the Jews: As used in the Gospel of John, this term conveys different meanings, depending on the context. In addition to referring to Jewish or Judean people in general or to those living in or near Jerusalem, the term may also refer more specifically to Jews who zealously adhered to human traditions connected with the Mosaic Law, which were often contrary to the spirit of that Law. (Mt 15:3-6) Foremost among these “Jews” were the Jewish authorities or religious leaders who were hostile to Jesus. In this passage and in some of the other occurrences of this term in John chapter 7, the context indicates that the Jewish authorities or religious leaders are referred to.—Joh 7:13, 15, 35a.—See Glossary, “Jew.”
Festival of Tabernacles: Or “Festival of Booths.” This is the only mention of this festival in the Christian Greek Scriptures. This festival refers to the one observed in the fall of 32 C.E.—See Glossary, “Festival of Booths,” and App. B15.
the Jews: Here the term “the Jews” may refer to people in general who were gathering for the Festival of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, although it may also refer to the Jewish religious leaders.—See study note on Joh 7:1.
the Jews: Apparently referring to the Jewish authorities or religious leaders.—See study note on Joh 7:1.
the Jews: This expression seems to refer to the Jewish authorities or religious leaders, a conclusion that is indicated by Jesus’ question to them in verse 19: “Why are you seeking to kill me?”—See study note on Joh 7:1.
the Scriptures: Lit., “writings; letters,” that is, units of an alphabet. The expression “know (have a knowledge of) letters” is an idiom meaning “have a knowledge of writings (books, literature).” In this context, it apparently refers to knowledge of the inspired Scriptures.
when he has not studied at the schools: Or “without having been taught.” Lit., “not having learned.” Jesus was not uneducated, but he had not studied at the rabbinic schools of higher learning.
of my own originality: Or “on my own.” Lit., “from myself.” As God’s Chief Representative, Jesus always listens to Jehovah’s voice and speaks what Jehovah directs.
circumcision on a sabbath: For males, circumcision was a mandatory requirement of the Mosaic Law. (Le 12:2, 3) It was considered so important that even if the eighth day fell on the highly regarded Sabbath, circumcision was to be performed.—See Glossary, “Circumcision.”
the rulers: Here referring to Jewish rulers. In the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Israel was under the dual rule of the Roman Empire and the Jewish rulers. The chief body of the Jewish rulers was the Sanhedrin, a council of 71 elders, including the high priest, to which the Roman government granted limited authority over Jewish affairs.—See Glossary, “Sanhedrin.”
I am a representative from him: Lit., “beside him I am.” The use of the preposition pa·raʹ (lit., “beside”) emphasizes not only that Jesus is “from” God but that he is very close, or near, to Jehovah. In this sense, Jesus is a “representative” from God.
officers: That is, guards of the temple in Jerusalem. Likely, they were agents of the Sanhedrin and under the authority of the chief priests. They functioned as religious police.
the Jews: In this context where the chief priests and Pharisees are mentioned (Joh 7:32, 45), the designation “the Jews” apparently refers to the Jewish authorities or religious leaders.—See study note on Joh 7:1.
the Jews dispersed: Lit., “the dispersion.” In this context, the Greek word di·a·spo·raʹ refers to Jews living outside Israel. This dispersion, or Diaspora, took place because the Jews were exiled from their homeland when conquered by other nations—first by the Assyrians, in the eighth century B.C.E., and then by the Babylonians, in the seventh century B.C.E. (2Ki 17:22, 23; 24:12-17; Jer 52:28-30) Only a remnant of the exiles returned to Israel; the rest remained scattered. (Isa 10:21, 22) By the fifth century B.C.E., Jewish communities were apparently found in the 127 provinces of the Persian Empire. (Es 1:1; 3:8) The expression used here at Joh 7:35 refers specifically to those who had been scattered among the Greeks. In the first century, there were Jewish populations in many Greek-speaking communities outside of Israel, for example, in Syria, Asia Minor, and Egypt, as well as in the European part of the Roman Empire, including Greece and Rome. Efforts to win converts to Judaism meant that, in time, a large number of people came to have some knowledge of Jehovah and of the Law that he gave to the Jews. (Mt 23:15) Jews and proselytes from many lands were present in Jerusalem for the Festival of Pentecost in 33 C.E., and they heard the good news about Jesus. Therefore, the dispersion of Jews throughout the Roman Empire contributed to the rapid spread of Christianity.
On the last day: That is, the seventh day of the Festival of Tabernacles, or Booths, Tishri 21. It was called “the great day of the festival.”—De 16:13; see study note on Joh 7:2 and Glossary, “Festival of Booths,” and App. B15.
just as the scripture has said: Jesus does not seem to be quoting a particular verse here but is alluding to such scriptures as Isa 44:3; 58:11; and Zec 14:8. Over two years earlier, when Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman about living water, he focused on the benefits of receiving this water. (Joh 4:10, 14) But in this verse, Jesus indicates that this “living water” would flow from his followers who put faith in him as they shared it with others. (Joh 7:37-39) The Christian Greek Scriptures provide abundant evidence that Jesus’ followers, after receiving holy spirit beginning at Pentecost 33 C.E., were impelled to impart life-giving water to all who would listen.—Ac 5:28; Col 1:23.
