Disciples”: the noun is mathētēs (singular and pronounced mah-they-tayss), and it is used 261 times in the NT, though many of them are duplicates in the three synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. BDAG says of the noun (1) “one who engages in learning through instruction from another, pupil, apprentice”; (2) “one who is rather constantly associated with someone who has a pedagogical reputation or a particular set of views, disciple, adherent.”
His brothers urged him to go show himself—to show off—right now, in a Messianic manner which they thought was the right way. (Maybe they saw that many disciples left, in John 6:66.) They say “your disciples” and the works that Jesus does. One gets the impression that “when they saw him coming, Jesus’s brothers spoke about Jesus in a similar way to how Joseph’s brothers spoke about him: ‘Here comes that dreamer!’ (Gen 37:19)” Klink, comment on v. 3). The brothers use the verb metabainō (pronounced meh-tah-by-noh), which in some contexts can mean to “take up residence” (Shorter Lexicon). I translated it as “move on.” They want him to cross the Rubicon, so to speak, and get into a big clash and destroy the enemy, Rome. Now is his time! Or they really did not know whether he had such power to crush Rome, so they may have wanted to manage his career, much like agents manage stars today.
Further, they said if you do these things, perform more signs in the heart of Jerusalem, the capital of Judaism—never mind that he had already done this (John 2:23). Jesus did not want to go in for publicity stunts.
In the brothers saying show yourself to the world, “such a grandiose statement was certainly intended to offer an over-the-top mockery of his ministry and self-identity. Yet with irony that only detected by the reader of the Gospel, the statement intended to be a rebuke founded upon the impossible could not have been more accurate. Jesus had come to show himself to the world, though in a very different manner than what his brothers could have imagined” (Klink, comment on v. 4). (See v. 27 for an explanation of irony.)
Here is a list of Messianic signs according to the Synoptics (Matthew standing in for the other two):
Verses: “I am the LORD: I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for my people, a light for the nations, to open they eyes that are blind, to bring the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness” (Is. 42:6-7, ESV). Is. 42:18 connects hearing and seeing with walking in God’s ways, and deafness and blindness with national judgment. As for leprosy, Jesus referred to the time when Elijah the prophet healed Namaan the Syrian of his skin disease, and the return of Elijah was a sign that the Messiah was here (Mal. 4:5-6; Luke 9:28-36).
Here are the miracles so far:
Blind healed (9:27-31)
Lame walking (9:2-8)
Lepers cleaned (8:1-4)
Deaf hearing (9:32-33)
Dead raised (9:18-26)
The poor enjoy the good news preached to them (4:17, 23; 5-7, particularly the Beatitudes which begins with the kingdom of heaven belonging to the poor in spirit.
In summary, miracles of God, particularly the ones Jesus performed to usher in the kingdom of God, are purposed to help people, to set them free from natural deformities and diseases and spiritual, demonic afflictions, and falsehoods—all the abnormalities of a world gone haywire, a fallen world. They are all people-centered an on their real needs in body and soul. This is the kind of Messiah he was. Those are the signs he did.
But his brothers were not catching on. They counseled him to be a walking, talking infomercial for their version of the Messiah. Sorry, no.
His brothers not believing in him fits the Synoptic witness:
20 He came home, and again a crowd gathered together, so that they were unable even to eat a meal. 21 When his family heard this, they went out to take him into custody, for they were saying, “He was out of his mind.” … 31 His mother and his brothers, standing outside, sent for him and called him. 32 A crowd sat around him and said to him, “See, your mother and your brothers and your sisters are looking for you outside.” 33 In reply, he said to them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 He looked around at those sitting about him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 35 The one who does the will of God—this one is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:20-21, 31-35)
So Jesus had to move on from them, until, thankfully, after his resurrection, they came to believe.
As usual, Jesus plays with a rich word, time. In Greek chronos (pronounced khroh-noss) means more of a calendar time. It measures one day, one week or one month after another. But here he uses another word, kairos (pronounced kye-ross). It is used 85 times in the NT. It speaks more of a quality time than quantity. BDAG is considered by many to be the authoritative lexicon of the Greek NT, and it defines the noun as follows: (1) a point of time or period of time, time, period, frequently with the implication of being especially fit for something and without emphasis on precise chronology. (a) Generally a welcome time or difficult time … fruitful times; (b) a moment or period as especially appropriate the right, proper, favorable time … at the right time; (2) a defined period for an event, definite, fixed time (e.g. period of fasting or mourning in accord with the changes in season), in due time (Gal. 6:9); (3) a period characterized by some aspect of special crisis, time; (a) generally the present time (Rom. 13:11; 12:11); (b) One of the chief terms relating to the endtime … the time of crisis, the last times.
It seems that 2b is the right definition here. His time has not yet come because he is waiting for a signal from his Father, his appointed time. As we read in Mark 3:20-21 and 31-35, so in this passage in the Fourth Gospel, his family also stands in opposition to the Father’s will. Jesus has to follow his Father, not his family. He rejects their timing of his appearance, but that is not to say that he will stay away when the Father tells him to appear. That’s the lesson for all of us. Following Jesus must come before the family, if the family opposes the Gospel, as it often happens in devout Jewish and Muslim families today.
“in this way, Jesus’s statement [“My time has not yet appeared, but your time is always ready”] offers a rejoinder that, without any combative hyperbole, could not be perceived by his brothers, but was intended to act as a distancing mechanism … And in doing so, Jesus aligns himself with the Father” (Klink, comment on v. 6).
“appear”: it comes from the verb pareimi (pronounced pah-ray-mee), which is also has additional connotations, meaning “to be present” or “to be here” or “to be there.” I translated it as “appear,” because Jesus is refuting his brothers’ counsel to make a Grand Appearance, to walk the red carpet as the superstar at the Jerusalem Religious Oscars (so to speak). Once again, he rejects the brothers’ manner of his appearance.
So he rejects their timing and their manner. But he will appear in Jerusalem in his time and his manner—as directed by the Father.
Jesus draws a sharp contrast between his relation to the world and his brothers’ relation to the world. The world—which includes Jerusalem—hates him because he testifies that its works or deeds are evil. Then he says that the world does not hate them. Ouch. His implication is that his brothers’ works are part and parcel of the world. The brothers fit right in because their works are evil. They match up. Jesus will prove who his true brothers / disciples really are (15:19) (Klink, comment on v. 7).
“world”: The Greek noun is kosmos (pronounced coz-moss). It could refer to the physical universe (17:5; 21:25). Or it could refer to humanity as a group. What we call humanity or humankind is, in John, the world. This is why God invades the kosmos. “The ‘world’ is the place or realm where God is at work, the place that is the main focus of God’s attention. God’s saving light invades the dark world. Jesus came to the dark world to save as many as those who believe in him and in his name. In sum, “it appears that the personification of the ‘world’ in John is the portrait of a class of people.” It is the dimension of a relational encounter between God and people (Klink, comment on 1:10, pp. 100-01).
