John 7

John 7:2 the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand

The feast of tabernacles was one of three feasts which attracted Jews to Jerusalem. The others were the Passover, and the feast of weeks (Pentecost). This particular feast of tabernacles is the last one to be attended by the Savior. In about 6 months, Christ will be betrayed and crucified. Yet, we are still in the early chapters of John's gospel. This fact underscores John's purpose in writing his gospel. He intends to focus on the last months of Jesus' ministry-particularly his ministry among the Jews. While the synoptic gospels focus on his Galilean ministry, John emphasizes the conflict between Jesus and the religious establishment in Jerusalem. He focuses on Christ's divine Sonship, and he focuses on Christ's teachings during the last week of his life (John 12-19).

Bruce R. McConkie

"Nearly three years have passed since our Lord's baptism and the commencement of his formal ministry; in another six months he will eat his last Passover with his disciples, be crucified, and received up into eternal glory with his Father. The final hours of his ministry before his final assumption into heaven are at hand.

"'He stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem' (Lu 9:51). Jesus was leaving Galilee forever; his great Galilean ministry was ended. In Judea and Perea his voice would yet be heard, his mighty works seen. But the course of his life was toward the cross, and he was steadfast and immovable in his determination to follow this very course, one laid out for him by his Father. He had said of himself through the mouth of Isaiah, 'I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.' (Isa. 50:7.) Clearly, there was to be no turning back." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:439)

John 7:5 For neither did his brethren believe in him

Gerald N. Lund

"Even a quick reading of the Gospels and Acts shows that the New Testament writers did not intend to give a comprehensive picture of the personal life or family of Jesus...Still, one naturally wonders about Jesus' family, who they were and what they did.

"We do know that Jesus had four brothers and more than one sister. The people of Nazareth objected to the divine calling of Jesus on the grounds that he was someone who had grown up in their midst. 'Is not this the carpenter's son?' they asked in astonishment. 'Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?' (Matt. 13:55-56.)...John relates an interesting event concerning the brethren of Jesus telling us that they did not fully accept him as the Messiah while he was laboring among them: 'Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand. His brethren therefore said unto him [their brother, Jesus], Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him.' (John 7:2-5.)

"The brothers knew something of Jesus' work and miracles and of his following, but they were doubtful themselves, or at least wished him to be more open about his mission. They did not believe in him, which may refer to the claims he made about being the Messiah and the Son of God. In fact, when the people of Nazareth rejected the Savior, he exclaimed, 'A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.' (Mark 6:4.) But evidently the brothers were converted shortly thereafter, for Luke records that immediately after Christ's ascension into heaven, the church met in 'prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.' (Acts 1:14.) Also, Paul includes James in his list of those who had seen the resurrected Lord. (See 1 Cor. 15:7.)" (esus Christ, Key to the Plan of Salvation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 47.)

Though early on, these half-brothers of the Lord didn't believe, later on some of them would become great leaders in the Church. In particular, James was an apostle who took an important role in the leadership of the early Church. He may have replaced James, the brother of John, after his martyrdom (Acts 12:1-2). James conducted a meeting in which the policy of the Church regarding the law of Moses was determined (Acts 15). He was later known as the Bishop of Jerusalem and has been referred to as "James the Just." Judas, or Jude, was another brother of the Lord. He was probably the author of the book of Jude (See Bible Dictionary).

John 7:7 I testify of [the world], that the works thereof are evil

"Being the 'light of the world,' Christ exposed the depths of its moral and spiritual darkness. (John 8:12; 12:46.) In doing so, he made the choice between good and evil real, compelling, and inescapable: 'If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. . . . If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father . . . without a cause.' (John 15:22-25; Ps. 35:19.) While men may not be faulted for failing to realize that God walked among them (see Acts 3:17), their guilt in mocking virtue and crucifying innocence is unquestionable. The world of Jesus was a microcosm of the universal world in all times and places that rejects God's works in favor of its own.

"Jesus proved that it was possible to conquer the world and its accompanying sin because he had conquered them: 'I have overcome the world,' he said. (John 16:33.) His victory assured a like victory for those who love him." (Rodney Turner, Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels, ed. by Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 414.)

