25. Then some of them from Jerusalem said, “Is this not He Whom they seek to kill?”
Remember, this was the time of the feast, and the vast majority of people in the city of Jerusalem were not natives of the city. The native Jerusalem-dwellers were there, however, and here they enter into the discussion. The Lord was not well known in Jerusalem, but finally some of the natives figured out Who this One Who was causing such a stir among the Jews must be. They realize that He must be this One That their leaders are so eager to kill. Now perhaps they realize the mistake of the people in ascribing to Him a demon. Men are ever likely to speak in haste and regret their words afterwards!
26. “But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ?
The Jerusalemites are astounded that He is speaking boldly and the Jews are doing nothing to Him. They were so used to the Jews having power and command over every situation that their lack of authority here is astonishing to them. They can only speculate that the rulers have changed their minds and decided that this Man must truly be the Christ.
27. “However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from.”
This was a foolish belief that simply wasn’t true. The Companion Bible quotes Lightfoot as saying that “the Rabbis taught that He would come from Bethlehem and then be hid, but none knew where.” (Companion Bible page 1534 last 2 lines, quoting from Lightfoot, vol xii, pp 303,4) This idea was false. The Scripture never said that no one would know where Christ was from. Yet the people tended to believe their leaders, and so they adhered to this doctrine and doubted the legitimacy of Jesus as the Christ! How many doctrines do men likewise believe in our day that cause them to doubt the truths of God’s Word? How many times might we bring the truth before them and say, “Thus sayeth the Scriptures,” and they reply, “But what about this doctrine?” All too often men cleave as much to the traditions of men as they do to the actual Scriptures, if not more so. And, as it did with these men, such adherence to tradition over truth always results in a lack of faith. Let us pray that the Lord will help us see what are true teachings of His Word and what are merely the teachings and guesses of men.
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.
The Lord does not deny that they knew Him and that they knew where He was from. There was no real problem here, as neither of these facts contradicted the true Scriptural prophecies on the matter. I have read people who sought to discredit the Bible by showing how it contradicts commonly-held doctrines of Christendom. My response to such accusations is that of course it does, and that is why we should abandon such doctrines altogether and turn instead to the truth. Thus the Lord offered no explanation for this fact, as it was not really a problem. Rather, He emphasized the truth that was such a problem for them: that in spite of the fact that they knew Who He was (or thought they knew! For indeed, they did not truly know, not realizing that He was not the son of Joseph at all but rather was the Son of God Himself,) and where He was from, He still had not come under His Own authority. Rather, He had been sent to them by God. God was true, in other words, He was right in sending Him the way He did. He did not deceive them by doing so, for He had never said that Christ would be hidden. Then He reveals the sad truth. They did not know God. This is why they had such trouble recognizing Him when He was before them.
29. “But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.”
The Lord tells them that, though they did not know God, He knows Him. How does He know Him? He knows Him because He is from Him and He sent Him! Again, this is another case of the Lord revealing in the plainest language possible that He is from God. The Jews understood this, for as soon as He said this they tried to take Him.
The word the Lord uses for “sent” here is not the word He has been using throughout the chapter. Up until now, Christ has only said He has been pempoed from God. This word is a word that means a simple sending. For example, if I were to give you the money for the trip and send you to Honduras, I would be pempoing you to Honduras. The word Christ uses in this verse, however, is apostello. That would be like the President sending you to Honduras to be the United States’ ambassador to that country. Although we both might “send” you, the President’s “sending” would be far different from mine. For one who is apostello is one who is sent with authority to do an official job. That is what Christ means when He uses apostello here. Before He had revealed that God had sent or pempoed Him into the world. Now, in this verse, He says that God not only pempoed Him, but also apostelloed Him to come and do the things that He wanted done with His authority. Thus He had the authority to heal on the Sabbath, having received that authority from God. The Jews denied that He had such authority, however, and that is why they tried to take Him here.
