Basic Facts from John (Part 3)

Basic Facts from John (Part 3)

The one passage of scripture nearly every sinner knows is found in Matthew 7:1 – “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” In the mind of every rebellious, self-willed individual, these words from Jesus should protect them from any censure or correction by those who seek their repentance – “Don’t you judge me! It’s a sin to judge!” John 7:24, however, puts our Lord’s instruction into its proper setting, however, noting that His disciples are to “judge” (select, choose, evaluate) according to a righteous standard; in other words, consistently – according to God’s principles and teaching. In addition, the words of Jesus here are presented in the form of a command, which means it is wrong for one who knows what is right to fail or refuse to “judge” accordingly! In truth, the unrepentant sinner who chants “don’t judge me!” against a faithful child of God is actually urging him to join in sin by refusing to do the good he knows he should (James 4:17).

In the last paragraph of John 7, the chief priests and Pharisees demonstrate their own biblical and historical ignorance by chastising the officers they sent to arrest Jesus. Their assertion that “no prophet arises from Galilee” was wrong. It was no accident that Jesus had compared Himself with Jonah (Matthew 12:39), for that reluctant-but-effective prophet was not only from the region known in the first century as Galilee, he was from the city of Gathhepher (2 Kings 14:25) which had been located almost exactly where the town known in Jesus’ day as Nazareth was!

Most English translations other than the King James and New King James versions include a note of some sort relating to John 7:53-8:11 that indicates that these verses are not found in “the earliest and most reliable” (Greek) manuscripts. In doing this, they cast doubt on whether or not this account of a woman taken in the act of adultery even belongs in the bible. While it may be true that some early manuscripts do not contain these verses, Jerome (who lived from about 340-420 AD, and produced the Latin translation of the scriptures known as the “Latin Vulgate”) noted in his own writing that this section of the text was present in many Greek and Latin manuscripts of his own time, which is very near the same time as those “oldest and most reliable” manuscripts that do not include it. The important point here is simply this; the fact that a few ancient copies of John’s writing do not include these verses does not “prove” that they don’t belong here. Their presence in many other ancient manuscripts and translations indicates that this is part of the Divine record, and that the passages do belong in the text.

John 8:31 may be the most concise description of a Christian found anywhere in the new testament; “Jesus therefore said…If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples.” These words parallel John’s declaration in 1 John 3:24 that “… he that keepeth his commandments abideth in him…,” and they are the counterweight to the warning given in 2 John 9, that “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.” John 8:32 quotes Jesus as saying “…ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” but this can only occur when we “abide in” (continue in, KJV) His word!

An interesting, if sad, comment on the malice of the Jewish rulers toward Jesus relates to His raising of Lazarus from death in John 11. When He came to the tomb near Bethany (verses 17-18), Lazarus had already been dead some four days. After the stone “door” was moved, He had commanded “Lazarus, come out!” (ESV) and the man arose and came forth, still wrapped in his burial clothing. Turning to John 12:9, we learn that a large crowd of people later came to Bethany (evidently to the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, verse 2) to see Lazarus and hear the Lord’s teaching. Verses 10-11 reveal that because so many of the Jews believed in Jesus on account of Lazarus’ resurrection, the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus a second time!

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