Revelation – Philadelphia

The Letter to the Church in Philadelphia in a Nutshell:

Jesus the Holy One who opens that which no one can close says to the church in Philadelphia that He knows their works. He knows that although they have limited strength they have kept His word and He has opened a door for them which no one can close. He knows they kept the command to endure and will He keep them from the hour of testing. He will write on them God’s name, the name of New Jerusalem, and His name.

As always there is a lot here. First off this is not Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. You have probably heard Philadelphia called the city of brotherly love and that is not so much a nickname but the meaning of the name. It is a two-part name that combines philos and adelphos. Philos means love, dearly loved, or friendship while adelphos means a brother or friend. Put them together and you get brotherly love or to love a brother. The church Jesus was speaking to was an ancient city but the meaning of the name is the same. The question we should be asking is what does this have to do with us and with the letter itself, and I think it has a lot to do with us and the letter.

Jesus tells the church that He knows they have little strength but that they have kept His word and not denied His name. So we should ask what was His word? Jesus spoke a lot of words but they usually had something to do with loving your neighbor, loving God, and going out to preach the Gospel. It would seem then that the church of brotherly love was doing just that even though they were weak and tired. They believed the best way to love your brother is to tell them about Jesus. That is a sure sign of love if you ask me.

If we love the world we tell them about Jesus because Jesus is the expression of the Father’s love. Remember John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever should believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. Hebrews 1:3 helps by telling us that Jesus is the exact representation of His (God) being. So if we claim to love those who do not know Jesus then we tell them about Him because we believe He is love, and He has a better plan for their life then they do.

But what about when you are weak and tired? I know I get weak and tired sometimes. I know sometimes I barely feel like I can push on and just don’t feel like telling people. That happens, and it is not a good time. However, when I get like that I think back to Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman. When asked by the disciples if He had already eaten something He told them He had food they did not know about. The food He spoke about was sharing God’s love and goodness with people. I know for me when I get focused on the thing Jesus told me to do I can go and go like the energizer bunny because I have tapped into something real and powerful.

So today I just have a little encouragement for you. If you are tired and feel like you cannot reach anyone just keep pushing. You are touching people and you might not even know it. You are making a difference just don’t give up. Jesus said He would place an open door and no one can close what God opens. If you are tired and don’t know Jesus but want to, then just ask Him to show you who He is. I am confident He will.

Just a thought,

Mike

Revelation – Sardis

The Letter to the Church in Sardis in a Nutshell:

Jesus the one who has the seven spirits and seven stars tells the church in Sardis that while they have a reputation for being alive the truth is they are dead. If they do not strengthen what they do have He will come and remove them. They need to remember what they received, keep it, and repent. He also knows that not everyone in Sardis is like this and the victor will be dressed in white.

The problem I am going to have with this letter is as someone who loves to teach and preach a topic like this one floods the brain with possibilities. However, we are trying to be brief and keep these where we live so… Sardis, by and large, was dead spiritually, but what does that mean? Jesus says, “”Remember…what you have received and heard,” I think we could infer that they were forgetting what they had received and heard. If we go into the history of Sardis a little we see that the area had been conquered twice in the past because the people did not watch out for invaders. If we put these together we get a bigger picture that they got complacent and forgot what happened. Instead of letting the past (both good and bad) give them wisdom they just forgot all about it, and the truth is we can do that too.

It is pretty easy to forget about the past especially in our day. Here is an example I am sure most people can relate too. Have you ever seen something on Facebook and then went to scroll back to it only to not know who posted it? You search and search but you don’t remember enough about it to find it. Or how many times have you looked at your phone to see the time only to realize you didn’t even see the time (you probably did see your notifications though).

What if we go a little deeper. Why did your last relationship fail? Why did your last job not work out? What about that best friend from high school or worst enemy from high school? These things might be long gone for you but the lessons learned can still be used now. What about this, do you remember what it felt like to carry your own guilt and shame before you found out Jesus carried it to the cross for you? All of these things are important and some like the cross are extremely important. If we forget the important things and just become complacent in today then we run the risk of becoming dull and dead.

I have known spiritually dull Christians. Some are very good at pretending to be alive but they are not. They do a good job of looking the part but it is all an act. Jesus sees the heart and He knows what is for show and what is real. He cannot be fooled into thinking you are alive when you are not. Sometimes we have to go back to the basics and that is ok. We have to remember what we have received and heard to make sure we are on the track we should be on. It is easy to get off track but thankfully we serve a gracious and forgiving God who loves to get us back to where we should be. Whenever you get thrown off track just stop and ask God to remind you of what He gave you in the first place.

