Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/The Gospel of John/Chapter 7
Summary of Chapter 7
Setting: As with many Johanine passages, the chapter begins with a vague transition, "after this". The chapter is set at the Hanukkah Festival (The Maccabeans had moved the festival of Booths or Tabernacles to December in violation of the Torah). "Only John mentions a visit by Jesus to Jerusalem at a time other than Passover," (Smith 166).
In this chapter, Jesus goes up to the temple at the feast of tabernacles and begins to teach those assembled. Many are astonished with the way in which Jesus can teach even though he has never had formal temple education. Jesus gives the credit to God the father. He then addresses the crowd and asks them why so many people are trying to kill him when not one of them is without sin. The crowd believes he is demon possessed, and Jesus answer back that he is not and that miracles come from the father working through him via the indwelling angel/logos. He tells them the reason they reject him is that the Father's logos has found no place in their hearts. He also talks about the Sabbath and basically tells the crowd that if they are willing to make exceptions on the Sabbath for work (such as circumcision) that he should be able to use his own judgment in such situations (such as healing the man at the pool). Jesus’ straight forward logic doesn’t sit very well with everyone in attendance.
There are some accusations by the Jews when Jesus begins teaching, as Jesus has never been formally educated himself. This puts Jesus' social status in question; however, many people address him as "Rabbi," so at least those people believe he knows what he is talking about, regardless of whether or not he has studied under a Rabbi. Jesus tells the crowd that his teaching is not his own, but rather comes from the one who sent him. He further says that those who work for God are working in truth and not for themselves, and this is a good thing. This is the right way to do things. There is honor in this. As the people are trying to figure out if he is the real Messiah or not, many are putting their faith into him, and believing. Jesus then talks about the fact that he will soon go somewhere that they will not be able to find him, and where he will go, they cannot come. Obviously he is referencing Heaven at this point. Days later in the festival he makes a call for people to come to him, if they are thirsting, that is thirsting for eternal life. For if they believe, they will receive and their thirst will be quenched. After hearing this, the temple guards go back to the main authorities to discuss him, and at this time it is Nicodemus who sticks up for Jesus and his teachings. In the end, nothing is done and everyone goes their separate ways.
The first thirteen verses of chapter 7 describe the discussion about and the action of Jesus' return to Jerusalem. The Feast of Hanukkah occurs during this journey to Jerusalem. One argument was the issue of healing the man at the pool. Jesus defends his healing of the man as part of the will of God. His argument is an outstanding example of the Jewish way of arguing from a lesser concern to a greater concern. The Jews circumcise a baby boy on the Sabbath to fulfill the will of God. If the Sabbath can be broken to cut away such a small part of an individual, how much greater it would be to heal a whole individual! This act would be an even greater example of fulfilling the will of God even if it is done on the Sabbath.
7:15 Questioning Jesus' Education: How does he know letters...? The people listened to Jesus' teaching and were amazed. His mastery of Scriptures were undeniable and the people wondered how he could teach like a rabbi, yet he had been trained by none of the great rabbis.
7:16-19 Jesus answers the questioning: Jesus tells those who are questioning his teaching and his education he is not teaching his own ideas. Jesus tells the people and the religious leaders he is teaching the ideas of God who sent Jesus to them. Jesus then explains how the people will know his teachings are from God. He also instructs on how one's intentions can honor God along with the actions.
Questions to Consider
Why the Pharisees in Verse 32? John 7: 32 states, "The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering such things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple police to arrest him." This is very interesting considering at the time these events were actually happening (during Jesus' life), the Pharisees wouldn't have had much, if any, authority in the Temple. Prior to the destruction of the Jewish Temple (which occurred in 70) by the Romans, the Pharisees definitely had opinions about how things should be done and how Jewish law should be interpreted, but weren't really acknowledged. Therefore, when considering the motives of the author of John to say it was the Pharisees that sent the temple police to arrest Jesus, two things must be considered: 1) Did the author have any historical context? If he didn't, then he was logically going off of the only thing he knew about, his time's issues. Maybe he thought it would have been the Pharisees to send the temple police to arrest Jesus. OR 2) Was the author of John simply retelling the story with his "modern" twist? A lot of times, depictions of historical events reflect concerns of the time in which the story is being told as opposed to the time in which they are meant to represent. If so, maybe the author of John was using his creative license to make the story more understandable for people who would read it in the time he was writing it.
