Hosea 4:1-9 – An Exegesis

Hosea 4:1-9 A Lack of True Faithfulness Leads to Immorality.

Historical Context

Hosea son of Berri was a prophet during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah kings of Judah and Jeroboam in Israel. The time frame for Hosea runs from around 722 BC. to the middle of the 7th century. In 2 Kings 15 one can get a glimpse into the time in which Hosea lived and prophesied. There are five kings of Israel listed in that chapter and while their reigns are limited their deeds are recorded.

Jeroboam was king of Israel for six months and he did evil in the sight of the LORD (2 Kings 15:8-9. He was assassinated by Shallum who only reigned for one month before he was assassinated (2 Kings 15:13-14). Manahem was the one who killed Shallum and not only is he recorded as doing evil in the sight of the LORD (2 Kings 15:18) but it records one of his evil deeds.[1] The people of Tiphsah would not open the gates to let him enter. His response was to sack the city and rip open all the pregnant women. He is also recorded as extorting money from Israel and being evil like those before him. He reigned for roughly ten years before his death. It makes sense that some of his wickedness is recorded because he lived longer than the previous two kings. This would also have been about the time just before Hosea began to prophesy. His son Pekahiah reigned for two years after him and did evil as well. Pekahiah was replaced by Pekah who killed him and did evil as well.

This is the backdrop of the land that Hosea prophesied in. The kings were evil and did horrific acts. The land was fraught with violence and evil. Those who were responsible for leading the nation had failed and this extended to the priest. Hosea did condemn the unjust actions of the people, but a large focus was on the priest and the “false religious practices” of his day.[2]


The section of Hosea being examined is the beginning of a lawsuit oracle or a rîb. The case is laid out with the LORD as the accusing party against the children of Israel.[3] In short, they have broken the commands of God and in doing so He has a legal right to accuse them, reject them, and remove them from the land. The chapter begins with the word hear or shema which means not only to hear but hear, listen and obey. Israel was to hear, listen and obey God and to love Him faithfully according to Deuteronomy 6:4. Their failure to do so forces God to call them again to shema His words. The case begins in 4:1 where God states the people have no truth (‘emeth) and no steadfast love (hesed). These are the two things God has towards Israel and they do not have it towards Him. Moreover, ‘emeth and hesed are two things that are linked.

Emeth and hesed are two separate Hebrew words but they often exist in tandem. ‘Emeth is translated truth and hesed is translated a few different ways in the Bible but usually ends up in some form of faithfulness or steadfast love. This is a divine attribute that God expresses. He is by His very nature hesed. Baruch Levine says that hesed is “an action concept” meaning that one does hesed or preforms it on or towards another person.[4] However, while God has as part of His nature hesed He expects His people to also express hesed. Not only that but they are to express ‘emeth hesed which is true kindness. The accusation against Israel and the priests is that they are guilty of not expressing true kindness and from there the LORD explains how they have failed.

God uses the Ten Commandments as the legal code Israel and the priest have broken. Hosea lists six commands Israel has broken but if one separates the commandments between those that are sins against God and those that are sins against fellow humans it is clear that God is saying that Israel has sinned fully and completely. There is no knowledge of God in the land. Compare this to Exodus 20:2 where God says He is the one who brought them out of the land. The people have forgotten this and because of this, they commit sins. They swear or break oaths, compare to Exodus 20:7 where the people are commanded not to take the LORD’s name in vain which can include breaking oaths.[5] The people lie, compare to Exodus 20:16. They are murders and cause bloodshed, compare to Exodus 20:13. They steal, compare to Exodus 20:15. They commit adultery, compare to Exodus 20:14.

Because of all this the land itself mourns. Compare this to Lev 18:28 where God promises the people that if they go the way of the other nations the land itself will vomit them out. The guilt of the people will cause the land to disappear or be taken away (v3). While the people are guilty, the priests hold the lion’s share of the guilt because it was their responsibility to lead the people in God’s ways. If this is a legal case against the people, then the priest as the leaders are very guilty because they are the representatives of the people. They were to lead the people in God’s ways and instruct them in truth (‘emeth) and they have failed to do this creating the ignorance the people have. Because of this the priests are rejected.

In looking at the charge against the priest Gary Smith suggests that someone might have been trying to quiet Hosea as Amaziah did to Amos.[6] This would give reasoning for Hosea’s strong wording that seems to be more assertive than the text on its own gives a reason for. Without some sort of rebuttal to him, it is questionable as to why Hosea is saying no one should argue against him. Regardless, the picture is clear. God has a complaint against the priests, and He holds them responsible for the current situation in Israel.

In verse 5 Hosea declares that the prophets, as well as the mothers and children of the priest, shall suffer because of the priest’s sins. They have failed to instruct the people how to live in the ways of God. Their duty was to communicate the truth of the Torah and offer sacrifices on behalf of the people. Their failure to teach led to ignorance or lack of knowledge (v 6) and now their sacrifices are meaningless. Later in verse 8, God says the priest feed on the sins of the people or as Smith says they “encourage the people to exchange” God’s glory for idols.[7] They have not only sinned and failed to do their job creating an ignorance that causes calamity but they encourage it and in doing so they invite judgment on all of Israel.

The priest for their sins, failure to carry out their duties, and self-focus shall be punished. They have been more concerned with sacrifices which they enjoyed than with carrying out their duties and instructing people how to live holy before a holy God (Lev 20:26). They shall be repaid for their deeds (4:9) and punished. For their failure, the priest and the nation as a whole shall be judged and sent into exile.

Modern Application

At this point, a simple question arises: What does this have to do with the church today? It is a fair question when discussing judgment, the failure of religious leaders, and national sinning. One could say that the issues that arise in the American church or the world are divine judgment caused by sinful or ignorant leaders, but this may be a bit extreme because the church does not exist as a nation, as Israel did, but as a universal fellowship since her creation.

The church exists to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She is commanded by Christ to make disciples of all people and part of this includes teaching people to observe or keep what Christ said and did and evangelizing them. Instead of looking at Hosea 4:1-6 as a national passage in today’s context it might be better to look at it as a warning for local congregations and local pastors.

One such area that could be examined is how does the church responds to issues like social justice? It is not a leap to go from priests failing, people being ignorant of God’s commands and people being judged by God because social justice issues are listed side by side in God’s accusations against Israel (see 4:2). The evils that the people commit are idolatry and injustice. The church exists as a body of believers and priests and because of this, the entire body of Christ is responsible for carrying out the commands to actively teach and engage in social justice issues.[8] No community of believers exists that are free from engaging in service. However, leaders are responsible for instructing their congregations in the ways of righteousness and moving them towards good works (Eph 4:11-12).

With that in mind and the strong emphasis from Hosea, one can also see that leaders are to lead their people into the fight for social justice and community care. A failure to lead people to action is to create inaction which leads to ignorance, apathy, and ultimately sinful behavior. All of God’s people are now part of the priesthood but there still exists in the church some who are called to pastor or shepherd God’s flock. Leaders must understand their calling and responsibility. Teaching the word or preaching on Sunday is only one part of the equation. There must also be an action. The priests of Hosea’s day only wanted to offer sacrifices and it could be argued that it was because they received a portion of the meat. God’s leaders are put into place to lead and this goes beyond Sunday sermons.

In 2 Thes 3:8 Paul talks about how he did not take anything without paying for it to set an example for the people. Some have taken this too far and suggested that pastors and leaders not be paid for their service but that contradicts the biblical teaching on providing for teachers (cf. 1 Tim 5:17-18). Leaders of the church are to be compensated for their service, but they are to work for it. This work is not simply instruction but an example. Leaders are called to imitate them as they imitate Christ (1 Cor 11:1).

