We continue this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 5-8 here in Part 6, starting with John 7:20.
(20) The crowd answered, 'You have a demon! [cf. Matt. 9:34; 11:18; 12:22-32; Mark 3:20-30; Luke 11:14-26; John 8:48-52; and 10:19-21] Who seeks to kill You?' [See under verses 19, 25.] (21) Jesus answered them, 'I did one deed [work], and you all marvel [["and you are all taken aback" NEB; "and you are all astonished" NIV. The idea here is that they were astonished in a negative sense. The BAGD Greek Lexicon (under "thaumazo") points out that "the context determines whether in a good or bad sense." Jesus was referring to His miraculous work of healing the man at the pool of Bethesda ON THE SABBATH (see John 5:1-20, especially verses 16, 18).]]. (22) For this reason [[I prefer the viewpoint that these first words at the beginning of verse 22 actually go at the end of verse 21. (The Greek behind "for this reason" is "dia touto." This Greek prepositional phrase is often translated "on account of [or, because of] this.") I'll quote five such translations for the end of verse 21, "and you all marvel AT IT" RSV; "and you profess astonishment OVER IT" NAB; "and you are all amazed BY IT" New Testament by J. B. Phillips; "and you are all surprised BY IT" Jerusalem Bible; and "and you all are astonished AT IT" New Testament by E. J. Goodspeed.]] Moses has given you circumcision [cf. Lev. 12:1-3] (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers [back to father Abraham (cf. Gen. 17:1-27; 21:4; and Acts 7:8); as these references show, circumcision came to the fathers from God]), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. [[God had commanded the Jews to circumcise the male child on the eighth day (cf. Lev. 12:3), and there was no exception if the eighth day happened to fall on the Sabbath. ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: I'll quote part of what Andreas J. Kostengerger says under verses 21-24 ("John" [Baker, 2004], page 234). "The Jews had always concluded that it was permissible to go ahead and circumcise on the eighth day regardless of whether it fell on a Sabbath or not." Kostenberger has a footnote here, "Thus Rabbi Yose b. Halafta (approximately A.D. 140-65) said, 'Great is circumcision which overrides even the rigor of the Sabbath' (m. Ned. 3:11; cf. m. Sabb. 18:3; 19:1-3; the midrash Tanhuma 19b)."
I'll also quote part of what George R. Beasley-Murray says under verses 21-23 ("John" [Word, Inc., 1987], page 109). "... [What Jesus said in verse 19 about their not keeping the Mosaic Law] may sound a curious charge of sabbath breaking, but the Jews were very conscious that this is precisely what they were doing (on the basis of their understanding of keeping the sabbath). 'One can do anything that is necessary for circumcision on the sabbath,' Sabb. 19:2. Rabbi Jose said, 'See how beloved (in the sight of God) is the command of circumcision, for it supersedes the sabbath' (Tanh 19b; see Str-B 2:287). For them, therefore, it was sufficient to recognize the superiority of the circumcision law over the sabbath law. ...."] (23) If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken [The Law of Moses required the male children to be circumcised on the eighth day, even if the eighth day happened to fall on the Sabbath.], are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well ["for healing the whole man" NIV] on the Sabbath [See under verses 19-22.]? (24) Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.' [[Jesus' opponents were judging Him according to the flesh (cf. John 8:15), with an unrighteous judgment; they didn't know what they were talking about; and, furthermore, Jesus was (and is) the Judge, not them. According to their understanding of the Law, Jesus was breaking the Law, but Jesus made it very clear in John 5:16-20 that their understanding of the Law and of God's new-covenant salvation plans was wrong and that He had not sinned by healing the man on the Sabbath - He was doing the will of the One who sent Him, as He always did.]] (25) So some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, 'Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill? [See John 7:1, 19. The "people of Jerusalem" would have known more about what the Jewish leaders thought about Jesus than many of those who had come to Jerusalem for the feast (cf. John 7:20).] (26) Look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him. The rulers [cf. John 3:1] do not really know that this is the Christ, do they? [Some of the people of Jerusalem may have begun to wonder if the rulers had changed their opinion of Jesus, but it wouldn't be long before the rulers would seek to seize Him (see verse 32).] (27) However, we know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from.' [[Apparently those holding this viewpoint weren't denying that the Messiah would come from the lineage of David or that He would be born in Bethlehem (cf., e.g., verse 41, 42), but the primary idea here was that they believed the Messiah would remain in total obscurity until it was time for Him to be manifested and accepted as the Messiah - and this didn't fit Jesus, so He must not be the Messiah. ((This is the most common view in the commentaries. (I had a two-paragraph footnote: I'll quote part of what F. F. Bruce says here (Gospel of John, page 178). "It was widely believed that the Messiah, after coming into the world, would remain hidden in some unsuspected place until the divinely appointed time for his public manifestation came. But (said they) this man obviously has not remained hidden until now; every one knows where he comes from. ... ...to them he was 'Jesus of Nazareth.' But the evangelist has in mind a profounder answer to the question whence Jesus came - an answer which comes to expression in Jesus' next words."