30. Then they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because his hour had not yet come.
The Jews recognized that the Lord’s words were a claim to have come from God. Rather than testing His claim against the signs and wonders He had performed, however, they automatically rejected it and sought to arrest Him! Their attempt came to nothing, however, as no one could arrest the Lord when He didn’t want to be arrested. And, as this verse tells us, He didn’t want to be arrested because the time was not yet right. His hour had not come to be subject to arrest and trial at the hands of men. That time would come, but for now it was not yet God’s time, and our Lord was always following His timetable.
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?”
In contrast to the Jews, who rejected His claim and sought to arrest Him, many of the people were much more open-minded in considering Christ’s claim. They heard Him claim to be from God just as the Jews heard Him, but they compared His words to the signs He had done, and concluded that the signs were clear evidence that His claims were true. Thus they became believers because of the signs. Indeed, all those who heard these words could have done the same, but there were those who were simply not interested in examining the facts. They wanted a Messiah who would bow to their traditions, not one who would ignore them and heal on the Sabbath Day. Thus, they were not willing to consider the facts, and so missed the obvious truth.
32. The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him.
The Pharisees hear these things being discussed among the crowd, and realize that the common people are starting to believe in Him. When they realize this, they decide that they must act and quickly, or the Lord will solidify His support and threaten their own position. Thus they dispatch these officers, their servants, to arrest Him. The only soldiers the Romans allowed the Israelites to have were the temple guard, and these men, of course, were directly under the control of the Pharisees. Thus, they were probably the ones who were sent here. “Sent” in this verse is apostello as they were sent with the authority to arrest the Lord Jesus.
33. Then Jesus said to them, “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him Who sent Me.
This was the Lord’s response to those who came to arrest Him. He did not need to flee or even use a show of strength to avoid arrest at the hands of these men. All He had to do was talk to them, and His words were enough to stop them in their tracks. After all, He was the One Who had created the universe with a word. How could these men then hope to withstand the words of such a God?
The Lord informs the officers that He will remain in Israel a little while longer, and then He will go to the One Who sent Him. These words are plain enough, and we now know that this is exactly what happened. Yet this was news to the officers, certainly, and probably to many of those who heard Him. His argument seems to be that the officers cannot do anything to stop the course He has laid out for Him.
“Sent” here is again pempo, and simply indicates that God had sent Him to earth. This passage does not have the authority with which He was sent in view.
34. “You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come.”
Indeed, in the terrible destruction of Jerusalem that would come even in some of these men’s lifetimes, we can have no doubt that many of them called out for their Messiah to come and rescue them, and He did not. They rejected Him while He was on earth, and when they needed Him they were not allowed to go to Him, for He had returned to heaven and to His Father, where no man could follow Him.
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?
The Jews do not realize that He is talking about returning to heaven. Instead, they try to imagine where on earth He might go where they will not be able to find Him. Notice that they do not consider the part about not even being able to follow Him. Thus, they speculate that He must mean that He will go among the dispersed Jews in all the countries around the Roman Empire and teach the Greek-speaking Jews. They were wrong, of course, as this was never His plan. Our Lord never left the land of Israel during any part of His ministry. That job was left for His apostles in the Acts period.
36. “What is this thing that He said, ‘You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come’?”
They are puzzled by His words (logos,) as it does not seem to them that there is anywhere on earth where He can go where they could not come if they decided to and wanted to. Of course, they do not realize that He is talking about leaving the earth altogether!
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.
The previous event took place in the middle of the feast. Now, we move on to the end of it. Not every day of the feasts was a holiday, but only the first and the last days. Thus, this being the last day of the feast, it would have been a holiday, and one of the most special days of the feast. On this day, the Lord stood up and cried out these words, no doubt again in the temple. He makes the same offer to the Israelites as He had made to the Samaritan woman in chapter 4: the offer to come to Him and drink the living water that He could provide.
38. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
Those who are to drink are those who believe in Him. Then, He claims to fulfill the Scripture, referring to, as the Companion Bible points out, passages such as Isaiah 12:3, 55:1, 58:11, Ezekiel 47:1, Joel 3:18, Zechariah 13:1, and 14:8. He does not mean that the living waters will flow out of the hearts of the believers. Rather, He means that the believers are those who are to come and drink, and that those who do so will receive the living waters that flow out of His Own heart. Thus He identifies Himself as the source of the living water that those who are thirsty and who believe in Him may drink. “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.” Zechariah 13:1.