For churches that have leaders who fail to provide proper instruction and examples, they may face issues. It may not be a national judgment, but they could have issues that affect congregational growth, suitability, and continued health of local churches. Leaders must rise to the challenge and lead in word and deed. They must be willing to do hard things in times of prosperity and in times when there is immoral public leadership. They must imitate Christ.

[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scripture is taken from the ESV.

[2] J. Gordon McConville, Exploring the Old Testament, A Guide to the Prophets, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press 2002, 137.

[3] Moon, J. N. (2018). Hosea. London, England: IVP Academic. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=2248771&site=ehost-live

[4] Levine, B. A. (2013). On the concept ḥesed in the Hebrew Bible. The Living Pulpit (Online)22(3). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.elibrary.johnsonu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001981654&site=ehost-live

[5] Enns, P. (2000). Exodus. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Academic. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.elibrary.johnsonu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1524691&site=ehost-live

[6] Smith, G. V. (2001). Hosea, Amos, Micah. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Academic. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.elibrary.johnsonu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1524740&site=ehost-live

[7] Ibid.

[8] Wieland, A. (2016). Social justice and the mission of the church. Journal of Latin American Theology11(1), 99–102. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.elibrary.johnsonu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLAn3961199&site=ehost-live



An Exegesis of Romans 5:12-21

Romans 5:12-21

Adam and Sin, Jesus and Grace



Main Idea

All are guilty of sin both because of Adam’s sin which he passed down to all mankind and by their own wrongdoing. None can escape the consequence of sin except by faith in Christ who justifies all who accept Him. Christ alone justifies a sinner because grace, based on His righteous life and death is stronger than sin.


  1. Sin was introduced by Adam in the garden, but all are guilty of sin. 5:12-14
  2. Contrast between Adam and Christ headship. 5:15-17
  3. Grace abounds more than sin multiplies. 5:18-21



The book of Romans is overflowing with the ideas of righteousness, faith, justification, and sin. In chapter one, Paul shows how only the righteous will live by faith (1:17b).[1] He then moves on to say that all sin against God. The Jew who has the Law sins knowing the Law and the Gentile without the Law sins against the moral law written on their hearts. In this way, there is no one who understands… no one who seeks God (3:11). Moving forward Paul takes his reader back to Abraham showing that righteousness can only come by faith because Abraham believed, and it was by faith that God credited righteousness to him. There are no works of the Law that a believer can be justified by, because the righteousness that is required is only offered through Christ and by faith in Him. In the latter half of chapter 5, Paul tackles the issues of sin and grace, condemnation and justification, and Adam and Christ’s respective headships.

One difficulty is understanding some of these items in a cross-cultural setting. However, because the Bible was written in a cross-cultural setting one can expect to find answers or clues in the text as well as in understanding the biblical concepts of sin and grace. Such questions that will be explored include what does Paul teach on the topic of original sin and a sin nature? If he does teach on original sin, how is to be understood in a culture where no such concept exists? If Paul argues for universal sin does, he also argue for universal salvation i.e. universalism? What will be shown is the main contrasts are Adam and sin against Christ and grace. In short, Paul argues that while Adam’s headship and the consequence of his sin affect all of humanity Jesus and the consequence of His righteous act affect all of humanity as well because grace abounds over sin.


Historical Context

Paul is identified as the author in Romans in 1:1 although as was common in his day the letter was penned by another named Tertius (16:22). There is discussion as to whether the last two chapters were added later with some suggesting that the bulk of the letter was meant to be a circular letter.[2] Regardless, Romans is one of the few Pauline letters to have near universal acceptance as being authentic to Paul and being time appropriate.[3] The date of writing is estimated to be around A.D. 57. This is important because this shows the spread of Christianity to Rome only some 20 years after the death of Christ. The young church had to rapidly deal with not only understanding its faith but understanding that faith in a cross-cultural context.

While at times in church history Romans was thought to be Paul’s magnum opus it is now better understood as a personal letter to a particular church and not a general treatise on the faith. One obvious reason for writing was that Paul was attempting to raise support for his trip to Spain (15:28) however this is not simply a fundraising letter. The letter to the Romans is one of Paul’s greatest writings and “has always stood at the head of Paul’s letters” because of the many topics Paul deals with in the letter to the Romans.[4] In this one letter Paul deals with or addresses most major Christian themes, however, justification and righteousness sit high on the top of the list of items being discussed.

As will be seen in chapter 5 Paul lumps all of humanity into belonging to either Adam or Christ. In other letters, the contrast is on flesh or Spirit, but the implication is the same. Paul uses the word anthropos in chapter 5 which is sometimes translated man, but it is a term that generally means a human being and includes all peoples.[5] Paul provides no escape for any individual but instead carefully states that all humanity is under the effects of sin. Paul’s scope is to show the contrasts between Adam and Christ and how all of humanity is affected by their choices.

In looking at the type of writing for Romans 5:12-21 Bailey and Broek argue that Paul is writing a type of Midrash or interpretation called “typological interpretation.”[6] What is meant by this is that Paul is not quoting the Old Testament and giving it new meaning in light of Christ which he often does, but he is giving a type and antitype. Paul’s focus is on the world systems that can be summed up by the ones who have headship over each system. Adam represents sin and death while Jesus represents grace and life.



Paul writes that sin entered the world through one man (Adam) and because of this all sin and die. Some argue that was in fact Eve who sinned because of 1 Tim 2:14, however, Adam was the one charged with protecting the garden and delivering the message of what was allowed and what was prohibited to Eve. It was under Adam’s watch that the serpent was able to deceive Eve. The language of Genesis 3:6 shows that Adam was with her when she took the fruit. Adam’s failure was not a single incident but a willful and deliberate act of rebellion against God. Adam’s sin, cannot be blamed on Eve, but it can and does as Paul explains have repercussions for all who have come after him.

Martin Luther and Augustine claim that the language of Romans 5:12 can mean that either all sinned because Adam sinned or that all sin and have guilt.[7] Possibly what is being said is that “while one sinned, all sinned” meaning all act just like their father Adam.[8] The question of original sin has been debated through the eons but what is clear is that all men sin. Regardless of whether all are sinners because of an original sin which they multiply with their own or they are born with a propensity to sin which they give into, the result is the same and none can stand blameless before God. That being said Scripture seems to point to original sin.

All then are guilty of sin and the failure of Adam brought in both sin itself and the inclination of man to sin because Adam is the original man, and all follow after him. Many cultures around the world understand the concept of headship in this way because they either live in collectivist societies or because they place great importance on tribal lineage. For the original Jewish believers this would have made sense because of their history and because of passages like Deut 12:28 which as Manheim Kiester says, people should obey the “commandments in order to acquire merit” for those coming after them.[9] The same is true in the reverse that descendants could be punished for the wrongdoing of a forbearer. This was not because a sin deserved a long punishment but because the children would go after the ways of their father. This can be seen 2 Kings 17:14 where it is recorded that the people became obstinate like their ancestors. Keister points to the Sifra to show that the Jews firmly believed that those who followed in sin were connected to Adam.[10] It is largely only Western individualistic cultures that have a hard time accepting the idea that the sin of an ancestor can affect someone today.

Briefly, as it pertains to the giving of the law and sin being charged to a person’s account (v13). It should not be thought that sin did not exist from Adam until Moses, but that sin was not charged against them according to the Law because the Law had not been given.[11] That sin and the effect of sin, that is death, did exist is obvious as all died minus the notable exceptions of Enoch and Elijah. This reflects what Paul argues earlier in Romans that God will repay back to each one according to his works (2:6-11) whether they have the Law or not. There are none who can resist His righteous judgment.