Just a thought,

Mike

Revelation – Thyatira

The Letter to the Church in Thyatira in a Nutshell

Jesus the one whose eye are like fire and has feet like bronze tells the church in Thyatira that He knows their works. That they have love, faithfulness, service, and endurance. More than that the works they do now are more than when they started. However, they are tolerating or allowing Jezebel to teach their people and she is leading them astray into sexual immorality and idol worship. He is giving her a chance to repent but she will not. He also knows that not all are following her and commends them for this.

There is again a lot going on here. The church in Thyatira is like the reverse of the church in Ephesus. Instead of being tight in theology and lacking in love they are big on love and lacking theology. They are devoted to love and serving those in need. The church is feeding the homeless, giving backpacks to kids for school, teaching skills to the underprivileged, and doing many other acts of love in Jesus name. Not only that they are doing more than they have ever done before. These people understood what it was to love like Jesus. They were committed to the cause of Christ. But there is a problem; they were severely lacking in doctrine.

The church in Thyatira for as good as they were had let in Jezebel and allowed her to lead them astray into sexual immorality and idol worship. If you have read the Bible at all then you might go oh no, and if you haven’t then you might not see the big deal. Jezebel is synonymous with total debauchery, corruption, or depravity. If you call someone a Jezebel then it is a high insult. That is the person the church had let in and was allowing to teach. Jesus said you get the love and that is great but I will not let you go on with this teaching.

We should really look at Thyatira and Ephesus together. We have some churches that are all about truth and some churches that are all about love. Jesus says you need both because I am both. Jesus says in John 8:32 you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. 1 John 4:8 says God is love. Romans 8:29 says we are to be transformed into the image of His (God’s) Son. God is truth, God is love, and God wants us to be like Jesus. That means being truth and love. We cannot be so dogmatic that we place demands on people that God never placed on them, but we cannot let people think it is OK to go on sinning and living like they are not saved. It is a balance just like raising children.

Some say, “people should be allowed to do what they feel is right.” Well no that is not true, and in fact, that is just flat out wrong. If that was the case we would not have laws. Like I said with children it is a balance. My daughter will have a much better relationship with her mother if she is respectful. They will laugh and play and have a grand ole time. However, if she is being disrespectful then they will have conflict so my part of my job is to make sure she is respectful so she can have joy in the relationship. That means boundaries and rules because I love her and want her to enjoy the fullness.

I bet if Ephesus and Thyatira got together they would have a dynamite church but they were too busy thinking their thing was the most important thing. Maybe we should listen to the Spirit and be the most loving caring people out there who are wise enough to know what is true and what is false regardless of personal preference but are careful to love everyone just like Jesus does.

Just a thought,

Mike

Revelation – Pergamum

The Letter to the Church in Pergamum in a Nutshell

Jesus the one with a double-edged sword says He knows where they live. He knows the people are holding firm to His name and that one of them has already paid the ultimate price for following Him. But He also knows that they have let in and tolerate people who are trying to lead the astray. They need to repent and turn back to Christ. He says if they will then He will give them hidden manna and white stone with a new name.

There is really just so much here. If you have read the Old Testament and specifically the account of the Exodus and the wandering in the wilderness then you can see the connections here. I am going to have to work hard here to keep this brief.

This is another some good some bad letter (like Ephesus). Here Jesus tells them that He knows where they live, and that is important to note because Pergamum was the center of emperor worship. They worshiped the emperor like a god, and one of their own had already paid the price for not conforming.

OK, we’ve got that and as much as I would like to talk about that I really want to talk about Balaam. You might remember his story because he was the one who’s donkey spoke, but there is a lot more to the story. Balaam was hired by a fellow by the name of Balak to curse the Israelites but when he tried he found he could not. He makes a fantastic statement in Numbers 23:19 which was actually the first verse I ever learned.

God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?

Basically, what it means is if God has determined something then no one and nothing can come against it. So the problem was Balaam could not curse what God what God had blessed; however, the people could go astray from what God had called them to. Balaam figured that if the people broke God’s commandments then He could not bless them while they were being disobedient. But what do we do with that? As Christians, we are not bound to the Mosaic law but under grace. Well, that is true but we can still be disobedient to God. God cannot bless you if you are being willfully disobedient to Him, and that is what is going on here. As an example think about 1 Peter 3:7 where Peter tells the men to love and respect their wives so that their prayers are not hindered.  

