The Ministry of Messiah, 2:1-12:50

5. Jesus the water of life, 7:1-8:11

i] Back to Jerusalem


Jesus' ministry in Galilee is coming to an end, and so with the approach of the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, Jesus' brothers assist with some practical advice. Although not believers themselves, they point out that a few well placed signs and wonders performed in Jerusalem would lift Jesus' messianic profile significantly. Jesus reminds them that he is not about the world's business. After the family has left for Jerusalem, Jesus follows on, not as a triumphant messiah, but as a normal pilgrim. Those attending the festival soon become aware of Jesus' presence and begin to debate among themselves about the nature of this man from Galilee.


The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, not worldly marketing methodologies.


i] Context: See 2:13-25. This fifth episode in The Ministry of Messiah (Dodd has it as the fourth episode) is focused on the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. Referencing the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, 5:1-18, John uses the feast as a significant backdrop to craft the discourses. At the festival, Jesus spends time teaching the crowds in the temple. This prompts a series of controversies with the religious authorities and elements in the crowd. The issues raised in the episodeJesus the Giver of Life, 5:1-47, are further developed in this episode, as well as in the episode Jesus the Light of the World, 8:12-10:42.

Within the context of the Feast of Tabernacles and its water theme (see Background below), John presents a series of apologetic dialogues shaped to establish Jesus' messianic credentials for Hellenistic Jews. The main theme of these dialogues concerns Jesus' fulfillment of Israel's religious aspirations, both its rituals and law. Jesus gives witness to his messianic authority as the water of life, a divine gift which completes the Law of Moses.

First, John establishes the setting with Jesus going up to Jerusalem again, but doing so in secret, v1-13. The narrative provides a setting of hostility on the part of the religious authorities. In the first discourse / dialogue, John resumes the argument that developed over Jesus healing of a lame man on the Sabbath, v14-24, cf., 5:1-47. How can a man who breaks the Law teach the Law? John sets out to establishes Jesus right to teach the Law. In the second episode, v25-36, the argument moves naturally to the person of Jesus. His person is evident in the fact that he is from the Father and will return to the Father. This assertion prompts a hostile reaction from "the Jews" (Jewish authorities) and the people of Jerusalem, as well as many who were in the crowd worshipping at the Festival. There is even an attempt to arrest Jesus by the authorities. John finally focuses on the water ceremony of the Festival, establishing that Jesus is the source of living water, v37-52. Drawing on the water imagery of Zechariah 14:8 and Ezekiel 47:1, as well as the exodus imagery of Moses and the water that flowed from a rock in the desert, Jesus claims that the rivers of living water, life-giving water, flow from him, his body, the new Temple - he is the source of the life-giving Spirit which supersedes Israel's cult and Law. This claim prompts some to believe, but the majority question Jesus' origins.

The story of the woman taken with adultery, 7:53-8:11, sits awkwardly at the end of chapters 7, and is regarded as an insertion and not part of this episode. Although the apologetic dialogues in this episode work off the healing of the lame man on the Sabbath, this very synoptic story of a woman taken with adultery well illustrates how the grace of God supersedes the Law of Moses. The story may not be part of the original gospel of John, but it certainly fits the subject matter of chapter 7.

Dodd says of chapters 7 and 8 that they consist of a "collection of miscellaneous material" presenting as a "series of controversial dialogues, often without clearly apparent connection." Dodd's assessment is somewhat harsh as it does seem that John has an overall theme in mind, namely, Jesus supersedes Israel's cult and Law. This theme permeates the loosely stitched dialogues. Dodd provides the following structure covering chapters 7 and 8; See Beasley-Murray for his more detailed take on the contents:

Narrative: Jesus attends the Feast of Tabernacles in secret, 7:1-13;


Moses and Christ, 7:14-24;

Who is Jesus Christ?, v25-36;

The promise of the Spirit, v37-44;

The unbelief of the religious authorities, v45-52;

The nature and evidence for the claims of Jesus, 8:12-20;

The challenge of Jesus to the Jewish leaders, v21-30;

Abraham, his "seed" and Christ, v31-59.