John 7:15 How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?

Bruce R. McConkie

"Jesus never attended a theological seminary; he never graduated from a divinity school; he was not trained for the ministry in the traditional sense; his religious learning was not born of the wisdom of men-and such also was true of the fishermen and others whom he called to hold the keys of his earthly Kingdom. None of them would have qualified as sectarian ministers or as Jewish rabbis. But all of them were called of God, held his authority, received revelation from him, and taught and spoke as the Holy Ghost gave utterance." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 441.)

John 7:17 If any man shall do his will, he shall know of the doctrine

The Master is responding to the skeptical Jews. To paraphrase his meaning, he is saying: "those who are true followers of the Father can perceive whether my teachings come from God or are the fabrications of man." Jesus knew that amongst all the pious Jews there were very few who were actually following the will of the Father, but those few knew that he was the Messiah.

The latter-day discussions of this scripture have taken on an expanded meaning. It is that one must keep the commandments in order to receive a testimony of the gospel. For example, if one begins to keep the law of tithing (even if he does not yet believe in the principle), he will soon gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the law. The concept is that correct action precedes spiritual knowledge; doing precedes knowing; obedience begets testimony.

David O. McKay

"That test is most sound. It is most philosophical. It is the most simple test to give knowledge to an individual of which the human mind can conceive. Doing a thing, introducing it into your very being, will convince you whether it is good or whether it is bad. You may not be able to convince me of that which you know, but you know it because you have lived it. That is the test that the Savior gave to those men when they asked him how they should know whether the doctrine was of God or whether it was of man." (Conference Report, October 1966, Afternoon Meeting 136.)

Howard W. Hunter

"Do we hear the imperative in this declaration of the Savior? 'If any man will do, . . . he will know!' John caught the significance of this imperative and emphasized its meaning in his writings. He said, 'He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.' (1 Jn. 2:6.)

"Merely saying, accepting, and believing are not enough. They are incomplete until that which they imply is translated into the dynamic action of daily living. This, then, is the finest source of personal testimony. We know because we have experienced. We do not have to say, 'Brother Jones says it is true, and I believe him.' We can say, 'I have lived this principle in my own life, and I know through personal experience that it works. I have felt its influence, tested its practical usefulness, and know that it is good. I can testify of my own knowledge that it is a true principle.'" (That We Might Have Joy [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 133.)

Milton R. Hunter

"The Savior has proclaimed what we might regard as a scientific pattern which must be followed if one attains a testimony and retains it. First, he must have a strong desire to gain a testimony. Second, he must study the holy scriptures prayerfully and with an open mind. You recall that the Master declared: 'Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.' (John 5:39; D&C 1:37.) Third, a person must render obedience to God's commandments. Jesus made this fact clear. He said: 'My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.' (John 7:16-17.) And fourth, he must pray to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ and sincerely ask for a testimony. By doing these things a person receives a testimony that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true." (Conference Report, October 1965, Afternoon Meeting 82.)

Henry B. Eyring

"...the effect of sincere prayer and of careful scripture study is to always feel an urging to do things. You must tell them, bearing testimony from your own experience, that they need to make a choice simply to be obedient. Real spiritual sight comes to the heart softened by obedience. It takes time, but it is the sure way to see. The Lord made that clear, at least to you and to me, when he said: 'My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.' (John 7:16-17.)" (To Draw Closer to God: A Collection of Discourses [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 151 - 152.)

John 7:19 none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?

What hypocrisy is demonstrated by the Jews! They accuse Christ of violating the Sabbath while they commit murder in their hearts. They are those who would strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Which is worse, to perform a miracle on the Sabbath or to plot the murder of the Son of God? Jesus broke no commandments; the Jews broke the sixth commandment. Indeed, they were guilty, either directly or indirectly, of breaking every one of the Ten Commandments.

Ten Commandments Actions of the Jews

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me

The Jews placed their tradition before God, and rejected the Holy One of Israel

2. No graven image

Though they made no graven images, they were guilty of a more heinous form of idolatry.