God is at work in the world. So once again, Jesus is not completely revealing who he is.
“testify”: “The theme of witness … pervades the whole Gospel. The witness to the truth of God’s self-revelation in the Word is manifold: it comprises the witness of the Father (5:32, 37; 8:18), of the Son 8:14, 18), of the Spirit (15:26); the witness of the works of Christ (5:36; 10:25), the witness of the scriptures (5:39), the witness of the disciples (15:27), including the disciple whom Jesus loved (19:35; 21:24). The purpose of this manifold witness, as of John’s witness, is ‘that all might believe’: it is the purpose for which the Gospel itself was written (20:31)” (Bruce, comment on 1:6-8). The terms “witness” or “testimony” carries a legal meaning “of testifying or bearing witness to the true state of affairs by one who has sufficient knowledge or superior position” (Klink, comment on 1:7).
Mounce says, simply, that Jesus is saying that he will not go to Jerusalem with his brothers (comment on vv. 8-9).
Jesus tells his brothers that they should go up to Jerusalem, and using the present tense, he says “I am not going up” to Jerusalem for this feast (it is best not to regard the verbal clause as a “futuristic present tense,” but the action is already going on [Novakovic, p. 236]). As we are about to learn, however, he will go up a little later, when, it is implied, he gets word from his Father. It may be as simple as the fact that he did not want to share the road to Jerusalem with his brothers. When they had intended to take custody of him (Mark 3:21), who can blame him? His family seems to want to hinder and / control the ministry which God gave him.
Incidentally, why the verb “going up” and not just “going”? Jerusalem, particularly the center, sat on a hill, Mt. Zion. All for Gospels often say “go up.” Once again, John understood the topography, which adds a little to his historical reliability.
Now what about the negation not in this verse (“I am not going up”). Should it be omitted (“I am going up”)? Not the right answer, since it looks desperate. Or should it read “not yet” (“I am not yet going up”)? The manuscript witnesses for either “not” or “not yet” is strong, but text critics say “not,” and rate their confidence as a “C,” which is not very strong (the lowest rating is D). So it could be translated as “I am not yet going up.” However, it does not matter, because it is in the present tense: “I am not (currently) going up (right now).” Then why didn’t he just use the word “yet”? “I am not yet going up” (assuming that this is not original, though it could be). His brothers were controlling him. He owed his unbelieving brothers nothing, no added information. Why should he tell him of his plan to go up when his Father told him? He withheld the fullest information so that he could keep things ambiguous. That was his way at this stage—speaking in cryptic or symbolic language, as we just read in most of John 6. People had to search for the answers, particularly about his identity of being the Messiah and his tight relationship with his Father.
Bruce is also right: “The reading ‘I am not going up’ in any case implies the proviso: ‘until my Father’s will is shown.’ Until then, Jesus’s time was not fulfilled’” (comment on vv. 6-8).
Klink points out that Jesus says that he is not going up to this feast. Why the clear pronoun this? “What makes this statement remarkable is that the implied other feast is the same feast—the Feast of Tabernacles! The contrast Jesus makes suggests that there is a distinction between the Feast of Tabernacles and the true tabernacle—Jesus himself” (comment on v. 8). This makes sense (a) because Jesus often spiritualizes the language and renews old concepts, as we just read about the bread of heaven, the true bread, the bread of God; and (b) because John said: “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as the only and unique Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14); and (c) the verb “to tabernacle” or “pitch a tent” (skēnoō, pronounced skay-no-oh) and the noun tabernacles (skēnopēgia, pronounced skay-no-pay-gee-ah, and the “g” is hard as in “get”) are related by the stem skēn, which means “tent” or “pitch a tent.” Paul was a skēnopoios or “tent maker.”
So let’s once again look at the diagram.
2.. What Does It or He Symbolize?
1.. Physical Object or Person
Now let’s fill it in:
2.. Jesus’s person and presence is the tabernacle
1.. This Feast of Tabernacles as Moses Instituted it
Jesus was going to replace this old festival with a new grace, grace in place of grace (1:16). So v. 8 can be paraphrased in this expansive way: “I am not going up to this feast (as you brothers understand it and it is historically done), but to my own feast of tabernacles—myself, who has tabernacled among you.” Klink’s insight is not farfetched because Jesus is the fulfillment of all the feasts (though the expanded translation is mine, and so is the diagram). And it is then that his time will have been “accomplished” or “fulfilled” (v. 8). Excellent.
Carson writes: “Jesus’ response to his brothers is not that he is planning to stay in Galilee forever, but that because his life is regulated by his heavenly Father’s appointments, he is not going to the Feast when they say he should. The ‘counsel of the wicked’ (Ps. 1:1) cannot be permitted to set his agenda. His ‘not’ turns down his brothers’ request; it does not promise he will not go to the Feast when the Father sanctions the trip” (comment on vv. 8-9).
As usual, Carson cuts to the essence. Excellent explanation.
Bruce points out that the third-century Neo-Platonist Porphyry wrote a work in fifteen books titled, Against the Christians. He argued that Jesus was irresolute when he stayed in Galilee but then went up to Jerusalem in the end, a short time later. So this objection has been circulating for many centuries. Bruce replies: “The Evangelist’s [John’s] point is rather that the whole incident marks his steadfast resolution not to run before the Father’s guidance nor yet lag behind it” (comment on v. 9). John’s entire Gospel is all about Jesus doing his Father’s will, hearing his voice and following it, so Bruce is right to include the implied proviso (see v. 8).
GrowApp for John 7:1-9
A.. Have you ever let your unbelieving family control your walk with God? How did you reclaim it?
B.. Have you ever run ahead of God? How did you come back to his guidance?
Now Jesus Goes Up to the Feast in Secret (John 7:10-13)
10 But after his brothers went up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly, but (as it were) in secret. 11 So the Jews were looking for him at the feast and were saying, “Where is that man?” 12 Many in the crowds were murmuring about him. Some were saying, “He is a good man,” but others were saying, “No, but he deceives the crowd.” 13 However, no one was saying anything openly about him, for fear of the Jews.
In the previous pericope (pronounced puh-RIH-koh-pea) or unit or section of Scripture, I already answered the question of why Jesus delayed his going up to Jerusalem and appeared to not be willing to go up at all but then changed his mind. Now, however, he received permission to go up in the manner and at the time of his Father’s choosing. In an earlier scene, Jesus resisted his family (his mother) and worked the miracle of turning the water into wine:
4 Jesus said to her, “What is that to you and me, woman? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.” (John 2:4-5)
Jesus insisted on doing things his Father’s way, and this time the miraculous transformation provided a teachable moment. He can transform lives. So now Jesus goes up to Jerusalem in the manner and time of his Father’s and his own choosing.
