[10]   Signs and Discourses 7: Questions about Christ (7:1-8:11)


[C11]  7:1-8:11......... FIFTH Discourse - the life-giving Spirit

This passage depicts a deepening hostility of the Jews.

The Feast of Tabernacles was a feast of thanksgiving primarily for the blessing of God in harvest, but there was also special reference to the blessings the people received during the wilderness wanderings. “Tabernacles” refer to the leafy shelters built to be lived in during the festival. In a procession, each worshipper would carry a palm branch which symbolized the wilderness journey. They recited Psalm 118:25 and prayed for rain and a fruitful season. On each of the 7 days of the feast (Lev 23:34-36), a priest drew water from the pool of Siloam (9:7) and brought it in procession to the Temple. The water was poured to the base of the altar symbolizing thanksgivings for God’s mercies in giving water in past days. The Talmud (Jewish Law) connects the ceremonies with the Holy Spirit as symbolized by water.

7:1       “After this” is about six months between Passover (6:4) and the Feast of Tabernacles.

7:5       “Did not believe” denotes a continuing attitude.

7:6       Greek word here for “time” (kairos) means the suitable time or the favourable opportunity.

It was better for Him to wait till the crowds assembled so that He could suddenly come among them. Jesus chose His time with care in order to get the most effective results.

7:7       “Testify” and “hate” are both continuous tense, pointing to ongoing activities.

7:10     Jesus did not do things in the way others suggested. It is not as definite as “in secret” but actually “as it were in secret”, probably He did not go up with the pilgrim caravan.

7:12     “Whispering” probably signifies quiet discussion in low tones. “The crowds” denotes the uninformed majority. They are distinguished from “the Jews” which mean the religious leaders.

7:14     Jesus wished to teach at the climax of the festivities.

7:15     Jesus had never been a disciple attached to a rabbi. He had not gone through the system.

“This man” is contemptuous, meaning “this uneducated fellow”.

7:16     The origin of His message is divine; He was sent from God.

7:17     Anyone who really wills to do the will of God will have the spiritual discernment required.

His hearers had raised the question of His competence as a teacher. He raised the question of their competence as hearers.

7:18     Here, Jesus did not say that He speaks the truth but that He is true (also 14:6).

7:19     There is a great difference between receiving (which the Jews boast) and keeping the Law. Far from keeping the Law, they even sought to put Jesus to death.

7:21     Jesus was referring to the curing of the man by the pool.

7:23     The command to circumcise on the eighth day (Lev 12:3) could override the rest on the Sabbeth. So the bodily healing of a man also justified the overriding of the Sabath. Thus Jesus’ action fulfilled the purpose of the original institution as Moses understood that some things should be done even on the Sabbath. Rabbinic sayings also justify healing on the Sabbath.

7:24     The religious leaders were concerned with the outward letter of the Law but were careless about the deeper things. They were superficial. Jesus called on them to judge, not in accordance with outward appearance. They were guilty of wrong judgment.

7:25     There were divergent ideas; some were ready to listen to Him and to believe in Him (7:31).

7:27     They believed that Christ would appear mysteriously and suddenly.

7:28     “Cried out” indicates a loud shout. Jesus spoke with some emotion.

7:29     “I” is emphatic; He talked about His origin and His mission.

7:30     “Therefore” explains the reason for His enemies to arrest Him.

7:32     It is likely that the command was not to arrest Jesus immediately, but to watch for a favourable moment. They did not want to provoke a riot among the pilgrims who supported Jesus.

“Chief priests” probably refer to ex-chief priests who retained the courtesy title.

7:33     Jesus spoke of the Father as having sent Him (v.29) and now His return to the Father.

7:34     This points to their ultimate loss; they will destroy themselves when they remove Jesus.

7:35     The Jews misunderstood Jesus’ saying which refers to His death. They thought He would journey away and teach Jews dispersed throughout the Roman Empire.

7:37     The last day of the Feast may be the seventh or the eighth day. Jesus took the water symbolism of the Feast and spoke of living water that He will bestow. The people were thinking of rain and of their bodily need. He turned their attention to the deep need of the soul. He proclaimed loudly and emphatically to the largest number of people in the Feast. His message was similar to 4:10 that the thirsty soul will find what it needs from Jesus.

7:38     The reference was probably to Is 58:11: “You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” When the believer comes to Christ and drinks, he will receive abundant supply that will quench his thirst and even provide for others. (“out of his belly” means “from his innermost being”, see Pr 20:27)  Jesus meant that a person filled with the Holy Spirit overflows in abounding life and is a blessing to other people.

7:39     Literal rendering is “for it was not yet Spirit”, referring to the era of the Spirit which happened after Pentecost. Again, John refers to the cross in terms of glory.

7:42     There is no place where the OT precisely says this about the Messiah but some passages appear to make such linkage (1Sa 20:6; 2Sa 7:12ff; Ps 89:3-4; Mic 5:2).

7:46     The guards were bold in giving the excuse of having been deeply impressed by Jesus.

7:48     “The rulers” meant the high priestly party, mostly Sadducees. They insisted that the Pharisees and the Sadducees were the ones who knew the Law.

7:49     Because the people did not know the Law and not follow the leaders, they came under severe condemnation. Dt 27:26 says that those who do not uphold the law as being “cursed”.

7:51     Nicodemus immediately spoke up and pointed out their own disregard for the Law, although he was cautious of not committing himself. He reminded them that according to the Law, the accused must first be heard in person.

7:52     It is clear that the Galileans were commonly despised. They meant that the Messiah could not come from Galilee. But their argument was illogical: Jonah was a Galilean and also they ignore the imperative of God to raise up prophets wherever he wills.

7:53-8:11 were not in the earlier manuscripts and were probably inserted by other people, based on many different reasons. The passage will be explained in the last lesson of this course.


§         Spirit-filled Christians have abundant life themselves and must bring blessings to others (v.38).

§         A person willing to follow God’s will will be given sufficient wisdow to discern His will (v.17).


Hymns of Life no.387 “Be Thou my vision” (Irish folk melody)

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me save that Thou art.

Thou my best though, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,

Thou mine inheritance, now and always;

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,

High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.