Stibbe proposes a chiastic structure for chapter 7:

A1. Jesus' elusive movements thwart the authorities, v1-13;

B1. Jesus' first dialogue, halfway through the feast, v14-24;

C. Jesus' second dialogue, v25-36;

B2. Jesus' third dialogue on the last day of the feast, v37-44;

A2. Jesus' elusive movements thwart the authorities again, v45-52.


ii] Background: The Feast of Tabernacles celebrates the wilderness wanderings of Israel under the guiding and sustaining hand of God. It involved living out under temporary shelters for a week to celebrate God's care for the people of Israel during their forty years in the wilderness. It was a seven day festival, with the eighth day a final rest day. It was held in September, or early October, such that it was aligned to the onset of the rainy season. On each of the seven days of the festival a bowl of water was taken from the pool of Siloam and poured over the alter. At the spring, singers would chant words from Isaiah 12:3, "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." They would then process through the Water Gate and into the temple. By the first century the festival was associated with prayers for rain.

The image of water in this discourse align with the water-pouring ceremony in the festival of Tabernacles. It is within this context that Jesus reveals that he is the water of life, the source of the life-giving Spirit of God; he is the fulfillment of Israel's religious aspirations, replacing its rituals and law with the life-giving Spirit.


iii] Structure: Back to Jerusalem:

Setting - Jesus' reluctance to go to Jerusalem, v1;

Poor advice from Jesus' brothers, v2-5;

"No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret."

Jesus serves the Father's will, v6-9;

"My time is not yet."

Jesus attends the festival, v10-13:

"He is a good man";

"No, he deceives the people."


iv] Interpretation:

John's introductory narrative to his series of apologetic dialogues is fairly straight forward; it moves Jesus from Galilee into the context of the feast of Tabernacles / Booths in Jerusalem where a debate develops over his character - "He is a good man" / "He deceives the people." There are though, a number of particular points of interest.

Jesus' brother's ply him with a similar temptation to that of Satan in Matthew 4:5-7. Jesus can get what he wants by the application of good marketing methodologies. Jesus' "time" related response is handled differently by the commentators, but the point may be that his actions are dependent on the will of God, not the will of mankind. When it comes to Jesus' mission "'It is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit', says the Lord God almighty." Jesus' "time" is in the hands of the Lord, not in the hands of his brothers and their worldly marketing strategy.

The other point of interest is a seemingly deceptive statement on the part of Jesus to his brother's suggestion that he come with them to the festival. The answer to this problem may well lie in the language. Jesus may be saying something like "I'm not going to the festival just because you blokes want me to; I'm waiting on my Father's instructions. So, off you go!" On the other hand, Jesus may well intend to go up to the festival, but he want's to do it quietly so as not to stir up opposition, and this because it is not yet the "time" for his arrest and crucifixion - the "time" of his lifting up when he faces the world's "hate." If this is the case then Jesus is guilty of dissembling (I'm not inclined to use a stronger word!!!). The question presents itself: is dissembling in these circumstances sinful? If asked by an acquaintance for the address of a friend so that they can go and do the friend harm, one may be inclined to dissemble. In the circumstances, is that sinful?


v] Sources:

The disjointed nature of chapters seven and eight provides some evidence as to the way this gospel was formed. The author-editor shows his hand in 21:24 as someone who has taken the writings / homilies of John the apostle / elder and assembled them into the gospel as we know it. The two chapters before us evidence the arrangement of a number of independent homilies / sermons on themes that align with the Feast of Tabernacles. Bultmann sets out to reassemble the source material, but it is best to treat the text as it stands rather than try to outthink the editor-author. Lindars suggests the following distinct material types in chapter 7: a) material concerned with questions of messianic expectation, v1-14, 25-31, 40-44; b) supplementary material held over from the healing of the lame man, v15-24; c) the attempted arrest of Jesus by the temple officers, v32-36, 45-52; d) Jesus the water of life, material thematically linked to chapter 4, v37-39. So, there is some evidence to support the view that these rather diverse elements have been stitched together by our author-editor to make the point that Jesus is the water of life; he, not the law, is the source of life for those who believe. For those who don't believe, Jesus is the source of condemnation for sin.

