John 7


John 7:1 After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.  2 Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. 


After feeding the 5000 and telling the people at the Synagogue in Capernaum that He was the bread of life, Jesus made His was to Galilee. He stayed there because the Jews wanted to kill Him for allegedly breaking the Sabbath and claiming to be the Son of God (Jn. 5:18).


The Feast of Tabernacles was observed on the 15th day of the seventh month called Tishri, which coincides with part of our September and October. It lasted for seven days. On the first day and the eighth day following the feast there was a holy convocation (Lev. 23:35-36). The feast was one of three pilgrimages the Jews were required to attend in Jerusalem. The feast celebrated the completion of the autumn harvest and it was also a time to remember how their ancestors left Egypt and lived in tents on their way through the wilderness. During this week, they would make temporary booths made of palm and willow trees. They would stay in them in honor of their ancestors and for what God did for them, which is why this feast is also called the feast of booths.


Six months have passed between chapter 6 and 7, and the remainder of John covers the last six months of Jesus’ life. So, John has skipped over 6 months of Jesus’ Galilean ministry.


John 7:3 His brothers therefore said to Him, "Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing.  4 "For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world."  5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him.  6 Then Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.  7 "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.  8 "You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come."  9 When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee.  


Jesus’ brothers could not understand why Jesus was hiding out if He was the Messiah, and they think He is wasting His time in Galilee. With their idea of the Messiah, they think He should go into Judea and work His signs and miracles and openly proclaim who He is. There were different ideas among the Jews of how the Messiah would make Himself known. One example comes from a rabbinic tradition that says: “He will come and stand on the roof of the holy place; then he will announce to the Israelites, “Ye poor, the time of your redemption has arrived (Pesiqta Rabbati I62a).”” According to verse 5  His brothers did not believe in Him, but they would later (Acts 1:14).


Jesus told them it was not His time yet. He was waiting for the right moment to face these Jews in Jerusalem. That time would be at the Passover when Jesus made His triumphant entry and would become the sacrificial lamb for the world.


Jesus’ brothers can go to the feast because they have not made the Jews angry like He has. These Jews despised Jesus and they want Him dead. They believed His works were evil and from the devil. So, Jesus told his brothers to go to the feast without Him, and He stayed in Galilee because His time had not fully come, which is referring to the fate He would suffer at the Passover.


John 7:10 But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.  11 Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, "Where is He?"  12 And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, "He is good"; others said, "No, on the contrary, He deceives the people."  13 However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.


Some believe that we have a contradiction in these verses because Jesus said He is not yet going to the feast, but we find Him going to the feast in verse 10. We need to understand that Jesus did not say He was not going to the feast at all. Instead, He was telling His brothers that He was not going to go at that moment. We find out in verses 14 that He did not go to the feast until it was halfway over, and when He went, He did so secretly.


The Jews hoped He would show up so they could find someway to kill Him. Jesus had become one of the main topics people were talking about, and they could not make up their minds if He was good or bad. When they talked about Him, they did it quietly because they knew if the Jews heard them talking about Him, they would have to face their wrath.


John 7:14 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught.  15 And the Jews marveled, saying, "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?"


Without being seen, Jesus shows up in the temple area and He began to speak. He captivates the Jews by His knowledge of the Scriptures. Even at the age of twelve, He astonished the teachers of His day (Lk. 2:46-47). The Jews that heard Jesus speak, cannot understand how He could know the Scriptures so well when had not been in any rabbinical schools. Only those who had studied for years under exceptional teachers could have a similar knowledge like Jesus, but even the greatest student would not have compared to Jesus’ knowledge.  


John 7:16 Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.  17 "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.  18 "He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.  19 "Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?" 


Jesus claimed over and over that the things He did and said were not His own because He was doing everything the Father showed Him and told Him to do. This fact explains the reason He has so much wisdom and knowledge of the Scriptures. So, the words Jesus spoke were the words of God the Father. These Jews could test Jesus’ words by comparing them to the Scriptures. If Jesus was making things up, they could prove He is speaking by His own authority, but if they searched the Scriptures and learned that He was speaking the truth, they would have to conclude that His words were from God.


