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

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

ii] Moses and Christ


Having left Galilee and moved to Jerusalem, Jesus now begins teaching the people in the Temple during the feast of Tabernacles. In this first dialogue, John recounts an interchange between Jesus and "the Jews" related to his healing of the lame man in chapter 5.


Jesus' teachings fulfill (complete the purpose of) the law, and this because he is a teacher sent from God.


i] Context: See 7:1-13.


ii] Structure: Moses and Christ,:

Situation, v14;

The source of Jesus' teaching, v15-16;

"My teaching comes from the one who sent me."

Reasons behind Israel's failure to understand the truth, v17-20;

Not believing;

Not God-glorifying;

Not law-abiding;

Response to the healing of the lame man on a Sabbath, v21-24;

"Stop judging by mere appearances."


iii] Interpretation:

The dialogue in these verses between Jesus and the Ioudaioi "Jews" (Israel's religious establishment - the religious authorities, teachers of the law, Pharisees, rabbis, theologians, ...) serves to round off chapter 5, the healing of the lame man on the Sabbath and its associated dialogue / discourse. The subject of that discourse concerns Jesus' divine authority, an authority evident in his own ministry and in his fulfillment of the Law of Moses. In the debate following the healing of the lame man, "the Jews" had sought "to kill" Jesus for not only breaking the Sabbath, but also calling God his own Father. So now, in chapter 7, back in Jerusalem, it's back to where we left off.

Jesus may well have been present for the first part of the festival, but it is not until about the fourth day that he shows up in the temple and begins his teaching ministry. The Jewish authorities, who have been waiting for him to show up, are "amazed", given that he has had no formal rabbinical education. We are not told the subject of Jesus' teaching, but the hot issue for "the Jews", following Jesus' healing of the lame man on the Sabbath, is the law of Moses - Jesus presents as a teacher of the law who breaks the law. The word eqaumazon is clearly a negative observation, so not "amazed", or "surprised", or even "puzzled", but more "incredulous", even "skeptical, cynical" - "Who does this bloke think he is? He has had no formal education; he doesn't know what he's talking about."The dialogue continues in defensive mode.

Jesus first points out that his own teacher is the one who sent him, namely, God the Father, v16 (the central argument of the discourse in chapter 5). Jesus then makes the point that his teachings on the law are self authenticating, but of course, a person who doesn't believe, in the sense of believing in the one God has sent, will not be able to sense that Jesus' teaching of scripture / the law is true, v17. Nor can a person who is concerned about receiving doxa, "glory", from one another, understand the teachings of someone who seeks the glory of the one who sent him, cf., 5:44, v18. Nor can a person who ignores the moral implications of the Law of Moses (spending their time on insect law while planning to murder Jesus) recognize the truth of Jesus' "fulfillment" = "completion" of the law, cf., Matt.5:17.

When loosing an argument we are inclined to play the man rather than the ball and so "the crowd" (probably still the religious authorities etc., = "the Jews") resort to personal abuse; "You're deluded! No one is trying to kill you; its all in your mind", v20.

Jesus responds by bringing the argument back to the nub issue, namely, that he presents as a teacher of the law who breaks the law, v21. Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath and the religious authorities get their knickers in a knot (here an unusual use of the word qaumazete, "you are amazed"). Jesus addresses the issue by arguing that their assessment of his actions is superficial, it is based on mere appearance rather than substance, v24. To progress his argument Jesus uses the example of circumcision, a work performed on the Sabbath with good intent, v22. Moses lays down both laws, the law on circumcision, Lev.12:3, and Sabbath law, with the rabbis giving precedence to the law on circumcision, so why argue that there is conflict in Jesus' caring for the whole person on the Sabbath, v23? "Don't be nitpickers: use your head - and heart! - to discern what is right, to test what is authentically right", Peterson.


Jesus fulfills the Law: This dialogue / discourse reveals Jesus' completion / fulfillment of the law of Moses. Commentators will often use a phrase like "supersedes the Law", Lindars. There is a sense where Jesus "supersedes" the Law of Moses, replacing it with his own teachings, and ultimately his own person, but "fulfills" better expresses what Jesus does with the Law. Jesus takes the Law of Moses and fine tunes it, emphasizing camel / moral law, over gnat / insect law, ritual law, tradition, etc. He then takes the moral law and exposes its heart, perfecting it, eg., the law is not just about murder, but is also about hate. In so doing, Jesus sharpens the ultimate purpose of the Mosaic law, namely, its function of exposing sin and so prompting a reliance on faith, a faith like that of Abraham, a faith in God's divine mercy ultimately realized in Christ. Although the law serves as a guide to the life of faith, its ultimate purpose is to drive the child of God to the cross of Christ such that salvation be by grace through faith apart from the law.