The people in Pergamum had let in people that were trying to get them away from following God’s truth. You might have heard the expression “exchanging the truth of God for a lie” and that is part of what this means. They were letting people in the church teach them things that lead them away from God. We can do this in our own lives. We can let TV, music, friends, work, or really just about anything come into our lives and take over our values, morals, and ideals. We have to get rid of those things. It is not easy, but it is necessary. I used to go through a purge every couple of years where I would find everything I thought was causing me to stumble and dump it. Then, of course, I would add stuff back in and then purge again. This cycle kept on until I started to realize what I needed to stop and not allow in my life that did not belong there. It can be different for everyone so you need to watch your own steps.

For example, I was a huge grunge fan growing up. I had the look, the attitude, and the music memorized. The whole scene summed up what I thought about life. I was also a bad kid. I mean I was nasty, mean, and usually on something. So now while I still love me some grunge music I can’t listen to it now. It brings me somewhere I can’t go. So I don’t let that thing in my life that has the ability to make me stumble. Everyone has their own thing. We all have areas like that. Areas that we need to guard against and protect. We can’t let someone or something into our lives that takes us to a place that Jesus said we should not go and expect Him to bless us there.

 

Just a thought,

Mike

 

Revelation – Smyrna

The Letter to the Church in Smyrna in a Nutshell:

The church in Smyrna was under pressure. Jesus says I know your affliction and poverty yet you are rich. He tells them He is aware people are persecuting them, and that they are going to have more sufferings but to stay faithful. He goes on to say that the victor will never be harmed by the second death.

Jesus had nothing bad to say about the church in Smyrna. They were doing good, and by that, I  mean as my wife would say they were not “doing” but “being.” There was no fault that needed to be brought up. They were tight in theology and love.

There is actually quite a bit that could be discussed in Jesus’s address to the church in Smyrna. We could come at this from a few different angles and if this was a sermon then I probably would but because we are just trying to bring this home to where we live I’ll try my best to stay there.

The church or more specifically the people in the church were being persecuted and attacked for their faith in Jesus. Now this still happens in parts of the world, but I don’t want to talk about persecution except to say remember to pray for and find ways to serve those who are persecuted. There are people all over the world who are run out of their homes, attacked, threatened, and killed because they trust the name of Jesus.

Here is the thing I think we should take away from this letter…Jesus Knows. He calls Himself the first and the last and says that He knows their affliction or trouble. That is something we should take comfort in. Knowing that Jesus who sits at the right hand of the Father and lives to make intercession for us knows what we are going through should help you go through it. Now this is where faith comes in. If He knows why then why doesn’t He change the situation? I can’t answer that because I have no idea. I mean maybe it is something you need to go through to help someone, help yourself, learn something, maybe you never get to know. I am sure that sounds like a copout, but I would be overstretching if I tried to answer why you are going through what you are going through. Part of me wants to be able to tell someone why they are going through what they are going through but honestly there can be so many reasons (including you did it to yourself) but in the end, we live in a fallen world.

What we have to do is go beyond the question of why and just know that He is aware. He is not caught off guard when His people suffer. We could play the comparison game where you tell me what you are going through and then I try and top you and we go back and forth, but that does not actually accomplish anything. Instead, what I can do is tell you that Jesus loves you. He sees your pain, your hurt, and He cares deeply. Think about when Lazarus died. Some say that Jesus wept for Lazarus, but I have always held a different view. I have always thought that Jesus wept not for Lazarus but because of effects of sin. Lazarus was dead because he lived in a fallen world where death happens. Just remember Jesus knows, He not only knows, but He cares. Take a minute and just pray, tell Him why you are hurting. Be honest about it. It is not so He will know, but so you can get it out. You let it out and let Him in. He has made you the victor!

Just a thought,

Mike

Intro and Ephesus

Over the next few posts, I want to look at what is commonly referred to as the Seven Letters to the Churches in the book of Revelation. I want to preface with a few things before we begin.

First, we are not going to look at the prophetic or even the apocalyptic nature of the book of Revelation. We could spend time going into issues of pre, mid, or post tribulation. We could look at the different thoughts on dispensationalism or the dating of the book, but that is not going to be our focus. There is a time and place for that, but it is not here. Instead, we are going to bring these books to where you and I live most of our lives. I asked myself a question as my daughter was asking me questions about Revelation and that was what do I or can I do with these letters? I noticed over and over Jesus saying, “Anyone who has an ear should hear what the Spirit says to the churches” so I thought it best to listen.