Text - 7:1

Back to Jerusalem, v1-13: i] Setting.

meta tauta "after this" - after these things. The preposition meta is temporal here, with the phrase used to indicate a step in the narrative, ie., transitional.

en + dat. "in [Galilee]" - [jesus was walking around] in [galilee]. Local, expressing space. "Jesus was going about his business in Galilee", Peterson. The imperfect periepatei, "walking around", is probably being used to indicate background information here rather than durative aspect, ie., "continued to walk around."

gar "-" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus was focusing his ministry in Galilee, because he had decided to no longer minister in Judea oJti, "because", the religious authorities in Jerusalem were out to have him killed.

peripatein (peripatew) pres. inf. "to go about [in Judea]" - [he was not willing] to walk about [in judea]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb "to will, want." Note that Barrett supports the reading ou gar eicen exousian, "for he did not have the power" = "for he was not able", although our gar hqelen, "for he was not willing", is the stronger reading. Jesus is not out to purposely stir up the religious authorities. Following the Sabbath controversy, the religious authorities in Jerusalem / Judea "sought to kill him" (cf., 5:18), so there is not point in making the situation worse - Gently, gently, catchie monkey .

oJti "because" - Here introducing a causal clause.

apokteinai (apokteinw) aor. inf. "[were looking for a way] to kill him" - [the jews were seeking] to kill [him]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "were seeking." "The Jews were trying to find a way to kill him", Barclay / "looking for a chance to kill him", REB.


ii] The advice of Jesus' brothers, v2-5. It is unclear what Jesus' brothers are up to. Jesus' brothers don't recognize him as messiah at this stage, but they obviously do believe that he is capable of amazing deeds, assuming that ta erga, "the works", are Jesus' miracles. The brothers may not be overly convinced by Jesus' "works", but none-the-less they suggest that Jesus should do "the works" in the holy city, the appropriate place for a messianic claimant ("a public figure who wants to advance must make an impact on the capital", Carson), and that he should do those works before the adelfoi, "disciples". Morris suggests that these "disciples" refers to disciples in general gathered in Jerusalem for the festival. Bernard, in his old ICC commentary on John, argues that the passage is ironical. It does seem that Johannine irony is at play here - Jesus' unbelieving brothers suggest a marketing strategy for success through the effective use of mighty works which of themselves mark Jesus out as the messiah they don't believe in. The reader well knows that "works" displayed "to the world" will not prompt faith.

de "but" - but/and. Rather than adversative, as NIV, the conjunction's function here is transitional, indicating a step in the narrative; "Now the feast of Tabernacles was close at hand."

twn Ioudaiwn (oV) gen. "the Jewish [Festival]" - [the feast] of the jews. Here the adjective serves as a substantive, with the genitive being adjectival, attributive, limiting "festival", as NIV, or idiomatic, limiting "festival" by characterizing it. "the feast which the Jews celebrate was near", or verbal, subjective, "the feast celebrated by the Jews."

egguV adv. "[was] near. Adverb of place here used temporally to express a time close at hand.

hJ skhnophgia (a) "of Tabernacles" - the feast of tabernacles (the making of booths, the pitching of tents, the festival of Booths). Standing in apposition to "the feast", so specifying the feast in mind; "The Jewish Feast was near, namely the Feast of Tabernacles." "The time for the Festival of Shelters was near", TEV.


oun "-" - therefore [the brothers of him said toward him]. Inferential, establishing a logical connection; "So his brothers said to him ...", ESV.

iJna + fut. "so that [your disciples may see]" - [depart from here and go away into judea] that [the disciples of you and = also will see your works which you do]. Here introducing a final clause expressing purpose. "You should leave here and go into Judea so that your disciples may see the great things you are doing", REB.