Jesus' protagonists, the Jewish religious establishment, simply cannot grasp how Jesus, under divine authority, completes the Mosaic law with teaching like "it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath", or "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." A true child of God cannot but recognize in such expositions of the Mosaic Law the mind of God - an idealism beyond the doing, and yet worthy to aim at. "I did not come to destroy the Law and the Prophets, ... I came to fulfill them", Matt.5:17.


Text - 7:14

Moses and Christ: i] Situation, v14.

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

mesoushV (mesow) gen. pres. part. "[not until] half way through [the festival]" - [already the feast] being in the middle. The genitive participle, along with the genitive noun "feast" forms a genitive absolute construction, most likely temporal; "When the feast was half over", TNT. "In the middle" of the festival is possibly the fourth day, given that the festival is eight days long. Possibly the Sabbath day of the festival, given that it is an appropriate teaching day. By coming to the temple (probably the temple precinct, porticos etc., rather than the temple proper) halfway through the festival rather than with the pilgrims at its beginning, Jesus avoids the implication that he is triumphantly arriving as a messianic claimant.

edikasken (didaskw) imperf. "began to teach" - [jesus went up to the temple and] was teaching. The NIV, so ESV etc., has taken the imperfect as inceptive; "began teaching." A teaching theme is dominant in chapters 7 and 8, and given the context, Jesus' teaching is likely focused on the Law of Moses.


ii] The source of Jesus' teaching, v15-16. The religious authorities are taken aback at Jesus' teachings, particularly as they know that he has never had a formal rabbinical education in the Mosaic law. To this Jesus restates the point he made on his last visit to Jerusalem (cf., chapter 5), namely, that his teachings derives directly from God, 5:30 - a point developed thru 5:31-47.

oun "-" - therefore [the jews were marveling, wondering / astonished, surprised]. Possibly resumptive / transitional, as NIV, or inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so, consequently, accordingly, ....." The verb "to be amazed" = "marveled", can be expressed in a number of ways, but Brown probably nails it with "The Jews were surprised at this."

legonteV (legw) "and asked" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to be amazed", as NIV, "they marveled and said", but possibly adverbial, modal, "marveled, saying", ESV.

pwV "how" - how [this man has known letters = has learning]. Interrogative pronoun; "how is it that there is so much learning in this man ....?", Cassirer. Obviously not implying that Jesus was illiterate, but rather that, unlike Paul the apostle, he had not been trained in rabbinic disputation. Given the link in subject matter between this passage and the end of chapter 5, it does seem likely that the grammata, "letters", refers to OT literature, specifically the Law of Moses, cf., use of grammata in 5:47. This link is affirmed by Sanders, Bultman, ...., contra Barrett. The demonstrative pronoun ou|toV, "this man", is probably pejorative - a demeaning means of identification.

mh memaqhkwV (manqanw) perf. part. "without having been taught" - not having learned. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal; "when he has never studies", ESV - "when he has never had a formal rabbinic education in the scriptures / Law of Moses." Novakovic suggests concessive, "although he has never studdied."


oun "-" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so, consequently, accordingly", or transitional, sequential, "then, now, ...."

autoiV "[Jesus answered]" - [jesus answered] to them [and said]. Dative of indirect object, so Novakovic. If it were "answered and said to them", then it would be a dative of indirect object, but taken as "answered them and said" it is a dative of direct object after the verb "to answer", as of answering "someone", tini, dat. Interesting, Luke has proV tina, "answering to someone."

alla "-" - [my teaching is not mine] but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ..... but ...." In these constructions the stress falls on the positive statement, ie., Jesus' teaching is from God; "My teaching is not mine, but him who sent me", Berkeley.

tou pemyantoV (pemptw) gen. aor. part. "it comes from the one who sent [me]" - of the one having sent [me]. The participle serves as a substantive, the genitive being ablative, source / origin, as NIV.


