John 7:33-53

33 Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me.

[Yet a little while am I with you] Pay attention to my teaching. Events move quickly. I will be with you only a short time, then, (Jesus knew but they did not understand that he would be crucified and resurrected) I will return to Heaven from where I came.

34 Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.

[Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me] When the Roman armies come against you, you will vainly seek for a deliverer. But you shall be cut off in your sins, because you did not believe in me. And where I am - in the kingdom of glory - you cannot come, for nothing unholy shall enter into the new Jerusalem.

35 Then 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?
36 What 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?

[The dispersed among the Gentiles] To the Jews the restored kingdom was to be the event which would coincide with Messiah. They speculated that perhaps Jesus was planning to go to the Jews which were dispersed among the gentiles and begin the regathering.

37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

[In the last day, the great day of the feast] This was the eighth day, and was called the great day because of certain traditional observances. On the seven days they professed to offer sacrifices for the seventy nations of the earth, but on the eighth day they offered sacrifices for the nation of Israel; therefore the eighth day was more highly esteemed than the others. It was probably when they went to draw water from the pool of Siloam, and when they were pouring it out at the foot of the altar, that our Lord spoke these words; for, as the ceremony pointed out the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit, our Lord, who was the fountain whence it was to proceed, called the people to himself, that, by believing on him, they might be made partakers of that inestimable benefit.

38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

[He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said] He who receives me as the Messiah, according to what the Scripture has said concerning me; my person, birth, conduct, preaching and miracles, being compared with what is written there, as ascertaining the true Messiah. Out of his belly - from his heart and soul; for in his soul shall the Spirit dwell.

[Living water] As a true spring is ever supplied with water from the great deep, with which it has communication, so shall the soul of the genuine believer be supplied with light, life, love and liberty, and all the other graces of the indwelling Spirit. The Jews frequently compare the gifts and influences of the Holy Spirit to water in general - to rain, fountains, rivers and wells and so on. The Scriptures abound in this metaphor. Isaiah 44:3-4, John 4:1-15.

39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

[Was not yet given] Certain measures of the Holy Spirit came upon individuals, both believers and unbelievers from the beginning of the world, but the indwelling of the Spirit in all believers was not granted until after the ascension of Christ: (1) Because the Spirit was to come in consequence of his atonement, and therefore could not come until after his crucifixion. (2) The Holy Spirit was to be given after Christ had gone away. See our Lord's own words John 14:16-18, 26, John 15:26 and John 16:7-15.

40 Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.

[Of a truth, this is the Prophet] The great prophet or teacher spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15. Some confusion existed regarding this prophet. Some no doubt knew that by the prophet Messiah was meant, but others seem to have thought that perhaps the prophet was the same as the forerunner predicted in Malachi 3:1.

41 Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?
42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?

[Shall Christ come out of Galilee?] As the prophets had declared that the Messiah was to come from the tribe of Judah, (Genesis 49:10) and from the family of David, (2 Samuel 7:16) and should be born in the city of Bethlehem, (Micah 5:2) these Jews, imagining that Christ had been born in Galilee, concluded that he could not be the Messiah. Had they examined the matter a little further, they would have found that his birth was exactly as the prophets had foretold; (Matthew 1:1, Matthew 2,1). Because they did not thoroughly study the facts, they continued in unbelief, and rejected the Lord that bought them. Many still lose their souls in nearly the same way. They permit themselves to be led away by the misinformed views of others, who themselves are often repeating what they think they heard a third party teach. Make sure you know the truth by studying the word of God for yourself. At the very least, read the Bible through once per year.

43 So there was a division among the people because of him.
44 And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.

[some of them would have taken him] They were divided in sentiment and separated into parties. Some wished to seize him and destroy him, but the divided opinion, under God, was the reason why his life was preserved at this time.

45 Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?
46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.

[Then came the officers] They had followed him for several days seeking a proper opportunity to seize him, when they might fix a charge of sedition or something else upon him, but the longer they listened, the more they were convinced of his innocence, purity and consummate wisdom.

[Never man spake like this man] Though these officers had gone on an errand for their masters, they had never entered into it with their spirit. They were sent to apprehend a seditious man and a false prophet. They came where Jesus taught; they found him to be a different person than the one described by their masters, therefore they did not apprehend him. No doubt, they expected when they told their employers the truth, to be commended for preventing an unintentional injustice. They were not in on the secret of masters' malice.

47 Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?
48 Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?
49 But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.

[Have any of the rulers...beleieved on him?] Very few. But is this a proof that he is not of God? No, truly. The religion of Christ has been in general rejected by the rulers of this world. It has ever been the mark of the truth of God that the great, the mighty and the supposedly wise have in general rejected it. They are too much occupied with this world to attend to the concerns of the next.

[This people] A more literal translation of the greek term used here is this rabble. The common people were treated by the Pharisees with contempt. They were thought not worthy to have a resurrection to eternal life. Wagenseil and Schoetgen have given many proofs of this.
Reflect upon this for a moment. Those who were unlearned, who depended upon their religious leaders for guidance, were being led astray, were being cheated out of eternal life by the personal ambitions of those leaders for wealth, power and prestige. How wonderful that Jesus took his message directly to the people.

50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)
51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?

[Nicodemas...being one of them] Not all of the leaders had evil intentions toward Christ. Perhaps Nicodemas, as he defended Christ, was referring to the common legal practice of the day. Josephas writes, "The law has forbidden any man to be put to death, unless he first be condemned to die by the Sanhedren."

52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.

[Art thou also of Galilee?] They knew very well he was not. They spoke this by way of reproach. As if they had said, "You are no better than he, if you take his part."

[Search and look] Either they forgot or hoped nobody would notice, but their statement was in error. The prophet Jonah was the son of the prophet Amittai, both of whom lived in Gath-hepher of Zebulun, north of Nazareth in Galilee. (2 Kings 14:25)

53 And every man went unto his own house.

The authority and influence of Nicodemas, in this case, was so great that the meeting of the Sanhedren broke up without being able to conclude anything. As the feast was now ended, they were not obliged to continue longer in or about Jerusalem; and therefore all returned to their respective dwellings.

Based upon excerpts from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from


This page updated 12/18/2006

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