SUMMARY.--The Unbelief of the Brethren of Jesus. He Goes to the Feast of Tabernacles. He Teaches in the Temple. The Discussions Among the People. The Pharisees Send Officers to Take Him. The Last Day of the Feast. The Report to the Officers.
21. I have done one work. He goes back to the cause of the enmity of the rulers, the healing of the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath day, about eighteen months before (see chap. 5 ).
22-24. If a man on the sabbath day, etc.? The argument is this: You blame me for healing an impotent man on the Sabbath; yet you break the Sabbath to circumcise a child if the eighth day after its birth falls on the Sabbath. You say that the law of circumcision was given to Abraham, is older than the Sabbath law, and must be kept if the Sabbath is to be broken. Now the law of love and mercy is older than Moses; why find fault if it is kept on the Sabbath? They should judge righteously, instead of by outward appearances.
25-29. Some of them of Jerusalem. Citizens who understood the purposes of the rulers, of which the visitors were ignorant. Do the rulers know, etc.? As they did not seize him according to their purpose, the question arose what had changed the mind of the rulers. Had they found out that he was the Christ? Howbeit we know . . . whence he is. The Jews had an idea, due probably to Dan. 7:13 , that when the Messiah came no one would know from whence he came. Ye know whence I am. This is a reply to their assertion that they did. If they really did they would know that he came from God. They did not even know God, or they would know him whom God sent.
30. They sought to take him. "They of Jerusalem" angered because he said they did not know God. This was the attempt of a mob, not an official act.
32. The Pharisees heard. The bitterest enemies of Christ. When they heard that the people were believing, they thought it time for action, so the Pharisees and chief priests, that is, the Sanhedrim, sent officers to seize him. This was an official act, the first official attempt of the Sanhedrim to take Jesus. They had purposed it before, but had not taken action.
33-36. Yet a little while I am with you. Aware of the counsel of the rulers, he foretells his death and return to heaven. Where I am, ye cannot come. Not while on earth, neither after life is over, if they die in their sins ( 8:21 ). The Jews did not comprehend his words, plain as they are to us.
37. In the last day. Probably the eighth day, possibly the seventh. The eighth was a day of holy rest added to the seven days of the feast. If any man thirsteth, let him, etc. Jewish writers say that water was brought every day of the feast in a golden pitcher from the pool of Siloam and poured upon the altar. It is thought that it was when this water was poured out that Jesus cried out, and pointed to the living water.
38. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said. Notice that "believing" corresponds to "coming" in the preceding verse , showing that faith is the means that brings us to Christ. The reference is not to any single passage, but to the spirit of the Scripture, notably such passages as Isaiah 55:1 Isaiah 58:11 Psalms 36:8 Psalms 36:9 . Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. Christ is the living water; he who believes upon Christ has Christ formed within him, and hence must become a fountain to dispense the living water whatever he goes.
39. This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive. This declaration of John makes the second chapter of Acts the best commentary on the preceding verse . Luther says: "So St. Peter, by one sermon on the day of Pentecost, as by a rushing of water, delivered three thousand men from the devil's kingdom, washing them in an hour from sin, death and Satan." Because Jesus was not yet glorified. Let it be noted, (1) That the Holy Spirit was not given until after the death and ascension of Jesus. (2) The disciples of Christ did not become "fountains of living water" until the Holy Spirit was sent. This marks Pentecost as the beginning of the preaching of the gospel authoritatively by his disciples.
41-44. Others said, This is the Christ. Others asserted that he was the Christ. The opponents denied this, and based their opposition, not upon his character, or his teaching, but upon the fact that he came from Galilee. They did not know that he was born at Bethlehem, according to the prophecies ( Micah 5:2 ). The seed of David. See Isa. 11:1 Jer. 23:5 Psa. 89:36 .
45. Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees. These were the temple police, Levites under the direction of the chief priests. In verse 32 we are told that the chief priests, instigated by the Pharisees, had sent the officers to arrest him.
46. Never man spake like this man. The only answer the officers could make to the demand why they had not carried out orders was, "Man never spake like this man." The multitude had not overawed them, but the words of Christ.
47, 48. Then answered the Pharisees, . . . Have any of the rulers, etc.? The Pharisees charge the officers in language of scorn. By rulers are meant the Sanhedrim. In the matter of deciding on the claims of the Messiah they hold that the judgment of the "rulers" must be decisive. They were not probably aware that Nicodemus was really a secret believer, and that another "senator," Joseph, would reveal himself at the proper time.
49. This people . . . are accursed. The argument was "Not the Sanhedrim, but the rabble are the believers upon him. They are utterly ignorant of the law and are accursed. On account of their ignorance they are easily led astray."
50-52. Nicodemus. See John 3:1. Dost our law judge, etc.? Of course it did not, but for him to say a word in defense of justice brought the charge that he was a follower of the Galilean. Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. The rulers in their rage make a false statement. Jonah ( 2 Kings 14:25 ), Elijah ( 1 Kings 17:1 ) and Nahum ( Nah. 1:1 ) were all of Galilee.