At multiple points in Chapter 7 (verse 13, verse 44) the citizens of Galilee are caught divided where Jesus is concerned. Since Christ was in poor standing with the Jewish ruling council, average citizens were afraid to talk about Him for fear of conflict with the authorities. In verse 44, we see that some of the people wanted to apprehend Christ, but no one made a move. Several questions can be drawn from this. First, were the people divided because some of them thought that Christ was the Messiah and some did not? Second, why did none of them attempt to apprehend Him? They were aware that they probably would have had the support of the authorities had they attempted to do so, so the fact that they didn’t speaks more for the mystery of Christ’s person. Things should have happened one way, but they didn’t!
How does His time have any effect on the attempts of men to seize him? Verse 30 points out the attempt on Jesus being seized. However, does this mean a physical seizure? If so, Jesus must have done something to escape. Yet the text has no mention of how he escaped - just that "His time had not yet come." Perhaps the "attempt" to seize Jesus was more of a plot. But the plan didn't quite work at that point, because God prevented such a thing from happening, because "His time had not yet come."
Another division in the crowd occurs at this point: Where some attempt so seize Him, others "put their faith in Him" (31). However, these believers only believed in the signs of Jesus, rather than for non-tangible reasons. In other words, the faith in question here is faith strictly based on sight, rather than whole-hearted faith (faith that would not require such sights and miracles).
The crowd is divided on Jesus throughout the text of Chapter 7. On the last day of the feast Jesus told the people about living water and how they could have living water. Some people believed and others did not and said a prophet could not come from Galilee. Also, the religious leaders believed that Jesus was not the Messiah because he came from Galilee and they believed a prophet could not come from Galilee.
Were Jesus' brothers also disciples?
It is pretty clear, not only from the early passages of Chapter 7, but also from the synoptic gospels that the brothers of Jesus were not in fact his disciples. In Mark 3:21, "When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, 'He has gone out of his mind.'" and again in Mark 6:4, "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin." This idea is paralleled, as previously mentioned, in Chapter 7:5, "For not even his brothers believed in him." The brothers were "going up to Jerusalem to celebrate Hanukkah. To go up meant to dress in festive clothing play musical instrument and sing and dance. They mocked Jesus for refusing to "Go up." He refused to go up because it was a military celebration created by the wicked Maccabeans who usurped the priesthood and the throne.
No Prophet arises out of Galilee?
In verses 41-52 there is a division amongst the people here because in Psalm 89:4 and Micah 5:2 these verses say that Christ would come from Bethlehem where David lives. (v.42)Because these scriptures were law, there were many who wanted to seize Him, however because of the way He spoke (and because it was not yet His hour John 7:30 Matthew 21:46) no one would touch Him. However, some believe that these men were wrong. There was a prophet that came out of Galilee and he was Jonah. Here are some characteristics that are similar to the likeness of Jonah and Jesus. First, both of these men had a larger goal, for example, Jonah wanted to save the rest of the sailors and Jesus came to save the world. Next, both had the symbolic three days and three nights in common (Matt. 12:38-41) as well as converting Gentiles. However, the most significant of their similarities is that they were both from Galilee. (2 Kings 14:25)
Actually, Jonah, Elijah, Nahum and Hosea were from the Galil. These men were all highly esteemed in Yahshuah’s day and they all had ministries to gentiles as well as the Jews.
The three other prophets from the Galilee:
Elijah, the Tishbite, (El is Yah) was rejected by Israel and was sent by Yah to Phoenicia (that’s where we get our Alphabet) where he dwelled in the house of a gentile widow in the town of Zarephatho. Later, when he was hiding in a cave on Mount Sinai in the Horeb mountains, it says the logos of Elohim (the word of God) the Logos spoke to him. The logos Elohim is identified as the Angel of Yah and speaks for Yah. (1 Kings 19). Traditionally it is believed Elijah went bodily to heaven in a fiery chariot, but since Yahshuah said no one, but he, had ever been to heaven we must assume that Elijah’s fiery ride ended in death before he left the planet.
Nahum, the Elkoshite, lived in Capernaum (Kefer Nahum) in 615 BC his book also is a message to the gentiles in Nineveh. Hosea (a nickname for Jesus), the son of Beeri, lived in the 8th Century BC in the Northern Kingdom. Hosea is told by Yah to marry a woman who has left Yah to become a temple prostitute of the Bull cult. Her name is Gomer (destruction to Idolaters), her children Jezreel (seed of Yah), Lo Ruamah (disgraced) and Lo Ammi (You are no longer my people). Clearly Hosea’s message is a warning that if the Hebrews continue in the Bull cult, they will lose the kingdom of Yah. Which they did. They continue as a race, but since they rejected the Messiah, they are not Yah’s people.