As it pertains to death there is an argument that Adam was mortal from the beginning and the death, he suffered was a spiritual death and not a physical one. Colin Kruse says that this position seems to run contrary to Genesis 3:22 where God states that if Adam were to eat of the tree of life he would live forever.[12] While this is true, an argument against Kruse would be that Adam was mortal and could live forever only if he ate from the tree of life continually. Looked at in this light the grace of God is seen in that He prohibits Adam and Eve from physically living forever while in spiritual death. Either way, there can be no certain conclusion. What is clearly seen however is that men sin and die and that death reigned from Adam to Moses (v14).

Paul ends discussion on the entry of sin into the world by making a statement that is easily read over but important. Paul states that in light of all he has said Adam was a prototype of the Coming One who is Jesus Christ. This is Paul’s typological argument mentioned previously. If Adam is a head, then Jesus is a head. If Adam passed on something to all, then Jesus passes on something as well. Just as one has headship the other has headship. The linking of these two in this statement is of great importance, however, Adam was a prototype or figure so there are “differences as well as similarities.”[13] As such Paul can move to the differences between Adam and Christ and in doing so the differences between what Adam gave and what Christ gives.


In the next section Paul lists multiple contrasts. These contrasts are based on Adam and Jesus but go beyond simply comparing them as individuals to the results of their individual deeds and the outcome for others. To start with, Paul compares Adam’s trespass with Christ’s gift in saying that the gift is not like the trespass. The trespass is sin leading to death, but the gift and the gift giver are far greater because the gift of grace is given not to cover only the sin of Adam but in the “many acts of sin” that his descendants have committed.[14] Adam brought sin itself into the world, but men sin many kinds of sin. In this, the gift of grace and righteousness must be greater than the trespass. More than that the gift not only forgives sin but brings life and this is yet another point of contrast from Paul.

Death is the result of sin, but life is the result of the gift of grace and righteousness. Peter argues against the Jews in Acts 3:15 that they killed the author of life. It could be argued then that not only is Adam the father of all, but he is the father of death. Adam’s sin brought not only death but in that it brought condemnation. To die would be one thing but to be condemned and forbidden to enter into the presence of a Holy God another thing entirely. This is a simple phrase that can be overlooked but the condemned are separated from God eternally. Again, the gift is greater than the trespass because it results in justification as well. If condemnation prohibits one from standing before God, then justification is when God “judicially declares a believing sinner… righteous and acceptable.”[15] This is why justification by faith alone stands tall in the Protestant Christian faith.

Justification, as used here, is dikaioma and refers to the righteous act of Christ in obedience to death on the cross which is “accomplished consistently with God’s character.”[16] Again, the gift is beyond what the trespass caused. God in forgiving and crediting Christ’s righteousness to the believer is an act that is consistent with His nature. An understanding of this allows the believer to move beyond a superficial faith into one that can understand their right standing with Christ and their placement with Him as Paul discusses in Colossians 3:3-4.

It is from this place that one can move to an understanding that while the relationship with Adam that brings death does exist, the “spiritual connection with Christ” brings a full life that includes a right standing before the Father.[17] Paul is arguing not only for the sinfulness of man but a joyful union with Christ that includes a gift of a righteous reign (5:17b). Jesus speaks to this in John 10:10 when He says His purpose is to give a rich and abundant or satisfying life as the NLT reads. The abundant life of Christ has been perverted by some into a prosperity gospel that claims wealth and health, but as Paul points out Jesus offers more than that. Salvation from sin is only part of the benefit that is passed on to the believer.


In verses 18 and 19, Paul restates his argument but emphasizes the condemnation that applies to everyone. First, as it pertains to verse 18. As was discussed, all either from original sin or willingness to sin, stand condemned before God as Paul stated in Romans 3:10. There are none who seek God because of their fallen and sinful state and because of this all are correctly condemned by Him. However, there was one righteous act that could remove the condemnation and bring justification to the sinner. Because of Paul’s choice of words at the end of verse 18, one must ask does this righteous act automatically save all people?

Some have argued that verse 18 promotes universalism and that all people are saved because “the most natural reading of Romans 5:18-19” shows that just as all participated in Adam all participate in Jesus.[18] However, there are some problems with this idea. First, if all people are saved then no one is under sin and one would expect more past tense language to be used by Paul both here and elsewhere regarding the need to receive Christ. Logically what would the point be in speaking of sin in a present context if all are in Christ and justified? Second, if all are saved then why is Paul writing a support letter to travel to Spain? If all are saved traveling to Spain (as well as other hardships) seem unnecessary. Possibly an answer is that Paul wants all to be subjected to the Lordship of Christ and while Paul does argue for this in Phil 2:9-11 and elsewhere, it is unlikely. Another possible reason is that people do not know they are in Christ and because of this they continue to sin in Adam. From here the question slightly shifts from universalism to universal access to salvation.

The problem with universalism is that if this is Paul’s intent, he contradicts himself from verse 17 and later in 10:13-21 where Paul shows that there is more than forgiveness, there is an active faith that includes accepting and repenting of one’s former way of life. Instead, verse 18 should be understood considering what Paul has already said which is that many will receive. At best verse 18 could be used to argue against limited atonement but not for universalism. Additionally, in context, this one righteous act applies to all meaning Jew or Gentile which is a more natural reading based on not only the previous verses but the bulk of Paul’s writings.[19] Like the trespass that applied to all the righteous act can apply to all who receive it (v17). Paul elaborates on this point in Ephesians 2:14 stating that God has divided the wall of hostility and made one new person.

A better explanation would be that all were in and under Adam’s headship and now there is an alternative which is to be in Christ and under His headship because Paul argues for an either-or headship. In this line of thinking, people must make an allegiance to one or the other. A person can either chose to continue walking in sin and be condemned or they can choose to walk in Christ and live in the justification that has been provided for them. This is a constant dichotomous theme that runs through not only Paul’s writings but the New Testament as a whole. There are two choices, one can either walk in the flesh which is Adam or the Spirit which is Christ. There is universal availability for all to now make that choice. This is as far as one should safely take the topic of universalism.

In the final section Paul presents the joy of the righteous act of Jesus and the beauty of the Christian faith; where sin multiplied or abounded, grace multiplied or abounded more. As was previously stated the righteous act of Christ must be greater than the sin of Adam because Adam’s sin was but one. The many sins that came from that one sin multiplied through the generations. This is not only in the quality of sin (c.f. Cain killing Abel) but in quantity of sins committed. All since Adam have sinned, and sin is a universal issue. The righteous act of Jesus and the grace extended to the believer is greater than sin because it must be in order to cover the abundance of sin.

Moreover, Paul argues that not only is the gift greater than the trespass, but the result is greater than the consequence of sin. Whereas sin and death go hand in hand grace and eternal life are equally inseparable. Paul’s teaching here goes beyond a comparison of sin and death or grace and life in that more mysteries are included. The immortality of the soul, for example, is included because death is not the end but the transference from this life to the next. Grace gives life and that life is eternal. Paul shows this but moreover, he shows the connection the believer has with Christ. Paul speaks of the mystery throughout his writings using marriage illustrations and other times flat-out stating the seating a believer has in heaven with Christ (Col 3:3). This is because just as sin and death are connected to an unbeliever grace, eternal life, and union with Christ are connected to the believer. One can speak of these things individually, but they cannot be separated. The results of the righteous act of Christ is abounding grace and because of this, the implications are enormous.


When examined in a cross-cultural context some of the items above find a deeper understanding while others can be difficult to translate. This is because ideas, like language, do not always translate one to one. For example, the English language officially only has one you, however, most other languages use many forms of you. For the issues being addressed here not all cultures have the concept of original sin. How does one discuss this passage with that understanding? To start with the origin of sin should be addressed.