Secondly, each church was to read what was said to the other churches. So you could read and say, “Jesus likes what we are doing but thinks we should improve here or there. Oh, look what the brothers and sisters in XXXX are being told. Let’s do or not do that.” We, in the same way, should use the letters as a mirror and be honest about our situation.

Finally, we are not going to look at the book as a whole. I know to some that is near blasphemy but just chill and take a walk with me. I would like us to look at these letters and see what can we do with them and how can we apply what Jesus was saying. I believe that in each address made to the individual church there is something we can learn and apply to our lives. The post will be somewhat terse but for our purposes, I think it will suffice. I believe we can all learn a lot from what the Spirit had/has to say. So this will serve as the introduction and as the saying goes “On with the show!”

The Letter to the Church in Ephesus in a Nutshell:

Jesus tells John to write to the church in Ephesus and tell them He likes that they are strong in their theology. They are doing well to test those who say they are apostles (think important in the church). Jesus likes that they do not tolerate evil and that they hate the practices of the Nicolaitans. However, they have lost their love. For all they have going for them Jesus says He will take away their lampstand because they have lost their love.

We can “do” all the right things but we must do them from a place of love. We cannot grow cold in our devotion to the truth even though it is easy to do. Things like taking care of the sick, poor, impoverished, those in prison, and so on are of extreme importance. We cannot stop caring for those in need. Right now there is a big debate going on about Syrian refugees, and while I am not going to tell you what I think (partly because I am still working through my thoughts) we should take the time to examine what Jesus said about these types of things. It is also the Christmas season so we have people asking for money, toys, and food on nearly every corner. What did Jesus say about that?

The bigger questions do the hurting that exist in the world hurt you, and does the suffering of your brothers and sisters in Christ make you wonder what you should do? I know that not everyone can do everything. Sometimes you are the one in need I get that. But can you do something? Do you have it in you to do something for those who are hurting? Can you give time, money, or prayer?

Galatians 6:9 – So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.

John 13:35 – By this all people will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another.

There are a lot of other Scriptures about this topic, but these two are a good start. Do good, and love. Jesus said we are to love God and love our neighbor. Yes be theologically sound (we’ll talk about that in another letter) but don’t forget it is God’s goodness that draws men to repentance. don’t become so hard with the truth that you kill those who need help.To put it another way, don’t Bible thump. It is a fine line that requires much prayer, much studying, and much love.

Remember Jesus loved that the church in Ephesus was tight in their theology, but He said He would shut the church down because they forgot to love.

 

Just a thought,

Mike

 

AN EXEGESIS OF JOHN 7:37-44

THIS IS THE CHRIST:AN EXEGESIS OF JOHN 7:37-44

AN EXEGESIS OF JOHN 7:37-44

 

Main Idea

Jesus is the Christ, and the Prophet promised in the Old Testament. He is the source of new life, and because of this belief in Him is the requirement to live out this new life. All who believe in Him are given the Spirit to flow in them like living waters.

Outline 

  1. Jesus has living waters for those who thirst and believe in Him. (John 7:37-38)
  2. The living waters are revealed to be the Holy Spirit. (John 7:39)
  3. Jesus meets the requirements for Messiah and Prophet. (John 7:40-44)

 

Introduction

In chapter 6:1-20 John records two sign miracles; the feeding of the five thousand and Jesus walking on water. He then moves to record the first I Am statement of Jesus in 6:35 where Jesus says that He is the bread of life and that all who eat of Him will never be hungry and all who drink of Him will never be thirsty. These statements culminate with many disciples leaving Jesus and Peter’s statement that Jesus has the words of eternal life. While there is an undisclosed time span between John 6:70 and 7:1 the teachings of Jesus had been building for some time as He continued to show Himself as Messiah, Prophet, and God incarnate. His teachings were in line with the Old Testament, although, not compatible with the teachings and doctrines of the Pharisees. Jesus had not made an appearance in Jerusalem since the rulers had sought to kill Him for healing on the Sabbath and making Himself equal with God (see John 5:18). Before Jesus makes His proclamation at the end of the feast He answers accusations against His authority (7:16-19) and addresses the question of His previous healing on the Sabbath (7:21-24). From there He is able to move to His proclamation that He is the source of living waters (7:37-38).