iii] The reasons behind Israel's failure to understand the truth, v17-20: a) Not believing, v17: If a person qelh/, "wants, wills, desires", to do the qelhma, "will", of God, then they will gnwsetai, "know, recognize", whether Jesus "teaching" is ek, "from, out of", God, or whether he "speaks" apo, "from", himself = on his own initiative / "whether I'm making it up", Peterson. The tricky part of this conditional clause lies in the protasis, the "if" clause, "if anyone's will is to do God's will", ESV. What does a willingness to do God's will entail? Many commentators head down the ethical road, eg., Lindars suggests that a person "whose intentions are the same as Jesus' own intentions, in which there is no element of self-seeking, but entire submission to God", that person will recognize the divine hand behind Jesus' teachings (I am a bit worried with Lindars' "entire submission" because I suspect that Jesus is the only person who has entirely submitted to God the Father!). Ridderbos suggests that Jesus is calling for a material judgment of his teaching based on "whether it bore the marks of being from God or was based on usurpation. The true one does not seek his own glory." Kostenberger argues that the point is that "anyone who is prepared to do God's will is promised that he or she will know whether Jesus teaching is of human or divine origin." Carson suggests a "faith commitment", although in the terms "that a seeker must be fundamentally committed to doing God's will." Barrett surely takes us down the right path when he defines the will of God in the terms of faith, of "believing in him whom God sent", so Bultmann, Morris, Brown ("the acceptance through faith of the whole divine plan, including Jesus' work"), Thompson ("acknowledging Jesus' path of service in giving his life for the world as the way of God's prophet and Messiah", Beasley-Murray, Klink, ..... A personal assessment of the validity, or otherwise, of Jesus' teachings, apart from faith in Christ, is impossible, or as Augustine put it, "if you do not believe you will not understand", cf., 6:44.

ean tiV "anyone" - if a certain person. Introducing a relative third class conditional clause where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true; "if anyone as may be the case, wants to do God's will then he will know about the teaching."

poiein (poiew) pres. inf. "[chooses] to do" - [wills] to do [the will of him]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to will, want, desire." It can also be treated as introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what is desired, "if anyone wills that they do God's will...."

peri + gen. "-" - [they will know] about [the teaching]. Expressing reference / respect; "know concerning the teaching" = "understand the teaching". "The teaching" = "this teaching (of mine)" = "my teaching", Harris.

poteron ...... h] "...... or whether" - whether [it is of god] or [weather i from myself speak]. A disjunctive construction proposing two alternate options. "He will know whether my teaching is from God, or whether I merely speak on my own authority", Phillips.


b) Not God-glorifying, v18. Barrett argues that v17-19 provide three reasons why "the Jews" fail to recognize that Jesus' teachings are from God. The first is that only those who believe can see, v17. Second, "the claims of Jesus cannot be appreciated by those who receive doxa (glory) from one another (5:44)", v18. Third, only a person dedicated to doing the law is able to recognize the hand of God in Jesus' teachings, v19. In this gospel, Part I of the Argument Proper presents as an evangelistic treatise to Hellenistic Jews of the dispersion, with the dialogues / discourses presenting as an apologetic for Jesus' messiahship. With this verse, although John has Jesus expressing the words, the language is more representative of John's own reasoned argument for Jesus' messianic status - truth is to be found in the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him, rather than the ones who seek their own glory, who speak with their own authority.

oJ ... lalwn (lalew) pres. part. "whoever speaks" - the one speaking. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to seek"; "The one who speaks", ESV.

af (apo) + gen. "on [their own]" - from [himself seeks / aims at the = his own glory]. Expressing source / origin, "out of their own authority", leaning toward agency (uJpo), "by their own authority"; "on their own initiative", Zerwick / "on their own authority", Phillips. "He who says what is of his own devising seeks to grain honor for himself", Cassirer.

de "but" - Transitional, indicating a step in the dialogue, here an adversative / contrastive statement, "but ...."

oJ .... zhtwn (zhtew) pres. part. "he who seeks" - the one seeking. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb to be.

tou pemyantoV (pempw) gen. aor. part. "of the one who sent him" - [the glory] of the one having sent [him]. The participle serves as a substantive, the genitive is adjectival, possessive.

ou|toV pro. "a man" - this one [is true]. The demonstrative pronoun serves as an emphatic personal pronoun; "he is a man of truth", or as Harris, "he is an honest / sincere / truthful person." This one "is telling the truth", Cassirer.