The question of the origin of sin from a biblical perspective is Adam’s failure in the garden. In many African societies, sin exists but it is based on violations of the principle that “I am because we are, and since we are, therefore I am” which is to say that sin is an action against the community and not God.[20] For the original sin committed by Adam, Adam was because God was. Adam’s clan or tribe included God, Eve, and himself. His sin and rebellion in the garden was against the entire tribal community which included God. This made the violation greater because of the one who he sinned against. Because God is part of the tribe but also outside of the tribe (that is omnipresent) the sin has bigger implications than just an offense. Theoretically, this may suffice as an answer to the introducing of sin into the world and the idea of sinning against God. Whether people accept this to mean they carry that same sin is not as important as understanding that they do sin and that sin is a reality with bigger implications.

Another approach would be to build off what is already understood regarding how the actions of one effect an entire tribe. As it stands Adam is the head of the human tribe. No one can escape the truth that all sin the only question that could be asked is why.[21] The answer is because of Adam the father of all introduced sin into the world.

Collectivist communities in Africa, for example, understand this concept quite well. As mentioned, it is understood in many African communities that “one is because others are” which is to say that the actions of one individual do not exist in a vacuum.[22] The understanding is not limited to those members of tribal religions. Christians in these villages may not participate in ceremonial cleansings that are needed due to sin because of their faith in Christ but it is on the basis of their faith and not a rejection of the fact that one person’s actions have affected the entire village. What is clearly seen then is the “principle of solidarity of the human race” because all are related to Adam and all are then sinners.[23]

It seems only natural to look at the concept or idea of justification in other cultures because justification by faith alone or Sola Fide is a bedrock of Protestantism. Therefore, not only does one need to have a proper understanding of the belief but an ability to communicate it in cultures. First, as it pertains to other cultures, it would be wrong to assume that non-Catholic Christians universally understand and or believe in the doctrine of sola fide. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church as an example does not teach that justification comes by faith alone. This is due to a few factors chief among them appears to be due to their required reading in order to serve in the church. Eshetu Abate points out that the Ethiopian church highlight the book of James so they hold “that faith and good works are needed for justification.”[24] This could be lessened if they required a reading of Romans or Galatians as well. This belief has come to be because the Ethiopian church has largely developed apart from the rest of the Christian community. Those who are taught and come to believe in Sola Fide are generally asked to leave the church.

Abate also discusses the question of justification in African Tribal Religions or ATRs. As mentioned, these ATRs generally do not have a belief in original sin and moreover, their belief in sin is much different than that of Western peoples. Sin is looked at as an act against other people and not God Himself. How then does one teach on the important topic of justification? Some African scholars have suggested to simply teach what Scripture teaches.[25] Just because a people have a certain belief that does not mean Scripture is invalidated. People often believe things that are contrary to Scripture. The job of the theologian, missionary, pastor, or evangelist is to present and teach the Bible and Christ. It needs to be made relevant and it does not all have to be presented at once, but it neither can it be syncretized.

Western Christianity would do well to better understand the concept of headship and collectivism. There seems to be, in Western Christianity, a constant search to restore the church to the roots of the faith. Verses like Acts 2:42 are a calling to Christians who feel a desire for a more unified time. This may be in part due to a romanticizing of the early church and in part due to a lack of understanding of collectivism versus individualism. An easier and perhaps more attainable goal would be to seek an proper understanding of headship. This is partly because the reason the collective community worked as well as it did in New Testament times is because people were submitting to each other and the Lordship (headship) of Jesus.

The results of this would be at least two-fold if one can understand that there are two option – Adam or Christ. First, people would have a proper understanding of who they were/are outside of Christ. They are in sin, separated from God, and subject to judgment. They are subject to the results of the fall. There is no excusing or tampering with the truth of the matter. This is not to suggest that they are unable to control their actions, but that they are predisposed to sin. Second, and most glorious, they would understand that as a believer in Christ and His righteous act they are now under a new federal head and can enjoy the benefits of Jesus’ headship. This appears to not only be Paul’s aim in this section but in nearly all of his writing. His desire for the believer to understand their new place as a child of God is present in nearly all his writing. However, this all begins with an understanding of the biblical concept of headship and a somewhat limited rejection of Western individualism. This is not to say individualism is inherently bad, but it does have limitations especially when attempting to understand a believer’s identity in Christ.

When looking at how to present the truth of Christ and Scripture to a culture, the starting point must be the reliability of Scripture. Different cultures should be viewed as a gift from God. American culture has at its core a rugged individualism that says each person is responsible for themselves and their own actions and no one is beholden to anyone else. This is of course not true but that is the cultural ideal. There is some merit to this, but this is often times foreign to the principals found in the Bible regarding unity and community. The biblical principles are not thrown out because of this but instead, they are aimed at, and many have tried to find ways to successfully integrate them into daily life in the American culture. There is still work to do but the closer the American West gets to understanding headship the better off the church and the members will be.

In the same way, those cultures that do not have an understanding of sin, whether original or not, cannot enjoy the full beauty of justification by faith alone because a weak understanding of sin leads to a weak understanding of justification against the backdrop of condemnation. No culture is right in all their understandings but by examining the truth of Scripture in both the original and historical contexts and in light of how other believers view them, new and fresh light can be given to it. In that way, we honor God’s gift of culture and more importantly, we honor Christ as Lord.

[1] All Scripture taken from the HSCB unless otherwise noted.

[2] Edwin D. Freed, The New Testament a Critical Introduction 3rd Edition, (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2001), 283.

[3] Ibid.

[4] William MacDonald, Believers Bible Commentary: A Complete Bible Commentary in one Volume, edited by Art Farstad, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 1995) 1673.

[5] Carol A. Newsom, Sharon H. Ringe, and Jacqueline E. Lapsley editors, Woman’s Bible Commentary, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998) NEED PAGE NUMBER

[6] Bailey and Broek, 45.

[7] Wilhelm Pauck, Luther: Lectures on Romans, (Philadelphia; Westminster Press, 1961), 170.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Manheim Kister, “Romans 5:12-21 Against the Backdrop of Torah-theology and Hebrew Usage, Harvard Theological Review 100, no. 4”, 394, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost, accessed September 8, 2018.

[10] Ibid, 396.

[11] Everett F. Harrison and Donald A. Hagner, The Expositors Bible Commentary: Romans-Galatians, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 97.

[12] Colin G Kruse, Paul’s Letter to the Romans, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 2012), 243.

[13] D.M. Lloyd-Jones, Romans, An Exposition of Chapter 5 Assurance, Grand rapids; Zondervan 1982, 223.

[14] Everett F. Harrison and Donald A. Hagner, 98.

[15] Merrill F. Unger, The New Ungers Bible Dictionary, Edited by R. K. Harrison, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1988) 729

[16] W.E. Vine, Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Unabridged Ed, (Peabody: Hendrickson Publ) s.v. δικαίωμα 624.

[17] Reginald Cuthbert Fuller, A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, (Camden, NJ: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1969), 1115.

[18] Richard H. Bell, “Rom 5.18-19 and Universal Salvation,” New Testament Studies 48 (3): 432. accessed September 24, 2018. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001322953&site=ehost-live.

[19] Kruse, 251.

[20] John S. Mbiti, “God, sin, and salvation in African Religion,” The Journal Of The Interdenominational Theological Center 16, no 1-2, 64, accessed September 6, 2018, ATLA Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.

[21] This of course does not deal with question of relativism but even when pressed most moral relativist will acknowledge some idea of wrong doing against another which could be labeled sin.

[22] Tokunboh Adeyemo, African Bible Commentary A One Volume Commentary Written by 70 African Scholars, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan 2006), 1360.