 CONTEXT

Historical Context

             Due to the ambiguous way the author chose to identify himself simply as the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 21:7, 20) there is not have a positive identification for the author. As expected this has led to debate as to not only the author, but the location, time of writing, and original audience. While tradition assigns authorship to John the son of Zebedee other candidates have been suggested ranging from Apostle Thomas, Lazarus, an unnamed disciple, and even second century Christians as the author(s) of the Fourth Gospel. Although theories range, tradition dating back to the mid 100’s teach, and it is generally accepted John the Apostle wrote at least, or was the authority of the bulk of the book.[1] As mentioned there are those who have argued that the Gospel of John is a second century work written to battle Gnostic teaching, but as John Drane points out the discovery of the Gnostic Gospels in 1945 shows us there “was a vast difference between the world of John’s Gospel, and the world of classical Gnosticism.”[2]

Regarding the location of the writing, again this is not a concrete matter, but it is believed that John wrote his Gospel in Asia minor around the area of Ephesus with most scholars giving the date of the writing in the mid 90’s.[3] It should not be assumed that this community was the target audience but the first audience. John’s stated purpose for writing is that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name (John 20:31).[4] With this in mind it is easy to see that the book was meant to travel beyond its original location.

There is division amongst scholars as to if an editor or editors went back through the book to add in details for second century Christians who might not be familiar with the topography or customs of first century Palestine.[5] While it is possible that some revisions took place if it is to be accepted that the author was indeed an eyewitness (21:24) then not all details can, or should be attributed to revisions. John’s audience was that of Greeks, and Jews who were not of the location where events took place, and as such he was highly selective, and detailed in what he chose to record making the Fourth Gospel “theological historiography.”[6]

Literary Context

From the first verse to the last John seeks to present Jesus as Messiah, and God incarnate. As such Jesus is continually shown not only as coming from, and returning to the Father, but in fact, being one with Him (10:3; 17:21). This is accomplished through the selectivity of the sign miracles four of which are unique to John, and the seven great “I Am” statements of Jesus.[7] Each  “I Am” statement of Jesus adds a layer of exclusivity to the fact that Jesus was not the messiah the people expected, but God in human form. Finally, the dialog that is contained in the book is different than that of the Synoptic Gospels in that there are no parables and few short sayings, but longer discourses in which Jesus expresses His awareness that He is divine.[8] Jesus is often found using words with double or deeper meanings as well. A notable example would be John 3:3 where Jesus tells Nicodemus that you must be born again where He uses the adverb ánōthen which means both “again”, and “from above”. Nicodemus assumes Jesus is referring “to again”, but He is of course, speaking of “from above.”

Moving on to John 7, John opens by saying that Jesus was in Galilee because the Jews of Judea sought to kill Him. He goes on to record a conversation between Jesus, and His brothers. Jesus’s brothers argue that if He was indeed the Messiah then He would do His works at the Feast of Tabernacles so they could be seen by others.[9] The response of Jesus about His “time” is somewhat vague and has been used by some as meaning time for His death. The idea of proper times is a recurring theme in John, and Jesus here could be using the word in two ways. First that it is not the proper moment to leave for the feast and second that it was not time to make Himself known in that way which would lead to some want to take Him. From here we see that Jesus then waits to attend the feast until after His brothers have left so He may go in secret (7:10).

The Feast of Tabernacles is the third of the great annual feast, and would have given Jesus access to a large crowd. The timing of the teaching seems to harken back to Jesus’s words in v 6 as the middle of the feast were half holy days which allowed for people to interact in a more relaxed manner and purchase items needed for the feast.[10] His teaching first is to show that God is the one who gave Jesus the authority to teach, and not one of the rabbinical schools (7:15). John then records how Jesus points out that the some are plotting to kill Him for healing a man on the Sabbath. His teachings begin to cause some in the crowd to question whether or not He is the Christ, and if the rulers have accepted His teaching as well.

 CONTENT

 John 7:37-39

During the feast of Tabernacles, the Jews, would present or give a water offering that was poured out near the altar.[11] The crowds would stand watching as the procession moved throughout the streets. Water brought from the Pool of Siloam would be poured out while the priest recited the Great Hallel as the crowds watched and followed along.[12] Jesus made His bold proclamation on the last and great day of the Feast. John records this by saying that Jesus stood and cried out. The verb used for cried is krázō and is used for a raven’s cry, crying out in agony, or to speak with a loud voice as in this case.[13] The same verb used for when the crowd calls for Jesus’s crucifixion before Pilate in Matt. 27:23 is used here showing that Jesus was loud and intended all to hear His words.

