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John 7:12

ESV And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, "He is a good man," others said, "No, he is leading the people astray."
NIV Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, "He is a good man." Others replied, "No, he deceives the people."
NASB And there was a great deal of talk about Him in secret among the crowds: some were saying, 'He is a good man'; others were saying, 'No, on the contrary, He is misleading the people.'
CSB And there was a lot of murmuring about him among the crowds. Some were saying, "He’s a good man." Others were saying, "No, on the contrary, he’s deceiving the people."
NLT There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, 'He’s a good man,' but others said, 'He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.'
KJV And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people.
NKJV And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.”

What does John 7:12 mean?

Jesus' feeding of the thousands, described in chapter 6, was only the most public of His actions thus far. The combination of His miracles, His teachings, and His conflict with the religious leaders of Jerusalem made Jesus a popular subject of gossip at the Feast of Booths. Jesus complicated His public image by explaining that His ministry was ultimately spiritual, not material (John 6:26–29), which caused many people to abandon Him (John 6:66). Here, in the days before Jesus begins teaching in the temple (John 7:14), the people are quietly discussing His public ministry.

Christian apologist C. S. Lewis is credited with popularizing a concept about Jesus Christ known as the "trilemma." In short, this claim suggests that there are only three valid opinions of Jesus: liar, lunatic, or Lord. The basic framework of that same discussion is seen here in verse 12. Most importantly, there are no neutral options. This was the intent of Lewis' trilemma, and the real problem Jesus posed for the people. Someone making His claims could only be a dangerous monster, or a legitimate Savior—nothing in between.

This crowd is described as "the people," a term referring to the general crowds attending the Feast of Booths. This would have included Jewish pilgrims as well as residents of Jerusalem. The term "the Jews" refers more specifically to the religious leaders of the city, and their followers, whose opinion of Jesus is quite clear (John 5:18; John 7:1). In fact, this anger is already so strong that the crowds in Jerusalem keep their discussions of Jesus private, out of fear.
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