[23] Brian Wintle, Havilah Dharamraj, Jesudason Basker Jeyaraj, Paul Swarup, Jacob Cherian, and Finny Philip editors, South Asia Bible Commentary A One Volume Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan 2011). 1524.

[24] Eshetu Abate, “The Battle for Justification by Faith in the African Context,” Concordia Journal 25 (4): accessed October 26, 2018. 423 http://elibrary.johnsonu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0000996490&site=ehost-live.

[25] Ibid, 429-30.

An exegesis of John 6:47-58

Living Bread gives life:

An exegesis of John 6:47-58


Main idea & Outline

Main Idea

Jesus, is the living bread from heaven and is fully sufficient for eternal life. The life He offers is real and must be taken in faith. Additionally, Christ brings with Him a close intimate union with Himself like the relationship He has with the Father.


  1. Jesus is the living bread from heaven and offers eternal life. (John 6:47-51)
  2. Believers are bonded with Christ because of His death and resurrection. (John 6:52-56)
  3. Jesus has the right to give life. (John 6:57-58)



     In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes at least 7 I AM statements and performs 7 miracles or signs. Each statement is designed to “allude to the Old Testament name of God” and each action or miracle is a sign that points to divinity.[1] Jesus being a first-century Jewish man spoke to the people and performed miracles in ways they understood. The people of Jesus’ day understood His use of I AM statements to be a message of equality with God. What will be focused on here in John 6:47-58 is the statement that Jesus is the bread of life and that one must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life which is a reference to His death and resurrection. Christ here presents Himself not only as the sufficiency for life but union with Him is required for the life He offers. This statement is important for several reasons including the implications brought on by it and the difficulty in interpreting it. In truth, the statement is so difficult to understand that after making it many disciples left Jesus because they claimed this teaching is hard (John 6:60).[2]


Historical Context

     There should be little doubt that the author of the fourth gospel was a disciple of Jesus. The details that are recorded require an intimate knowledge of the not only the people involved but the situations themselves. It could be argued that a later writer added in details or stories like that of the woman caught in adulty in chapter 8 but even if this is assumed the bulk of the work still requires a close knowledge of the situation and characters involved. It has been suggested that the gospel was written by a Johannine community, but recent research and scholarship has been showing that “distinct gospel communities can no longer be assumed.”[3] By removing later writers and a Johannine community the options are limited to a disciple of Jesus as the author.

Excluding Judas Iscariot, there are eleven possible authors that remain and while much could be said of each of them space does not permit an in-depth detail. In summery Matthew and Luke already have accounts to their credit and while Mark was not a disciple most believe, partly on Papia’s testimony, that Peter was the “authority behind Mark’s gospel.”[4] This leaves only eight possible candidates. As previously mentioned the details recorded in the Gospel of John require an intimate knowledge suggesting the writer to be one in Jesus’ inner circle. However, because James the brother of John is recorded as being killed in Acts 12:2 and the Gospel was not written until later he is not a viable candidate. There are additional points that could be made for John being the author of the gospel but for brevity, it should be said the best research and historical evidence point to John as the author.

Moving on to date and original audience, most evidence points to John writing the gospel in Ephesus around mid to late A.D. 80 to early A.D. 90. This in part is because John “lacks reference to the Sadducees” and John’s gospel seems to have been after the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70.[5] Irenaeus in Against Heresies writes that John was not only the disciple leaning on Jesus at the Last Supper but that he wrote his gospel account “during his residence at Ephesus.”[6] The larger question remains did John only intend for the residence of Ephesus to read his gospel? To answer this question the purpose for writing must be examined.

John records in 20:31 that his reason for writing is so that the reader may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing they may have life in His name. This simple statement allows the reader to not only interpret everything written through that lens, but it shines light on original audience. While the first audience would have been the residence of Ephesus and as previously mentioned there seems to be little support for “distinct Gospel communities” it is easy to see that the message put forth in John was to travel.[7] Further, the text of the gospel itself has John assuming his readers are “unfamiliar with Jewish topography” because of the way he details the location of events (see Jn 5:2).[8]

Literary Context

            True to his purpose for writing John continually presents Jesus not only as the Messiah but as the one in whom true life cconsists Jesus is presented as one who understands His role, divine nature, and mission.[9] There is little doubt that Jesus is not only aware of His mission but that He is actively engaging people to reveling Himself and the life He offers. For example, the discussion Jesus has with Nicodemus in John 3, the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, the I Am statements of Jesus, the recorded signs, the high priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17, and so on all together help to showcase not only the importance of Jesus as the Messiah the Son of God but that He was aware of His mission and role.

The Gospel is filled with comparisons, dualism, and words or phrases that have deeper meanings which create difficulties for readers.[10] An example of deeper meaning can be seen in the prologue of John where John discusses the Word (logos) being both with God and being God. Logos itself has a simple definition meaning “the expression of thought” but it also carried different ideas for first century Greeks and first century Jews.[11] John uses the simple word logos but the way he uses the word creates a new meaning and gives a new depth to the understanding of who the Messiah is. Another example can be seen the discussion Jesus has with the Samaritan woman at the well in chapter 4. Jesus on this occasion uses the situation of water gathering to explain that He can provide water that will leave a person to never thirst again. Jesus is of course not discussing physical thirst but spiritual thirst. As often seen He uses physical examples to showcase a spiritual or eternal message.

In chapter 6 Jesus is seen feeding five thousand men with the donation of fives loaves and two fish. This sets the stage for a long discourse of bread and idea of sufficiency in Christ. The discussion of bread and sufficiency is started with the feeding of the multitude and ends with a discussion of eternal life. The flow is seemingly broken up with the recording of Jesus walking on the water. However, this is an important event because it shows Jesus’ mastery over the earth and because of Jesus statement to the disciples of “it is I” which as William McDonalds points out literally means I Am.[12] In 6:35 Jesus moves to a more declarative public statement saying I am the bread of life. What is seen through the chapter is a miraculous transformation of a small amount of food to being enough to feed a multitude, Jesus having mastery over the earth with a veiled I Am statement, and finally Jesus’ first public I Am statement.



     John chapter 6 shows that while Jesus is obviously concerned with physical needs He is more concerned with eternal life. Jesus states that He offers eternal life and that He is the bread of life. Jesus is comparing, and contrasting Himself, with the manna and what it represented. The wilderness experience was known to all Jews and the provision of manna was and remains an important miracle in the wilderness story. What exactly was the manna and what did the Israelites mean when they called it manna? That is a question that is still not answered as some say it is a statement while others argue manna is a question.[13] The simple fact remains that the Jews of Jesus’ day would have known it to be a miraculous provision by God for the daily needs in the Wilderness.

The manna was miraculous for a few reasons namely that it appeared daily, it managed to fill an individual, and it only lasted the day except for the double miracle of the Sabbath portion and two-day shelf life.[14] The manna was to be expected and collected for their daily needs. If someone attempted to save manna for the next day, it bred worms and smelled (Ex 16:20). While miraculous the manna was temporary both in that it was a physical item that decayed and second in that it was only provided during a specific time (i.e. the Wilderness).

The people who partook of the manna in the wilderness received daily portion yet died. Jesus states that whoever takes part in Him will not die if they first believe in Him. Faith or belief is required to receive the eternal life that He offers. He distinguishes Himself as living bread and as such He does not last only for the day but is eternal. The flesh statement made by Jesus is directly connected to the Word becoming flesh in John 1:14.[15] Jesus is claiming equality with the known God by saying I AM a second time and He is claiming that He can provide life for those who partake of Him.