Jesus’s statement that anyone who thirsts should come to Him is at least two-fold. One, being that the Feast of Tabernacles is a remembrance of the Wilderness experience this would contrast with Moses who struck the rock at Kadesh (Exod. 17:6). While water was provided in the wilderness this was temporary refreshment, and only for the body. Jesus offers permanent refreshment that cannot be taken away, nor is His provision merely for the body.  At the same time, this seems to echo Isa. 55 as well as other places where God declares that everyone who thirsts can come to Him and freely receive. The gift of water or life is free, eternal, and God given. This also marks the third mention of thirsting and life-giving waters in John’s Gospel. First, with the Samaritan woman at the well in chapter 4, second when Jesus declares that He is the bread of life in chapter 6, and now here in chapter 7.

Jesus continues in verse 38 to say that the Scriptures themselves speak of Him. He does not appear to be alluding to one particular section of the Scriptures instead that the whole of Scripture testifies for Him. Specific verses such as Isa. 12:3, and 43:20 which reference water in connection with salvation are helpful to see a connection between this statement and water. However, what Jesus is saying here is that the Scriptures point to Him as the Messiah, and source of eternal life. From the protoevangelium in Gen. 3:15, to the Messianic prophecies in the Torah, prophets, and wisdom literature the plan of salvation has been recorded and leading up to Jesus.

Jesus places belief in Him as a requirement upon those who wish to receive the living waters. John uses the Greek verb pisteúō (believe) more than the other Gospels with 99 occurrences compared to Matthew’s 10, Mark’s 10, and Luke’s 9. Pisteúō does not simply mean to be persuaded of, but to place confidence in, or as Vine’s says “reliance, not mere credence.”[14] In Acts 5:14 the verb is used to describe those who were being added to the Lord.

As seen in verse 39 the “living water” that Jesus refers to is the Spirit Himself. This is a dynamic shift away from the classical thinking of the Holy Spirit. The phrase “Holy Spirit” is only found three times in the Old Testament; once in Ps. 53:11, and twice in Isa. 63:10, and 11. Typically the Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of God or the Spirit of the LORD. Between these titles, and the actual function of the Spirit in the Old Testament the prevailing thought was that the Spirit was an agent of God and that He was the immediate source of all life.[15] The function of the Spirit to empower people to do God’s work has not changed and is found throughout Scripture, however, a more fully developed understanding is not found until the New Testament. The idea of the Holy Spirit living or indwelling a believer is a prominent New Testament teaching.

The idea of the Spirit being a “river of living water” draws a parallel between the life-giving waters of Ezek. ch 47. The waters flowing from under the temple not only bring life but also turn the foul waters fresh (Ezek. 47:1,8;9).[16] What is being stated is that no longer will the Holy Spirit be an external force that comes upon the people of God, but the very one who gives life will flow out from within those who believe in Jesus. Christ here is then showing that the Holy Spirit will have a place in the believer. This can also serve to show the interconnectedness of the Father, Son, and Spirit as the Spirit comes from the Father because of the Son.[17]

As previously mentioned John explains that the rivers of living water is the Holy Spirit (v39) which would not be received or given until after Jesus had been glorified.[18] Speaking on the Spirit, Jesus says in 16:7 of John’s Gospel that He must return to the Father so that the Spirit may come. Only by the perfect sacrifice and resurrection does the connection to the Father that was lost by Adam become reestablished. The glory that is received is not just the sacrificial death, but the resurrection of Jesus as well.[19] First the Son was to be glorified, and then the Spirit was to be given. The glorification of Jesus makes the giving of the Spirit possible, however, only to those who believe in Him (v38). In Acts, chapter 2 Luke records the receiving and first filling of the Holy Spirit by the disciples at Pentecost.

John 7:40-44

John records that there was a division in the crowd as to whether Jesus was the Prophet (prophētēs) promised in Deut. 18:18 or if He was the Messiah.[20] This is an understandable confusion given the misunderstandings that surrounded the function of the Messiah. The Prophet was understood to be one like Moses who would speak what God commands in matters of spiritual affairs, conversely, the Messiah would be one who ruled the nation of Israel politically.[21] The issue lies in the incorrect assumption that the Messiah was to come and set the people free from foreign rule. Jesus did come to set the people free, however, this was from their slavery to sin (John 8:31-36), and not from their service to Rome. Some Rabbis believed in doctrines such as the premundane existence of the Messiah, His elevation above Moses and angels, and the suffering Servant. Nevertheless, the preoccupying thought since around the time of the exilic period was one of national re-birthing which caused the rabbinic teachers to focus on an Earthly kingdom instead of the Heavenly kingdom.[22] God had given ample Scripture to show the Messiah was coming, however, due to their circumstances they chose to focus almost solely on national deliverance.[23]

As mentioned above, the Scriptures contain a great deal of information concerning the coming Messiah. For example, Mic. 5:2 speaks of the fact that the Messiah will come from Bethlehem which the crowd rightly remembered. Bethlehem holds significance in the line of the Messiah as this was the place where David was from, and where he was anointed by Samuel. The book of Ruth has most major parts in Bethlehem as well.[24] The Messiah was to come from the line of David, and from David’s hometown (2 Sam. 7).

