Jesus’ Debate With The Jews

In the Midst of the Feast: Debate



Note that this public debate about the Lord Jesus involved three different groups of people.


  1. First, of course, were the Jewish leaders (“the Jews”) who lived in Jerusalem and were attached to the temple ministry. This would include the Pharisees and the chief priests (most of whom were Sadducees) as well as the scribes. The exceptions would be Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38-42).
  2. The second group would be “the people” (John 7:12, 20, 31-32). This would be the festival crowd that had come to Jerusalem to worship.
  3. The third group was composed of the Jews who resided in Jerusalem (John 7:25). They, of course, would have likely sided with the religious leaders.


Hello my friend. This post is fairly long but so worth reading. So why don't you grab a cup of coffee or tea and your bible and enjoy the time you spend with God as your read what He shared with me today. 

Therefore the Jews kept looking for Him at the Feast and asking, Where can He be? [Where is that Fellow?]
And there was among the mass of the people much whispered discussion and hot disputing about Him. Some were saying, He is good! [He is a good Man!] Others said, No, He misleads and deceives the people [gives them false ideas]!
But no one dared speak out boldly about Him for fear of [the leaders of] the Jews.

John 7:11-13 (AMP)


The debate began before Jesus even arrived at the city, and it centered on His character. The religious leaders “kept seeking” Jesus, while the crowd kept arguing whether He was a good man or a deceiver. He would have to be one or the other, because a truly good man would not deceive anybody. Yes, Jesus is either what He claims to be, or He is a liar.


When the Feast was already half over, Jesus went up into the temple [court] and began to teach. The Jews were astonished. They said, How is it that this Man has learning [is so versed in the sacred Scriptures and in theology] when He has never studied?

John 7:14-15 (AMP)


The Jewish learning consisted in the knowledge of their own scriptures, and the traditions of their elders. In this learning our blessed Lord excelled.


  • No person ever spoke with more grace and dignity, or knew better how to make a more proper use, or a happier application, of Jewish allegories and parables;
  • Because none ever penetrated the sense of the Scriptures as he did;
  • None ever cited them more successfully, or ever showed their accomplishment in so complete and satisfactory a manner.


As these branches of learning were taught at the Jewish schools, and our Lord had never attended there, they were astonished to find him excelling in that sort of learning, of which they themselves professed to be the sole teachers.


Just like today, most people don’t understand revelation knowledge. They think you have to be taught knowledge in some seminary by men. There is no doubt that Jesus heard things from people, but it was the Holy Spirit that imparted knowledge to Jesus and trained Him.


Jesus received His wisdom and knowledge by direct revelation from the Spirit of God rather than being taught by people. Jesus had been learning (Luke 2:52) but not through man. The Holy Ghost was His teacher.


All born-again believers have had this same ministry of the Holy Spirit made available to them as well. In John 14:26, Jesus said that the Holy Ghost will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. He also said the Holy Ghost would even show us things to come (John 16:13). The Holy Ghost has been sent to teach us this same wisdom Jesus had that made the Jews marvel, but we have to “show up for class.” This wisdom has to be drawn out by faith and time spent in the Word and prayer.


Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.

John 7:16 (NKJV)


But when Jesus began to teach openly in the temple, the debate shifted to His doctrine. Character and doctrine go together, of course. It would be foolish to trust the teachings of a liar! The Jews were amazed at what He taught because He did not have any credentials from their approved rabbinical schools.


But since He lacked this “proper accreditation,” His enemies said that His teachings were nothing but private opinions and not worth much. It has often been said that Jesus taught with authority, while the scribes and Pharisees taught from authorities, quoting all the famous rabbis.


If any man desires to do His will (God’s pleasure), he will know (have the needed illumination to recognize, and can tell for himself) whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking from Myself and of My own accord and on My own authority.

John 7:17 (AMP)


This explains why the Jewish leaders did not understand Jesus’ teachings: they had stubborn wills and would not submit to Him (John 5:40).


Jesus explained that His doctrine came from the Father. He had already made it clear that He and the Father were one in the works that He performed and in the judgment that He executed (John 5:30). Now He claimed that His teachings also came from the Father, and He would make that astounding claim again in (John 8:26, 38). Jesus rightly could claim absolute authority for everything that He taught!


But does not every religious teacher make a similar claim?
How, then, can we know that Jesus is teaching us the truth?


By obeying what He tells us to do. God’s Word proves itself true to those who will sincerely do it.


Is our Lord suggesting here a “pragmatic test” for divine truth?
Is He saying, “Try it? If it works, it must be true!” and thus suggesting that if it does not work it must be false?


This kind of a test would lead to confusion, for almost any cultist could say, “I tried what the cult teaches, and it works!”


No, our Lord’s statement goes much deeper. He was not suggesting a shallow “taste test” but rather the deep personal commitment of the person to truth. The Jews depended on education and authorities and received their doctrine secondhand, but Jesus insisted that we experience the authority of truth personally. The Jewish leaders were attempting to kill Jesus, yet at the same time they claimed to understand God’s truth and obey it. This proves that an enlightened and educated mind is no guarantee of a pure heart or a sanctified will. Some of the world’s worst criminals have been highly intelligent and well-educated people.


He who speaks on his own authority seeks to win honor for himself. [He whose teaching originates with himself seeks his own glory.] But He Who seeks the glory and is eager for the honor of Him Who sent Him, He is true; and there is no unrighteousness or falsehood or deception in Him.

John 7:18 (AMP)


This is how you can tell if ministers are speaking under their own power or if they’re anointed of the Holy Spirit. If they are self-serving, then it’s not of God. What a powerful truth.


