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John chapter 7

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14Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. 15And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? 16Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. 17If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. 18He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. 19Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? 20The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? 21Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel. 22Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. 23If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? 24Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. 25Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? 26But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? 27Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is. 28Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. 29But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me. 30Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come. 31And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done? 32The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him. 33Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. 34Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come. 35Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles? 36What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?

What does John chapter 7 mean?

Chapters 7 and 8 represent the beginning of the end of Jesus' public ministry. In these passages, He will openly challenge the spiritual errors of the Jewish leaders, and declare His own role in the salvation of mankind. In response, the religious officials' approach to Jesus will turn further towards a plot for murder. John chapter 7 begins after another leap in the gospel's timeline. The events of chapter 6 occurred around one year prior to Jesus' crucifixion. The events of chapter 7, centered on the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles, happen about six months later. This feast was among the most important in Jewish tradition, and was a hub of religious and cultural activity.

This passage begins with Jesus' family mocking Him for the events of chapter 6. They assume that a man seeking publicity and fame ought to do His magic tricks at the most public festival of the year. The "brothers" mentioned here are, by all reasonable interpretations, the literal half-brothers of Jesus. That is, these are the biological sons of Mary. Jesus, however, is still sensitive to God's timetable, and chooses not to go to the feast with them. Instead, He will go later, and alone, in order to be more discreet.

This discretion only lasts a few days. Jesus will begin teaching and preaching in Jerusalem midway through the week-long feast. In this discourse, Jesus will criticize the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious leaders. This criticism, along with His established reputation for miracles, will create a "crisis of confidence" in the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes. From the perspective of the people, there are only three possibilities: Either the leaders are too weak to stop a blasphemer, too confused to do anything, or they somehow accept His claims. This only adds fuel to the religious leaders' desire to silence Jesus permanently.

Over the course of this chapter, Jesus provokes rumor, discussion, and eventually argument among the people. The division caused by Jesus' words will even extend to the religious leaders themselves. Nicodemus, the same man who spoke with Jesus in chapter 3, will make an appeal for due process. In response, his peers ridicule him and reject his suggestion. This makes chapter 7 a crucial passage for understanding the Pharisees, in particular. Their example is a warning about how arrogance, ignorance, and tradition can cause spiritual blindness.

The last verse associated with chapter 7 begins the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman (John 7:53—8:11). Most scholars believe that this passage is an authentic, inspired account of a real event. However, they also believe that it was not originally found in this particular place in Scripture. Verse 12 of chapter 8 seems to flow very naturally from Jesus' teaching here as He continues declaring His role as Messiah using various metaphors.

While reading this chapter, it is important to recognize the meaning of John's terminology. At this time, Jerusalem would have been filled with local residents, foreign visitors, Jewish pilgrims, and many others. As such, there are three main groups involved in this narrative. "The Jews," as used most often in the gospel of John, is a reference to the religious leaders of Jerusalem, or those who support them. "The people" are the mixed crowd of those attending the festival. The third group are those Jewish people living in and around Jerusalem, most of whom would have sided with the opinion of the local religious leaders.
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