Jesus compared the difference between a person speaking for himself and speaking for God. The person who speaks for himself seeks his own glory. This person might use some of God’s Word, but they will end up adding their own wisdom and thoughts. They think they know how to do things better than God, and they get people to follow their false teachings. This is a great description of the Pharisees who had made up several new laws for the Sabbath and made them binding as if they were from God.


In comparison, Jesus said the person who is speaking for God is a person that seeks out ways to give God the glory. This means that person is humble in spirit and only wants to do those things God has commanded in His Word. When someone has that attitude, unrighteousness will not be found in him.


Jesus knew the Jews wanted to kill Him, so He accused them of not keeping the Law of Moses. There are many ways these Jews had not kept the Law of Moses especially when it came to all their own rules of the Sabbath day. Jesus may also be referring to how these Jews wanted to kill Him even though it would mean breaking one of the Ten Commandments.


John 7:20 The people answered and said, "You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?"


Not everyone knew about the plot to kill Jesus, which is why some would have answered this way because no one was preventing Him from talking. It is also possible that some of the Jews that wanted to put Him to death said this to hide their real intentions even further. This was not the first time that Jesus had been accused of being out His mind, and it would not be the last.


John 7:21 Jesus answered and said to them, "I did one work, and you all marvel.  22 "Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.  23 "If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?  24 "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."


It is believed that Jesus is referring to the man He healed at Bethsaida on the Sabbath. Jesus made a strong point against these Jews based on their own actions. First, He points out that circumcision did not originate with Moses because it began during the time of Abraham (Gen 17:10ff), but it was reinstituted under the Law of Moses (Ex. 12:44ff). Circumcision was to be done on the 8th day after a boy’s birth (Lev. 12:3). If the 8th day fell on the Sabbath, they would circumcise the boy on that day. So, if it is acceptable to circumcise on that day, what is wrong with healing a person’s whole body on the Sabbath? This was just one of many examples Jesus used to show that the Jews did good things on the Sabbath as well (Lk. 13:15; 14:5). 


Jesus’ main point was that they were making a judgment based on appearance and what they thought was breaking the Sabbath Law. Instead of doing this, He wants them to judge with righteous judgment, which means they need to judge His action based on what the Word of God actually says. This is the same judgment we are taught to judge with because Jesus judges this way (Jn. 5:30). However, we have no authority to judge people based on appearance or to put ourselves in the place of God (Mt. 7:1ff).


John 7:25 Now some of them from Jerusalem said, "Is this not He whom they seek to kill?  26 "But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ?  27 "However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from."


This passage teaches us that at least some of the Jews knew the Jewish rulers wanted Jesus dead. Since they allowed Him to speak boldly without arresting Him, some began to speculate that the rulers thought He was the Christ. However, they could not see how this could be possible because they thought they knew where Jesus was from, which to them meant that Jesus could not be the Christ.


John 7:28 Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, "You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know.  29 "But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me."  30 Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.  31 And many of the people believed in Him, and said, "When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?"


Jesus appears to be using a little sarcasm here because these Jews thought they knew who Jesus was and where He was from. If they really knew who He was and where He was from, they would know He was sent by the Father in heaven. As Jesus said many times, no human has seen the Father, except for Him. In fact, Jesus knows Him and is from Him. Once again, Jesus established that He is the Son of God, and this makes the Jewish rulers angry. They wanted to take Him away, but no one touched Him because it was not His time to die. God’s providence was at work here.


Many of the people that heard this believed in Him because it made sense that Jesus is the Christ. If He was not the Christ, would a future Christ be able to do more signs than He did? They could not see the being possible, which is why they believed in Him.


John 7:32 The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him.  33 Then Jesus said to them, "I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me.  34 "You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come."  35 Then the Jews said among themselves, "Where does He intend to go that we shall not find Him? Does He intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks?  36 "What is this thing that He said, 'You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come'?"


