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In the 68th and 69th verses we find Simon Peter standing forward in the name of the twelve to profess their belief and attachment to Jesus. “ Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we believe, and are sure, that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” No character in history is more uniformly maintained, than the honest, and almost intemperate zeal, of this distinguished apostle. But his Lord, while he checked the fervent confidence of his heart, feelingly demonstrated his own knowledge of “what was man,” by informing him before-hand that even among these his chosen disciples was one who would prove a traitor.
Ver. 1. It is hardly necessary to observe that
walking" in Galilee, or in Jewry, means no more than “ being,” or “continuing" there. Jewry is another name for Judea: why the former term was chosen by the translators in this place, does not appear; the original affords no ground for it.
* See chap. xiii. 38.
The reason of Jesus's not going openly to the festival is the same, that has before been explained *. For, on the one hand, there was danger lest a tumult should be raised by the populace in the inconsiderate expression of their favour; and, on the other, the leaders of the Jews, irritated by his reproofs, might have attempted to put him to death before his appointed time, that is, before he had completed the purpose of his ministry.
Ver. 3. The word “brethren" admits of various interpretations. It is often used to express any near connexions t; sometimes those, who are united in profession and faith ; and in this place it may perhaps signify those, to whom Jesus was familiarly known in Galilee, where he had resided, though not related by consanguinity. These people seem to have been in a state, not very unusual, of wavering and half belief, unable to resist the evidence of Jesus's miracles, yet unwilling to acknowledge him as the Messiah, because their minds were prepossessed with the expectation of a temporal prince. They urge him therefore to go up to Jerusalem, and display his powers to the world. This they did under the pretence of confirming the faith of his disciples; but really, to * Chap. v. 13.
† Chap. ii. 12.
hasten his assumption of the kingdom, if he were indeed the expected Messiah ; and to regulate their own conduct by the manner in which he should be received. For, whatever opinion they might entertain, yet “no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.” But though Jesus resisted the importunity of his friends to gather temporal honors by“ stirring up the people *,” in his progress towards Jerusalem ; yet “ about the midst of the feast he went up into the temple and taught.” The people were astonished, as well they might be, to hear him“ teach them, not as the scribes and pharisees,” but as one“ having authority;" and they said “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned ?” What in this text is called " letters," signifies the interpretation of the Scriptures." For the laws of the Jews, both civil and religious, being comprehended in the Scriptures, their learning consisted in the interpretation of those books t. Hence the scribes, whose office it was not only to preserve uncorrupt, and to transcribe, but also to expound the Scrip
• Luke xxiii. 5.
1 μονοις δε σοφιαν μαρτυρουσι τοις τα νομιμα σαφως επισταμένοις, και την των ιερων γραμματων δυναμιν ερμηνευσαι δυναMEVOLG. Josephus, Ant. 20, 10, 2.
tures, became at once the lawyers *, and the teachers of the country. Jesus again disclaimed all glory for himself, declaring that while he sought only the glory of God who sent him, he ought to be believed, for he taught that which he had been sent to teach. Moreover, everyone, who was sincerely desirous of pleasing God, would be sensible that his doctrine was not ambitious and worldly, but spiritual and divine.
Ver. 19. The next part of Jesus's discourse has reference to the miracle of the cripple, who was healed at the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath day, as it is related in the fifth chapter. For we are there informed that “the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day t." It will be recollected that he then retired into Galilee; and it is to be presumed that he had not since been at Jerusalem until now, upon occasion of the feast of tabernacles. Referring therefore to the subject of their former persecution, he shews the Jews, from their own practice of circumcising their children on the eighth day, even though it were the Sabbath, how unreasonable it was to be angry at him, because he had made a man every * Luke xi. 46.
† Chap. v. 16.
« Let no man,
whit whole on the Sabbath day.” They ought to interpret the laws, which Moses had delivered to them, not “ according to the appearance,” but according to “righteous judgment;” for “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life *.” therefore, judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is Christ f.” And to the same purpose St. John," little children, let no man deceive you ; he that doth righteousness, is righteous ."
Ver. 25. Some of the people, when they heard Jesus, were surprised that the Jews, who had so lately threatened to put him to death, should now suffer him to speak boldly without molestation. They therefore ask one another, “ do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ ?” But they presently check themselves, because they knew Jesus's family and connexions, whereas when Christ should come, nobody would know whence he is. For so they may probably have interpreted that part of Isaiah's prophecy, in which it is said, “who shall declare his generation ?”
* 2 Cor. iii. 6. I 1 John iii. 7.
+ Col. ii. 16. § Isa. liii. 8.