Jesus' brothers support their argument with an axiom like "you have to be seen to be heard." If you're serious about what you are doing, come out in the open and show the world", Peterson.

gar "-" - because. Here introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus aught to go to Judea, because "no one who intends to be publicly known does everything behind the scenes", Peterson.

kai "-" - [no one does anything in secret] and. Here the conjunction is contrastive, "and yet"; "No one acts undercover and yet seeks to be known openly." Jesus' brothers are suggesting that Jesus' behavior is illogical. They see Jesus as someone who has messianic aspirations and yet is reluctant to publicly back up those aspirations with deeds.

autoV pro. "-" - he [he seeks]. Nominative subject of the verb "to seek", emphatic use; "he himself seeks ...."

einai (eimi) pres. inf. "[wants] to become" - to be. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what the person desires; usually classified as complementary.

en + dat. "a public figure" - in boldness. Adverbial use of the preposition, expressing manner; "in openness, plain sight" = "in public" = "publicly", "no one does anything secretly, and yet he himself seeks to be known publicly"; "They pointed out that no one who seeks public recognition keeps his doings secret", Rieu.

en + dat. "[acts] in [secret]" - Adverbial use of the preposition, modal, expressing manner, "in secret" = "secretly"; "No one acts undercover when they want to be know publicly."

ei + ind. "since" - if, as is the case, [these things you do] then [manifest yourself]. Introducing a conditional clause 1st. class where the proposed condition is assumed to be true. Given that "if" in English expresses doubt, many translations, as NIV, opt for "since" as a causal sense removes all doubt. None-the-less, many other translations stay with "if", eg., "If you can really do things as these", REB, with "really" added to remove the doubt, but the presence of "if" in the translation still implies doubt on the part of the brothers. If John wanted to imply the brothers' doubt he would have used a 3rd. class conditional clause. The brothers don't doubt Jesus capacity to perform "works", but they do doubt his marketing expertise; "If you're serious about what you are doing (and we believe that you are), come out in the open and show the world", Peterson.

tw/ kosmw/ (oV) dat. "to the world" - Dative of indirect object


John provides us with a side note explaining why Jesus' brothers are off the mark with their advice. As on the occasion when they tried to intervene because it seemed to them that Jesus was acting irrationally (cf., Mk.3), the brothers do not episteuon eiV auton, "believe in him." In what sense don't they believe? The brothers may not understand that Jesus' messianic vocation involves suffering and death. It may be that they just lack confidence in the way he is handling himself. Yet, it seems likely that the word is being used of faith in Jesus as the Christ, the long-promised messiah. The brothers only became believers after Jesus' resurrection, probably after Jesus appeared to his brother James, 1Cor.15:7. Because they are not believers, they judge Jesus' ministry through worldly eyes, eyes incapable of apprehending the mysteries of the coming kingdom.

gar "for" - for [not even the brothers of him]. More reason than cause, explanatory, but possibly transitional, introducing a parenthesis (note that the TEV brackets the verse).

eiV + acc. "[believe] in [him]" - [were believing] into [him]. As this preposition expresses the direct of an action and arrival at it is often used instead of en, "in", for believe in/into Jesus. Note again the use of an imperfect verb to give background information.


iii] Jesus serves the Father's will, v6-9. John exposes the brothers condition of unbelief by contrasting them with Jesus in two related sayings - their "time" is not Jesus' "time"; their "world" is not Jesus' "world". Jesus lives for an objective moment in time that is eschatological in nature and determined by God the Father. Jesus' brothers, on the other hand, live for subjective moments in time unrelated to anything in particular. Jesus, who is in the world but not of the world, is hated by the world because he convicts the world of sin. Jesus brothers, on the other hand, fit in with the world because they are of the world.

oun "therefore" - Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion, as NIV.

autoiV dat. pro. "[Jesus told] them" - [jesus said] to them. Dative of indirect object.

oJ kairoV (oV) "[my] time" - the time. Nominative subject of the verb "to be present." This temporal noun does not refer to sequential chronological time, but to a particular moment or period of time; "the right time / appropriate time." The word is probably being used here in the same sense as "hour, referring to "the eschatological action of God being realized in Jesus' person and work", Klink, ie., the time for Jesus "to manifest his glory in the crucifixion and exaltation", Barrett. Jesus' particular moment of time is not yet present, it's not here, "come", TEV. For the brothers, any time is suitable for they are not under the "right time" constraints of God the Father; "any time is right for you", TEV. "Don't crowd me, it isn't my time!", Peterson.