3. Do not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain

They did worse than take the name of the Lord in vain-they took the life of the Lord Jesus in vain

4. Remember the Sabbath day

They had lost the Spirit of the Sabbath by distorting Sabbath worship into a profuse list of restrictive rules

5. Honor thy Father and thy Mother

They would release themselves from this duty by the law of corban (Matt 14:4-6)

6. Thou shalt not kill

They would plot and consent to the murder of Christ

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery

They were a wicked and adulterous generation (Matt 16:1-4)

8. Thou shalt not steal

They would devour widow's houses (Matt 23:14) and were full of extortion and excess (Matt 23:25)

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness

Many would bare false witness against Christ (Mark 14:56, see also Jn. 8:55)

10. Thou shalt not covet

They coveted Christ's knowledge, authority, and popularity (Mark 15:10)


John 7:21 I have done one work, and ye all marvel

Up to this point, Jesus had not performed many miracles among the Jews in Jerusalem. The "one work" referred to here is the healing of the lame man by the pool of Bethesda (see John 5).

Bruce R. McConkie

"Eighteen months before, at the second Passover of his ministry, Jesus had healed an impotent man on the Sabbath at the pool of Bethesda. (John 5:1-16.)...This miracle still perturbed them. Should they believe in him because of it or reject him for violating their Sabbath?" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 443.)

John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment

Dallin H. Oaks

"As a student of the scriptures and as a former judge, I have had a special interest in the many scriptures that refer to judging. The best known of these is 'Judge not, that ye be not judged' (3 Ne. 14:1; Matt. 7:1).

"I have been puzzled that some scriptures command us not to judge and others instruct us that we should judge and even tell us how to do it. But as I have studied these passages I have become convinced that these seemingly contradictory directions are consistent when we view them with the perspective of eternity. The key is to understand that there are two kinds of judging: final judgments, which we are forbidden to make, and intermediate judgments, which we are directed to make, but upon righteous principles...

"First, I speak of the final judgment...Since mortals cannot suppose that they will be acting as final judges at that future, sacred time, why did the Savior command that we not judge final judgments? I believe this commandment was given because we presume to make final judgments whenever we proclaim that any particular person is going to hell (or to heaven) for a particular act or as of a particular time. When we do this-and there is great temptation to do so-we hurt ourselves and the person we pretend to judge.

"The effect of one mortal's attempting to pass final judgment on another mortal is analogous to the effect on an athlete and observers if we could proclaim the outcome of an athletic contest with certainty while it was still under way. A similar reason forbids our presuming to make final judgments on the outcome of any person's lifelong mortal contest.

"The Prophet Joseph Smith said: 'While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; ... He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, ...not according to what they have not, but according to what they have, those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have a law, will be judged by that law' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 218).

"Thus, we must refrain from making final judgments on people because we lack the knowledge and the wisdom to do so...From all of this we see that the final judgment is the Lord's and that mortals must refrain from judging any human being in the final sense of concluding or proclaiming that he or she is irretrievably bound for hell or has lost all hope of exaltation.

"In contrast to forbidding mortals to make final judgments, the scriptures require mortals to make what I will call 'intermediate judgments.' These judgments are essential to the exercise of personal moral agency...We all make judgments in choosing our friends, in choosing how we will spend our time and our money, and, of course, in choosing an eternal companion. Some of these intermediate judgments are surely among those the Savior referenced when He taught that 'the weightier matters of the law' include judgment (Matt. 23:23).

"...Let us consider some principles or ingredients that lead to a 'righteous judgment.'

"First, a righteous judgment must, by definition, be intermediate...The gospel is a gospel of hope, and none of us is authorized to deny the power of the Atonement to bring about a cleansing of individual sins, forgiveness, and a reformation of life on appropriate conditions.

"Second, a righteous judgment will be guided by the Spirit of the Lord, not by anger, revenge, jealousy, or self-interest...

"Third, to be righteous, an intermediate judgment must be within our stewardship. We should not presume to exercise and act upon judgments that are outside our personal responsibilities...

"Fourth, we should, if possible, refrain from judging until we have adequate knowledge of the facts...