I'll also quote part of what D. A. Carson says here ("Gospel According to John," pages 317, 318). "...the Jerusalemites hold the view...that the Messiah would be born of flesh and blood yet would be totally unknown until he appeared to effect Israel's redemption. ... With such expectations, there could be none of this 'perhaps he is, perhaps he isn't' speculation. As far as they were concerned, they know where Jesus came from; he sprang from Nazareth...and he had been engaged in an itinerant ministry for some time. ....")) They knew that Jesus was from Galilee, but they didn't really know where He was from. See under verse 28.]] (28) Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching [cf. John 7:14] and saying, 'You both know Me and know where I am from [[Jesus conceded that in one sense (after the flesh) they knew Him and where He was from (Nazareth of Galilee), but they didn't really know Him or where He was from. (These words could also be taken as a question, and some, including F. F. Bruce, take it that way. The RSV has "You know me, and you know where I am from?") They didn't really know Him any more than they knew God the Father, and as Jesus said at the end of this verse, they didn't really know God the Father.]; and [J. H. Bernard translates "and yet." ("Gospel According to St. John" [T&T Clark, 1999 reprint], page 274). Bernard comments that "kai [which is often translated "and"] is used for kaitoi as it is in v. 30 below, in accordance with an idiom frequent in John (see on 1:10)."]] I have not come of Myself [[Those who didn't accept Jesus as the Messiah didn't believe that He was sent by the Father - He must have sent Himself (must have come on His own initiative; I had a footnote: The same Greek prepositional phrase that is used here ("ap' emautou") is used in John 8:42, where it is translated "[I have not even come] on my own initiative" by the NASB. This prepositional phrase is also used in John 5:30; 8:28 and translated "on my own initiative" by the NASB), but as Jesus said as He continued (and as He often proclaimed), He was sent from God the Father (cf. John 3:17; 4:34; 5:36, 38; 6:29, 38, 57; and 8:42). His opponents didn't really know Jesus, the One who sent Him, or where He came from, which was heaven. See the rest of this verse and verse 29.]], but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know [cf. John 8:19, 55; 14:7; 15:21; and 16:3]. (29) I know Him [cf. Matt. 11:27; John 8:55; 10:15; and 17:25], because I am from Him [Compare John 6:46. Jesus, God the Son, was deity with God the Father (cf., e.g., John 1:1-4, 14, 18; 17:3-5). He came from God the Father and heaven, not from the world.], and He sent Me [On His being sent by God the Father, see under verse 28.].' (30) So they were seeking to seize Him [cf. John 7:1, 19, 25, 32, 44]; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come [cf. Matt. 26:18; John 7:6, 8; 8:20; and 13:1]. (31) But many of the crowd believed in Him [cf. John 2:23-25; 7:12, 40-43; 8:30-32; 10:41, 42; 11:45; and 12:11, 42]; and they were saying, 'When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?' [On His signs, compare John 2:11, 23; 3:2; 4:54; 6:2, 14, 26, 30; 9:16; 10:41; 11:47; 12:18, 37; and 20:30, 31.] (32) The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, and the chief priests [[I had a footnote: Compare, for example, Matt. 16:21; 20:18; 21:15, 23; John 7:45; 11:47, 57; 12:10; 18:3, 35; 19:6, 15, 21. I'll quote what Andreas J. Kostenberger says regarding the chief priests ("John" [Baker, 2004], page 237). "Then the chief priests (Sadducees) and Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him (cf. 5:18; 7:30). Though technically there was only one 'chief priest' at any given time (cf. 11:49, 51; 18:13), there were others who had formerly held this office and who apparently retained the title. ... Annas in particular, the patriarch of his family, skillfully controlled matters through his relations. Alternately, 'chief priests' may not refer to present and past high priests but to principal priests, that is, higher temple officials including, besides the high priest himself, the captain of the temple, the temple overseer, and the treasurers (Schurer 1973-79: 2.275-308; Jeremias 1969: 160-81)."]] and the Pharisees sent officers ["temple guards" NIV. See verses 45, 46.] to seize Him. (33) Therefore Jesus said, 'For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. [[Compare John 12:35; 13:1, 33; 14:12, 28; 16:5, 10, 17, 28. Jesus spoke those words at the Feast of Tabernacles; it would be about six months until the final Passover, when the Lamb of God would be slain. On the third day He would be raised from the dead and (after forty days) He would go back to the Father, leaving from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:1-11).]] (34) You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.' [[Compare John 7:36; 8:21; 13:33, 36; and 14:2, 3. He was going back to the Father, back to the One who sent