oJ "_" - the [of me, is not yet present]. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the possessive adjective emoV, "of me / my", into a substantive standing in apposition to "the time", so specifying "the time"; "the time, that which is mine (my particular moment in time), is not here yet." A similar construction is used with oJ uJmeteroV, "the of you"; "the time, that which is yours, is always here." Both serve as emphatic constructions rather than just using the possessive pronouns mou, "my", and uJmwn, "your".

de "-" - but/and [the time, the of you, is always ready]. Transitional, introducing a corollary clause; "it's always your time."


misein (misew) pres. inf. "hate" - [the world is not able] to hate [you]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to be able." The world (= sinful humanity) is not able to hate Jesus' brothers because "they belong to it, and the world loves its own", Carson.

de "but" - but/and [it hates me]. Transitional, often treated here as an adversative, as NIV etc.

oJti "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why the world hates Jesus, "because I am a witness to the evil of its deeds", Barclay.

peri + gen. "-" - [i testify] about [it]. Expressing reference / respect; "about, concerning."

oJti "that" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Jesus testifies, namely, that the world is evil. Worldly humanity, infected by sin, tends to push back aggressively when its sin is exposed. Jesus was very good at convicting people of their sin, which conviction either prompted repentance or anger - usually anger (as it does today).

autou gen. pro. "its [works]" - [the works] of it (the world) [is evil]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, as NIV, or verbal, subjective, "the works performed by the world." Note, as usual, the plural neuter subject takes a singular verb.


anabainw "I am [not] going up" - [you go up to the feast], i am [not] going up [to this feast]. Possibly a futuristic present, so "As for me, I do not intend (in the future) to go up to the feast", cf., Fanning. The use of tauthn, "this", implies "this particular feast", Harris. Note variant reading oupw, "I am not yet going up", rather than ouk, "not going up." The desire to change the negation from "not", to "not yet" is obvious; see "Interpretation" above. Note also the emphatic use of the two pronouns uJmeiV, "you", egw, "I", and emoV kairoV, instead of oJ kairoV mou, "my time."

oJti "because" - because [the time of me]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus is not going up to the feast. For kairoV, "time", see v6, "the right time."

peplhrwtai (plhrow) perf. mid./pas. "has [not yet] fully come" - has [not yet] been fulfilled. The sense is "the events in the time of which he speaks have not yet approached their consummation", Morris, the consummation being Christ's "death and exaltation", Barrett.


de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

eipwn (legw) aor. part. "after he said [this]" - having said [these things he remained in galilee]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV, "after this conversation", Brown, but possibly modal, expressing manner, "With these remarks to them, He remained in Galilee", Berkeley - note Berkeley has read the variant reading autoiV, "to them", rather than the intensive pronoun autoV, "he". "He said this and stayed on in Galilee", Peterson.


iv] Jesus attends the festival, 10-13. In John's outline of Jesus' ministry, this moment marks Jesus' move from Galilee to Judea and Jerusalem; Jesus will never see Galilee again. Jesus makes this move without fanfare and only appears publicly in the temple halfway through the festival. Lindars suggests that the issue of Jesus' move en kruptw/, "secretly", is primarily to do with his messianic credentials. Rather than moving from Galilee to Judea clandestinely, Jesus moves there "without making an open claim to be the Messiah, but allowing the conclusion to arise from the implications of his ministry." Jesus' brother's wanted him to stake his messianic claim rather than work en kruptw/, "in secret", v4, but Jesus is intent on not publicly proclaiming his messianic status. So, John is probably saying that Jesus does not go to Jerusalem as the triumphant messiah, as suggested by his brothers. The messianic secret is a dominant theme throughout the gospels. Some commentators argue that his move "in secret" is a strategy designed to eliminate a political response from the populous, but it may be better to argue that it allows people to freely conclude from Jesus actions (signs) and words that he is the long-promised messiah, the savior of Israel. Sadly, the majority conclude that he is ether "a good man", or that "he deceives the people"; only rarely is Jesus recognized as the Christ.