Mounce says that Jesus going up secretly merely means that he was not going up in a large caravan, but by himself (see Luke 2:42-44) (comment on v. 10). However, Klink says that Jesus going up in secret is designed to go in the opposite direction from the advice of his brothers—no honor-seeking display demanded by his brothers but shame-bearing display as assigned to him by his Father (cf. 3:14) (Klink, comment on v. 10). Recall what Carson explained. Jesus said no to his brothers’ request and their timing; he did not categorically and sweepingly say he would never go up this year. And recall what Klink said. Jesus went up when the Father told him to and in the manner God intended: to fulfill the tabernacle feast. He is the one who “tabernacled” among humanity (1:14). John often plays with the meaning of words, deepening them, as he does here.
“the Jews”: in this context they are the Jerusalem religious establishment and their acolytes.
“That man” drips with condescension and suspicion.
The crowds of people were divided. It is likely that the Galileans, who came up for the feast, favored him, along with some cured and impressed Jerusalemites and Judeans, while the bulk of the Jerusalemites and Judeans did not like him. To them, Galileans were almost foreign, or at least they were hicks from the sticks.
“good man” echoes the words of the seeker who called Jesus good (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). It reflects the theme in Deuteronomy that goes beyond a generic compliment but reflects the goodness of God and the character of God (Klink, comment on v. 12).
Neither side, however, dared to speak openly, because they feared the backlash from the Jewish establishment. If he was the Messiah, then he would take over, and their negative public opinion might work against them. If he were not the Messiah, then they would eliminate him, and their positive public opinion might work against them.
At his crucifixion, the Jerusalem establishment thought they had eliminated him, but his resurrection and ascension proved them wrong and vindicated him.
GrowApp for John 7:10-13
A.. What was your opinion about Jesus before your conversion? What is it after your conversion?
Jesus Teaches Openly at the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:14-24)
14 While it was already at the midpoint of the feast, Jesus went up to the temple and began to teach. 15 So the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this man know the law, though he has never studied?” 16 So Jesus, in reply, told them, “My teaching is not mine, but of the one who sent me. 17 If anyone wants to do his will, he will learn about this teaching, whether it is of God or I speak on my own. 18 The one who speaks on his own seeks his own glory, but the one seeking the glory of the one who sent him—this man is true, and unrighteousness is not in him. 19 Wasn’t it Moses who gave you the law? And yet not one of you practices the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd replied, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill you?” 21 In reply, Jesus said to them, “I did one work, and all of you are stunned. 22 For this reason: Moses gave you circumcision—not that it was from Moses but from the patriarchs—and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I made a whole man healthy on the Sabbath? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with a righteous judgment.
Jesus went up at the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles or before the feast began, and now at the midpoint he is bolder and entered the temple precinct and begins to teach. In the context of the Feast, he was showing his own authority, which is about to surprise and offend the establishment. Carson points out that Jesus was avoiding a premature triumphal entry, recalling the slaughter of the Galileans in the temple courts (Luke 13:1) (comment on v. 14). But now the time is right to teach, after he got there, privately.
“teach”: It is the verb didaskō (pronounced dee-dahs-koh, and our word didactic is related to it). The verb means to instruct or tell or teach (BDAG), sometimes in a formal setting like a classroom or another confined setting, other times in a casual setting. Here he was in a formal setting, the temple. He spoke with authority, unlike the teachers of the law and Pharisees (Luke 4:32; Matt. 7:28-29). This is what the Spirit does through a surrendered heart and mind. He combined a teaching and healing ministry. His insight into Scripture was profound. This is what the Spirit does through a surrendered heart and mind after a victory over Satan. Some Renewalists of the fiery variety don’t teach, but evangelize and shriek and freak, after they read one verse or two, and put on a show. How much time do they put in to study the Word? Jesus had a full ministry: teaching, healing, miracles, and deliverances.
Jesus was not taught by a famous teacher / Rabbi, but he knew the law—literally “letters.” It reminds me of the Sanhedrin’s reaction to Peter’s speech. “Perceiving the boldness of Peter and John, grasping with their minds that they were untrained and laymen, they marveled and took cognizance of the fact that they were with Jesus” (Acts 4:13, my tentative translation).
The establishment Jews of Jerusalem were steeped in traditions and the finer, technical points of the law. What was he was teaching throughout Jerusalem at this time? I don’t imagine he was talking about how far a man could travel on the Sabbath before he broke it, or how consecrated a man became by eating kosher food and avoiding unkosher food. Rather, he surely raised their vision more highly and taught them about God’s ways and plans in their time and to expect the Messiah The entire Gospel also gives us hints of what he taught. He was moving people away from Judaism and towards a New Covenant (Luke 22:19-20). God loves people, but he is not enamored with systems.
Jesus proclaims that his teaching is not sourced from him—as distinct from the teachings of the Jerusalem religious establishment and their fellow interpreters of the law—but comes from the one who sent him, the Father. Carson says that spending years studying in rabbinic schools would substantiate one’s opinions with precedence. Avoiding rabbinic training indicated arrogance and dangerous independence. But Jesus insists he is not an “inventive upstart.” However his teaching is not rooted in a long chain of human tradition, but he teaching comes from the Father, the one who sent him (comments on v. 16)
Recall this passage at the end of the Sermon on the Mount:
28 And so it happened that when Jesus finished these words, the crowds marveled at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one having authority and not as their teachers of the law. (Matt. 7:28-29)
Teachers of the law up in Galilee, where the sermon was spoken, were just like the Jerusalem establishment. They piled on interpretation on top of interpretation and overlooked the spirit of the law.
Now let’s look at the noun Jesus used, “teaching.”
As I note throughout this commentary, it comes from the Greek noun didachē (pronounced dee-dah-khay), and I almost translated it as doctrine, but that word sounds a bit stiff or formal in this context. But make no mistake. It is a doctrine or a set of beliefs which he taught. It was mostly practical, but he did teach them that his words were on an equal plane to the Torah, which hints at his authoritative and divine status. He will judge people, on that day. He will be the divine judge.
Let’s explore this Greek noun more thoroughly.
It is, as noted, the word didachē (pronounced dee-dah-khay). BDAG defines the noun as follows: (1) “The activity of teaching, teaching, instruction”; (2) “the content of teaching, teaching.” Yes, the word is also used of Jesus’s teaching: Matt. 7:28; 22:33; Mark 1:22, 27; 4:2; 11:18; 12:38; Luke 4:32; John 7:16, 17; 18:19. And it is used of the apostolic teaching: Acts 2:42; 5:28; 13:12; 17:19; Rom. 6:17; 16:17; 1 Cor. 14:6, 26; 2 Tim. 4:2; Ti. 1:9; Heb. 6:2; 2 John 9 (twice), 10; Rev. 2:14, 15, 24.