Both Matthew and Luke recount the nativity story in chapter 2 of their Gospels showing Jesus born in Bethlehem. They also both give a genealogy list showing that Jesus is David’s descendant. Matthew gives the lineage of Joseph showing Jesus as heir through Solomon. Luke gives us Jesus’s genealogy through Mary which traces back through Nathan who is another son of David.[25] All of these things again reinforce that Jesus is indeed the Christ.

Because of the crowd’s confusion on whether or not Jesus was Prophet or Messiah, and the shortage of information the crowd had regarding His place of birth a division arose. Indeed, there were some who believed Him to be Messiah as noted in verse 41. The text does not make clear whether the ones who believed in Him had knowledge of His birthplace, or if they assumed that because of His works and words that He must be the Messiah.

Finally, verse 44 shows that some wanted Jesus taken or arrested, but this was not done. Some of the temple guards of verse 45 are more than likely the ones who are referred in verse 44. The lack of Him being taken could be seen as a look back at the implied meaning of time in 6th and 30th verses of this chapter. This section ends in John 8:20 where John reinforces that His time had not yet come. There was still more for Jesus to accomplish before He was to be glorified. His earthly ministry did not end until He deemed it time as seen in John 19:11 and 30.

 Theological Interpretation & Application

The passage discussed above in the Gospel of John touches on two sections of systematic theology. Firstly, Christology as Jesus is not only the Messiah but the Prophet as well. As such, He not only has the rightful rule as the ultimate king but the connection and authority to speak the words the Father gives to Him. This is seen in verse 38 where He says that the Scriptures testify or speak of Him. The divinity of Jesus is also at the center of the living water statement. By proclaiming that all who believe in Him may receive the living waters Jesus is making a claim that can only be made by the divine.[26] Whereas Jesus places belief in Himself as the requirement for release of the Holy Spirit to flow in a believer, the connection to divinity is made because the Spirit of the Lord or Holy Spirit can only be sent by God and at His request.

This brings in the second area of theology that is discussed by this passage namely Pneumatology.[27] As mentioned previously Jesus here teaches that the Holy Spirit will no longer operate outside of those who believe in empowering for specific service, but internally not only equipping for work but bringing about changes to the heart and mind (see the connection to Ezek 47) which is a drastic shift from the Old Testament. The statement that the Spirit will be inside the believer changes the way believers communicate with and have relationship with God. This could also be seen as a pointing to fulfillment (or at least partial fulfillment) of Jer. 31:31-34 where God says I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts. The Spirit dwelling inside the believer gives them the words and the ability to love God and love their neighbor the way Jesus intends.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bailey, J. L. and Vander Broek. L. D. Literary Forms in The New Testament A Handbook. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992.

Bauckham, Richard. Historiographical Characteristics of the Gospel of John. Journal Publication. St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews Scotland, 2007.

Drane, John. Introducing the New Testament Oxford. Minneapolis: Lion Publishing Pub, 2000.

Easton, M. G. Bible Dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893.

Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah Vol 2. New York: Longmans, Green, and Co. 1896.

 

Freed, Edwin R. The New Testament: A Critical Introduction Third Edition. Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomas Learning, 2001.

 

Harrison, R. K. The New Ungers Bible Dictionary. Illinois: Moody Press, 1988.

Hobbs, Hershel. The Illustrated Life of Jesus. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2014.

Irenaeus. Against Heresies 3.1.1

Keener, Craig. The Gospel of John: A commentary. Peabody: Hendrickson Pub, 2010

MacDonald, William. Believers Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995.

Turner, M. and MacFarlane, G. New Bible Dictionary 3rd Ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Vine, W. E. Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Unabridged Ed. Peabody: Hendrickson Publ, 1989.

 

Walvoord, J. F. and Zuck. R. B. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures Ed. John 7:39 Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985.

