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John 10:22-39

Context
Jesus at the Feast of Dedication

10:22 Then came the feast of the Dedication 1  in Jerusalem. 2  10:23 It was winter, 3  and Jesus was walking in the temple area 4  in Solomon’s Portico. 5  10:24 The Jewish leaders 6  surrounded him and asked, 7  “How long will you keep us in suspense? 8  If you are the Christ, 9  tell us plainly.” 10  10:25 Jesus replied, 11  “I told you and you do not believe. The deeds 12  I do in my Father’s name testify about me. 10:26 But you refuse to believe because you are not my sheep. 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 10:28 I give 13  them eternal life, and they will never perish; 14  no one will snatch 15  them from my hand. 10:29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, 16  and no one can snatch 17  them from my Father’s hand. 10:30 The Father and I 18  are one.” 19 

10:31 The Jewish leaders 20  picked up rocks again to stone him to death. 10:32 Jesus said to them, 21  “I have shown you many good deeds 22  from the Father. For which one of them are you going to stone me?” 10:33 The Jewish leaders 23  replied, 24  “We are not going to stone you for a good deed 25  but for blasphemy, 26  because 27  you, a man, are claiming to be God.” 28 

10:34 Jesus answered, 29  “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 30  10:35 If those people to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’ (and the scripture cannot be broken), 31  10:36 do you say about the one whom the Father set apart 32  and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 10:37 If I do not perform 33  the deeds 34  of my Father, do not believe me. 10:38 But if I do them, even if you do not believe me, believe the deeds, 35  so that you may come to know 36  and understand that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” 10:39 Then 37  they attempted 38  again to seize him, but he escaped their clutches. 39 

1 tn That is, Hanukkah or the ‘Festival of Lights.’ The Greek name for the feast, τὰ ἐγκαίνια (ta enkainia), literally means “renewal” and was used to translate Hanukkah which means “dedication.” The Greek noun, with its related verbs, was the standard term used in the LXX for the consecration of the altar of the Tabernacle (Num 7:10-11), the altar of the temple of Solomon (1 Kgs 8:63; 2 Chr 7:5), and the altar of the second temple (Ezra 6:16). The word is thus connected with the consecration of all the houses of God in the history of the nation of Israel.

sn The feast of the Dedication (also known as Hanukkah) was a feast celebrating annually the Maccabean victories of 165-164 b.c. – when Judas Maccabeus drove out the Syrians, rebuilt the altar, and rededicated the temple on 25 Kislev (1 Macc 4:41-61). From a historical standpoint, it was the last great deliverance the Jewish people had experienced, and it came at a time when least expected. Josephus ends his account of the institution of the festival with the following statement: “And from that time to the present we observe this festival, which we call the festival of Lights, giving this name to it, I think, from the fact that the right to worship appeared to us at a time when we hardly dared hope for it” (Ant. 12.7.6 [12.325]).

2 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

3 sn It was winter. The feast began on 25 Kislev, in November-December of the modern Gregorian calendar.

4 tn Grk “in the temple.”

5 tn Or “portico,” “colonnade”; Grk “stoa.”

sn Solomons Portico was a covered walkway formed by rows of columns supporting a roof and open on the inner side facing the center of the temple complex.

6 tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” Here the phrase refers to the Jewish leaders. The question they ask Jesus (“Are you the Christ?”) is the same one they sent and asked of John the Baptist in the desert (see John 1:19-34). See also the note on the phrase “the Jewish people” in v. 19.

7 tn Grk “said to him.” This has been translated as “asked” for stylistic reasons.

8 tn Grk “How long will you take away our life?” (an idiom which meant to keep one from coming to a conclusion about something). The use of the phrase τὴν ψυχὴν ἡμῶν αἴρεις (thn yuchn Jhmwn airei") meaning “to keep in suspense” is not well attested, although it certainly fits the context here. In modern Greek the phrase means “to annoy, bother.”

9 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.

10 tn Or “publicly.”

11 tn Grk “answered them.”

12 tn Or “the works.”

13 tn Grk “And I give.”

14 tn Or “will never die” or “will never be lost.”

15 tn Or “no one will seize.”

16 tn Or “is superior to all.”

17 tn Or “no one can seize.”

18 tn Grk “I and the Father.” The order has been reversed to reflect English style.

19 tn The phrase ἕν ἐσμεν ({en esmen) is a significant assertion with trinitarian implications. ἕν is neuter, not masculine, so the assertion is not that Jesus and the Father are one person, but one “thing.” Identity of the two persons is not what is asserted, but essential unity (unity of essence).

20 tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” Here the phrase refers to the Jewish leaders. See the notes on the phrases “Jewish people” in v. 19 and “Jewish leaders” in v. 24.

21 tn Grk “Jesus answered them.”

