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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

John 7

Verse 1

1 After these things refers to the happenings unfolded in the closing verses of the preceding chapter. Jesus walked in Galilee means he continued to walk there, for he was already in that territory. Jewry is another form of "Judea," and Jesus avoided going there, at least for the time being, because of danger from the Jews.

Verse 2

2 This feast is described in Lev 23:34-43. It brought many Jews to Jerusalem, hence the risk to his life caused Jesus to remain in Galilee for a while.

Verse 3

3 His brethren means what the word usually does, and not his disciples as the Romanists teach, for the disciples are mentioned also in the same verse. He was in Galilee, the home territory of his family, and thus it is clear why his own fieshly brethren would be near him.

Verse 4

4 His brethren made their suggestion in a critical mood. They implied that Jesus was inconsistent in avoiding publicity. If he wished to be known by mankind as the Saviour of the world, he should not be acting in such a secret manner.

Verse 5

5 John explains the criticism of these brethren by saying they did not believe in him. It doubtless was on the principle stated in chapter 4:44.

Verse 6

6 Jesus explained his plans on the ground that it was not time yet for him to come out entirely in the open. Jesus was never afraid of man as far as his own comfort was concerned, but in his wisdom he never did anything prematurely. The brethren were not in any danger, hence their time (to appear in the gathering) would be whenever they wished to go, without waiting for the feast even to get started.

Verse 7

7 Cannot hate you does not mean it was literally impossible for the fleshly brethren of Christ to be hated. But it was wholly unlikely to occur, because all of the conditions were against It. They were regarded as ordinary citizens along with other men and were not "out on the firing line" as teachers against sin as was Jesus.

Verse 8

8 This verse has the same thought as verse 6, and states the reason why Jesus was not in any hurry to attend the feast.

Verse 9

9 Having explained his reason for not going to Jerusalem with the others, Jesus continued his stay in Galilee for a short time only.

Verse 10

0 After the brethren of Jesus were gone, he could go up unnoticed, being alone. This secrecy was maintained for the reason expressed in verses 6 and 8.

Verse 11

1 It was natural to expect Jesus at the feast, for it was a national occasion for the Jewish race. Where is he is explained by the state ment in verse 10. Jesus did not intend to be prominently visible for a while.

Verse 12

2 The people were divided in their sentiments about Jesus; some for and others against him. While his presence was still generally unknown, the conflicting sentiments created an atmosphere of unrest among the crowd. The murmuring was as far as those sentiments exhibited themselves which is explained in the next verse.

Verse 13

3 The undercurrent referred to in the preceding verse was caused by fear of the Jews. Not knowing just what course they would take as to the treatment of Jesus, people did not commit themselves on the subject, for fear of finding themselves in an embarrassing situation when the issue came out entirely into the open.

Verse 14

4 The feast was about four days along when Jesus came out of his "hiding" and appeared first in the temple. It being the capitol of the Jewish religious system, it was proper for Jesus to show up there in order to do his teaching, which was the main purpose he had all the time he was among the people. Taught is from DIDASKO, which Thayer defines at this place, "To hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic [instructive] discourses." So Jesus did not merely utter some single sentences, but continued his speech to the extent of displaying a general knowledge of important subjects pertaining to the salvation of man in the kingdom of heaven.

Verse 15

5 Letters is from a Greek word that means something that has been written by an educated person. Jesus had never taken a course of instruction in any of their institutions of learning, hence it baffled the Jews to hear him speaking like an educated man on matters of such great concern pertaining to human conduct.

Verse 16

6 This verse answers the questions of the preceding one. Jesus was teaching the doctrine of his Father, and did not need the instruction coming from man.

Verse 17

7 The construction of this verse might seem to have things backward. We would think it to be necessary to know of the doctrine before one could do his will. That is true; however, if a person is not disposed to do the will of God, he will stumble and waver and be so unfavorably disposed toward the truth, that he will fail to grasp it when it is presented to him.

Verse 18

8 A man might be found who claimed to be from God, yet if he depended on the instruction given in human institutions, it would show his desire to make a display of his attainments for his own glory.

Verse 19

9 The particular part of the law of Moses that Jesus refers to, is the sixth commandment which is the one against murder. The sabbatarians try to make a distinction between the law of God, which they say is the Decalogue or ten commandments, and the law of Moses which is the "ceremonial law" as they call it. But here is Jesus referring to one of the ten commandments and calling it the law of Moses. All of this shows how inconsistent people will be when they wish to defend an unscriptural theory.

Verse 20

0 Thou 'hast a devil was their way of saying that Jesus was possessed with a devil (demon), and it had rendered him demented; they denied any desire or attempt to kill Jesus. Their memory seemed to fail them, for chapter 5:16 says that the Jews "sought to slay him." That was after he had cured a man on the sab-bath day, which they claimed was a violation of the law. But the law about the sabbath was a part of the same Decalogue that contained the commandment against murder, the very crime they sought to commit against Jesus.

Verse 21

1 Jesus was soon to remind them of the occasion when they sought to kill him. He first comments on the case by referring to their astonishment at the one work that he had done, while they also would do something even on the sabbath day that was as certainly a work as curing a sick man would be.

