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John 7:2

7:2 Now the Jewish feast of Tabernacles 1  was near. 2 

John 7:27-39

7:27 But we know where this man 3  comes from. 4  Whenever the Christ 5  comes, no one will know where he comes from.” 6 

7:28 Then Jesus, while teaching in the temple courts, 7  cried out, 8  “You both know me and know where I come from! 9  And I have not come on my own initiative, 10  but the one who sent me 11  is true. You do not know him, 12  7:29 but 13  I know him, because I have come from him 14  and he 15  sent me.”

7:30 So then they tried to seize Jesus, 16  but no one laid a hand on him, because his time 17  had not yet come. 7:31 Yet many of the crowd 18  believed in him and said, “Whenever the Christ 19  comes, he won’t perform more miraculous signs than this man did, will he?” 20 

7:32 The Pharisees 21  heard the crowd 22  murmuring these things about Jesus, 23  so the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers 24  to arrest him. 25  7:33 Then Jesus said, “I will be with you for only a little while longer, 26  and then 27  I am going to the one who sent me. 7:34 You will look for me 28  but will not find me, and where I am you cannot come.”

7:35 Then the Jewish leaders 29  said to one another, “Where is he 30  going to go that we cannot find him? 31  He is not going to go to the Jewish people dispersed 32  among the Greeks and teach the Greeks, is he? 33  7:36 What did he mean by saying, 34  ‘You will look for me 35  but will not find me, and where I am you cannot come’?”

Teaching About the Spirit

7:37 On the last day of the feast, the greatest day, 36  Jesus stood up and shouted out, 37  “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and 7:38 let the one who believes in me drink. 38  Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him 39  will flow rivers of living water.’” 40  7:39 (Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been given, 41  because Jesus was not yet glorified.) 42 

1 tn Or “feast of the Tents” (the feast where people lived in tents or shelters, which was celebrated in the autumn after harvest). John’s use of σκηνοπηγία (skhnophgia) for the feast of Tabernacles constitutes the only use of this term in the New Testament.

2 sn Since the present verse places these incidents at the feast of Tabernacles (a.d. 29 or 32, depending on whether one dates the crucifixion in a.d. 30 or 33) there would have been a 6-month interval during which no events are recorded. The author is obviously selective in his approach; he is not recording an exhaustive history (as he will later tell the reader in John 21:25). After healing the paralytic on the Sabbath in Jerusalem (John 5:1-47), Jesus withdrew again to Galilee because of mounting opposition. In Galilee the feeding of the 5,000 took place, which marked the end of the Galilean ministry for all practical purposes. John 7:1-9 thus marks Jesus’ final departure from Galilee.

3 tn Grk “this one.”

4 sn We know where this man comes from. The author apparently did not consider this objection worth answering. The true facts about Jesus’ origins were readily available for any reader who didn’t know already. Here is an instance where the author assumes knowledge about Jesus that is independent from the material he records.

5 tn Or “the Messiah” (Both Greek “Christ” and Hebrew and Aramaic “Messiah” mean “one who has been anointed”).

sn See the note on Christ in 1:20.

6 sn The view of these people regarding the Messiah that no one will know where he comes from reflects the idea that the origin of the Messiah is a mystery. In the Talmud (b. Sanhedrin 97a) Rabbi Zera taught: “Three come unawares: Messiah, a found article, and a scorpion.” Apparently OT prophetic passages like Mal 3:1 and Dan 9:25 were interpreted by some as indicating a sudden appearance of Messiah. It appears that this was not a universal view: The scribes summoned by Herod at the coming of the Magi in Matt 2 knew that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. It is important to remember that Jewish messianic expectations in the early 1st century were not monolithic.

7 tn Grk “the temple.”

8 tn Grk “Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying.”

9 sn You both know me and know where I come from! Jesus’ response while teaching in the temple is difficult – it appears to concede too much understanding to his opponents. It is best to take the words as irony: “So you know me and know where I am from, do you?” On the physical, literal level, they did know where he was from: Nazareth of Galilee (at least they thought they knew). But on another deeper (spiritual) level, they did not: He came from heaven, from the Father. Jesus insisted that he has not come on his own initiative (cf. 5:37), but at the bidding of the Father who sent him.

10 tn Grk “And I have not come from myself.”

11 tn The phrase “the one who sent me” refers to God.

12 tn Grk “the one who sent me is true, whom you do not know.”

13 tn Although the conjunction “but” is not in the Greek text, the contrast is implied (an omitted conjunction is called asyndeton).

