John 7

The Light of the World[a]

Jesus, Sign of Contradiction

Chapter 7

Jesus’ Time Has Not Yet Been Fulfilled.[b] 1 After this, Jesus resumed his travels throughout Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill him.

2 However, when the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was drawing near, 3 his brethren[c] said to him, “Depart from here and go into Judea so that your disciples can perceive the works you are doing. 4 No one who wishes to be publicly known acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, reveal yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brethren believed in him. 6 Jesus answered them,

“My time has not yet come,
but your time is always right.
7 The world cannot hate you,
but it does hate me
because I testify against it
that its works are evil.
8 Go up to the feast yourselves.
I am not going to this feast,
because my time has not yet fully come.”

9 After he had said this, he stayed behind in Galilee. 10 Later, however, after his brethren had gone up to the feast, he himself also went, not publicly, but in secret.

11 During the feast the Jews were looking for him and asking, “Where is he?” 12 There was widespread murmuring about him among the crowds. Some maintained, “He is a good man,” but others insisted, “No, for he is leading the people astray.” 13 However, no one spoke openly about him for fear of the Jews.

14 Do Not Judge by Appearances.[d] When the feast was half over, Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. 15 The Jews were astonished, and they wondered, “How has this man acquired such knowledge when he has never studied?”[e] 16 Jesus answered them,

“My teaching is not my own;
rather, it comes from him who sent me.
17 Anyone who resolves to do his will
will know whether my teaching comes from God
or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
18 Whoever speaks on his own authority
is simply seeking his own glory,
but whoever seeks the glory
of the one who sent him
is a truthful person,
and there is no dishonesty in him.
19 “Did not Moses give you the Law?
And not one of you keeps the Law.
Why are you trying to kill me?”

20 The crowd shouted, “You are possessed! Who is trying to kill you?” 21 Jesus replied,

“I performed a single work,[f]
and all of you are astonished.
22 Moses gave you circumcision
—although it did not originate with Moses
but with the patriarchs—
and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.
23 Now if a man can be circumcised on the Sabbath
so that the Law of Moses may not be broken,
why are you angry with me
for making a man’s entire body
completely healthy on the Sabbath?
24 Do not base your judgment on appearances;
judge according to what is right.”

25 Where Is Jesus from and Where Is He Going?[g] Then some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, “Is this not the man they are trying to kill? 26 And yet he is speaking publicly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities realize that he is the Christ? 27 And yet we know where this man is from. But when the Christ appears, no one will know where he is from.”

28 Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple,

“You know me,
and you also know where I am from.
Yet I have not come of my own accord,
but he who sent me is true.
You do not know him,
29 but I know him
because I am from him
and it was he who sent me.”

30 So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him because his hour had not yet come. 31 Yet many in the crowd believed in him, and they said, “When the Christ comes, will he perform more signs than this man has accomplished?”

32 When the Pharisees overheard the crowd murmuring about him, the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. 33 Jesus then said,

“I will remain with you
only for a short time longer,
and then I shall return
to him who sent me.
34 You will search for me,
but you will not find me,
for where I am you cannot come.”

35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not be able to find him? Will he go abroad to the people who are dispersed among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36 What does he mean when he says, ‘You will search for me, but you will be unable to find me,’ and ‘Where I am you cannot come’?”

37 Streams of Living Water.[h][i]On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and cried out,

“If anyone is thirsty,
let him come to me and drink.
38 Whoever believes in me,
as Scripture has said,
‘Streams of living water
shall flow from within him.’ ”

39 Now he was referring here to the Spirit whom those who believed in him were to receive. As yet the Spirit had not been bestowed because Jesus had not yet been glorified.

40 People Are Divided concerning Jesus.[j] On hearing these words, some in the crowd said, “This must truly be the Prophet.” 41 Others thought, “This is the Christ.” But still others retorted, “How can the Christ come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture assert that the Christ will be of the seed of David and come from Bethlehem, the city where David lived?” 43 As a result, the crowd was sharply divided because of him. 44 Some of them even wanted to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him.

45 Then the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?” 46 The guards answered, “No one has ever spoken as this man has.” 47 Then the Pharisees said, “Have you also been deceived? 48 Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees come to believe in him? 49 As for this crowd, they do not know the Law—they are cursed.”