 

[1] Irenaeus writing in 180 said that John was the disciple who reclined on His breast. Against Heresies 3.1.1

[2] John Drane, Introducing the New Testament Oxford: (Minneapolis: Lion Publishing plc. 2000), 215

[3]Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A commentary (Peabody: Hendrickson Publ 2010), 142, 149

 [4] All biblical quotes taken from NKJV unless otherwise noted.

[5] Edwin R. Freed referencing John 9:22 says that Jews who followed Jesus during His ministry would not have been put out of the synagogue combing both the original event and a present situation. [The New Testament: A Critical Introduction Third Edition (Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomas Learning 2001)] 340, 341

[6] Richard Bauckham, Historiographical Characteristics of the Gospel of John Journal Publication (St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews Scotland 2007) 25

7 Sign miracles occur in John 2:1-10, 4:46-54, 5:1-9, 6:5-14, 15-21, 9:1-7, 11:1-44, 21:1-14. Note the eighth miracle is contested as a sign miracle because it occurs post-resurrection. The I Am statements occur in John 6:35; 8:12; 10:9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1,5

[8] J. L. Bailey and L. D. Vander Broek, Literary Forms in The New Testament A Handbook. (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press 1992) 172

[9] It is important to note that John points out in verse 5 that Jesus’s brothers did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah.

[10] R. K. Harrison, The New Ungers Bible Dictionary (Illinois: Moody Press 1988) 420

[11] Craig Keener says that the water pouring may have been an innovation of the Pharisees around the time of the Maccabees, The Gospel of John: A commentary (Peabody: Hendrickson Publ 2010) 722

[12] Easton suggests that the crowds would either recite with the priest or simply answer back with hallelujah. In either case, the point is that the crowds participated and were engaged in the event. Easton’s Bible Dictionary, (New York: Harper & Brothers 1893) Hallel

[13] Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Unabridged Ed, (Peabody: Hendrickson Publ) s.v. κράζω 261

[14] The high usage of pisteúō in John’s Gospel is due to the stated purpose for his writing in 23:30. Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Unabridged Ed (Peabody: Hendrickson Publ), s.v. πιστεύω 118

[15] Ungers sites Ps 104:30; Isa 32:15; Job 33:4; and Gen 2:7, and others in stating that Spirit was not only the immediate cause of physical, but intellectual life. The New Ungers Bible Dictionary (Illinois: Moody Press 1988) 583-84

[16] Craig Keener sees the connection as possibly referring to new Jerusalem where Jesus is the new temple and the waters flow from Him. The Gospel of John: A commentary (Peabody: Hendrickson Publ 2010) 726 -727

[17] This serves as pre-statement to John 14:16 where Jesus prays or asks the Father to send the Comforter or Holy Spirit. It shows the Father, Son, and Spirit operate as one.

[18] The verb glorified (doxazō) is based on the root word doxa which carries a multiple meanings and can mean “an opinion,” “splendor,” “most glorious condition or exalted state.” It is this last usage that is meant by doxazō. In this verse, it is used to refer to the high honor, and glory due to Jesus that will be made manifest after His death, resurrection, and assentation. Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Unabridged Ed, (Peabody: Hendrickson Publ) s.v. δοξάζω 492

[19] The editor of the section on John Edwin Blum says regarding the glorification of Jesus “is His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.” [The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures Digital Ed J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck, Ed. John 7:39 (Wheaton: Victor Books 1985)]

[20] While prophet can refer to a spokesman of God in this context it refers to the promised prophet who most believed was separate from the Messiah and would come before Him. This would explain why the Pharisees sent men to ask John the Baptist in John 1:21 if he was the prophet. Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Unabridged Ed (Peabody: Hendrickson Publ), s.v προφήτης

[21] R. K. Harrison, The New Ungers Bible Dictionary (Illinois: Moody Press 1988) 840

[22] Ibid 840

[23] Alfred Edersheim compiled a list of 456 Old Testament passages about the Messiah or Messianic times. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah Vol 2 (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co 1896) 710

[24] Ruth is important to note here because of her place in the lineage of David and Jesus.

[25] The lineage in Luke does not specifically say that it is through Mary; however, this is generally accepted that this is the case. William MacDonald, Believers Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson 1995) 1379

[26] M. Turner & G. MacFarlane also discuss that this passage aids in an understanding of the Trinity, New Bible Dictionary 3rd Ed (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 1996) 1209-10

[27] M. Turner & G. MacFarlane New Bible Dictionary 3rd Ed (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 1996) 1209 – 10