What does John 7:17 mean?
ESV: If anyone 's will is to do God 's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
NIV: Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.
NASB: If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know about the teaching, whether it is of God, or I am speaking from Myself.
CSB: If anyone wants to do his will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own.
NLT: Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.
KJV: If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
NKJV: If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.
Verse Commentary:
The phrasing used here by Jesus is unmistakable; He literally says, "If any man is willing to do His (God's) will, he shall know…" While Satan tempts man with limited knowledge based in disobedience (Genesis 3:5), we are meant to obtain true knowledge through obedience. Jesus essentially turns His era's assumed relationship between knowledge and morality backwards. Ancient philosophers frequently held that morality was something produced by knowledge. Under that assumption, moral behavior and the ability to do "good" was based on whether or not a person understood moral and philosophical truths. Only those who could understand could obey, they thought. In other words, misunderstanding causes disobedience, per ancient philosophy.

According to Christ, disobedience causes misunderstanding. Rather than knowledge of the truth leading to obedience, Jesus claims that whether or not a person is willing to obey God is what affects their ability to learn the truth!

This general idea is echoed elsewhere in Scripture, both by Jesus and others (John 18:37; Romans 1:18–20; Hebrews 11:6). In fact, Jesus laid the groundwork for this idea when preaching in Capernaum, after feeding the thousands (John 6:29). The fact that Jesus was noted to be sinless (Hebrews 4:15), even by many of His own critics (John 8:46), demonstrates how a person's spiritual life says a great deal about their knowledge (or ignorance) of God's Word.
Verse Context:
John 7:14–24 is a strong spiritual challenge issued by Jesus against the religious leaders of Jerusalem. Jesus makes the point that obedience is a necessary aspect of learning. The resistance of the Scribes and Pharisees is ultimately a matter of rebellion, not knowledge. In the same way, Jesus criticizes their hypocritical attitude towards His miracles. This concludes with a powerful statement about the need to use ''right judgment,'' rather than shallow appearances.
Chapter Summary:
Six months after the feeding of thousands, and the public debate which followed, Jesus plans to attend the Feast of Booths (Festival of Tabernacles). Rather than going publicly, He chooses to arrive privately, and after His family. While teaching and preaching there, Jesus once again comes into conflict with local religious leaders. The crowds take note of His profound words, history of miracles, and the inability of the religious leaders to silence Him. This causes the people to openly question their spiritual leaders. This embarrassment is a milestone in the effort to permanently silence Jesus.
Chapter Context:
John chapter 7 is the beginning of the end of Jesus' public ministry. The feeding of thousands in chapter 6 was the pinnacle of His earthly popularity. That enthusiasm was dampened when Jesus explained the true meaning of His ministry. Here, in chapters 7 and 8, Jesus will confront His critics at a major Jewish festival, using metaphors drawn from ritual celebrations to highlight themes from His preaching. The following chapters include additional miracles and teachings from Jesus, as His eventual crucifixion draws nearer.
Book Summary:
The disciple John wrote the gospel of John decades after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls "signs"— to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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