            The response to Jesus’ statements from the crowd is one of shock because they assume they must literally eat His flesh and drink His blood to gain eternal life. This should not be thought that Jesus in any way was suggesting cannibalism as the practice of cannibalism was rejected in nearly every culture that would be receiving John’s Gospel. At first glance, it could be supposed that John recorded this encounter and chose the phrases of eating flesh and drinking blood to refer to the sacrament or ordinance of communion but that is not clear from the text. Craig Keener suggests that John does not record the last supper but instead chooses to show Jesus as the Passover lamb.[16] Read in this light Jesus may be showing that just as the Passover lamb is to be eaten and the wine is to be drunk for participation, dependence on His impending death is needed to show the “believers absolute dependence” on Him.[17]

Adding to the confusion, however, is that John records Jesus as saying that His flesh and blood are real food (see 6:55). Kostenberger suggests here that real “carries the connotations of eschatological” fulfillment of the Old Testament types such as the manna.[18] Jesus again is reiterating that not only is He real but that what He offers is real and tangible. What is seen then Jesus hinting at His sacrificial death and resurrection which will provide atonement for the sin of those who receive Him. There remains a possibility that John also included the words real to further dispel the idea that Jesus was not God in flesh but spirit only.

In verse 56 John records that the believing ones who eat and drink the flesh of Christ remain in Him. The Greek word remain (or live in the HCSB) is menō and carries with it the idea of remaining in a condition and in this context remaining with intimacy.[19] This can be seen as a reference to eternal security. The union that a believer has with Christ in eating and drinking Him is like the act of consuming food in that the food becomes one with person but more so because as Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown remark believers “become spiritually one life, though personally distinct” with Christ.[20] This is echoed later in John 17:21 where Jesus prays for a “perfect bond of unity” for believes like that of the unity He shares with the Father.[21]


     Jesus equates the intimacy of this union like His union with the Father stating that just as He is present in physical form because of the Father so too the believer will live because of Him. Jesus here combines the fact that the Father sent Him, and He claims that He has the right to grant life. This can be seen as a connection to John 1:12 where John says that to those who believe Jesus gives the right to be called children of God. Jesus then presents Himself not only as the one who can provide eternal life but as the one who has the authority to do this.

This is markedly different than the manna that was provided during the wilderness experience as that was a shadow of what was to come. The temporary miracle of manna was provided for a time and for a reason. The living bread that comes from heaven is now provided for all time for those who believe in Christ and take Him by faith. The people ate the physical food and died. The bread from heaven is spiritual food that is real but eaten by faith and results in eternal life.

Theological Interpretation & Application

     Substitutionary atonement is seen in the verses discussed above as Jesus teaches that “His death is vicarious” providing eternal life and providing union with Him.[22] The Law and the Manna were only shadows of what was to come. Jesus however, lays down His life for His sheep and takes it back up again so that they may be forgiven and have fellowship with God. The law could not provide righteousness and manna could not provide life. These come through faith in Christ, His finished work on the Cross, and His return to the Father.

The eternal union with Christ is also seen in these verses. Man was made to be in fellowship and union with God. The fall not only brought sin and death into the world but man’s relationship with God was fractured. Jesus came to not only restore the relationship but to abide in man and man in Him. This is not something man could accomplish on his own as life from God requires life in God. Paul in writing to the Galatians says that the life the believer lives is Christ living in them (Gal 2:20).

However, this must all be received in faith because without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). Gerald Borchert says in his commentary on John, speaking of the Israelites in the wilderness, that the words they ate, and they died make “an interesting tombstone inscription” and that it could be said of contemporary Christians as well.[23] One cannot simply like Jesus or think Him to be a good teacher; instead, they must take all of Him.


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

Cirafesi, Wally V., The “Johannine Community” in (More) Current Research: A Critical Appraisal of Recent Methods and Models. Neotestamentica 48. Issue 2 (July 2014). Accessed October 5, 2017. SA ePublications Service.

Enns, Paul P. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Rev. ed. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2014. Accessed October 31, 2017. Apple iBook.

Freed, Edwin D., The New Testament a Critical Introduction 3rd Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2001.

Irenaeus. Against Heresies 3.1.1.

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

Kostenberger, Andres. Encountering John. The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective 2nd Ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013.

Kostenberger, Andreas J. John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004). Accessed October 27, 2017. Axis 360.

Kostenberger, Andreas, J. L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles. The Lion and the Lamb New Testament Essentials from The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown. (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2012).

MacDonald, William. Believers Bible Commentary: A Complete Bible Commentary in one  Volume. Edited by Art Farstad. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1995.

Stuart, Douglas K. New American Commentary – Volume 2 – Exodus. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2006, 323. Accessed October 13, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Unabridged Ed. Peabody: Hendrickson Publ.

Zvi, Ron. “‘What is it?’ Interpreting Exodus 16:15. Jewish Bible Quarterly no. 4: 234.            RAMBI, EBSCOhost accessed October 13, 2017.


[1] Andres Kostenberger, Encountering John. The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective 2nd Ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic 2013), 27.

[2] All Scripture taken from the HSCB unless otherwise notes.

[3] Wally V. Cirafesi, The Johannine Community in (More) Current Research: A Critical Appraisal of Recent Methods and Models, Neotestamentica 48, Issue 2 (July 2014): 361, accessed October 5, 2017, SA ePublications Service.

[4] Edwin D. Freed, The New Testament a Critical Introduction 3rd Edition, (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2001), 124.

[5] Andreas J. Krostenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles, The Lion and the Lamb New Testament Essentials from The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown, (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2012), 108.

[6] Irenaeus’ testimony not only helps with the location of writing but as a proof of John’s authorship as well. Irenaeus Against Heresies 3.1.1.

[7] The implications for removing distinct communities that carried their own version of Christianity has implications for authorship, intent, and intended audience. See Cirafesi, The Johannine Community 361.

 [8] Kostenberger, Encountering John, 78.

 [9] J. L. Bailey and L. D. Vander Broek, Literary Forms in The New Testament A Handbook. (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press 1992), 172 – 173.

[10] The dualism in John is about this age and the one to come. See Kostenberger, Encountering John, 29.

[11] Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Unabridged Ed, (Peabody: Hendrickson Publ) s.v. λόγος, 1252.

[12] William MacDonald, Believers Bible Commentary: A Complete Bible Commentary in one Volume, edited by Art Farstad, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 1995) 1501.

[13] Ron, Zvi. “‘What is it?’: Interpreting Exodus 16:15″ Jewish Bible Quarterly no. 4: 234, accessed October 13, 2017, RAMBI, EBSCOhost.

[14] Douglas K Stuart, Exodus. New American Commentary Volume 2, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2006), 323, accessed October 13, 2017, ProQuest Ebook Central.

[15] Gerald L. Borchert, John 1-11: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group 1996), 249, accessed November 1, 2017.

[16] Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Peabody: Hendrickson Publ 2010), 690.

 [17] Ibid.

[18] Andreas J. Kostenberger, John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 235 accessed October 27, 2017, Axis 360.

[19] Vines, s.v. μένω, 12.

[20] Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments (WORDsearch Corp, 2013), accessed October 31, 2017, WORDSearch 2013.

[21] Ibid

[22] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, Rev. ed. (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2014), 200, accessed October 31, 2017, Apple iBook.

[23] Gerald L. Borchert, 250, accessed October 25, 2017.