14 tn The preposition παρά (para) followed by the genitive has the local sense preserved and can be used of one person sending another. This does not necessarily imply origin in essence or eternal generation.

15 tn Grk “and that one.”

16 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

sn Here the response is on the part of the crowd, who tried to seize Jesus. This is apparently distinct from the attempted arrest by the authorities mentioned in 7:32.

17 tn Grk “his hour.”

18 tn Or “The common people” (as opposed to the religious authorities).

19 tn Or “the Messiah” (Both Greek “Christ” and Hebrew and Aramaic “Messiah” mean “one who has been anointed”).

sn See the note on Christ in 1:20.

20 tn Questions prefaced with μή (mh) in Greek anticipate a negative answer. This can sometimes be indicated by using a “tag” at the end in English (here it is “will he?”).

21 sn See the note on Pharisees in 1:24.

22 tn Or “The common people” (as opposed to the religious authorities like the Pharisees).

23 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

24 tn Or “servants.” The “chief priests and Pharisees” is a comprehensive term for the groups represented in the ruling council (the Sanhedrin) as in John 7:45; 18:3; Acts 5:22, 26. As “servants” or “officers” of the Sanhedrin their representatives should be distinguished from the Levites serving as temple police (perhaps John 7:30 and 44; also John 8:20; 10:39; 19:6; Acts 4:3). Even when performing “police” duties such as here, their “officers” are doing so only as part of their general tasks (see K. H. Rengstorf, TDNT 8:540).

25 tn Grk “to seize him.” In the context of a deliberate attempt by the servants of the chief priests and Pharisees to detain Jesus, the English verb “arrest” conveys the point more effectively.

26 tn Grk “Yet a little I am with you.”

27 tn The word “then” is not in the Greek text, but is implied.

28 tn Grk “seek me.”

29 tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” In NT usage the term ᾿Ιουδαῖοι (Ioudaioi) may refer to the entire Jewish people, the residents of Jerusalem and surrounding territory, the authorities in Jerusalem, or merely those who were hostile to Jesus. (For further information see R. G. Bratcher, “‘The Jews’ in the Gospel of John,” BT 26 [1975]: 401-9.) Here the phrase is understood to refer to the Jewish authorities or leaders, since the Jewish leaders are mentioned in this context both before and after the present verse (7:32, 45).

30 tn Grk “this one.”

31 tn Grk “will not find him.”

32 sn The Jewish people dispersed (Grk “He is not going to the Diaspora”). The Greek term diaspora (“dispersion”) originally meant those Jews not living in Palestine, but dispersed or scattered among the Gentiles.

33 tn Questions prefaced with μή (mh) in Greek anticipate a negative answer. This can sometimes be indicated by using a “tag” at the end in English (here the tag is “is he?”).

sn Note the Jewish opponents’ misunderstanding of Jesus’ words, as made clear in vv. 35-36. They didn’t realize he spoke of his departure out of the world. This is another example of the author’s use of misunderstanding as a literary device to emphasize a point.

34 tn Grk “What is this word that he said.”

35 tn Grk “seek me.”

36 sn There is a problem with the identification of this reference to the last day of the feast, the greatest day: It appears from Deut 16:13 that the feast went for seven days. Lev 23:36, however, makes it plain that there was an eighth day, though it was mentioned separately from the seven. It is not completely clear whether the seventh or eighth day was the climax of the feast, called here by the author the “last great day of the feast.” Since according to the Mishnah (m. Sukkah 4.1) the ceremonies with water and lights did not continue after the seventh day, it seems more probable that this is the day the author mentions.

37 tn Grk “Jesus stood up and cried out, saying.”