If we really seek God’s will, then we will not worry over who gets the glory. All truth is God’s truth and God alone deserves the glory for what He has taught us. No teacher or preacher can take the credit for what only can come from God. If he does go after the glory, then it is proof that his teaching is self-generated and not received from God. This is the origin of many cults and church splits: somebody “invents” a doctrine, takes credit for it, and uses it to divide God’s people.


Pursuing Holiness

Obeying Jesus is evidence that we love Him and are His disciples. Our obedience is vital to holy living. The Holy Spirit teaches us and gives us understanding of the Scriptures enabling us to obey the Lord.
Determine to obey the Lord. Align your will with His will.


Did not Moses give you the Law? And yet not one of you keeps the Law. [If that is the truth] why do you seek to kill Me [for not keeping it]?

John 7:19 (AMP)


Jesus was pointing out their hypocrisy. They prided themselves on keeping the Law, yet they were plotting murder in their hearts (1 John 3:15).


These Jews prided themselves on their observance of the Law, but they were keeping the letter of the Law and missing its true intent. The greatest of all the Old Testament laws was to love God and then to love your neighbour as yourself (Leviticus 19:18, Deuteronomy 10:12, and Matthew 22:36-40).


These Jews were violating these laws by having hatred in their hearts toward Jesus and wanting to kill Him. They denied that they desired to kill Him, but the Scriptures declare that they had already plotted or tried to kill Him three times.


  1. Luke 4:28-29
  2. John 5:16
  3. Matthew 12:14, Mark 3:6, and Luke 6:11.


The crowd answered Him, You are possessed by a demon! [You are raving!] Who seeks to kill You?

John 7:20 (AMP)


The first “debate” was with the Jews: but the visitors to the city entered into the discussion. Jesus had boldly announced that the leaders wanted to kill Him because He had violated the Sabbath and then claimed to be God (see John 5:10-18).


The orthodox Jews broke the Sabbath laws when they had their sons circumcised on the Sabbath, so why could He not heal a man on the Sabbath?


The visitors, of course, did not know that their leaders were out to kill Jesus; so they challenged His statement. But their reply contained a serious accusation—that Jesus had a demon.


This is amazing! The creation said to the Creator that He was demon possessed. This reveals a lot about the true nature of God. If He wasn’t love (1 John 4:8), He would have killed them all right on the spot for such disrespect.


Jesus answered them, I did one work, and you all are astounded.

John 7:21 (AMP)


All of the scholars I’ve read believe Jesus was referring to the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:2-15). This was a notable miracle that got the attention of everyone in Jerusalem.


Prior to this instance, Jesus had already performed two recorded healings on the Sabbath day:


  1. The impotent man at the pool of Bethesda and
  2. The man in the synagogue who had a withered hand (Matthew 12:9-13, Mark 3:1-5, and Luke 6:6-10)


Notice that the healing at the pool of Bethesda had taken place one and a half years earlier, and the Jews were still marveling at it.


Now Moses established circumcision among you—though it did not originate with Moses but with the previous patriarchs—and you circumcise a person [even] on the Sabbath day.

John 7:22 (AMP)


The rite of circumcision had to be performed on the eighth day after a male was born (Genesis 17:12). That meant many male children were circumcised on the Sabbath, yet that wasn’t considered breaking the Law.


If, to avoid breaking the Law of Moses, a person undergoes circumcision on the Sabbath day, have you any cause to be angry with (indignant with, bitter against) Me for making a man’s whole body well on the Sabbath?

John 7:23 (AMP)


Jesus was pointing out their hypocrisy.


If they circumcised a child on the Sabbath, how much more godly is it to heal a lame man on the Sabbath?


The actual doing of God’s will (i.e., destroying the works of the devil, 1 John 3:8) always takes precedence over adhering to any symbolic observance such as keeping the Sabbath. Loving your neighbor, as yourself would include Jesus using His power to minister to a man’s physical needs even on the Sabbath day.


Our Lord used the very Law of Moses to refute the enemy’s argument; but He knew that they would not give in.




Because they’re standard of judgment was not honest. They evaluated things on the basis of superficial examination of the facts. They judged on the basis of “seems” and not “is.” Unfortunately, too many people make that same mistake today.


Be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance (superficially and by appearances); but judge fairly and righteously.

John 7:24 (AMP)


People who are legalistic don’t use their brains. They just go by the letter of the Law in a way that is similar to the time Saul nearly killed his son Jonathan because of a stupid oath. The people had to restrain Saul (1 Samuel 14:44-45). They had more sense than the king. A great miracle of healing was performed, which set a man free, but all they could see was that this broke their traditions about working on the Sabbath.


We must not judge concerning any by their outward appearance, but by they’re worth, and by the gifts and graces of God’s Spirit in them.


Growing In Godliness

To the New Testament disciple, godly living is living in, through, and for Jesus. Godliness includes these three elements:
• Love
• Obedience and
• Unity.
By living godly lives, we learn to see things as God does and adopt His word as our only standard.
Judge spiritual things by spiritual standards, not by appearance.




Regardless of my education, I have wisdom that is astonishing to those outside of the kingdom of God. Jesus Himself has actually become my wisdom. The One dwelling within me has anointed my mind.
It is my deepest desire to do the will of my Father. Therefore, He has given me a direct revelation of His Word, His will, and His purpose for my life.
I seek to win honor for my heavenly Father in all that I do. His Truth is revealed in and through me. In me, there is no unrighteousness, falsehoods, or deception.



Adam Clarke’s Commentary
Andrew Wommack’s Living Commentary
Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Alive (John 1-12)
Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary


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