en + dat. "[there is nothing false] about [him]" - [and there is no unrighteousness ("insincerity / dishonesty", Harris)] in [him]. Local, expressing space, metaphorical; "There is no wickedness in him", Barclay.


c) Not law-abiding, v19-20. Israel's religious establishment are planning to murder Jesus in direct contradiction to the Law of Moses, and willingly lie about their plotting. "The Jews" are unable to recognize that Jesus' teachings are from God. They do not heed Moses' instructions / teachings, so why would they heed Jesus' teachings?

ou "[Has] not" - not. This negation is used in a rhetorical question expecting an answer in the affirmative; "Moses gave you the law didn't he?" / "You do agree, don't you, that Moses gave you the law?"

uJmin dat. pro. "[given] you [the law]?" - [moses has given the law] to you? Dative of indirect object.

kai "yet" - and. Here with an adversative slant; "and yet."

ex (ek) "[none] of [you]" - [no one] from [you does the law]. Here the preposition is used in the place of a partitive genitive, as NIV; "None of you follows the Law of Moses in what you do."

apokteinai (apokteinw) aor. inf. "to kill [me]" - [why are you seeking] to kill [me]? The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "you are seeking." "Seeking" expresses intent, so "trying to kill me" / "planning to kill me" / "looking for a chance to kill me."


The Jewish religious authorities are liars when they claim they are not trying to kill Jesus, although taking this verse at face value, the implication is that the Jewish population of Jerusalem are unaware that the authorities are intent on Jesus' elimination.

apokteinai (apokteinw) aor. inf. "[who is trying] to kill [you]" - [the crowd answered, you have a demon, who is seeking] to kill [you]? The infinitive is complementary, as v19. "The religious authorities in the crowd responded ....." "You are mad", Moffatt, NAB, CEV, .... , is better than "you are possessed", NEB, since actual demon possession is probably not the point being made; the word is being used to insult, to disparage, so here "deluded / crazy / having yourself on", etc. At this time, insanity was viewed as a product of demon possession.


iv] Response to the healing of the lame man on the Sabbath, v21-24. Jesus heals a lame man on the Sabbath, and months latter the religious establishment still has its nickers in a knot. Jesus' principle argument, in response to the agitation of the religious establishment, is that caring for the whole person, physical as well as spiritual, contributes more to the fulfillment of the law of Moses than the observance of technical Sabbath requirements (the tradition of the elders). Matthew makes much of Jesus' fulfillment / completion of the Torah. Here we have John touching on the same subject.

autoiV dat. pro. "to them" - [Jesus answered and said] to them. [one work I did ]. Dative of indirect object.

qaumazete (qaumazw) pres. ind. "[and you are all] amazed" - [and everyone] is amazed. In the synoptic gospels, this word is most often used to express an emotionally active response to Jesus / the preaching of the gospel, a response which leads either to faith or unbelief. It is usually translated as "amazed, marveled", although when translated this way, a positive response is implied, when it can be either positive or negative, depending on the person; "surprised, astonished, perplexed" is a more neutral translation. Given the context, the use of this word in v15 is more negative than neutral, expressing a flamboyant overreaction - incredulity. Note how, in v23, Jesus uses the verb colaw, "to be angry", when describing the reaction of the religious establishment to his healing of the lame man, so obviously the verb qaumazw is used here with strong negative connotations. Barclay opts for "you are shocked" Peterson reworks the verse with "I did one miraculous thing a few month ago, and you're still standing around getting all upset, wondering what I'm up to." REB's "all taken aback" is close to the mark.


A typical lesser to greater rabbinic argument is used to make the point that healing someone on the Sabbath is not at variance with the Mosaic law, so there is no reason for the religious establishment to be colaw, "angry", with Jesus, v22-23. "If the 8th day of a boy's life falls on the Sabbath, you perform the required work of circumcision on a part of the boy's body during that holy day. Why, then, are you angry with me when I perform the merciful work of healing a man's whole body on the Sabbath?", Harris.