Renewalists need much more instruction and doctrine than they are getting. Inspirational preaching about God fulfilling their hopes and dreams is insufficient. We need to discern the signs of the times or seasons (Matt. 16:3). We live in the time or season of the worldwide web. The people are getting bombarded with strange doctrines, on youtube (and other such platforms). These youtube “teachers” know how to edit things and put in clever colors and special effects, but they have not been appointed by God. They do not know how to do even basic research. They run roughshod over basic hermeneutical (interpretational) principles. These “teachers” do not seem to realize that they will be judged more severely (Jas. 3:1) and will have to render an account of their (self-appointed) “leadership” (Heb. 13:17). If they destroy God’s temple, God will (eventually) destroy them (1 Cor. 3:17).
Further, my impression is that the main platform speakers on TV whose budgets are big enough to put them on TV every day don’t even know the basics about doctrine. Why not? They are too busy being corporate managers and even Chief Executive Officers of large churches. They are not turning over the practical side of church leadership to their elders and deacons. They do not spend hours a day—every day—studying nothing but Scriptures, with good ol’ commentaries. (Maybe this one can help.) They do not spend hours a day reading up on theology and doctrine. (Maybe my website can help, a little.)
A better translation of Eph. 4:11 reads: “Apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teaching pastors,” not pastors and teachers. Do we have teaching pastors or management or corporate pastors who specialize in organizational leadership? Or do we have psychology pastors? These areas should be turned over to a team. The teaching pastors should do nothing but study Scripture and should have the bulk of the teaching time on Sunday morning and in other services.
We need to change our ways and follow Scripture, or else much of the church will spiritually diminish and be swept away by strange teachings. Yes, good ol’ fashioned theology and even a little apologetics about difficult passages is what the global Church needs. They need the basics—even on Sunday morning, delivered by teaching pastors, not corporate, inspirational pastors.
“sent”: the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) teach that Jesus was sent or “has come” for a purpose, but they are not as open about it as John is.
Jesus says that his teaching = the will of God. The law of Moses may have served its time, but now he represents God and his message. If they will “learn” or “discover” or “find out” that his teaching comes from the one who sent him, then they will do the will of God, by obeying the teaching of the one whom the Father sent. They will do the will of God by obeying Jesus’s teaching. Moses was a stop-gap measure, filled with types and shadows.
“The point is not that a seeker must attain a certain God-approved level of ethical achievement before venturing an assessment as to whether or not Jesus’ teaching comes from God, but the seeker must be fundamentally committed to doing God’s will. This is a faith commitment. God then fills the seeker’s horizon” (Carson, comment on v. 16). Excellent. Faith commitment elevates the hearer of Jesus’s teaching, When the hearer has total commitment to him, he understands truths more clearly.
Anyone seeking his own glory is not reliable in the courtroom of public opinion. If I say I am awesome, what good does that do? People will laugh. But if I represent the glory of the king and derive my authority from him, then people better pay attention. This theme of glory is related to testify and testimony, and see v. 7 for more comments. It also is embedded in an honor-and-shame culture. The one who enjoys the highest honor must get it from his deeds, not from his words alone. Yes, he can win a debate, as Jesus did many times, but his “works,” that is, his miracles, substantiated his words and earned for him public honor beyond what the Jerusalem establishment could earn. However, we just read in v. 12 that not everyone believed in him but thought he was deceiving people. No one can sustain 100% popularity all of the time. So get ready, teachers and preachers, for opposition.
Jesus is true and he has no unrighteousness in him. His teaching comes from the Father, and Jesus stands on it, so this source and foundation makes him “true” and “authentic.”
Wow. Jesus slams home the notion that these nonlaw-keepers have the gall to seek to kill him. If they break the law of Moses, shouldn’t they be the ones who are put to death? We are about to read in the first eleven verses of John’s Gospel about the woman caught in adultery. The law of Moses said she should be stoned to death. What would Jesus say? He said, “Let the sinless one of you be the first to throw the stone at her.” So, what right do they have to kill him, just because he healed a man on the Sabbath? They are not seeing things clearly.
They reacted badly, and they were wrong to do so. They did not connect the dots, because they realized that Jesus really did heal on the Sabbath and told the man to pick up his mat and walk. Here are the verses: “For this reason, therefore, the Jews sought him all the more to kill him, not only because he loosened up the Sabbath, but also because he was saying that God was his own Father, thus making himself equal to God” (John 5:18). Once again, they exaggerate some nonessential elements of the law and overlook or play down the weightier matters (Matt. 23:23-24). They strain out gnats and swallow camels.
Having a demon is like saying he is crazy or possessed by the gods. He is not sent from God, in their view. But we know the opposite is true. He is sent from God. See 10:20, which says that he was accused of having a demon and was insane. Jesus was accused of being demonized in the Synoptics (Mark 3:22).
See my posts about Satan in the area of systematic theology:
Jesus one work or miracle that the did was to heal the man on the Sabbath. Please go to John 5 and look at vv. 1-18:
He did one great work—make a lame man healthy—and they were stunned or astonished.
“For this reason”: I put a colon after this phrase because it directly answers why the Jerusalem establishment is seeking to kill him. The answer is about to come in v. 23. For now, Jesus is establishing that it is lawful to circumcise on the Sabbath because Moses, that is, more particularly, the patriarchs (Abraham), commanded it. More accurately, God commanded it through Abraham. So how can it be unlawful to heal a man, make him whole, on the Sabbath?
Here are the verses in Genesis:
9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” (Gen. 17:9-14, NIV)
It is the sign of the Abrahamic covenant. Jesus himself was circumcised, because his parents wanted him to be part of this covenant. “And when the eight days were completed to circumcise him, his name was called Jesus, the name called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21). But he will launch a new covenant.
Jesus now gets to the punchline. If it is lawful to circumcise a boy (the Greek literally says “a man”), then how could it be unlawful to make a whole man (the Greek literally says “whole” man) healthy? Why a “whole” man? This stands in contrast to circumcision which ministers to a “small part” of a man. From the lesser to the greater: if circumcision (lesser) is legitimate on the Sabbath, then so is healing the whole man (greater). (Klink, comment on v. 23). The Jerusalem establishment must judge things with a “correct” or “right” or “righteous” judgment. They must not be so foolish and miss the bigger picture. Yes, circumcise the boys on the eighth day, but stop seeking to kill him for make a whole man healthy! Their perspective is shallow and shortsighted. They are blind.
He said to them, “The Sabbath was made because of the person, not the person because of the Sabbath. 28 So then the son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)
Jesus was not controlled by the establishment’s version of Sabbath keeping. He is the Lord of this commanded day off.