22 tn Or “good works.”

23 tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” Here again the phrase refers to the Jewish leaders. See the notes on the phrase “Jewish people” in v. 19 and “Jewish leaders” in vv. 24, 31.

24 tn Grk “answered him.”

25 tn Or “good work.”

26 sn This is the first time the official charge of blasphemy is voiced openly in the Fourth Gospel (although it was implicit in John 8:59).

27 tn Grk “and because.”

28 tn Grk “you, a man, make yourself to be God.”

29 tn Grk “answered them.”

30 sn A quotation from Ps 82:6. Technically the Psalms are not part of the OT “law” (which usually referred to the five books of Moses), but occasionally the term “law” was applied to the entire OT, as here. The problem in this verse concerns the meaning of Jesus’ quotation from Ps 82:6. It is important to look at the OT context: The whole line reads “I say, you are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you.” Jesus will pick up on the term “sons of the Most High” in 10:36, where he refers to himself as the Son of God. The psalm was understood in rabbinic circles as an attack on unjust judges who, though they have been given the title “gods” because of their quasi-divine function of exercising judgment, are just as mortal as other men. What is the argument here? It is often thought to be as follows: If it was an OT practice to refer to men like the judges as gods, and not blasphemy, why did the Jewish authorities object when this term was applied to Jesus? This really doesn’t seem to fit the context, however, since if that were the case Jesus would not be making any claim for “divinity” for himself over and above any other human being – and therefore he would not be subject to the charge of blasphemy. Rather, this is evidently a case of arguing from the lesser to the greater, a common form of rabbinic argument. The reason the OT judges could be called gods is because they were vehicles of the word of God (cf. 10:35). But granting that premise, Jesus deserves much more than they to be called God. He is the Word incarnate, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world to save the world (10:36). In light of the prologue to the Gospel of John, it seems this interpretation would have been most natural for the author. If it is permissible to call men “gods” because they were the vehicles of the word of God, how much more permissible is it to use the word “God” of him who is the Word of God?

31 sn The parenthetical note And the scripture cannot be broken belongs to Jesus’ words rather than the author’s. Not only does Jesus appeal to the OT to defend himself against the charge of blasphemy, but he also adds that the scripture cannot be “broken.” In this context he does not explain precisely what is meant by “broken,” but it is not too hard to determine. Jesus’ argument depended on the exact word used in the context of Ps 82:6. If any other word for “judge” had been used in the psalm, his argument would have been meaningless. Since the scriptures do use this word in Ps 82:6, the argument is binding, because they cannot be “broken” in the sense of being shown to be in error.

32 tn Or “dedicated.”

33 tn Or “do.”

34 tn Or “works.”

35 tn Or “works.”

sn Jesus says that in the final analysis, the deeds he did should indicate whether he was truly from the Father. If the authorities could not believe in him, it would be better to believe in the deeds he did than not to believe at all.

36 tn Or “so that you may learn.”

37 tc It is difficult to decide between ἐζήτουν οὖν (ezhtoun oun, “then they were seeking”; Ì66 א A L W Ψ Ë1,13 33 pm lat), ἐζήτουν δέ (ezhtoun de, “now they were seeking”; Ì45 and a few versional witnesses), καὶ ἐζήτουν (kai ezhtoun, “and they were seeking”; D), and ἐζήτουν (Ì75vid B Γ Θ 700 pm). Externally, the most viable readings are ἐζήτουν οὖν and ἐζήτουν. Transcriptionally, the οὖν could have dropped out via haplography since the verb ends in the same three letters. On the other hand, it is difficult to explain the readings with δέ or καί if ἐζήτουν οὖν is original; such readings would more likely have arisen from the simple ἐζήτουν. Intrinsically, John is fond of οὖν, using it some 200 times. Further, this Gospel begins relatively few sentences without some conjunction. The minimal support for the δέ and καί readings suggests that they arose either from the lone verb reading (which would thus be prior to their respective Vorlagen but not necessarily the earliest reading) or through carelessness on the part of the scribes. Indeed, the ancestors of Ì45 and D may have committed haplography, leaving later scribes in the chain to guess at the conjunction needed. In sum, the best reading appears to be ἐζήτουν οὖν.

38 tn Grk “they were seeking.”

39 tn Grk “he departed out of their hand.”

sn It is not clear whether the authorities simply sought to “arrest” him, or were renewing their attempt to stone him (cf. John 10:31) by seizing him and taking him out to be stoned. In either event, Jesus escaped their clutches. Nor is it clear whether Jesus’ escape is to be understood as a miracle. If so, the text gives little indication and even less description. What is clear is that until his “hour” comes, Jesus is completely safe from the hands of men: His enemies are powerless to touch him until they are permitted to do so.



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