An exegesis of Genesis 14:1-24

Abraham, Man of God and Example for a Nation

An Exegesis of Genesis 14:1-24


The strength, wisdom, and devotion to God displayed by Abram in chapter 14 are the actions of a man who has walked with and learned to trust in the Lord and is recognized as a man of God who is a proper model for Israel. Abram who was called out of his own land and trusted God when called now walks with God from a place of experience and follows rightly. This is shown first in the acknowledgment by Melchizedek in giving bread and wine to Abram and second in Abrams giving of a tithe to Melchizedek. Contrast in Abram can be seen in that when first introduced in chapter 12 Abram goes to Egypt and is fearful because of a king (Pharaoh), yet now in chapter 14, he rescues his nephew Lot from capture by multiple kings. Additional contrast is seen in Abrams ability to recognize it is God, not man who blesses him. He was made wealthy by Pharaoh after his lie but now he rejects the riches offered by the king of Sodom choosing instead to trust in the Lord.


Moses has traditionally been accepted as the author of Genesis and the Pentateuch save Deuteronomy chapter 34 as it records his death. Moses’s upbringing in Pharaoh’s courts would have given him not only the educational training to write such a volume of work but as Bruce Waltke points Moses would have had “firsthand education in the ancient Near East law codes” as well as ancient Near East myths like those of the Sumerian flood story.[1] However, the authorship of Moses is not without questions. Some of these questions are brought on by anachronisms where additional information or names of places have been backfilled into the story.

The largest attack on Mosaic authorship has come by way of the documentary hypothesis which claims that the Pentateuch was written from various documents well after the time of Moses. Documentary hypothesis supporters claim these documents were used at different times to create the Pentateuch, partly, because of issues that needed to be addressed during that specific time and partly because of “the presence of varying divine names.”[2] One major issue with this theory is that it has at its core an “evolutionary philosophy behind the theory” and a bias if not a flat out rejection of supernatural events.[3] However, since the eighteenth century, when the Documentary hypothesis was formally introduced, scholars now “recognize that the alleged documents contain ancient traditions” which cuts at the core of Documentary hypothesis.[4]

As to the question of the original audience, the most obvious answer would be Israel. Genesis covers not only primeval but patriarchal history which gives Israel its “meaning, and destiny as well as its laws.”[5] Israel upon leaving Egypt was now a people that needed a new or at least renewed sense of purpose and direction. Reminders of the covenant made to Abraham, as an example, would have aided in this divine calling to go and poses the land of Canaan. Chapter 14 of Genesis is of importance because as Jeffery Cohen suggest Melchizedek may have been granting Abraham “equal spiritual status with himself.”[6] Israel was called to be a kingdom of priest and a holy nation (Ex 19:6) and to have a patriarch who was seen as equals with a high priest of God Most High would have added to this sense of divine purpose.

Questions of authorship and audience aside the more common or debated question arising from Genesis surrounds the topic of creation itself or the age of the earth. While there is not room to detail such a discussion it must be mentioned. There are generally two groups that Christians will align themselves to. The first is the traditional view of a young earth which says that God created the earth ex-nihilo and filled it in six literal twenty-four hour days. Adam was created on the sixth day from the dust and God breathed life into him. The second view says the earth was created billions of years ago through a process known as theistic evolution where God created the earth and life and left it to evolve. When God saw fit He gave man a soul which in effect created the distinction between man and animal. There are difficulties in this interpretation including the flow of the text and that death, sin, and meat eating were not introduced until later. There are also discussions or questions surrounding the days (yowm) mentioned in Genesis chapter 1. Regardless of where one falls on the issue the one thing that cannot be escaped is that the Genesis text “is characterized by supernaturalism.”[7]

God is seen from the outset of the book first creating and then interacting with His creation. The interaction with mankind from God and the toldoths specifically create the overall structure of the book. Each toldoths marks a new section in Genesis which then takes the reader through the individual story. The different accounts themselves have various poetic structures as well, for example, Waltke suggests an alternating structure for primeval history which runs from Adam to Shem but then concentric patterns from Abraham to Joseph.[8] As for the genre of the book itself, it is historical narrative which is “didactic and aesthetic” because it not only teaches the history of creation and the patriarchs but does so in a poetic way.[9]

Abram while mentioned in chapter 11 is formally introduced in chapter 12 where God speaks to him in some way although it is not clear how. Chapter 12 introduces the reader to the Abrahamic covenant which as Benware says provides “understanding of the purposes and plans of God.”[10] After God calls Abram He then takes him to the land of Canaan and tells him that He (God) will give this land to Abrams offspring. The remainder of the chapter and chapter 13 show how God has already begun the process of blessing Abram and how because of that blessing he and Lot must separate. Lot being given the choice chooses the Jordan Valley.

Chapter 14 focuses on the rescue of Lot, the rejection of riches from the king of Sodom, and the introduction of Melchizedek. As previously mentioned chapter 14 is also of importance because Abram is seen in an elevated position. He is no longer simply a man who has been called and follows but is a rescuer of captives, a man blessed by God, and a man of God who honors those who deserve honor. It is in chapter 15 that where the covenant is again reiterated and Abram is “the recipient of a divine bequest.”[11] Abram is promised children in his old age and God promises not only the future inheritance of the land by Abrams descendants but also the years of slavery in Egypt that will precede it.


The sections or episodes of Genesis 14 are broken down into two alternating patterns. The first covers verses 1 through 16 and the second are verses 17-24. According to Bruce Waltke, the first pattern that is found is A 1-4, B 5-7, A’ 8-12, and B’ 13-16.[12] These sections cover the rebellion of the Dead Sea Kings, the eastern allies victory, the Dead Sea kings being plundered, and finally Abraham conquering the eastern allies. The second major section that is found while shorter is A 17-18 and A’ 19-24 and highlights the king of Sodom and Melchizedek meeting Abram with the former being “empty-handed” and the latter offering a banquet.[13] Contrast is also seen as Melchizedek blesses and receives a tithe from Abram, while the king of Sodom on the other hand demands for the return of the people and hints that he can make Abram wealthy. This section closes with the oath from Abram that he will nothing except what his men have already eaten and the men may take their spoils.

As mentioned previously Abram is not only the father of Israel but in addition to that, he is also an example. One area where this shows is in the connection between his pursuit of Chedorlaomer and subsequent rescue of Lot in verses 14-16 which appear to be “anticipation of the role of David in 1 Sam. 30:8-10,18.”[14] Both Abram and David are recognized as men of God who followed and trusted in YHWH. A difference that can be noted is that David is recorded as seeking God’s counsel before pursuing the raiders while Abram is not. However, as Melchizedek points out in his blessing of El Elyon it was God who gave Abram the victory over his enemies (Gen 14:20). The connection between the two events would make David “dependent on and continuous with Abram” which highlights the importance of Abram and the fact that he is a great man of God.[15]

While seen as an example and a man of God Abram is not without controversy. One area of interest as it pertains to this episode in Abram’s life is his fight with and the extensive pursuit of Chedorlaomer to Hobah. A simple reading of Genesis 14 shows that Abram after being notified of Lot’s capture gathered men to rescue his nephew, however, within that there are questions of preparation, motive, and severity. Of first notice is that Abram had just over three hundred men who were trained for battle. Second is that Abram, his men, and his allies not only attacked Chedorlaomer but then preceded to pursue him to Hobah (14:15). Brodsky suggests two possible reasons for this. The first explanation is that Lot was still captive, however, the second which paints Abram in a less romanticized light and more human one is that “Abram had the capacity to conduct an unrelenting war.”[16] If this is the case then the idea that chapter 15 is a continuation of 14 is clearer because when God speaks to Abram in 15:1 the first words are for Abram to not fear. While it is not beyond a reasonable doubt, what is clear is that “material gain was not his motive” for fighting against Chedorlaomer but instead it was to rescue Lot which is a noble cause.[17]

Turning to the post-battle events the reader is introduced to Melchizedek, the banquet, the tithe from Abram, and the blessing which it will be argued make Abram an acceptable father for a nation of priest. First, however, the identity of Melchizedek must be dealt with. The Rabbis believe Melchizedek to be Shem the son of Noah because he would have not only been alive during Abrams time but “outlived Abram by 35 years.”[18] The protestant reformers took this issue up as well with Luther agreeing and Calvin disagreeing with the rabbis. Calvin argued that it does not follow logically that Shem would have undergone a name change and been moved to the place of obscurity. Moreover, there is no record of Shem moving to Judea, and if this did occur then as McNair says Abram “would have gone straight to meet him.”[19] Some in the early church thought Melchizedek an angle or some other heavenly being yet from this “arose the heresy that he was … over Christ.”[20] The only thing that is clear is that Scripture is silent on the matter of identity and that he quickly appears and then disappears from the narrative. What is of direct important is his relationship to Abram and the status he holds.