de "however" - but/and. Treated as contrastive / adversative by the NIV, but probably just transitional.

wJV .... tote ... "after ... " - when [the brothers of him went up to the feast] then. The particle wJV, here temporal, and the temporal adverb tote form a coordinate temporal construction; "when / after his brothers had gone to the festival, then Jesus also went up." "Later, when his brothers had gone to the festival, he went up too", REB.

kai "[he went] also" - [then] and = also [he went up]. Adjunctive, as NIV.

alla "[not publicly] but" - [not openly] but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ... but ...."

en dat. "in [secret]" - in [secret]. Here adverbial, modal, expressing manner, "secretly". The variant comparative wJV, "like = as it were", was probably added to soften Jesus act of going to Jerusalem "in secret." So probably, "he did not go openly but secretly", TEV, although the CEV draws out the sense with "he went secretly, without telling anyone", or "without drawing attention to himself", Harris. As noted above, the sense is possibly "he also went up, not proclaiming his messianic credentials (ie., "publicly"), but still maintaining the messianic secret."


oun "Now" - therefore. The NIV has opted for a resumptive / transitional sense here, but it may well be inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so, accordingly, consequently." If Jesus' move to Jerusalem en kruptw/ means that he has not come as a triumphant messiah to the festival, but as one of many pilgrims, then the Ioudaioi, "Jews" (the Jewish religious establishment, religious authorities) have obviously heard that he is attending and consequently are now watching out for him.

en + dat. "at [the festival]" - [the jews were seeking him] in [the feast]. Local, expressing space, as NIV, but possibly temporal, "during the festival", Novakovic. Note that both verbs used in this verse are imperfect, probably serving to indicate the provision of background information.

ekeinoV pro. "[where is] he?" - [and were saying, where is] that one? The demonstrative pronoun is often used for emphasis, often with a negative edge; "Where is that man?" = "Where is that troublemaker", NAB.


en + dat. "among [the crowds]" - [and there was much murmuring about him] in [the crowds]. Local, expressing space, "among". Variant "crowd" singular. The murmuring / whispering = discussing = "subdued debate", Barrett; "There was a great deal of talk about him in the crowds", NJB, better than "people stood in groups whispering about him", JB. Note the use again of imperfect verbs to indicate background information.

peri + gen. "about [him]" - Expressing reference / respect; "concerning / with respect to / about him."

oiJ men ...... alloi de "some [said .....] others [replied]" - some [were saying that he is a good man] but others [were saying]. An adversative comparative construction; "on the one hand ........., but on the other hand ....." "Some were saying 'he is a good man' - hardly great praise, but at least an opinion which suggest that the man is harmless. Others regard him as a messianic impostor, guilty of leading the people astray", Pfitzner. Note the use of the article oiJ for the pronoun autoi.

oJti "-" - that [he is a good man]. Introducing a dependent statement of direct speech expressing what the crowd was saying.

ou, alla "No, [he deceives the people]" - no, but [he deceives the crowd]. An elliptical counterpoint construction; "he is not a good man, but / on the contrary, he misleads the people."


mentoi "but" - but, nevertheless, however [no one was speaking]. Adversative; "Nevertheless, these discussions were guarded because people were wary of the religious authorities." Note again the imperfect verb is used to indicate the provision of background information.

parrhsia/ (a) "publicly" - in boldness. The dative is adverbial, modal, expressing manner; "boldly" = "openly".

peri + gen. "about [him]" - about [him]. Expressing reference / respect; "with respect to, concerning."

dia + acc. "for" - because of. Expressing cause, introducing a causal clause; "because they were all afraid of the Jewish authorities", Cassirer.

twn Ioudaiwn (oV) gen. "[fear] of the leaders" - [the fear] of the jews. The genitive here is usually classified as adjectival, verbal, objective, a fear generated by the authorities; "the people were afraid of their leaders", REB.


John Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]