Categorizing people is a time-honored way of refusing to take them seriously. It is crucial to note at this point that it was the Jewish people who were designated by the evangelist as the hostile name-callers. By the end of these Tabernacle chapters, however, the hostility rises to an exceedingly venomous level, and Jesus’ death is virtually assured in the minds of the religious establishment. (Borchert, comment on vv. 19-23)
“healthy”: from the Greek adjective hygiēs (pronounced hy-gee-ayss, where the “g” is hard as in “get,” and where we get our word hygiene). This adjective is used throughout John 5 (vv. 6, 9, 11, 14, 15). It could also be translated “sound” “physically well” or “free” from your affliction (Mark 5:34). In John 5, the man “became healthy” in the past tense after Jesus commanded him to get up, pick up his mat, and walk. His whole condition changed from illness to health.
“A fair judgment would have gone deeper and recognized that he was fulfilling the moral responsibility for which the law existed. Criticism is normally irresponsible. It would rather condemn the other than find out the purpose and motivation for the person’s actions. While people ‘look at the outward appearance,’ the Lord ‘looks at the heart’ (1 Sa 16:7)” (Mounce, comment on v. 24).
1 Do not judge, so that you are not judged, 2 for the judgment by which you judge, you shall be judged, and the measure by which you measure, it shall be measured to you. 3 Why do look at the speck in your brother’s eye and don’t perceive the beam in your own eye? 4 Or how will you say to your brother, “Let me take out the speck from your eye,” and look! there’s a beam in your eye? 5 Hypocrite! First take out the beam from your eye and then you’ll see clearly to take the speck out your brother’s eye. (Matt. 7:1-5)
We can judge with true discernment, just as Jesus said here in v. 24. We can judge only the fruit of the tree. God can judge both the root and the fruit. Don’t cross over to his jurisdiction.
GrowApp for John 7:14-24
A.. If you want to do the will of the Father, how do you follow Jesus’s teaching?
B.. Have you ever strained at a small issue and lost sight of the bigger, more important ones? How did you correct your course?
Is This the Christ? (John 7:25-31)
25 So some of the Jerusalemites were saying, “Isn’t this the man whom they are seeking to kill? 26 Look! He is speaking publicly and they say nothing to him. Could it be that the rulers truly learned that this man is the Christ? 27 But we know this man and where he is from. Yet when the Christ comes, no one know where he is from.” 28 Then Jesus cried out in the temple and was teaching, saying, “You both know me, and you know where I am from! I have not come on my own, but the one who sent me is true, whom you do not know! 29 I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me!”
30 So they were seeking to seize him, yet no one put their hands on them because his hour had not yet come. 31 But many in the crowds believed in him and were saying, “Whenever the Christ may come, he will do no more signs than this one does, will he?”
The discussion shifts from Sabbath keeping and legalism to the identity of who Jesus is. The rulers of Jerusalem were allowing him to teach publicly in the temple. Maybe the rulers have learned (or come to know or discovered) that this man is the Messiah! Maybe new information has come to the Jerusalem establishment that confirmed he is the Messiah, after all, and the establishment truly knows this. If they did not believe this, why would they allow him to speak so openly? They allowed him to speak openly, in the temple, no less; therefore, they must believe that he is the Messiah!
What does the term Christ or Messiah mean? The term means the Anointed One. In Hebrew it is Messiah, and in Greek it is Christ. It means that the Father through the Spirit equipped Jesus with his special calling and the fulness of power to preach and minister to people, healing their diseases and expelling demons (though demon expulsion is not mentioned in John’s Gospel). The Messiah / Christ ushered in the kingdom of God by kingdom preaching and kingdom works.
The rulers were probably members of the Sanhedrin, the highest court and council in Judaism.
Popular belief said that the Messiah would remain hidden, and one belief said that the Messiah himself would not even know whether he was the Messiah (Bruce, comment on vv. 25-27). John is using irony here. Irony means people believe that they know something, but in reality they do not know as much as they thought they did. Comical example: Col. Klink, in the 1960’s and 1970’s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, boasted all the time that there had never been a successful escape from his Stalag, but the prisoners had tunnels going all over the place and left and came almost at will. He thought he knew more than he actually did.
Biblical example: Job and his friends thought they knew more about God and his ways than they actually did. God had to show up and instruct them that they did not know as much as they had thought.
In this verse, the people thought that he came from Nazareth and Galilee, and this is true, but Jesus is about to proclaim that he comes from the Father. Their perspective was limited, so they thought they knew more than they really did. They were largely ignorant—they were confident in their ignorance. Ignorance + arrogance = irony of the worst kind. Ignorance + arrogance + political power = lethal irony.
There is no need to try to explicate the messianic assumptions of the Jerusalemites or first-century Jews in general, for the point of contrast is not between one expectation versus another but between heaven and earth itself. The reverberations of the prologue [John 1:1-18] are crying out to the reader, who is well aware that Jesus is the Word-become-flesh, the light of humanity, the ‘one from above,’ who was ‘in the beginning’ with God. The cosmological identity of Jesus, so visible to the reader, remains completely veiled to the Jerusalemites. (Klink, comment on v. 27)
“Christ”: see v. 26 for more comments.
Now Jesus corrects them, so some translations put a question mark at the end of v. 28. “Do you both know me and where I am from?” Then we can expand the translation: “Ya think so? Maybe you don’t know as much as you think!” He comes from the one who sent him, and the one who sent him is the Father. Jesus knows him, but they do not know him. They think they know God by the intermediary of the law, the law itself, but they are shortsighted. Jesus himself comes from God and knows him to the fullest extent.
“The same decision faced by the Jews meets today’s reader as well. Wherever the gospel is proclaimed, people must decide whether to believe that Jesus is who he says he is or to reject his claim as sheer nonsense. There is no middle ground” (Mounce, comment on v. 29).
It was not the right time for him to be arrested or put their hands on him and then to crucify him. It was more than just his trial and crucifixion, but also his departure from the world and return to the Father (John 13:1). God will not allow people to take you down too soon. Jesus was following the Father perfectly. The timing belongs to God.
As I noted in my comment on John 6:15, Jesus was not fearful about their plans because he trusted in God. This idea parallels a scene in Luke’s Gospel:
29 They got up and drove him out of the town and led him up to the edge of the hill on which their town had been built, to throw him off. 30 But he passed through the middle of them and left. (Luke 4:29-30)
In those two verses in Luke, they intended to seize him by force to throw him off a high point. But he miraculously walked through them, as if he had a divine hedge of protection surrounding him and keeping them away. The Father was not going to allow his Son to be subjected to the people’s will and plans.
“Jesus has just made clear that the people do not know God; the narrator [John the writer] makes clear that the people cannot stop God” (Klink, comment on v. 30).
Many in the crowd believed that in him. See above, under the first passage about the acronym Forsaking All, I Trust Him.