50 One of them, Nicodemus, who had previously come to Jesus, said to them, 51 “Does our Law allow us to pass judgment on someone without first giving him a hearing to ascertain what he is doing?” 52 They replied, “Are you too a Galilean? Look it up, and you will find that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.”

Chapter 8

Jesus, Savior of Sinners

A Woman Caught in Adultery.[k] [7:53Then each of them returned home.


  1. John 7:1 The feast of Tabernacles, one of the most important Jewish solemnities, was a harvest festival. There was also a commemoration of the miraculous deeds that God had done for his people in the wilderness, with a joyous feast of lamps, a festival of lights. The feast was the ideal setting in which to present Christ as the Word of God who had come to enlighten and save everyone.
  2. John 7:1 From now on the threat of death hangs over Jesus and creates tension for him. The tension has to be relieved as quickly as possible. A gathering of people in Jerusalem would be a good occasion for rallying them and neutralizing the adversaries. An impressive public manifestation by Jesus would also be helpful; people would at least know what to make of him. So reason the “brethren” of Jesus—that is, the relatives if not the disciples.
    But these perspectives of glory have no hold on Jesus. He has come to fulfill God’s plan; this is not the same as looking for a temporary success. He also has come to turn back the course of evil, falsehood, and hatred in the world. Jesus overcame the hatred of the world by handing himself over to it.
  3. John 7:3 Brethren: i.e., according to Hebrew idiom, close relatives. See note on Mt 12:46.
  4. John 7:14 Personal success is never the motive for an action of Jesus. His words and his miracles testify that he is the messenger of the Father. Jesus lives by this testimony, of which he is convinced, and does not defend any doctrine of a school or group; one care alone impels him: that the Father’s plan for us be recognized and fulfilled.
    Only those will understand Jesus who take the Law seriously in its deep inspiration and know the price of fidelity to God. But those who accuse Jesus of violating the Law and take upon themselves the authority to condemn him fail to recognize him.
  5. John 7:15 The people want to know how Jesus can teach like a rabbi, when he was never trained by one and never quotes his teacher.
  6. John 7:21 A single work: the work of which Jesus speaks may be the cure of the paralytic that is recounted in Jn 5:1-15.
  7. John 7:25 The new prophet intrigues the people. He is one of theirs, yet claims an origin that does not cease to be mysterious. Some of the people are tempted to recognize him as the Messiah. The official authorities rebel against this temptation and want him arrested. In veiled words, Jesus announces his return to the Father (vv. 33-34). The authorities see this as an attempt to flee Palestine.
    In all these contrasts there is perhaps some irony. Jesus escapes the people who want to place him in their preconceived ideas, just as he escapes the people who want to lay hands on him. Jesus can be talked about endlessly; it is quite another thing to accept his mystery.
  8. John 7:37 The last day was for the pilgrims a festival of water. How many symbolic meanings water evokes! Water had flowed miraculously from the rock in the midst of the wilderness to slake the thirst of the Hebrews (Ex 17:1-7). The Prophets had foretold a spring that would some day open in the midst of the people (Ezek 47:1; Zec 14:8). In all areas affected by drought, water is a sign of life and joy; it is a gift of God. Christians think of Pentecost and Baptism.
  9. John 7:37 An alternative reading and translation is: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let him who believes in me drink. As Scripture has said. . . .” In this second reading, the Scripture passage refers to Jesus and not to the believer. See Ps 105:41; Isa 44:3; 48:21; Ezek 36:25; Joel 3:1; etc.
  10. John 7:40 The upper class felt only contempt for the ordinary people. How could one accept a Messiah who came from distant Galilee, where Jews mingled with Gentiles and were cut off from the heart of Jewish life? Some justified their rejection by citing passages of the Law, but there were others who appealed to the spirit of the Law.
  11. John 7:53 This story is missing in a number of ancient manuscripts and is inserted at other points in others; it does not seem to be from the author of the fourth Gospel, for it is written in quite a different style. However, it has been accepted by the Church as the work of an inspired author.
    We are struck by the portrait of Jesus found herein: his silence, his sober gesture, his refusal to use religion as a pretext to spy on and judge others, and his courage to proclaim his own truth. It is pointless to ask what he wrote on the ground. Let us dwell on what he considered the Law to be: it condemns sin not so that people may judge one another but so that they may feel the need to be saved by God. And it is to this salvation that he bears witness.

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