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.
From this verse we learn what the living water is. It is a gift of the Spirit given to those believing in Him. John explains to us that this gift had not yet been given at the time the Lord spoke these words, for at the time he was writing those who believed had already received this gift and knew what it entailed. He wanted them to realize that Christ was talking to people who had not yet received this gift, and so had no experience with the Holy Spirit’s power. That power was given, as John implies here, after the Lord’s return to heaven when He was glorified.
40. Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.”
They heard Christ’s great pronouncement, and concluded that He must be someone great. They identified Him as the Prophet spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18. They were correct, of course, but the Lord was far more than that!
41. Others said, “This is the Christ,” but some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee?
These people were also correct, but were still short of the complete truth about Him. Others, though, did not accept this truth, thinking that it was impossible for the Messiah to come out of Galilee. Galileans did not have the best reputation, and were generally thought of as something like country hicks by those who lived in Judea. They thought that the Messiah would surely come from Judea, not from 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?”
These people were correct in this statement. Messiah was to come from the line of David (Isaiah 11:1,) and from the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2.) Yet they did not understand that the Messiah was only to be born there, not to live there until starting His ministry. Thus they erroneously concluded that the Lord Jesus could not be the Messiah.
43. So there was a division among the people because of Him.
The Lord did indeed cause a division among the people of Israel, and He still does so today! He also caused a division among the Pharisees (9:16) and the Jews (10:19.) This division can still be seen today, as those who follow the Lord Jesus soon learn that this divides them in a very real way from those who reject Him.
44. Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.
Some of the people (probably those who rejected a Messiah Who came from Galilee) wanted to arrest Him. However, they could not do so. Why not? Because God did not wish it to happen! How He stopped them from doing so He does not say. But we can rest assured that if God wants to stop something from happening, it will not happen!
45. Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?”
These are those officers who were commissioned by the Pharisees to arrest Him back in verse 32. Now, since the Lord had stopped their attempts to arrest Him, they return to their masters empty-handed.
46. The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!”
This shows us that the way He stopped His Own arrest was simply by the words He spoke. The words of God are powerful things indeed, and, though they probably did not understand it, these officers know that His words were what had stopped them from carrying out their orders.
47. Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived?
The Pharisees do not believe in the power of His words, of course, and so they accuse their own officers of being led astray by Him.
48. “Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?
This was a poor excuse for not believing in Him. Yet they thought themselves so much wiser and so above the people that if they rejected Him He must not be legitimate. On top of the foolishness of this, their argument was not even correct. One of the Sanhedrin had believed in Him, Nicodemus, as we learn from verses 50-51.
49. “But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”
They claimed that the people who did not know the law as well as they did were cursed because of their ignorance! Yet the Lord had already testified that these men, although they knew the law, did not keep it! (verse 19) Who then was truly cursed in the sight of God?
50. Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them,
This shows that their stubborn rejection of Christ was not unanimous. Nicodemus, having himself visited with the Lord, knew the power of His words, and would have known exactly what the officers were talking about. He seems to be leaning towards faith here, and at last throws his lot in with the Lord in John 19:39.
51. “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”
Of course it didn’t! No just law would. And yet these Pharisees and the Sanhedrin had already rejected the Lord before they ever officially heard His testimony. Nicodemus was right: these men were acting in an unrighteous manner. They would not listen to his rebuke, however.
52. They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.”
Not being able to answer Nicodemus’ rebuke, they resort to insult, as so many do who find their arguments too weak to sustain. Then, having suggested that Nicodemus is backwards, they claim that no prophet has arisen out of Galilee, implying that then the Lord Jesus must not be legitimate. If they took their own advice and looked, however, they would have found quite a few prophets had arisen out of Galilee. Jonah and Hosea for certain were from there, and perhaps Elijah, Elisha, and Amos.
53. And everyone went to his own house.
Remember, this discourse took place at the end of the feast. Thus, the feast being over, the people scattered back to their own houses, leaving Jerusalem behind. However, as we will learn in the next chapter, the Lord continued His ministry there for a time.