Their faith seemed to be deeper than a shallow intellectual belief. However, the crowds are unstable. In vv. 3-5, I listed the signs of the Messiah, and Jesus was accomplishing them. So many of the crowds drew the right conclusion: how could the Messiah do many other powerful signs or miracles than Jesus is doing? No one could. Therefore, he is the Messiah, and therefore I believe in him.
“Christ”: see v. 26 for more comments.
GrowApp for John 7:25-27
A.. What convinced you that Jesus could become your personal Messiah?
Officers Are Sent to Arrest Jesus (John 7:32-36)
32 The Pharisees heard the crowd grumbling these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to seize him. 33 So Jesus said, “I am still with you a little time longer, and I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me and you will not find me, and where I am, you cannot come.” 35 So the Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? He does not intend to go to the dispersed Greeks and teach the Greeks, does he? 36 What is this statement which he said, ‘You will look for me and you will not find me, and where I am, you cannot come’?”
You can learn about all these two groups at this link:
Both of them were the Watchdogs of Theology and Behavior (David E. Garland, Luke: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament [Zondervan, 2011], p. 243). The problem which Jesus had with them can be summed up in Eccl. 7:16: “Be not overly righteous.” He did not quote that verse, but to him they were much too enamored with the finer points of the law, while neglecting its spirit (Luke 11:37-52; Matt. 23:1-36). Instead, he quoted this verse from Hos. 6:6: “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:13; 12:7, ESV). Overdoing righteousness damages one’s relationship with God and others.
So it looks like the ruling Jews—now clarified at long last—did send officers to arrest him. In v. 26, the crowds were drawing the conclusion that the ruling Jerusalem establishment must approve of him because they took no action against him. The rulers heard these things and sprang into action.
“officers”: they are the temple police. They were also sent to arrest the apostles, but an angel released them, prompting the guards or officers or temple police to re-arrest them (Acts 5:17-26). They were drawn from the Levites.
Jesus took action in his own way. He stands his ground and speaks of his true origins and his destiny which will be accomplished soon enough. After his crucifixion, he is going or returning to the one who sent him. The one who sent him is the Father, and the religious authorities, who are so deceived and ignorant that they sent officers to arrest him, will not go where he “intends” or “about to” go. He is going back from where he came from: heaven and the throne of his Father.
He uses the present tense “I am” from my Father. It expresses a timeless fact.
Those dispersed among the Greek were Jews who spread around the Mediterranean world, particularly in Babylon, after the exile. They refused to return. But we don’t need to go so far away. Jewish communities dotted the Mediterranean world. Saul / Paul himself was from Tarsus, in southern Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Or worse, could he intend to go among the Gentile (non-Jew) Greeks and teach them (cf. Deut. 28:25; 30:4; Jer. 34:17)? If so, then he really is a radical. John may be anticipating the Greeks who will approach Philip during the Passover, six months later (John 12:20-26).
But once again we have irony. These members of the Jerusalem religious establishment should have quickly figured his destiny if they would but only recognize the Messiah standing among them; their training should lead them to connect the dots, but they did not know as much as they thought they did. For more on irony, please see v. 27.
In John 12:26, Jesus will promise his followers that where is he, his servant will also be. But the religious establishment will be excluded because of their unbelief. They will die in their sins (John 8:21).
“statement” it is the Greek noun logos, and it could mean “word” or “message” or “statement.” I chose the latter term.
GrowApp for John 7:32-36
A.. You must be ready to go where Jesus is going—back to heaven. Are you ready to go there? How do you get there?
Rivers of Living Water (John 7:37-39)
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus was standing up and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 The one believing in me, just as the Scripture says: Out of his inner most being rivers of living water will flow. 39 But he said this about the Spirit whom those believing in him were about to receive, for the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. (Zech. 14:6, NIV)
Mounce says that in NT times, the festival of tabernacles or booths involved a water-pouring rite. “At dawn on the first six days, a procession led by the high priest to the Pool of Siloam and returned with a golden flagon of water, which was then poured out in the temple before the Lord. On the seventh say, the ceremony was repeated seven times” (comment on vv. 37-39). So now we know why Jesus spoke of living water and rivers of it—more than the flagon.
Carson (pp. 321-22) continues the description of the ceremony. The procession approached the Watergate on the southside of the inner court. Three blasts of the temple were sounded. The high priest processed around the altar with the flagon. The temple choir sung the Hallel (Pss. 113-118). The choir reached Ps. 118. Every male pilgrim shook a bundle of willow and myrtle twigs tied with the palm in his right hand. He raised a citrus fruit with his left hand to signify the harvest was gathered in. Everyone cried “Give thanks to the Lord” three times. The water was offered to God during the morning sacrifice, along with the drink offering of wine. Wine and water were poured in separate silver bowls. Then they were poured out before the Lord. The idea behind the rite was the Lord’s provision of water in the desert and the Lord pouring out the Spirit in the last days. Pouring at the festival symbolized the messianic age, when a stream of water from a sacred rock would flow out over the whole earth.
It is in this context that Jesus stood up and cried out—indicating something very significant.
As the ceremony developed, the Pharisees, who were primarily urban dwellers, insisted that a significant emphasis should be placed on the petition for rain because by this time of year (the fall) their cisterns would nearly be empty after the dryness of summer. Such symbolism carried the meaning beyond the emphasis of the desert experience, and the harvest symbolized in the citrus symbols that were raised in thanksgiving to God for the recently gathered fruits. … For six days the water parade took place once each morning. Then on the seventh day it was repeated seven times. On the eighth day there was no water ceremony, but it was a solemn time of reflection and prayer. Whether the events in John 7:37–39 took place on the seventh or eighth day is not clear because either day could technically be called “the last and greatest day” (7:37) since the eighth day was not really an original part of Tabernacles. Whichever day is in mind here, Jesus’ act was remarkable. (comment on vv. 37-38)
Then the people pray. Here is Nehemiah:
15 In their hunger you gave them bread from heaven and in their thirst you brought them water from the rock; you told them to go in and take possession of the land you had sworn with uplifted hand to give them. … 19 “Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. 20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. (Neh. 9:15, 19-20)
Jesus was standing up. The professional grammarians teach me that though the verb “stand” is in pluperfect, it has an imperfect force, so it “was standing.” It is almost as if he repeated his message about the rivers of living water. The verb “cried out” is in the aorist, but it is also timeless, without horizon or boundary (which is what “aorist” literally means) because it applies to everyone. We too need to believe, put our faith in Jesus, so that we too can receive the Spirit.
Recall this conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well:
Jesus said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who he was who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Mister, you don’t have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where then do you get the living water from? 12 You are not, are you, greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well and himself drank from it, along with his sons and animals?” 13 In reply, Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks from this water will thirst again. 14 But whoever drinks from the water which I will give will not thirst forever, but the water which I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:10-14)
In v. 39, John will explain that the water here symbolizes the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe John intends a direct quotation from the OT, but patterns and themes, combined. Here are some verses:
15 till the Spirit is poured on us from on high,
and the desert becomes a fertile field,
and the fertile field seems like a forest.
