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John 10:24

ESV So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
NIV The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, 'How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.'
NASB The Jews then surrounded Him and began saying to Him, 'How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.'
CSB The Jews surrounded him and asked, "How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly."
NLT The people surrounded him and asked, 'How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.'
KJV Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.

What does John 10:24 mean?

In the gospel of John, the phrase "the Jews" is most often a reference to the religious leaders of Jerusalem and their followers. These are the Pharisees, scribes, and other officials. It is with these men that Jesus has had His most cutting and divisive conflicts. The most recent occurred a few months prior, when Jesus preached at the Festival of Booths (John 7), debated with His critics (John 8), miraculously gave sight to a man born blind (John 9), and attempted to explain His ministry by using shepherding analogies (John 10:1–21).

The colonnade of Solomon was a column-lined walkway, or portico. It was open to the main temple grounds on one side but elevated from the surrounding eastern terrain on the other. A large portion of the outer edge was walled off. This meant Jesus was in an area with only one reasonable means of exit: through the temple. The men who approach Him here are clearly intending to block off His escape route.

The Greek term describing their action here is ekyklōsan, which is sometimes used to describe the act of siege. It literally means "to surround, encircle, or encompass." This is the ancient equivalent of a crowd of schoolyard bullies surrounding a victim, pushing them against the wall in a hallway. Later verses will describe them lifting stones to attack Jesus (John 10:31)—but this is inside the grounds of the temple, where suitable stones are not simply laying around. These men brought rocks, in advance, and with murderous intent. In this incident, Jesus is not simply being challenged. He's being threatened.

The challenge issued here must be heard in that context. This is not a dry academic question or a sincere plea. This, again, is like a crowd of bullies shoving someone against a wall and taunting them to speak. The phrase "keep us in suspense" is tēn psychēn hēmōn aireis? This literally implies "holding our souls" or "restraining our spirits." With rocks in hand, and Jesus cornered, His critics are all but daring Him to repeat His prior claims.

Which, of course, is exactly what Jesus does in the next verse.
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