John 7:5
For neither did his brethren believe in him.
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(5) For neither did his brethren believe.—Comp. Note on John 7:3. The words do not admit of any other meaning than the obvious one that even His brethren did not at this time believe Him to be the Messiah. That they are found in the very first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles joining with the Apostles, and the women, and Mary, with one accord in prayer (John 7:14), is one of the striking instances of the hardened ground of human hearts passing into the fruitful ground receptive of the seed, as the case of Judas at the close of the last chapter is an instance of the opposite. For the immediate cause of the decisive change, see 1Corinthians 15:7.

7:1-13 The brethren or kinsmen of Jesus were disgusted, when they found there was no prospect of worldly advantages from him. Ungodly men sometimes undertake to counsel those employed in the work of God; but they only advise what appears likely to promote present advantages. The people differed about his doctrine and miracles, while those who favoured him, dared not openly to avow their sentiments. Those who count the preachers of the gospel to be deceivers, speak out, while many who favour them, fear to get reproach by avowing regard for them.For there is no man ... - The brethren of Jesus supposed that he was influenced as others are. As it is a common thing among men to seek popularity, so they supposed that he would also seek it; and as a great multitude would be assembled at Jerusalem at this feast, they supposed it would be a favorable time to make himself known. What follows shows that this was said, probably, not in sincerity, but in derision; and to the other sufferings of our Lord was to be added, what is so common to Christians, derision from his relatives and friends on account of his pretensions. If our Saviour was derided, we also may expect to be by our relatives; and, having his example, we should be content to bear it.

If thou do ... - It appears from this that they did not really believe that he performed miracles; or, if they did believe it, they did not suppose that he was the Christ. Yet it seems hardly credible that they could suppose that his miracles were real, and yet not admit that he was the Messiah. Besides, there is no evidence that these relatives had been present at any of his miracles, and all that they knew of them might have been from report. See the notes at Mark 3:21. On the word brethren in John 7:5, see the Matthew 13:55 note, and Galatians 1:19 note.

3-5. His brethren said—(See on [1798]Mt 13:54-56).

Depart … into Judea, &c.—In Joh 7:5 this speech is ascribed to their unbelief. But as they were in the "upper room" among the one hundred and twenty disciples who waited for the descent of the Spirit after the Lord's ascension (Ac 1:14), they seem to have had their prejudices removed, perhaps after His resurrection. Indeed here their language is more that of strong prejudice and suspicion (such as near relatives, even the best, too frequently show in such cases), than from unbelief. There was also, probably, a tincture of vanity in it. "Thou hast many disciples in Judea; here in Galilee they are fast dropping off; it is not like one who advances the claims Thou dost to linger so long here, away from the city of our solemnities, where surely 'the kingdom of our father David' is to be set up: 'seeking,' as Thou dost, 'to be known openly,' those miracles of Thine ought not to be confined to this distant corner, but submitted at headquarters to the inspection of 'the world.'" (See Ps 69:8, "I am become a stranger to my brethren, an alien unto my mother's children!")

Not all his own friends and kindred; he came not only among his own countrymen, but among his own relations, and they received him not; or if they had some opinion of him, and some little hopes concerning him, yet they did not believe as they ought to have believed. Certainly there cannot be a greater proof and demonstration that faith is not of ourselves, nor a thing in our own power, no, not with all the external aids of gospel doctrine and arguments, than is in this text. We cannot imagine but our Lord’s brethren were willing enough to have believed in Christ as the true Messiah and Saviour of the world; the very honour of their family would have so far inclined them. It is impossible that they, or any others, should have had greater external means, aids, and assistances for their faith, than Christ’s preaching amongst them, and confirming his doctrine by miraculous operations before them; if now they had a power in their own wills, to have looked upon Christ as the true Messiah and Saviour of the world, and accordingly to have received and embraced him, what was the matter they believed not, or as yet at least they believed not in him?

For neither did his brethren believe in him. At first they might take to him, and embrace him as the Messiah, and expect he would set up a temporal kingdom; in which they might hope, on account of their relation to him, according to the flesh to enjoy great honours and privileges; but finding that he was not inclined to anything of that nature, and talked in a quite different way, they grew sick of him, and rejected him, as the Messiah; so, little regard is to be had, or confidence placed, in carnal descent from, or alliance to the best of men; as to Abraham, or any other true believer, if they have not the same grace, or the same faith as such have; and which comes not by blood, or natural generation, but by the free favour of God; for it matters not, if men have known Christ, or have been allied to him after the flesh, unless they are new creatures in him; they may be the one, and not the other; even the carnal brethren of Christ, and yet not believers in him; and it is only such who are so in a spiritual sense, that are regarded by him, Matthew 12:49. For neither did his {b} brethren believe in him.

(b) His relatives: for the Hebrews used to speak in this way.