Him to the earth. Jesus said that He (through salvation by and through Him, by faith) is the only way to the Father and His eternal kingdom (cf., e.g., John 14:6).]] (35) The Jews then said to one another, 'Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks ["where our people live scattered among the Greeks" NIV.], and teach the Greeks [cf. John 12:20-24], is He? [[In one sense (through His apostles and other Christians) Jesus did go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks (and the Jews). The apostle Paul started his apostolic ministry by going to the Jews scattered/dispersed throughout the Roman empire. He (the apostle to the Gentiles) also ministered extensively to Greeks/Gentiles, starting with the God-fearing Gentiles who came to the synagogues (cf. Acts 17:4; 18:4). The word "Greeks" here refers to Gentiles, as it often does in the New Testament (cf., e.g., Rom. 1:16; 2:9-16; and 3:9). The BAGD Greek Lexicon (under "hellen") lists John 7:35 under the heading "in the broadest sense, all persons who came under the influence of Greek, as distinguished from Israel's culture" and under the subheading "gentile, polytheist, Greco-Roman."]] (36) What is this statement that He said, "You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come"?' [[See John 7:34. His opponents would not be able to find Jesus after He died and went back to the Father. (His opponents who repented and sought for Him in faith would be able to find Him.) During the forty days from His resurrection to His ascension He appeared, on occasion, to His disciples, but He certainly wasn't to be found by His opponents.]] (37) Now on the last day [[Compare Lev. 23:36; Num. 29:35; and Neh. 8:18. It isn't clear whether this refers to the seventh day of the feast, or the eighth day. It is probably significant that part of the ritual for this feast (the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles) involved a priest pouring out water (water which had just been drawn from the pool of Siloam [I had a footnote: Raymond E. Brown ("Gospel According to John I-IX," page 327) says that the "procession went down to the fountain of Gihon on the southeast side of the temple hill, the fountain which supplied the waters to the pool of Siloam."] at the sacrificial altar in the temple - this was done on each of the (first) seven days of the feast. ((I had a three-paragraph footnote: I'll quote part of what George R. Beasley-Murray says on pages 113, 114 ("John" [Word, Inc., 1987]). He is quite sure that the words of Jesus in John 7:37-39 build on the "rite of water drawing" that took place at the feast. He mentions that "in 'Sukk.' 5.1 it is stated, 'He who has not seen the joy of the water-drawing has not seen joy in his whole lifetime' " and that the priests and worshippers went from the temple to the pool of Siloam "at the break of day." On their return, as they were approaching the inner court of the temple, "the shophar (trumpet) was sounded three times - joyous blasts which were explicitly related to Isa. 12:3, 'With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.' The priests bearing the water then processed around the altar, watched by the pilgrims, while the temple choir sang the Hallel (i.e., Psalms 113-118). [Herman Ridderbos ("Gospel of John" [Eerdmans, 1997], page 272) says that the procession around the altar was "repeated six times on the seventh day of the feast," and Raymond E. Brown ("Gospel According to John I-XII," page 327) also mentions that "on the seventh day there was a sevenfold circumambulation of the altar."] When the opening words of Psalm 118 were reached, 'Give thanks to the Lord,' every man and boy shook the 'lulab' (a bunch of willow and myrtle tied with palm) with his right hand and held aloft citrus fruit in his left hand (a sign of the harvest gathered in), and the cry 'Give thanks to the Lord' was repeated three times. The same thing happened at the cry 'O Lord save us!' of Ps. 118:25. ...the water was offered to God in connection with the daily drink-offering (of wine). ... ...they were poured out as offerings to God.
... Since the festival was essentially bound up with the agricultural year [The Feast of Tabernacles came at the end of the agricultural year (our September/October)], prayer for the sending of rain...was a prime factor in the performance of this rite. Since Tabernacles was also a celebration of the blessings of God upon Israel during the nation's forty years sojourn in the wilderness, the water-drawing served as a reminder of the water that came from the rock smitten by Moses...(Ex. 17:1-6 [; Num. 20:11]. ... ...the rite was also linked with the anticipation of the abundant gift of living water flowing from Jerusalem when the kingdom comes (with Isa. 12:3, cf. esp. Ezek 47:1-12 and Zech. 14:8, both passages being read during the festival). The associations of the ceremony with the salvation of God, past, present, and future were accordingly evident to the people at the festival."