Verse 22

2 The Jews pretended to have great respect for Moses, whose law they accused Jesus with violating. In specifying a work they did on the sabbath, Jesus mentioned circumcision which also came from Moses. However, lest they misunderstand the real history of that ordinance, he interposed an explanation that it had been given to the fathers of old before the time of Moses. Notwithstanding this, they professed to regard the law of Moses so highly, that they insisted on performing his ordinance of circumcision, even though it should be done on the sabbath day.

Verse 23

3 The act of performing circumcision, which was a surgical one, was certainly as much a manual labor as was that of curing an invalid. Yet they condemned Jesus for doing that, while they persisted in doing the other.

Verse 24

4 There are people who resent being penalized or even criticized for their wrongs, and then will try to make a defense for their acts by quoting Mat 7:1. If they wanted to be fair in the matter, they would consider all that Jesus said on the same subject. In the present passage, the Lord gives more specific information on the act of judging others. Appearance is from oPsis, and Thayer defines it in this passage, "The outward appearance, look." Robinson defines it, "External appearance, show." The Englishman's Greek New Testament translates it by the single word "sight." The outward or mere appearance of a situation does not always provide all the facts in the case, hence the honest thing to do is to investigate and get the whole truth. Then a judgment rendered on that basis will be a right-eous judgment, and not the kind the first part of this verse says not to do, and the kind that Mat 7:1 says not to do.

Verse 25

5 These people of Jerusalem were local citizens, who knew about the plans of the rulers to kill Jesus. They thought they recognized Him as the victim who was to be slain, and were puzzled that he was still at liberty.

Verse 26

6 These people observed that Jesus was speaking boldly without being molested. They wondered if the rulers had concluded that Jesus was actually the Christ who was predicted by the Scriptures, and that they better not interfere with him.

Verse 27

7 There is a vein in the human mind that discounts a "home product" as being of little special value. That is why Jesus said what he did in chapter 4:44 and similar passages. It was true these people were acquainted with the earthly surroundings of Jesus as a man, and there is no information that anything of a supernatural or even unusual nature occurred in his home life. That was because his divine personality was not to be manifested until the proper time, which would be after his baptism and he was ready to enter upon his public ministry. Another thing, these people had an idea that is not explained in any work of reference that I have, that. the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament was to make his entrance into this world in some mysterious manner (which was true, but not in the way they meant), and that he would come from some unknown territory.

Verse 28

8 In the first part of this verse Jesus agrees with their statement, that they knew him and whence he had come. However, that applied only to his earthly family life, which is commented upon in the preceding paragraph. But as to his divine origin and personality, they did not know him because they did not know his Father.

Verse 29

9 The reason Jesus knew God was that he had sent his Son into the world. When Jesus came he was not in the dark as to why he had come. (See Heb 10:5-9.)

Verse 30

0 It seems that any reference to the divinity of Christ always stirred up the anger of the Jews. Jesus asserted again that he had come from a source with which the Jews were unacquainted. That could only mean to them that the one they were hating was claiming to be of a higher origin than they. It was more than they could stand, but they were not able to do anything about it. The explanation for it is in the words his hour was not yet come. As long as the work of Jesus was unfinished, the Father saw to it that nothing would seriously interfere with it.

Verse 31

1 The people were not all as prejudiced against Jesus as were the Jewish leaders or rulers. Seeing the miracles that he was performing, they could not understand why there was any reason for looking for another to come as the Christ. On the strength of this, many of the people believed on him.

Verse 32

2 Heard that the people murmured. The last word usually means to complain in a low or undertone kind of voice, but it does not have that meaning always. One phrase in Thayer's definition of the original word is, "say anything in a low tone." The people had actually expressed themselves favorably toward Jesus, but they were doing it in a subdued voice. But the Pharisees heard about it and were envious of the kindly attention that Jesus was receiving, and decided to stop his work by arresting him. The outcome of this attempt will be learned near the close of the chapter. In the meantime Jesus delivers one of his wonderful discourses, the several verses whereof will be commented upon in their order.

Verse 33

3 This was a notice that the work of Jesus on earth was about to end.

Verse 34

4 As Jesus expected to return to his Father, he meant those unbelievers would not be able to follow him, even though curiosity might prompt them to desire to.

Verse 35

5 Since these Jews did not believe that Jesus came from the presence of God in the first place, they now would not grasp the thcught that, he was going back to Him. They wondered, therefore, if he meant he was going to disappear among some people that were beyond their visible association. Dispersed refers to the Jews who were scattered throughout various Gentile countries. Smith's Bible Dictionary says the following on the subject: "The Dispersion was the general title applied to those Jews who remained settled in foreign countries after the return from the Babylonian exile, and during the period of the second temple."

Verse 36

6 The whole subject was baffling to the Jews of Jerusalem.

Verse 37

7 Last day, great day of the feast. The day is described in Lev 23:36. It is called a great day because certain religious activities were done on that day that were not done on the seven other days. Also because the closing day of any important period is regarded with special attention. The Jews had been engaged for a week, having a time of rejoicing, and enjoying the good things produced by their fields and flocks. It was hence an appropriate time for Jesus to call their attention to something else of which they might partake, that was of vastly more importance than these temporal blessings. Jesus offered to give the blessing of spiritual drink to any man who would come to him for it.