dia touto "yet, because" - because of this. This construction is usually inferential rather than causal. Although the phrase could go with v21, "you are all amazed because of it", an inferential sense is more likely, here serving to introduce a typical rabbinic argument which establishes a point by a lesser to greater example. John often uses the phrase to head an argument in a discourse. Sometimes "therefore" works, but here a logical conclusion is not being drawn from the previous verses. Here more likely a logical connection, introducing an argument addressing the underlying complaint of "the Jews", namely, that Jesus is a teacher of the law who doesn't keep the law. A phrase like "But consider", REB, "Consider this / consequently", works well, or just leave it out altogether, as ESV, NRSV, CEV, .....

uJmin dat. pro. "[Moses gave] you [circumcision]" - [moses has given circumcision] to you. Dative of indirect object.

oJti "though actually [it did not come from Moses]" - [not] that [it is of moses. Here introducing a parenthetical qualification of the statement that "Moses gave you circumcision." The qualification is "mind you, not that he was the first to introduce this rite, it originated with our ancestors." We could classify oJti as epexegetic, specifying the negation ouc, "not", "what is not the case"; "not that circumcision is from Moses, rather, it originated with the Patriarchs", or we could classify it as recitative, introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech, "I do not say ....", so Novakovic. "Moses gave you circumcision, (not that it is from Moses .......), ESV.

all (alla) "but" - but. Strong adversative used in a counterpoint construction; "not ......, but ....." Circumcision did not originate with Moses, but with the Patriarchs.

ek + gen. "from [the patriarchs]" - from [the fathers]. Expressing source / origin; "it originated with your ancestors (Abraham etc.)."

kai "-" - and. Probably with a consecutive sense; "Moses gave you circumcision ...... and so (as a result) you circumcise on the Sabbath.

en + dat. "on [the Sabbath]" - on [a sabbath you circumcise a man]. Temporal use of the preposition; "on the Sabbath you circumcise your sons", CEV.


In rabbinic circles, where two laws are in conflict, as in the case of circumcision on the 8th day and Sabbath observance, it is necessary to determine priority. Given that priority has been given to circumcision, a work on part of the body, then obviously the same priority should be given to a work on the whole body. Note that Rabbi Eleazar, AD 100, uses the same argument: "if circumcision, which affects only one of a man's members, supplants the sabbath, how much more saving a life supplants the sabbath."

ei + ind. "now if" - if [a man receives circumcision]. Introducing a 1st. class conditional clause where the proposed condition is assumed to be true; "if, as is the case, ........., then ....."

en + dat. "on [the Sabbath]" - Adverbial use of the preposition, temporal, as NIV.

iJna mh + subj. "so that ..... not" - that not / lest. Introducing a negated final clause expressing purpose, "in order that not" = "lest". Having determined that circumcision has precedence over Sabbath law, the following applies - if a boy's eighth day of life falls on a Sabbath, the boy is circumcised "in order that the law of Moses on circumcision is not broken." The use of luqh/, "may be loosed", is traditional terminology for breaking / invalidating the Mosaic law / the Torah.

MwusewV (hV ewV) gen. "[the law] of Moses" - [the law] of Moses [may be loosed = broken]. The genitive is adjectival, probably attributive; "the Mosaic Law."

emoi dat. pro. "[why are you angry with] me" - [then why are you angry with] me. Dative of direct object after the verb "to be angry with"

oJti "for [healing a man's whole body]" - that [i made a man all healthy on a Sabbath]. Here introducing a causal clause explaining why "the Jews" are angry with Jesus; "because on the Sabbath I made a man's whole body well", ESV.


kat (kata) + acc. "by [mere appearances]" - [do not judge] according to [appearance]. Expressing a standard, "corresponding to"; "do not keep judging according to appearance", NJB. Note that the NJB has brought out the durative sense of the present tense imperative "to judge." The NIV, as ESV, Barclay, ... has opted for an adverbial sense expressing means, "by means of", "by external standards", TEV, but possibly manner, "after the manner of appearance" = "superficially" - "stop drawing superficial conclusions." "Don't be nitpickers", Peterson.

alla "but instead" - but . Strong adversative in a counterpoint construction; "not ......., but ......."

krinete (krinw) pres. imp. "make a [right] judgment / judge [correctly]" - judge [the just judgment]. The REB sticks with the Gk., "be just in your judgments", but Jesus is not making a point of law. The NIVII moves slightly from the law court, but the sense is more like "make a reasoned assessment of my actions according to the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law." A call for fair judgment has OT precedence; Isa.11:3, Zech.7:9, Deut.16:18.


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