I'll also quote part of what R. H. Lightfoot says regarding this feast ("St. John's Gospel" [Oxford Paperbacks, 1960], page 182). "The festival was regarded as a foreshadowing of the day of the Lord, or the messianic age, since popular sentiment connected it not only with the harvest and vintage now completed, but with a future, very different harvest, that of the final ingathering or harvest of the nations in the days of the Messiah. It was believed that in face of a combined and final onslaught of the nations of the world upon Jerusalem Yahweh would at length Himself intervene on behalf of His people [In many such Old Testament prophecies it is the Messiah (who we know to be God the Son, the God-man) who overthrows God's enemies] and usher in that perfect era to which all Jews looked forward. On its arrival the majority in all nations would undergo terrible penalties, but a remnant would become faithful to Judaism and would join at Jerusalem in the celebration of the festival." Lightfoot goes on to mention that much of this was prophesied in Zechariah chapter 14. Many other Old Testament prophecies speak of these eschatological happenings.]], the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. [[Compare Isa. 12:3 ("Therefore you will joyously draw water From the springs of salvation"); Isa. 55:1 ("Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost"); Rev. 22:17 ("... And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost").]] (38) He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, "From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water." ' [[Compare Isa. 44:3; 58:11 ("... And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail"); John 4:10-15 (I'll quote 4:15, "but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life"); and John 6:35 ("Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst' ").
I'll quote a few sentences from what Leon Morris says as an introduction to John 7:37-39 ("Gospel According to John" [Eerdmans, 1971], pages 420, 421). "It is...significant that the words of Isaiah are associated with these ceremonies, 'with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation' (Isa. 12:3). (Morris has a footnote here, "So Rabbi Ena (Sukk. 48b). Some say that the words were sung during the procession.") The Jerusalem Talmud connects the ceremonies and this scripture with the Holy Spirit: 'Why is the name of it called, The drawing of water? Because of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, according to what is said: 'With joy shall ye drew water out of the wells of salvation.' " (Morris has a footnote, "J Sukk. 5:1 (cited from A. Guilding, "The Fourth Gospel and Jewish Worship," Oxford, 1960, p. 2)."]] (39) But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive [cf. Isa. 32:15-18; 44:3-5; Ezek. 36:25-27; 37:14; 39:29; John 1:33; 3:3-8; 4:14, 23, 24; 6:63; 14:16, 17; 16:7; 20:22; Acts 1:4, 5, 8; 2:1-4, 16-18, 33, 38-40]; for the Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified. [[Jesus' resurrection was the first stage of His glorification, but He was not glorified in the sense spoken of here until He was taken up in glory to the right hand of God the Father (cf., e.g., John 17:5; 1 Tim. 3:16 ["Taken up in glory"]). Jesus didn't have the Spirit (the life-giving, sanctifying, charismatic-gift-dispensing Spirit of promise [the pouring out of the Spirit was promised in the Old Testament]) to give until He was taken up in glory (see Acts 2:33). See under John 1:33 in my paper on John 1:19-4:54 on this Christian article site.]] (40) Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, 'This certainly is the Prophet.' [[On "the Prophet" compare John 6:14; see under John 1:21 in my paper on John 1:19-4:54. I'll quote two sentences from what Andreas Kostenberger says here ("John" [Baker, 2004], page 241). " 'The prophet' refers to 'the prophet like Moses' (Deut. 18:15-18...). In first-century thinking, the Prophet and the Christ were often viewed as two separate personages (cf. John 1:21)." And I'll quote a few sentences from what Gerald L. Boschert says under verses 40-43 ("John 1:1-11" [Broadman & Holman, 2002], page 292). "...theories concerning the coming messianic figures were both varied and unclear, a situation that generated confusing expectations. ... The Qumran community [who gave us the Dead Sea Scrolls] sought to clarify the situation for itself by distinguishing the roles of the prophet and two messiahs (a priestly one, the Messiah of Aaron, and a Davidic one, the Messiah of Israel; cf. 1 QS 9:11).")] (41) Others were saying, 'This is the Christ [the Messiah/the Anointed One].' [See under verse 40.] Still others were saying, 'Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee [cf. John 7:52], is He? (42) Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?' [[Jesus Christ (the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lord of King David [cf. Psalm 110:1]) was of the lineage of David, and He was born in Bethlehem (cf. 1 Sam. 20:6; 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Psalm 89:3, 4; Isa. 9:6, 7; Mic. 5:2; Matt. 1:1-2:6; Luke 1:26-33, 69; 2:1-38; and 