Verse 38

8 The original word for belly is defined by Thayer in this place, "The innermost part of a man, the soul, heart, as the seat of thought, feeling, choice." Robinson defines it virtually in the same way. The pronoun his refers both to Christ and to anyone who accepts the living water that he offers. Christ is the source of living water, and if a man opens his heart or inner being (here translated belly), that stream of living water will enter therein. Then such a man in turn will become a source of that, precious water, supplying both himself and those he influences, with that which will contribute to his spiritual life and growth. This verse is the same in thought as the teaching of Jesus which he gave the woman of Samaria at the well. (See the comments on that instance in chapter 4:14.)

Verse 39

9 The living water to which Jesus had specific reference, was the spiritual instruction to be given through the kingdom of heaven that he had been promising. That instruction would require a means of delivering it to the members of the kingdom, which was to be the Holy Ghost or Spirit. But that gift was here spoken of in prospect only, for it was not the will of God that it be sent upon the disciples until Christ was glorified, which was to be after he returned to his Father.

Verse 40

0 Jesus fills so large a place in the scheme of human redemption, that it takes many terms to comprehend the various parts that he was to play. Hence he is referred to as Christ which means "anointed," because he was to be a king. He is called Jesus which means "saviour," because he was to save the people from their sins. And he is termed a prophet, because he was to teach and prophecy. All of these functions and characteristics were predicted of Him, in one form or another in the Old Testament. The Jews knew about these various predictions, but did not realize they referred to the same person. For that reason we read about their mention of the different offices of Jesus as referring to separate persons. In the present verse they speak of him as the prophet, meaning the one predicted by Moses in Deu 18:18.

Verse 41

1 Others thought of Jesus as the Christ or anointed One which means king, who had been prophesied to sit on David's throne (Act 2:30). But some of them rejected this idea on the ground that such an important person should have a more dignified residence than one located in Galilee.

Verse 42

2 They supported their idea against Galilee by citing the scripture that said Christ was to come out of Bethlehem. Their application of this scripture was correct, but they evidently did not know that while Jesus was generally known as a Galilean, yet he was born in Bethlehem according to the prophecy.

Verse 43

3 There was a division (in sentiment) among the people. That means with regard to their attitude toward Jesus; some for and others against him.

Verse 44

4 The sentiment of some who were against Jesus was so strong they would have taken him. The original Greek for that word is defined by Thayer at this place, "To take i. e., apprehend." He then explains his definition to mean, " a man, in order to imprison him." Among those whose sentiments were against JESUS were doubtless the officers who had been sent out by the chief priests and Pharisees. They would have acted upon authority as far as these Jewish leaders were concerned, had they arrested Jesus. They did not do so, and their excuse to their "superiors" will be stated in verse 46. However, the Lord in Heaven was watching over his Son, and was not going to permit any actual interference with his work until it was accomplished. Hence the inspired reason why these officers did not take Jesus is given in verse 30; because his hour was not yet come.

Verse 45

5 The officers who were sent to arrest Jesus returned without him. The chief priests and Pharisees doubtless were disappointed, and called for an explanation.

Verse 46

6 The brief but significant answer was, never man spake like this man. Spake is from LALEO, and it has such a wide range of meanings that the definitions will not be quoted in full. The word includes the act of speaking with authority, information, impressiveness, and on all of the subjects pertaining to human conduct. It is no wonder, then, that these officers said what they did.

Verse 47

7 The Pharisees concluded their officers had been captured by the teaching of Jesus, instead of capturing him as they were sent to do.

Verse 48

8 It was bad enough for their officers to be thus influenced by the hated Teacher, but they thought it would be a great misfortune for any of the religious leaders to be "deceived" by him.

Verse 49

9 Knoweth not the law. The statement of Nicodemus (next verse), and their reply shows the chief priests had Jesus in mind when they used the indefinite phrase, this people. It was not Jesus, but the chief priests who did not know the law, for it was the document that made favorable predictions of the very person whom the leaders of the Jews were condemning. (See the comments on chapter 5:39.)

Verse 50

0 Being one of them. This means that Nicodemus was one of the Pharisees. Chapter 3:1 says the same thing in so many words.

Verse 51

1 All that Nicodemus insisted on was that the justice of the law be carried out in the case of Jesus. The question he, asked would have been fair, regardless of whether Jesus was a good man or not.

Verse 52

2 This verse denotes that the Pharisees accused Nicodemus of siding with Jesus. The preceding verse only called for the regular procedure of the law, therefore their objection proves they did not want to do the fair thing about Jesus. The only thing they mentioned as a basis for their condemnation of Jesus, was his humble home territory of Galilee which was usually referred to unfavorably from a social standpoint.

Verse 53

3 The meeting "broke up" without any formal action being taken against Jesus, and the people all went to their places of stay.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on John 7". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/john-7.html. 1952.