streams of living water will flow: Jesus may here have alluded to a custom followed during the Festival of Tabernacles, or Booths. The custom involved the drawing of water from the pool of Siloam and pouring it from a golden vessel, along with wine, on the altar at the time of the morning sacrifice. (See study note on Joh 7:2; Glossary, “Festival of Booths,” and App. B15.) Though this feature of the festival was not mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures but was added later, most scholars say that this occurred on seven days of the festival but not on the eighth. On the opening day of the festival, a sabbath, the water that a priest poured out had been brought to the temple from the pool of Siloam on the preceding day. On the subsequent days, the priest would go to the pool of Siloam to collect water in a golden pitcher. He would time his return to the temple so that he arrived just as the priests were ready to lay the pieces of the sacrifice on the altar. As he came through the Water Gate and into the Court of the Priests, his entry was announced by a threefold blast from the priests’ trumpets. The water was then poured out into a basin leading to the base of the altar at the same time that wine was being poured into a different basin. Then the temple music accompanied the singing of the Hallel Psalms (Ps 113-118) while the worshippers waved their palm branches toward the altar. This ceremony may have reminded the joyful celebrants of Isaiah’s prophetic words: “With rejoicing you will draw water from the springs of salvation.”—Isa 12:3.
for as yet there was no spirit: The Greek word for “spirit,” pneuʹma, occurs twice in this verse and refers to God’s holy spirit, or active force. Jesus and those who listened to him knew that God had long used His holy spirit (Ge 1:2, ftn.; 2Sa 23:2; Ac 28:25) and that He had imparted that spirit to His faithful servants, such as Othniel, Jephthah, and Samson (Jg 3:9, 10; 11:29; 15:14). Therefore, John was clearly referring to a new way that the spirit would benefit imperfect humans. None of those earlier servants of God had been called to heavenly life by means of the spirit. At Pentecost 33 C.E., Jesus poured out on his followers the holy spirit that he, as a glorified spirit, had received from Jehovah. (Ac 2:4, 33) This was the first time that imperfect humans were given the hope of spirit life in heaven. Having this anointing, the Christians were able to understand the meaning of many things that they had not understood before.
accursed people: The proud and self-righteous Pharisees and Jewish leaders looked down on the common people who listened to Jesus, calling them “accursed people.” The Greek word used here, e·paʹra·tos, is a term of contempt, which implies that those so described were under a curse from God. The Jewish religious leaders also used a Hebrew term, ʽam ha·ʼaʹrets, or “people of the land,” to express their contempt for the common people. Originally, this was a term of respect for citizens of a specific territory, embracing not only the poor and lowly but also the prominent. (Ge 23:7; 2Ki 23:35; Eze 22:29) By Jesus’ day, however, the term was used of those who were considered ignorant of the Mosaic Law or who failed to observe the smallest details of rabbinic traditions. Later rabbinic writings confirm that attitude. Many religious leaders viewed such people as contemptible, refusing to eat with them, buy from them, or associate with them.
You are not also out of Galilee, are you?: This question apparently reflects the contempt that these Judeans felt toward Galileans. When Nicodemus spoke up in defense of Jesus (Joh 7:51), the Pharisees were, in effect, asking: “Are you defending and supporting him, putting yourself on the level of a backward Galilean?” Since the Sanhedrin and the temple were in Jerusalem, no doubt a great concentration of teachers of the Law was to be found there, which likely gave rise to the Jewish proverb: “Go north [to Galilee] for riches, go south [to Judea] for wisdom.” But evidence indicates that the Galileans were not ignorant of God’s Law. Throughout the cities and villages of Galilee, there were teachers of the Law as well as synagogues that served as educational centers. (Lu 5:17) This arrogant reply to Nicodemus indicates that the Pharisees did not make any effort to learn that Bethlehem was Jesus’ actual birthplace. (Mic 5:2; Joh 7:42) They also failed to discern Isaiah’s prophecy that likened the Messiah’s preaching to “a great light” that would shine in Galilee.—Isa 9:1, 2; Mt 4:13-17.
no prophet . . . out of Galilee: This statement ignores the prophetic words of Isa 9:1, 2, foretelling that a great light would come from Galilee. Some scholars also suggest that the Pharisees were making a sweeping generalization that no prophet had ever arisen or could ever arise out of lowly Galilee. This ignores the fact that the prophet Jonah was from the Galilean town of Gath-hepher, just 4 km (2.5 mi) NNE of Nazareth, where Jesus grew up.—2Ki 14:25.
The earliest authoritative manuscripts do not have the passage from Joh 7:53 to 8:11. These 12 verses were obviously added to the original text of John’s Gospel. (See App. A3.) They are not found in the two earliest available papyri containing the Gospel of John, Papyrus Bodmer 2 (P66) and Papyrus Bodmer 14, 15 (P75), both from the second century C.E., nor are they found in the Codex Sinaiticus or Codex Vaticanus, both from the fourth century C.E. They first appear in a Greek manuscript from the fifth century (Codex Bezae) but are not found in any other Greek manuscripts until the ninth century C.E. They are omitted by most of the early translations into other languages. One group of Greek manuscripts places the added words at the end of John’s Gospel; another group puts them after Lu 21:38. That this portion appears at different places in different manuscripts supports the conclusion that it is a spurious text. Scholars overwhelmingly agree that these verses were not part of the original text of John.
Greek manuscripts and translations into other languages that include these verses read (with some variations) as follows:
53 So they went each one to his home.
8 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At daybreak, however, he again presented himself at the temple, and all the people began coming to him, and he sat down and began to teach them. 3 Now the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught at adultery, and, after standing her in their midst, 4 they said to him: “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the Law Moses prescribed for us to stone such sort of women. What, really, do you say?” 6 Of course, they were saying this to put him to the test, in order to have something with which to accuse him. But Jesus bent down and began to write with his finger in the ground. 7 When they persisted in asking him, he straightened up and said to them: “Let the one of you that is sinless be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And bending over again he kept on writing in the ground. 9 But those who heard this began going out, one by one, starting with the older men, and he was left alone, and the woman that was in their midst. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her: “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said: “No one, sir.” Jesus said: “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way; from now on practice sin no more.”