38 tn An alternate way of punctuating the Greek text of vv. 37-38 results in this translation: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. The one who believes in me, just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38 has been the subject of considerable scholarly debate. Certainly Jesus picks up on the literal water used in the ceremony and uses it figuratively. But what does the figure mean? According to popular understanding, it refers to the coming of the Holy Spirit to dwell in the believer. There is some difficulty in locating an OT text which speaks of rivers of water flowing from within such a person, but Isa 58:11 is often suggested: “The Lord will continually lead you, he will feed you even in parched regions. He will give you renewed strength, and you will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring that continually produces water.” Other passages which have been suggested are Prov 4:23 and 5:15; Isa 44:3 and 55:1; Ezek 47:1 ff.; Joel 3:18; and Zech 13:1 and 14:8. The meaning in this case is that when anyone comes to believe in Jesus the scriptures referring to the activity of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life are fulfilled. “When the believer comes to Christ and drinks he not only slakes his thirst but receives such an abundant supply that veritable rivers flow from him” (L. Morris, John [NICNT], 424-25). In other words, with this view, the believer himself becomes the source of the living water. This is the traditional understanding of the passage, often called the “Eastern interpretation” following Origen, Athanasius, and the Greek Fathers. It is supported by such modern scholars as Barrett, Behm, Bernard, Cadman, Carson, R. H. Lightfoot, Lindars, Michaelis, Morris, Odeberg, Schlatter, Schweizer, C. H. Turner, M. M. B. Turner, Westcott, and Zahn. In addition it is represented by the following Greek texts and translations: KJV, RSV, NASB, NA27, and UBS4. D. A. Carson, John, 322-29, has a thorough discussion of the issues and evidence although he opts for the previous interpretation. There is another interpretation possible, however, called the “Western interpretation” because of patristic support by Justin, Hippolytus, Tertullian, and Irenaeus. Modern scholars who favor this view are Abbott, Beasley-Murray, Bishop, Boismard, Braun, Brown, Bullinger, Bultmann, Burney, Dodd, Dunn, Guilding, R. Harris, Hoskyns, Jeremias, Loisy, D. M. Stanley, Thüsing, N. Turner, and Zerwick. This view is represented by the translation in the RSV margin and by the NEB. It is also sometimes called the “christological interpretation” because it makes Jesus himself the source of the living water in v. 38, by punctuating as follows: (37b) ἐάν τι διψᾷ ἐρχέσθω πρός με, καὶ πινέτω (38) ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ. Καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γραφή, ποταμοὶ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ ῥεύσουσιν ὕδατος ζῶντος. Three crucial questions are involved in the solution of this problem: (1) punctuation; (2) determining the antecedent of αὐτοῦ (autou); and (3) the source of the scripture quotation. With regard to (1) Ì66 does place a full stop after πινέτω (pinetw), but this may be theologically motivated and could have been added later. Grammatical and stylistic arguments are inconclusive. More important is (2) the determination of the antecedent of αὐτοῦ. Can any other Johannine parallels be found which make the believer the source of the living water? John 4:14 is often mentioned in this regard, but unlike 4:14 the water here becomes a source for others also. Neither does 14:12 provide a parallel. Furthermore, such an interpretation becomes even more problematic in light of the explanation given in v. 39 that the water refers to the Holy Spirit, since it is extremely difficult to see the individual believer becoming the ‘source’ of the Spirit for others. On the other hand, the Gospel of John repeatedly places Jesus himself in this role as source of the living water: 4:10, of course, for the water itself; but according to 20:22 Jesus provides the Spirit (cf. 14:16). Furthermore, the symbolism of 19:34 is difficult to explain as anything other than a deliberate allusion to what is predicted here. This also explains why the Spirit cannot come to the disciples unless Jesus “departs” (16:7). As to (3) the source of the scripture quotation, M. E. Boismard has argued that John is using a targumic rendering of Ps 78:15-16 which describes the water brought forth from the rock in the wilderness by Moses (“Les citations targumiques dans le quatrième évangile,” RB 66 [1959]: 374-78). The frequency of Exodus motifs in the Fourth Gospel (paschal lamb, bronze serpent, manna from heaven) leads quite naturally to the supposition that the author is here drawing on the account of Moses striking the rock in the wilderness to bring forth water (Num 20:8 ff.). That such imagery was readily identified with Jesus in the early church is demonstrated by Paul’s understanding of the event in 1 Cor 10:4. Jesus is the Rock from which the living water – the Spirit – will flow. Carson (see note above) discusses this imagery although he favors the traditional or “Eastern” interpretation. In summary, the latter or “Western” interpretation is to be preferred.

39 tn Or “out of the innermost part of his person”; Grk “out of his belly.”

40 sn An OT quotation whose source is difficult to determine; Isa 44:3, 55:1, 58:11, and Zech 14:8 have all been suggested.

41 tn Grk “for the Spirit was not yet.” Although only B and a handful of other NT mss supply the participle δεδομένον (dedomenon), this is followed in the translation to avoid misunderstanding by the modern English reader that prior to this time the Spirit did not exist. John’s phrase is expressed from a human standpoint and has nothing to do with the preexistence of the third Person of the Godhead. The meaning is that the era of the Holy Spirit had not yet arrived; the Spirit was not as yet at work in a way he later would be because Jesus had not yet returned to his Father. Cf. also Acts 19:2.

42 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

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