John 7:5-6. For not even His brothers, whom we might have expected to have been foremost, etc.; otherwise they would not have urged Him to the test of a public appearance. They urged this upon Him all the more, because He had absented Himself from the previous Passover at Jerusalem,—a fact which could not have been unknown to them.

ἐπίστ. εἰς αὐτ.] in the ordinary sense; they did not believe in Him as the Messiah. To take the words to mean only the perfect self-surrender of faith, which they had not yet attained to (Lange, Hengstenberg), is an inference necessitated by the mistaken notion that these brothers were not literally brothers (see on Matthew 12:46; Acts 1:14; Mark 3:31; 1 Corinthians 9:5). Nonnus admirably says: ἀπειθέες οἷάπερ ἄλλοι, Χριστοῦ παμμεδέοντος ἀδελφειοί περ ἐόντες. See John 7:7.

ὁ καιρὸς ὁ ἐμός] cannot mean the time to make the journey to the feast (Luther, Jansen, Cornelius a Lapide, and most expositors); the antithesis ὁ καιρὸς ὁ ὑμ. demands a deeper reference. It is, according to the context, the time to manifest myself to the world, John 7:4, by which Jesus certainly understood the divinely appointed yet still expected moment of public decision concerning Him (comp. John 2:4), which did come historically at the very next Passover, but which He now felt in a general way was not yet come. Thus the explanation of Chrysostom, Euthymius Zigabenus, Lampe, and most others, who refer the words to the time of His passion, is not wrong, only that this is not actually expressed, but was historically the fulfillment of what is here said. The corresponding ὁ καιρὸς ὁ ὑμέτερος in like manner means the time for showing themselves openly to the world, which the brothers might do at any time, because they stood in no opposition to the world (John 7:7; John 15:19).

John 7:5. It is indeed added οὐδὲ γὰραὐτόν, “For not even did His brothers believe in Him”; but this does not mean that they did not believe He wrought miracles, but that they had not submitted to His claim to be Messiah. They required to see Him publicly acknowledged before they could believe. Therefore this clause is introduced to explain why they urged Him to go to Jerusalem.

5. For neither did his brethren believe in him] Or, For not even did His brethren (as one would expect) believe on Him. It is marvellous that in the face of this verse any one should have maintained that three of His brethren (James, Simon, and Judas) were Apostles. This verse is also fatal to the common theory, that these ‘brethren’ are really our Lord’s cousins, the sons of Alphæus. Certainly one of the sons of Alphæus (James) was an Apostle; probably a second was (Matthew, if Levi and Matthew are the same person, as is almost universally admitted); possibly a third was (Judas, if ‘Judas of James’ means ‘Judas, brother of James,’ as is commonly supposed). By this time the company of the Twelve was complete (John 6:67; John 6:70-71); so that we cannot suppose that some of the Twelve have still to be converted. If then one, two, or three sons of Alphæus were Apostles how could it be true that the sons of Alphæus ‘did not believe on Him?’ ‘His brethren’ cannot be the sons of Alphæus. They seem to have been converted by the Resurrection. Immediately after the Ascension we find them with the Apostles and the holy women (Acts 1:14; comp. 1 Corinthians 9:5, Galatians 1:19).

John 7:5. Οὐδέ) not even: so few they were that believed! Not except by Divine succours was faith in Jesus of Nazareth established: the very members of His family were opposed to Him.

Verse 5. - For not even did his brethren believe in him. The evangelist, writing a generation later, and keenly remembering the attitude the brothers had assumed before the Resurrection, adds, "not even his brothers," who ought to have been the most prominent of his disciples, "did up to this time believe on him," i.e. entrust themselves to him, dispose of their prejudices, change their conceptions, accept his spiritual lead, acknowledge his Divine mission, or know him to be the Holy One of God. They had not come into the position of the twelve. What ideas soever they grasped fell immeasurably short of "eating his flesh and drinking his blood," of coming to him, being given to him and drawn to him by the Father. It was a world Messiah, a theocratic King, a Prophet-Captain, a royal Christ, that they sought and would have been glad to find in him. This treatment of the Lord was another striking parallel to the temptation of Jesus as described by the synoptists, "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me" (see note on ch. 4, and Introduction, VIII. 5). The non-belief of the brothers is in remarkable unison with the widespread unbelief of the people, who were anxious to discern the Christ of their own traditional expectations, and ready to press almost any possible claimant to premature demonstrations. The Pharisees and the people sought some sign from heaven. But while the people demanded it, they expected that he would and might gratify them if he chose. The Pharisees cynically tempted him to proclaim what they believed would prove his irremediable failure (Weiss, 'Life of Christ.,' vol. 3. Eng. trans., pp. 167-188). John 7:5Neither (οὐδὲ)

Better, as Rev., not even.

Did believe (ἐπίστευον)

The imperfect, were believing; referring not to a single act of faith, but to faith as habitual and controlling.

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