"A fifth principle of a righteous intermediate judgment is that whenever possible we will refrain from judging people and only judge situations...For example, I know of an LDS family with an older teenage son who has become addicted to smoking. The parents have insisted that he not smoke in their home or in front of his younger siblings. That is a wise judgment of a situation, not a person. Then, even as the parents take protective measures pertaining to a regrettable situation, they need to maintain loving relations and encourage improved conduct by the precious person.

"Sixth, forgiveness is a companion principle to the commandment that in final judgments we judge not and in intermediate judgments we judge righteously. The Savior taught, 'Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven' (Luke 6:37). In modern revelation the Lord has declared, 'I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men' (D&C 64:10).

"Seventh, a final ingredient or principle of a righteous judgment is that it will apply righteous standards... May God bless us that we may have that love and that we may show it in refraining from making final judgments of our fellowman. In those intermediate judgments we are responsible to make, may we judge righteously and with love. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of love." (Ensign, Aug. 1999, 7-13)

John 7:30 they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come

Spencer W. Kimball

"Someone has said, 'Anyone can found a religion,' and Talley-rand answered: 'Yes. If he is willing to die for it.' And the martyr is willing to do exactly that. But the powers of earth and hell cannot take him 'till 'the hour is come.'

"Abinadi when threatened by Noah's soldiery, cried out:

'Touch me not, for God shall smite you if ye lay your hands upon me, for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver; . . . therefore, God will not suffer that I shall be destroyed at this time.' (Mosiah 13:3.)

'Ye see that ye have not power to slay me, therefore I finish my message . . . and then it matters not whither I go, if it so be that I am saved.' (Ibid., 13:7-9)

"...[For Peter] There was no fear in his approach to eternity-only assurance and calm resignation to the inevitable martyrdom which he faced. He did not want to die but was willing thus to seal his testimony of the Redeemer

"Though the Savior had numerous times been in most hazardous situations, it was clear that his life could not be taken until his work was finished.  A large crowd of people had surrounded him, and there was much tumult in the temple. '. . . they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not come.' (John 7:30.)

"And again: '. . . Jesus walked into Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. (Ibid., 7:1.)' (Conference Report, April 1946, Afternoon Meeting 46.)

John 7:34 ye shall seek me, and shall not find me...thither ye cannot come

Jesus would soon go to Spirit Paradise, followed by his resurrection and ascension to the Father (Jn. 20:17). He was referencing his Father's throne as the place where they could not come. This reference is reminiscent of previous passages of Christ's heavenly home, 'What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?' (Jn. 6:62) He was reminding them that he didn't belong on earth; his place was at his Father's side. Yet mercifully, Christ's atonement makes it possible-eventually-for us to go where he is, to commune with the General Assembly and become members of the Church of the Firstborn.

John 7:37 If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink

Sterling W. Sill

"Emerson pointed out the consequences of failure in this important quest when he said, 'On the brink of an ocean of life and truth we are miserably dying. Sometimes we are furtherest away when we are closest by.' So frequently that is true...We are so near and yet we may be so far away. We are standing on the brink of an eternal life, and yet each must take the steps that will bring him there.

"Jesus gave us the best approach for this accomplishment when, on the last day of the passover feast, he stood up and cried, 'If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, . . . out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.' (John 7:37-38.) That is, our eternal success is not like pouring water into a cistern; rather it is like opening a living spring within ourselves. Through the Prophet Jeremiah the Lord said, 'For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out . . . broken cisterns, that can hold no water.' (Jer. 2:13.) And Jesus elaborated upon this idea by saying, '. . . unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life.' (D&C 63:23.) What a tremendous possibility for us!

"As Jesus was passing through Samaria on his way to Jerusalem, he stopped to rest at Jacob's well near the ancient city of Shechem and requested a drink from the woman of Sychar. He said to her, 'If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me a drink; thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. ''But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but [it] shall be in him a well of living water springing up into everlasting life.' (John 4:10, 14.)" (Conference Report, April 1968, First Day-Morning Meeting 16-17.)