Normally the Pharisees and Sadducees (chief priest), did not work together, but they did when it came to Jesus. They did not like the idea of the crowds following Him, so they sent some officers to arrest Him. Before we find out what happens to these officers, John continues telling us more of what Jesus said.


In verse 33, Jesus is teaching that He will not be on this earth much longer, and He will be going to the Father in heaven. They will continue to look for Him, but they will not find Him. When He says, “Where I am you cannot come,” He is saying that they cannot follow Him into heaven especially in their physical bodies because flesh and blood cannot enter heaven (1 Cor. 15:50). Jesus is not saying that no one can go into heaven because those who faithfully follow Him will (Jn. 14:1-3; 12:26).


Some commentators suggest that Jesus was saying that those who do not believe in Him will not be able to follow Him to heaven. While it is true that nonbelievers will not step foot into heaven, we find Jesus making this same statement to those that were following Him in:


John 13:33 "Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, 'Where I am going, you cannot come,'


Since He is telling this to His apostles, this teaches us that this is not a statement just for sinners because He is saying that they cannot physically go into heaven right now.


Even though Jesus statement was clear, these Jews began to twist what He said, and they avoided grasping His simple message or perhaps they thought there was a hidden meaning in what He said. They accused Him of planning to take His teaching to the Greeks and hiding out among them. The more they discussed the matter, the more confused they got.


John 7:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  38 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."  39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.



The feast lasted for seven days, but it officially ended on the eighth day with a holy convocation, which marked the end of the feast when the people left their booths and went back to their homes. One of the highlights of the feast that happened everyday is pointed out by Mr. Woods:


Each day, during the feast a priest carried a golden pitcher to the pool (of Siloam), filled it and returned to the court of the temple, accompanied by throngs of people rejoicing greatly and poured it on the altar.  Immediately, the Hallel, consisting of Ps. 113 -118 was chanted by the Levites and the people repeated each line after the priests.  It was a ceremony of much joy and satisfaction.  Ancient rabbis are quoted as having said that he who had never witnessed this ceremony did not really know what rejoicing meant.  At the close of the singing of the Hallel there was a pause in the activities and it was evidently at this moment that the voice of the Lord rang out... (Woods, p. 155).


Also Westcott records:


On each of the seven preceding days water was drawn in a golden pitcher from the pool of Siloam and carried in procession to the temple and offered by the priests as the singers chanted Isa 12:3: "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation..." (Westcott).


Some believe that pouring out the water was done to acknowledge God for giving them rain for their crops. Others believe they did it to remember how God had given their forefathers water in the wilderness (Ex. 17:5-6; Num. 20:7-11). Perhaps both are correct. They also poured the water out looking forward to when the Spirit would be poured out during the time of the Messiah (Joel 2:28), which happened on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4, 16-17).


Since the golden pitcher was empty, Jesus was offering the rivers of water that would never dry up. Just as their forefathers thirsted in the wilderness and were physically satisfied by the water that came from the rock, Jesus was offering them to drink from Him, so they could become spiritually satisfied. Notice, Jesus said they must believe and come to Him, which proves that a person must have an active faith and be willing to obey what the Scriptures teach. Those who do this are promised the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit had not been given yet because Jesus would have to be glorified first (Jn. 16:7), which is speaking of His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to heaven. The Holy Spirit was given as promised on the day of Pentecost (Act 2).


John 7:40 Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, "Truly this is the Prophet."  41 Others said, "This is the Christ." But some said, "Will the Christ come out of Galilee?  42 "Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?"  43 So there was a division among the people because of Him.  44 Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.


Once again, there is great confusion among these people. Some thought He was the prophet Moses spoke of (Deut: 18: 15, 19), which they did not understand was talking about Christ. Others thought He was the Christ. One of their major problems they had with Jesus being the Christ was they knew He had been raised in Nazareth, and they assumed He was born there. They knew the Scriptures taught that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem and would be in the linage of David (Mic. 5:2). If they had only known that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and was in the lineage of David, they would not have been so confused. Those that did not like what Jesus represented wanted to seize Him, but they did not because it was not His time yet.


