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



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

·         Jesus’ discussion with His brothers (7:1-9)
·         The reaction of the multitudes (7:10-13)
·         Righteous judgment (7:14-24)
·         Is this the Christ? (7:25-31)
·         An attempt at arrest (7:32)
·         Jesus’ return to the Father (7:33-36)
·         A prophecy of the Spirit (7:37-39)
·         Division (7:40-44)
·         The unbelief of Jewish leaders (7:45-52)
·         Excursus: the woman taken in adultery (7:53-8:11)


John depicts a deepening hostility.

Jesus brings out that when the Spirit is within anyone, that person overflows in abounding life. Spirit-filled people must be a blessing to other people.

The Feast of the Tabernacles was a festival rich in symbolism. In a procession, each worshipper would carry a palm branch in the right hand and a citron in the left. The palm symbolized the stages of the wilderness journey. They recited the words from Psalm 118:25 and prayed for rain and a fruitful season. On each of the seven days of the feast, a priest drew water from the pool of Siloam and brought it in procession to the Temple with the joyful sounding of the trumpet. The water was poured to the base of the altar symbolizing thanksgivings for God’s mercies in giving water in past days. The Jerusalem Talmud connects the ceremonies and Is 12:3 with the Holy Spirit as the water symbolized the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.


7:1       “After this” is an indefinite note of time but the time between Passover (6:4) and the Feast of Tabernacles was about six months.

“Waiting” is misleading; the verb means “were seeking” and the continuous tense gives the thought of “kept on seeking”.

7:2       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. It lasted for seven days (Lev 23:34), and also to the eighth day (Lev 23:36), possibly because the original feast had been extended by one day.

“Tabernacles” refer to the leafy shelters built to be lived in during the festival.

7:3       Jesus’ brother meant that the signs wrought by a messiah must be shown in Jerusalem. Since Galilee was far from Jerusalem, anything done there would be “secret” as far as people in Jerusalem were concerned.

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

7:6       Greek has two words for “time” (kairos only in this passage, and chronos). Here it is time in its qualitative rather than its quantitative aspect, meaning 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. For the brothers, one time was as good as another.

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

The evildoer does not want to have his sin rebuked.

7:8       Jesus was absent for most of the ceremonies. The word “not” does not exclude subsequent action.


7:10     Jesus did not do things in the way others suggested.

It is not quite as definite as “in secret” but actually “as it were in secret”. Jesus did not go up in such a way that His presence was completely unknown to all others, probably He did not go up with the pilgrim caravan.

7:12     “Whispering” probably signifies quiet discussion in low tones, in corners, and among friends.

“The crowds” denotes the uninformed majority, waiting to do the right thing but not sure what it was. 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     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.

Circumcision is conerned primarily with one part of the body whereas Jesus had made a complete man healthy. Rabbinic saying used to justify healing on the Sabbath: “If circumcision, which attaches to one only of the two hundred and forty-eight members of the human body, suspends the Sabbath, how much more shall the saving of the whole body suspend 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. The present imperative “stop judging” implies that they were guilty of wrong judgment and urges them to mend their ways.


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

7:27     They ascribed to Christ a mysterious supernatural origin and a sudden appearance (possibly using Dan 9:25 and Mal 3:1).

7:28     “Cried out” indicates a loud shout. Jesus spoke with some emotion and irony: “So you know me and my origin!”

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     In view of the sequel, 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, most of them Sadducees.


7:33     These words refer back to v.29. There Jesus spoke of the Father as having sent Him; “therefore” He now goes on to the thought of 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) When people believe, they become servants of God and God uses them to be the means of bringing blessing to others. The stress is on the outgoing nature of the Spirit-filled life.

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.

7:40     The prophet of Dt 18:15.

7:42     There is no place where the OT precisely says this 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 mob did not know the Law and not follow the leaders, they came under severe condemnation. Dt 27:26 speaks of him “who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out” as “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.