The relationship between Abram and Melchizedek is first seen in the bringing out of bread and wine by Melchizedek. While at first glance this might be thought to be refreshment the text is clear in verse 24 that Abram and his men have already eaten and at that bread and wine “seems a strange form or refreshment.”[21] The more likely explanation is that the bread and wine were not meant as refreshments but because Melchizedek was priest of God Most High. Jeffery Cohen suggests that the logical form of the verse makes it clear that Melchizedek is, “king of Salem and priest of God the Most High.”[22] This reading would suggest that Melchizedek was not simply bringing out bread and wine to weary men but instead that he is blessing Abram and bringing bread and wine “as a token of religious fellowship.”[23]

Classically in the Christian church, it has been thought that the bread and wine were a foreshadow of the Eucharist. Jerome who introduced the idea that Melchizedek brought out bread and wine as a part of his priestly office which indeed “lends itself to the Eucharistic interpretation.”[24] However, as scholars learned the original languages they thought this interpretation wrong and that it was a feast meal but as mentioned bread and wine would have been little feast seeing as Abram had already eaten (v24). Luther and Calvin believed that the bread and wine were brought out because he was king but the blessing he gave was because of “his priestly office.”[25] The text does not differentiate between the role of Melchizedek acting as king or priest. Because of the surrounding text and because the blessing is recorded immediately following the bread and wind it seems likely that Melchizedek and Abram were partaking in religious fellowship as they were both servants of God Most High.[26]

The name God Most High ascribed to God in verses 19 and 20 is El Elyon and while el is a fairly “common appellative for divinity” it should not be thought that this has any relation to the Canaanite god el who is the head of the Canaanite pantheon.[27] If it is thought that that el is referring to the Canaanite god then that would make Melchizedek his high priest. Abraham would have been aware of this and as Abraham refuses to allow the king of Sodom to lay claim to making him rich it does not follow that shortly before he would have received a blessing from and paid tithe to a pagan priest. What is seen then is that Melchizedek “recognizes Abram’s God as… Creator and Sovereign” who is the one who delivers Abrams enemies over him.[28]

The connection between God Most High and YHWH is further seen by Abram’s oath in verse 22 when Abram uses both his designation for God and Melchizedeks. In this Abram is connecting “Melchizedek’s God as his own” which makes the case for Melchizedeks high positions that much stronger because the God Abram follows is known.[29] Even if as Waltke suggest that “YHWH may not have been in the original text” there would still have been some designation of the covenant God by Abram to connect Melchizedek’s God and his making them the same Lord of the universe.[30]

Following the blessing, Abram gives Melchizedek a tithe because he recognized him as “the legitimate priest… of his God” which again not only solidifies Melchizedeks position but in turn Abram’s position as a godly man and more importantly as a proper model for Israel.[31] It is possible that there is a play on words between asar which is to make rich (14:23) and maaser which is tenth (14:20). If so this then this tithe would indicate that Abram understood that “his wealth is from the Lord alone” which only makes sense given Abram’s response to the king of Sodom.[32] Chapter 15 then seems to be a natural continuation of this because God confirms to Abram that his reward will be very great (15:1).

Another explanation for chapter 15 being a continuation comes from the rabbis in the middle ages who thought that Abram had “a sense of guilt” because he may have killed someone who need not die or that there would be retribution for his actions.[33] While possible it is not the only reason for seeing a continuation as previously mentioned. What is clear from the text is that following the events of the battle, the blessing, the tithe, and the oath by Abram God confirms Abram. The fact that God confirms Abram after these events is important because it again reconfirms that Abram was a godly man who is a proper model and father for a nation of priest.


In my own life as a man who desires earnestly to follow God and seek His ways above all others, there are at least a few points of application worth mentioning here. First, is that God is present even in the midst of difficult events. God called Abram while in Ur and Abram followed and while the beginning was less than ideal Abram persisted and God gave him grace. Abram continued to walk with God and follow Him, because of this Abram grew into a man who is blessed by others of high stature (Melchizedek). God continued to lead Abram and confirm him along the way so that Abram might not lose his way.

Second is that God is the one who gives the calling, not man. Abram did not seek out God but God sovereignly called Abram to be the father of many. A call from God is not something that should be taken lightly or thought of as common. God’s call to a man or woman is a holy calling for as God says we are to be holy for He is holy (Lev 20:26; 1 Pet 1:16). Abram is the model for not just Israel but Christians as well because he chose to seek God and God confirmed him.

Third and finally there is a clear example of honoring those who serve the Lord because it is not just them we honor in this but God Himself. The Old Testament is filled with examples of blessing those who serve God and the New Testament confirms this (Gal 6:6; 1 Tim 5:17-18). In blessing those who serve the Lord we not only have the joy of giving but bestow honor on those who deserve it. The Bible commands us to show honor (Rom 13:7) and Abram is again a right example of this. Instead of choosing to keep the spoils of war for himself he gives Melchizedek tithe and trust in God for his reward. We can see then in all things God was leading Abram, and God is leading His people now, we need only follow.



[1] Bruce K. Waltke, and Cathi J Fredricks, Genesis: a Commentary, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2001): 23.

[2] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis, 24

[3] Paul Benware, Survey of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2001), 273, accessed January 17, 2017, Axis 360.

[4] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis, 26

[5] Ibid., 22

[6] Jeffery M. Cohen, “Abraham’s Hospitality,” Jewish Bible Quarterly 34, no 3 (July 2006): 171, accessed February 23, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.

[7] Benware, Survey of the Old Testament, 25

[8] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis 19-21

[9] Ibid., 31

[10] Benware, Survey of the Old Testament, 32

[11] Kenneth A. Matthews, Genesis 11:27-50:26, Vol. 1B, The New American Commentary, (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 157.

[12] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis, 225

[13] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis, 226

[14]Abraham Gosse, “Abraham and David,Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 34, no 1, (September 2009): 27, accessed February 23, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.

[15] Ibid., 25

[16] Harold Brodsky, “Did Abram Wage a Just War?” Jewish Bible Quarterly, 31, no 3, (July 2003): 171, accessed February 26, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.

[17] Ibid., 167

[18] Bruce G. McNair, “Luther, Calvin and the Exegetical Tradition of Melchisedec” Review & Expositor 101, no 4 (September 2004): 748, accessed February 22, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.

[19] Ibid., 749

[20] Ibid., 748

[21] Cohen, Abraham’s Hospitality 169

[22] Ibid., 170

[23] Ibid

[24] McNair, Luther, Calvin and the Exegetical Tradition of Melchisedec 751

[25] Ibid, 751

[26] Due to the various interpretations of this passage I find it best to interject as little speculation as possible into the text and rest on the simplest explanation.

[27] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis 233

[28] Matthews, Genesis 150

[29] Ibid., 56

[30] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis 234

[31] Ibid., 235

[32] Matthews, Genesis 157

[33] Brodsky, Did Abram Wage a Just War? 172





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.


  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)



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).


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.


 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.


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