John 7:45 Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, "Why have you not brought Him?"  46 The officers answered, "No man ever spoke like this Man!"


These officers were sent to arrest Jesus back in verse 32. However, after hearing Jesus speak with authority, these officers were amazed and they did not arrest Him. They went back to chief priest and Pharisees and they told them the reason they did not arrest Him was because, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” Jesus’ words had impressed these men enough that they were willing to disobey the orders of their superiors, which show that Jesus was a masterful teacher.


John 7:47 Then the Pharisees answered them, "Are you also deceived?  48 "Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?  49 "But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed."


The Pharisees were not happy with the officers, and they questioned them about being deceived. The rulers refer to the Sanhedrin. Since the Jewish leaders were confident they knew the Law well, they made the argument that none of them believed in Jesus. Therefore, He must not be the Son of God, and the only reason the common people believed in Him, was because they were gullible and did not know the Law.


F.F. Bruce writes:


Even the liberal Rabbi Hillel, of the generation before Christ, summed up this attitude when he said, “No member of the common people is pious”. From the Pharisees point of view, the common people could easily be misled by any plausible teacher, because of their shocking ignorance of the true interpretation of the law (F.F. Bruce The Gospel & Epistles of John p.185).


These men were so wise in their own eyes, they could not see the truth. When we read the Scriptures, we discover that God tends to use those who are considered weak or foolish. As Paul said: “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Cor. 1:27 Also see 1 Cor. 3:18-20). Those who really wanted to know about Jesus would stay with Him and learn more about Him, but the Jewish leaders were too wise for that, so they would dismiss Jesus’ words without really listening to them.


Unfortunately, there are many people who have this same attitude these Jewish leaders had. They think they are so wise that they have everything figured out. When we becomes wise in our own eyes, we become impossible to reason with, and the Scriptures teach that there is more hope for a fool than a person like that (Prov. 26:12). The Scriptures also state that we should never become wise in our own eyes (Prov. 3:7; 12:15; Isa. 5:21; Rom. 12:16).


John 7:50 Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them,  51 "Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?"


This is the same Nicodemus we read about in John 3. He was a Pharisee and one of the rulers. These Jews could not rightly accuse Nicodemus of being ignorant of the Law of Moses or of their oral traditions, which is why he was able to remind them that a person must be heard first before he is judged (Ex. 23:1; Deut. 1:16). Even their rabbinic literature states, “Flesh and blood may pass judgment on a man if it hears his words; if it does not hear them, it cannot establish its judgment” (F.F. Bruce The Gospel & Epistles of John p.186). Nicodemus’ actions prove that not all the rulers were out to get Jesus. We also learn that some of these rulers believed in Jesus, but they were not willing to confess Him because they did not want be put out of the Synagogues (Jn. 12:42).


John 7:52 They answered and said to him, "Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee."  53 And everyone went to his own house.


Since Nicodemus was willing to say something in defense of Jesus, they accused him of being ignorant as well by asking him, “Are you also from Galilee?” Since these rulers and Pharisees had not investigated Jesus’ background, they did not know He was born in Bethlehem and was just living in Galilee. Since they did not know the facts, they were mocking Nicodemus because in their opinion not only would Christ not come from Galilee no prophet had. However this was not true because Jonah was from Gath-Hepher in Galilee, which was located about twelve miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee (2 Kings 14:25). Some scholars believe that Elijah was from Galilee because he was a Tishbite, while others think he was from the Transjordan east of the Jordan River in Gilead.


Even though they were mistaken about this, their main goal was to take away any possibility of anything great coming out of Galilee. Another passage that could have been used is Isaiah 9:1-3 because it prophecies how the Christ would be a great light in Galilee, and Jesus fulfilled this prophecy (Mt. 4:12-16). There was not going to be any agreements on that day, so everyone left and went to their own homes.