Joseph B. Wirthlin

"These latter days are a time of great spiritual thirst. Many in the world are searching, often intensely, for a source of refreshment that will quench their yearning for meaning and direction in their lives. They crave a cool, satisfying drink of insight and knowledge that will soothe their parched souls. Their spirits cry out for life-sustaining experiences of peace and calm to nourish and enliven their withering hearts.

"Indeed, 'there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.' (DC 123:12) Let us work with all our heart, might, mind, and strength to show our thirsty brothers and sisters where they may find the living water of the gospel, that they may come to drink of the water that springs 'up unto everlasting life.'

"The Lord provides the living water that can quench the burning thirst of those whose lives are parched by a drought of truth. He expects us to supply to them the fulness of the gospel by giving them the scriptures and the words of the prophets and to bear personal testimony as to the truth of the restored gospel to alleviate their thirst. When they drink from the cup of gospel knowledge, their thirst is satisfied as they come to understand our Heavenly Father's great plan of happiness." (Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Living Water to Quench Spiritual Thirst," Ensign, May 1995, 19)

John 7:38 out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water

Joseph B. Wirthlin

"I bear my witness that President Hinckley has been foreordained, raised up, prepared, and called of God 'to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.' (3 Ne. 5:13) I have been well-acquainted with him since my early youth and have observed firsthand that the fabric of his noble character contains not a single shoddy thread. From the living water of the Lord and his restored gospel, President Hinckley has drunk deeply throughout his entire lifetime. Because of his righteous obedience, streams of living water have flowed and will continue to flow from him to quench the thirst of a spiritually parched world." ("Living Water to Quench Spiritual Thirst," Ensign, May 1995, 20)

John 7:39 for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified

Members of the Church have become so dependent on the gift of the Holy Ghost that it is hard for us to imagine understanding any truth without it. However, in the days of Christ's ministry, the gift of the Holy Ghost was not yet given. The influence of the Holy Ghost was still felt, but there was no need to have the Holy Ghost and Jesus present at the same time. There was no need for this sort of divine redundancy. Those hearing Christ preach, could understand his message by the light of Christ. However, they would understand things even more clearly after receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, for they were promised that 'he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance' (Jn. 14:26)

"Because of the statement that the Holy Ghost 'was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified' (John 7:37-39), many have thought that the Holy Ghost was not enjoyed in any degree by anyone before the day of Pentecost spoken of in Acts chapter 2. There is sufficient in the Bible to determine this is not so." (Robert J. Matthews, Behold the Messiah [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 40.)

John 7:41 Shall Christ come out of Galilee?

Christ had just taught the people that they should 'judge righteous judgment' (v. 24). Yet, their personal prejudice and self-righteousness are evident in the way they condescendingly speak of Galileans. They were judging according to their traditions (see JST Jn. 7:24), not according to righteousness. The Master would not correct them by declaring his rightful birth in Bethlehem because 'He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory' (v. 18).

"Jerusalem was the place where the sects (Pharisees and Sadducees) flourished, with few of their followers dwelling outside its vicinity. The masses that made up the towns and villages of the land were known as the Am haAretz or the 'people of the land.' Uninstructed in the detail of the traditions, they were looked upon as ignorant, common, country folk. The people of the region of Galilee and the countryside of Judea fell short in the eyes of the sects in fulfilling the requirements of the law of God. The scriptural record demonstrates the skeptical view held of the country folk by the religionists, 'Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? ...' (John 1:46.) 'Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.' (John 7:52.) Yet it was from among the people of the land that Jesus called those who were to be apostles." (Edward J. Brandt, "Everyday Life in Palestine," Ensign, Sept. 1974, 22)

John 7:50-51 Nicodemus saith...Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him

Spencer J. Condie

"Nicodemus also eventually overcame his trepidation and his fear of not appearing to be respectable. He defended the Savior before the chief priests and Pharisees, saying: 'Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?' This was a very daring course of action on the part of Nicodemus, for it caused his colleagues to ask, 'Art thou also of Galilee?' (John 7:51-52.) The courage of Nicodemus in the face of opposition was confirmed at the crucifixion site when he 'brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes' to assist in the preparation of the crucified body of Jesus (John 19:39)." (Your Agency, Handle with Care [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 47.)