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John 7:40-52

Context
Differing Opinions About Jesus

7:40 When they heard these words, some of the crowd 1  began to say, “This really 2  is the Prophet!” 3  7:41 Others said, “This is the Christ!” 4  But still others said, “No, 5  for the Christ doesn’t come from Galilee, does he? 6  7:42 Don’t the scriptures say that the Christ is a descendant 7  of David 8  and comes from Bethlehem, 9  the village where David lived?” 10  7:43 So there was a division in the crowd 11  because of Jesus. 12  7:44 Some of them were wanting to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. 13 

Lack of Belief

7:45 Then the officers 14  returned 15  to the chief priests and Pharisees, 16  who said to them, “Why didn’t you bring him back with you?” 17  7:46 The officers replied, “No one ever spoke like this man!” 7:47 Then the Pharisees answered, 18  “You haven’t been deceived too, have you? 19  7:48 None of the rulers 20  or the Pharisees have believed in him, have they? 21  7:49 But this rabble 22  who do not know the law are accursed!”

7:50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus 23  before and who was one of the rulers, 24  said, 25  7:51 “Our law doesn’t condemn 26  a man unless it first hears from him and learns 27  what he is doing, does it?” 28  7:52 They replied, 29  “You aren’t from Galilee too, are you? 30  Investigate carefully and you will see that no prophet 31  comes from Galilee!”

1 tn Or “The common people” (as opposed to the religious authorities like the chief priests and Pharisees).

2 tn Or “truly.”

3 sn The Prophet is a reference to the “prophet like Moses” of Deut 18:15, by this time an eschatological figure in popular belief.

4 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.

5 tn An initial negative reply (“No”) is suggested by the causal or explanatory γάρ (gar) which begins the clause.

6 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 “does he?”).

7 tn Grk “is from the seed” (an idiom for human descent).

8 sn An allusion to Ps 89:4.

9 sn An allusion to Mic 5:2.

map For location see Map5 B1; Map7 E2; Map8 E2; Map10 B4.

10 tn Grk “the village where David was.”

11 tn Or “among the common people” (as opposed to the religious authorities like the chief priests and Pharisees).

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

13 sn Compare John 7:30 regarding the attempt to seize Jesus.

14 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).

15 tn Grk “came.”

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

17 tn Grk “Why did you not bring him?” The words “back with you” are implied.

18 tn Grk “answered them.”

19 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 “have you?”).

20 sn The chief priests and Pharisees (John 7:45) 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. Likewise the term ruler here denotes a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews. Note the same word (“ruler”) is used to describe Nicodemus in John 3:1, and Nicodemus also speaks up in this episode (John 7:50).

21 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 “have they?”).

22 tn Grk “crowd.” “Rabble” is a good translation here because the remark by the Pharisees is so derogatory.

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

24 tn Grk “who was one of them”; the referent (the rulers) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

25 tn Grk “said to them.”

26 tn Grk “judge.”

27 tn Grk “knows.”

28 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 “does it?”).

29 tn Grk “They answered and said to him.”

30 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 “are you?”).

31 tc At least one early and important ms (Ì66*) places the article before “prophet” (ὁ προφήτης, Jo profhths), making this a reference to the “prophet like Moses” mentioned in Deut 18:15.

tn This claim by the leaders presents some difficulty, because Jonah had been from Gath Hepher, in Galilee (2 Kgs 14:25). Also the Babylonian Talmud later stated, “There was not a tribe in Israel from which there did not come prophets” (b. Sukkah 27b). Two explanations are possible: (1) In the heat of anger the members of the Sanhedrin overlooked the facts (this is perhaps the easiest explanation). (2) This anarthrous noun is to be understood as a reference to the prophet of Deut 18:15 (note the reading of Ì66 which is articular), by this time an eschatological figure in popular belief. This would produce in the text of John’s Gospel a high sense of irony indeed, since the religious authorities by their insistence that “the Prophet” could not come from Galilee displayed their true ignorance of where Jesus came from on two levels at once (Bethlehem, his birthplace, the fulfillment of Mic 5:2, but also heaven, from which he was sent by the Father). The author does not even bother to refute the false attestation of Jesus’ place of birth as Galilee (presumably Christians knew all too well where Jesus came from).



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