16 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert,
his righteousness live in the fertile field.
17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. (Is. 32:15-17)
In the above verses, the citizens of the kingdom of God will now bring about righteousness among themselves.
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost. (Is. 55:1, NIV)
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail. (Is. 58:11, NIV)
“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. (Zech. 13:1)
6 On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. 7 It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light. 8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem … (Zech. 14:6-8)
Other verses about water and the (implied) Spirit
My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jer. 2:13, NIV)
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Ezek. 36:25-27, NIV)
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. (Prov. 4:23, NIV)
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
Now let’s shift to the NT, the Book of the Revelation, clearly (to me at least) written by the same man who wrote the Fourth Gospel (John).
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” (Rev. 7:16-17, NIV)
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. (Rev. 21:6, NIV)
Once again, Jesus’s words about “as the Scriptures say” refers to patterns and themes in Scripture.
“The one believing in me”: it could be translated as “he who believes in me” or “whoever believes in me.” Saving faith and the call of the gospel is open ended. No limited number by God’s design. If people refuse, then the consequence will be on themselves, not on God. This belief has to entrust everything to him.
Remember the acronym from v. 31.
His “inner most being” is my choice of words for the Greek noun which literally reads “belly.” It is “the seat of the inward life, of feelings and desires.” It is the “heart” (BDAG, HT: Novakovic, p. 259). There is some controversy about whose inner most being and “his.” Whose is the inner most being? Jesus’s inner most being, or the believer’s? The answer depends on punctuation (!) between v. 37 and v. 38. I always took it to mean from the believer’s inner most being because he is the one who receives the Holy Spirit. The Spirit comes in, fills up his inner most being, and then the Spirit flows out of him like rivers (plural). An amazing image (if you think about it). But if you wish to see Jesus as the source, and he produces the rivers of living water, then that’s okay too. But if you see things as I do, then the believer does not create or produce the rivers of living water, but the Spirit himself does this, inside of him. Ultimately, the Father in Jesus’s name is the source.
Jesus plays on the word water, and additionally living water. Does this mean running water or springing water? Or is something deeper going on? To be clear, here’s our uncomplicated diagram, to be read from the bottom up:
2.. What Does It or He Symbolize?
1.. Physical Object or Person
Let’s fill it in:
2.. Holy Spirit’s presence and surging and filling of believers
1.. Living water
Something deeper is going on. The flowing water is like rivers (plural). Jesus means the deepest need in the human heart can be satisfied only by the Spirit, whom we have to receive. He does not come on us or in us uninvited. We open our hearts to him.
One last point: “for the Spirit was not yet.” The Greek ends there. So some add: “was not yet there” or “not yet given.” Of course, in John’s theology, the Spirit was given to Jesus at his baptism (1:32-34). So it cannot mean the bad idea that the Spirit did not even exist before Jesus’s glorification (resurrection and then ascension), for the Spirit is mentioned in important places throughout the OT.
Instead, John is referring to Jesus breathing on his disciples and saying to them to receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). Also, John surely has in mind the wonderful experience at Pentecost:
1 And when the Feast of Pentecost had fully come, all of them were together in that one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there was a sound like the rush of a powerful wind. The whole house was filled where they were sitting, 3 and tongues as fire were seen by them, were distributed among them, and settled on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them inspiration to speak and declare. (Acts 2:1-4)
So it looks like this promise in 7:38-39 was fulfilled in John 20:22 and at Pentecost. Acts 2:38-39 say that the gift of the Spirit is for everyone then and there and for all who are afar off, both geographically and generationally. Therefore, Acts 2:1-4 and 38-39 and John 7:37-39 correspond to each other.
Let’s look briefly into systematic theology.
Jesus was the Son of the Father eternally, before creation. The Son has no beginning. He and the Father always were, together. The relationship is portrayed in this Father-Son way so we can understand who God is more clearly. Now he relates to us as his sons and daughters, though, surprisingly, in John’s Gospel we are not called “sons,” but “children.” Only Jesus is the Son. In any case, on our repentance and salvation and union with Christ, we are brought into his eternal family.
Now that we have opened up some systematic theology about the Son in relation to Father God, let’s discuss even a little more systematic theology: the Trinity. The Father in his role as the Father is over the Son; the Father guides the whole of creation and the plan of the ages. The Son carries out the plan, notably by being born as a man, humbling himself, taking on the form of a servant (Phil. 3:7-8). He humbled himself so deeply and thoroughly that he died a death on the cross, the instrument of the death penalty.
However, the Father and Son are equal in their essence or nature. The Father is fully God and the Son is fully God, in their essence. Phil. 2:6: Jesus did not regard equality with God as something to hold on to, but he surrendered the environment of heaven and took the form of a servant.
Function or role: the Father is over the Son during the incarnation and the carrying out of the plan of redemption
In their essence or essential natures: Father and Son are equal.
Here are some of my posts on a more formal doctrine of the Spirit (systematic theology):
GrowApp for John 7:37-39
A.. The Spirit can flow out of you like rivers. Have you had this experience? What is it like?
B.. How do you have the Spirit flowing out of your inner most being?
The People Are Divided (John 7:40-44)
40 Then some of the crowd, when they heard these words, were saying, “This man is truly the prophet.” 41 Others were saying, “This man is the Christ.” But others were saying, “No. Does the Christ come from Galilee? 42 Doesn’t the Scripture say that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So then there was a division in the crowd because of him. 44 Still some of them wanted to seize him, but no one laid hands on him.
I translated Christos (pronounced khree-stoss) in Greek as “Christ” because John was writing to a Greek speaking audience, probably Gentiles, and he wanted to be clear on the meaning of Christos: the Anointed One. Earliest Christianity was going out to the Greek provinces, and the NT writers wanted to communicate in their language, so they used Greek. There is nothing sinister about it, as if it was an anti-Jewish conspiracy (John does use “Messiah” in 1:41, 4:25). Messiah also means Anointed One.
Evidently, the words of Jesus about the Holy Spirit touched them—or at least provoked them. The prophet was predicted by Moses himself: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” (Deut. 18:15, NIV).
Bethlehem of David is in Judea, in the south, near Jerusalem.
Here is Matthew’s version:
And when he [Herod] gathered together all the chief priests and teachers of the law of the people, he was inquiring from them where the Christ would be born. 5 They said, “In Bethlehem, for thus it is written through the prophet:
6 ‘Even you Bethlehem, in the land of Judea
You are in no way the least of the leading cities of Judea,
For from you shall come a leader
Who shall shepherd my people Israel.’” [Mic. 5:2] (Matt. 2:4-6)
Jews did not believe therefore that the Messiah would come from Galilee, in the north. But the Jewish prediction of the Messiah was not uniform. Mounce says that the Qumran community expected a prophet and two Messiahs: a priestly Messiah of Aaron and a royal or Davidic Messiah of Israel (comment on v. 41, referring to 1QS 9:11).