Most of the modern versions of the Bible call this verse through chapter 8 verse 11 into question, making claims like, “The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11.” (NIV) This claim is almost entirely based on the fact that the Sinaitic and Vatican manuscripts do not contain it. The Sinaitic and Vatican manuscripts were the main texts used by Dr. Wescott and Dr. Hort in creating their Greek text of the Bible, and their text is the basis for the Nestle text that is still the one in common use today. In spite of the claims of many that the modern text is based on modern scholarship and on the many new manuscripts found since the King James was translated from the Received Text, the fact is that the modern text is not based so much on the multitude of texts at all, but rather derives many of its readings from these two manuscripts. Why should only two witnesses be called to the stand when we have access to thousands? The answer usually given is that these are the two oldest Greek manuscripts. This in itself does not prove their validity. The attacks of Satan in the early centuries after Christ included an attempt to edit the Scriptures and take out certain key facts. Since all copies were hand made at the time and were often ordered by rich clients, it became trendy for them to custom-order according to their preferences…take this passage out, leave out this book, etc. This trend was eventually rightfully rejected by those loyal to the Bible, and the edited texts were discounted. Simply finding the oldest texts out there, therefore, is not necessarily a guarantee that they will be the most reliable.
The claim that the Vatican and Sinaitic manuscripts are the “most reliable” manuscripts is a highly questionable one. Both show signs of being unreliable. The Sinaitic manuscript was corrected by several different writers in multiple places so that it appears perhaps to have been an apprentice’s copy that for some reason was put back in its case but never destroyed. The Vatican manuscript has the symbol of the Arians, a group that rejected the deity of Christ, inscribed on it. That these two questionable texts form the basis of almost all modern versions is a tragedy.
Although dating texts is an inexact science, it is claimed that the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are the two oldest Greek manuscripts that still exist, being from the fourth century. The oldest after these that we have are from the sixth century. However, we do not have to rely solely upon Greek manuscripts. The two other sources for the ancient texts are ancient translations of the text into other languages and quotations of the text made by the church fathers.
The Scriptures exist in translations made much earlier than the sixth century. The Latin Vulgate, for example, was created in 383, and contains this passage. Jerome (378-430) testified (adv. Pelag. ii page 762) that this passage exists in many Greek and Latin Codices, and, since he had access to texts far older than any we have, this is weighty evidence indeed. This passage is found in the Jerusalem Syriac (the Syriac is a translation of the New Testament into Aramaic,) a manuscript from the fifth century. It is also found in the Memphitic (third or fourth century) and the Aethiopic (fourth century) translations.
As for quotations, Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, (315-320) quoted Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis (in Phrygia, 130) as referring to it (Hist. Ecc. iii.39). Ambrose (374-397) quotes it. Augustine (395-430) also quotes it. Moreover, all the ancient manuscripts that do contain it agree in placing it here, indicating that it was not just a loose passage that was passed around and then inserted into the book. These facts (derived from the Companion Bible notes on the passage) seem to point towards its legitimacy.
Another point that speaks in favor of this passage is that it seems to fill a hole in the text that is left if it is not there. The words that start verse 12 (“Then Jesus spoke to them again”) make sense in light of John 8:2 (“Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them”), but not at all in light of the words of the other Pharisees to Nicodemus in 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'”), in which Jesus was not even present! It is a general rule of thumb, I think, that when taking a passage out leaves a hole, that you probably should not take it out.
Ultimately, perhaps the best evidence for the legitimacy of this passage must be the passage itself. This passage fits well into the narrative of John as another attempt for them to “take Him” (John 7:30), this time by trickery. Moreover, it has the character of a Biblical passage, of something written by God. Its points are subtle. What exactly is it saying about adultery, anyway? What should we take from Christ’s words, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more”? These are points to ponder, and do not at all resemble the morally heavy-handed writing we get in, say, different books of the apocrypha, wherein the authors practically bash us over the head with their moral points. This is like God writes, and is something worthy of being in the Word of God. Therefore, I think we cannot help but conclude that this passage appears from every standpoint to be genuine.