3:23-31).]] (43) So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him. (44) Some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him. [Compare John 7:30, 31; 9:16; and 10:19-21.] (45) The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, 'Why did you not bring Him?' [See John 7:32.] (46) The officers answered, 'Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.' [[Compare Matt. 7:28, 29; 13:54; 22:33; Mark 1:22; 6:2, 3; 11:18; and Luke 4:32. It is interesting that the officers did not offer an excuse for their failure to bring Jesus, an excuse like they were afraid they would have started a riot. I'll quote a few sentences from what Andreas J. Kostenberger says here ("John," page 242, 243). "The guards were chosen from the Levites. They were religiously trained and therefore not merely 'brutal thugs.' In the fulfillment of their duties they would have heard many teachers in the temple courts. Even as biblical nonexperts, they recognize that Jesus' teaching is unique. ...."]] (47) The Pharisees then answered them, 'You have not also been led astray, have you? [Compare John 7:12.] (48) No one of the rulers ["The rulers" included Pharisees (cf., e.g., John 3:1).] or Pharisees [cf. John 7:32, 45, 47] has believed in Him, has he? [[Apparently John wants us to understand that Nicodemus, who was a ruler and a Pharisee, believed in Him (at least he believed on one level, even if he didn't publicly acknowledge that he was a believer; Nicodemus undoubtedly knew that his words in behalf of Jesus in verse 51 would not be well received), and he wasn't the only ruler who did believe (see under John 7:50, and see John 12:42, 43).]] (49) But this crowd which does not know the Law is accursed [cf. Deut. 27:26; 28:15].' (50) Nicodemus (he who came to Him before [[See John 3:1-12. Some six months after the events of John chapter 7, Nicodemus demonstrated that He was a believer by being directly involved with the burial of Jesus (John 19:38-42). At the time of the events of John chapter 7, Nicodemus was a "believer" already, but not openly for fear of the Jews (cf., e.g., John 9:22; 12:42, 43; and 19:38, 39).]], being one of them [being "one of the rulers" of the Jews and a "Pharisee" (cf. John 3:1)]) said to them, (51) 'Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?' [Compare Deut. 1:16, 17; 17:4, 6; 19:15; and Prov. 18:13.] (52) They answered him, 'You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.' [Compare John 1:46; 7:41. Many commentators point out that the prophet Jonah (and perhaps other prophets too) was from there (cf. 2 Kings 14:25).] (53) [Everyone went to his home. [The NASB has a marginal note here, "Later mss. [biblical manuscripts] add the story of the adulterous woman, numbering it as John 7:53-8:11," and it puts these words in brackets, which means (according to a note in the front of the NASB) that "these words probably [were] not in the original writings." The NIV has this note: "The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11." I agree with the widespread viewpoint that the words of John 7:53-8:11 represent important historical truth that has been preserved for us, but that they apparently were not part of the original Gospel written by the apostle John. The following excerpts will help the reader understand this issue.
I'll quote a paragraph from what R. V. G. Tasker says here ("Gospel According to St. John" [Eerdmans, 1960], page 110). "Scholars are agreed that this section did not originally form part of St. John's Gospel, though it records a genuine incident in the life of Jesus. Not only does the overwhelming majority of ancient Greek mss [manuscripts] omit it at this point, but many of the later mss which include it here mark it with asterisks.... One group of mss, moreover, inserts it after Luke 21:38; one ms has it after John 7:36; and a few others after John 21:24. ... [Tasker also mentions] the large number of variant readings which are found in this short section. Apart from numerous minor changes the following explanatory additions found in the text followed by AV [KJV] are omitted in most ancient authorities: "as though he heard them not" [These words are in italics in the KJV that I am using.] (verse 6); "being convicted by their own conscience," and "even unto the last" [The KJV that I am using has, "being convicted by their own conscience" (with the words "their own" in italics) and "even unto the last" (with the word "even") in italics] (verse 9); "and saw none but the woman," and "those thine accusers" [The KJV that I am using has, "and saw none but the woman" and "those thine accusers" (verse 10); while some later mss add at the end of verse 8, 'the sins of each of them.' All this suggests that the story was constantly repeated verbally and that varied versions of it were current. In its present position it clearly interrupts the discourse at the festival of Tabernacles; and it contains phrases, such as 'the scribes and Pharisees,' which occur nowhere else in this Gospel. The general style is more Lucan than Johannine."
We will continue to discuss this topic in Part 7 of this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 5-8.