“For this Gospel, Jesus is not merely from Bethlehem; he is ‘from above’ (cf. 3:1-5)” (Klink, comment on v. 42).
The crowds and the establishment did not believe any story about the birth of Jesus during the reign of Herod, those many years ago. Too much water under the bridge.
“Christ”: see v. 26 for more comments.
The division grew so strong that some wanted to eliminate him, that is, take him into custody (another way of translating “seize”), but no one dared. In v. 30 we saw how Jesus was shielded by his Father, so that no one could prematurely arrest him or throw him off a cliff (Luke 4:29-30). We need to trust God that he has a plan for us and no one can ultimately stop it, though look at this verse:
18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. (1 Thess. 2:18, NIV)
So Satan can counterattack, but Paul wrote a letter to the Thessalonians. He got there by another path. As I heard a wise pastor say (now deceased): “It is still God’s devil.” This is a startling way of saying that God is sovereign, and he will accomplish his plan, even if Satan has a little liberty on his short leash to momentarily hinder you. For me, ultimately, we will never figure out the interaction of the world’s systems (governments), Satan’s kingdom, and God’s overarching kingdom. Right now, the world and the devil have some liberty to maneuver. Soon, God will allow the Jewish and Roman authorities to arrest and execute his Son. And then, after this seeming defeat, he will vindicate his Son by resurrecting him and welcoming him into heaven. When Jesus returns a second time, the worldly kingdom and Satan’s kingdom will be defeated finally, once and for all, and forever.
But for now, no one seized him or put one hand on him. The timing was not right. Scroll back up to v. 30 for a parallel verse.
GrowApp for John 7:40-44
A.. God protected his Son from premature death. How does God protect you? Have you placed your lifespan in his hands?
45 So then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, these latter said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 They replied, “A man has never spoken like this!” 47 So the Pharisees replied to them, “You too have not been deceived, have you? 48 Has anyone of the rulers believed in him or of the Pharisees? 49 But this crowd not knowing the law is cursed!” 50 Nicodemus, the one who came before, because he was one of them, said to them, 51 Our law does not judge the man if it does not first hear from him and find out what he is doing, does it?” 52 In reply, they told him, “Are you also from Galilee? No? Search and see that a prophet is not raised up from Galilee!”
John takes up where he left on v. 32. The chief priests and Pharisees sent the officers to arrest Jesus. For the identity of these two groups, see v. 32 and please click on this link:
These two groups wondered why the officers broke the order. Reasonable question. The answer the officers give, however, anger the rulers in the next verse.
So the officers were stunned into inaction because they were deeply impressed with his teaching, and no doubt, with his demeanor and Spirit coming from him. In any case, the Father must have worked so deeply in their hearts through the teaching of Jesus and the power of the Spirit in his Son that they sat down and listened to him. They were commissioned to arrest, him, but they found that his teaching and demeanor and Spirit arrested them. They could not obey their orders. Remember v. 30, which says no one arrested him because it was not his hour.
Now the chief priests and Pharisees go from the greater to the lesser argument. (If Hercules cannot pick up the rock, then a baby cannot pick it up.)
Greater = the rulers (Sanhedrin) and Pharisees
Lesser = officers and the people
If the greater and wiser do not believe in Jesus, then how could the officers and the people (crowds) believe in him? Reason: the officers don’t know the law as well as the leaders do and have lesser status. As for the people not knowing the law, they are cursed. The words drip with condescension and a big sneer. The rulers looked down on them. Mounce references a citation from Rabbi Hillel that no member of the common people is pious (m. ‘Abot. 2:5). The School of Rabbi Meir said that it was difficult to distinguish between people of the land and animals (comment on vv. 48-49).
In later Judaism, “deceived” and “deceiver” indicate the heretic and the one who misled the devout Jew (Klink, comment on v. 47).
The rulers were probably the Sanhedrin, the highest court and council in Judaism. For more information about them, click on the link under v. 45.
Now Nicodemus steps forward and defends Jesus. He spoke to Jesus back in John 3 and was sympathetic to him. Their law does not allow them to judge a man if it (the law) does not hear the man first and learn what his activities are. In the next verse the rulers attack Nicodemus personally. Personal attacks “have always been the last resort of the desperate (Mounce, comment on v. 52).
The rulers could have replied that they were intending to find out what his activities were, but this answer would not be honest because they were intending to kill him after a show trial, and Nicodemus perceived that this is was their intention.
And the establishment was wrong on the biblical facts. Elijah came from Galilee—Gilead lay east of the Jordan River. Jonah, the one who went to Nineveh, was from Gath Hepher, a few miles north of Nazareth in Galilee (2 Kings 14:25) (HT: Klink, comment on v. 52). Mounce cites Rabbi Eliezer (b. Sukkah 27b) who said that there was no region from which a prophet did not come (comment on v. 52). Some scholars try to repair the establishment’s errors, but it is best to see them as being blinded by their anger and discrediting Jesus.
On the other hand, Greek manuscripts offer the alternative “the prophet” (Deut. 18:15). In this case, the establishment was still reacting angrily, which caused them to misjudge. No one knew where the prophet would emerge. It could have been in Galilee. The establishment (mis)understood the Bible. To them, a prophet (or the prophet) was not “raised up” from Galilee.
The rulers were victims of irony (see v. 27). The verb is egeirō (pronounced eh-gay-roh) and means “raised up” or “lifted up”; it is often used of the resurrection (John 2:19, 22; 5:21;12:1, 9, 17; 21:14). Little did they know that a prophet (though he is more than a prophet) from Galilee is about to be “raised up” (resurrected).
GrowApp for John 7:45-52
A.. Has any religious person looked down on you? How did you respond?
B.. Jesus’s teaching captivated the temple officers. How has Jesus stopped your rebellion and captivated you?
Beasley-Murray George R. John. Word Biblical Commentary. Rev. ed. Zondervan, 1999.
Borchert, Gerald L. John 1-11. New American Commentary. Vol. 25a. Broadman and Holman, 1996.
Bruce, F. F. The Gospel of John: Introduction, Exposition, and Notes. Eerdmans, 1983.
Carson, D. A. The Gospel according to John. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Eerdmans, 1991.
The Greek New Testament. Fifth Revised Edition by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger (United Bible Society, 2014).
Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary. Vol. 1. Baker Academic, 2003.
Novakovic, Lidija. John 1-10: A Handbook on the Greek Text. A Handbook on the Greek Text. Baylor UP, 2020.
Klink, Edward W. John. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Zondervan, 2016.
Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to John. Rev. ed. Eerdmans, 1995.
Mounce, Robert H. John. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. Zondervan, 2007.