Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

John 7:8:

"...You go to the festival. I am not[a] going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come."

The all important footnote:

[a] John 7:8 Some manuscripts not yet

It seems strange that many manuscripts omit "yet", especially when there is a second "yet" in the verse (and both are the same Greek word; see Strong's).

My questions are:

  1. Was "yet" added in later manuscripts so that Jesus could not be seen to lie?
  2. If the "yet" is not added, is there any way we can understand this verse such that Jesus was not lying (since according to verse 10 he did go to the festival)?
share|improve this question
up vote 0 down vote accepted

The same verse in the NKJV is:

You go up to this feast. I am not yet[a] going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come

The footnote here is the following:

a. John 7:8 NU-Text omits yet.

Now this footnote tells us more specifically what's the point regarding this verse. NU stands for Netsle-Aland Greek New Testament/United Bible Society. These are texts based on the oldest, but not the most numerous ancient manuscripts.

It could be an equally valid hypotesis that actually, these which are the oldest available manuscripts, but that are a minority and come from a specific area (the area of Alexandria of Egypt, see Wikipedia), could have been modified, in order to prove Jesus wrong.

It is pretty hard that a majority of Bible manuscripts have been modified in this specific verse almost everywhere in Europe, Africa and Asia (at least history would have accounted of some kind of rebellion or schism among believers for such a change).

It is more likely that such a change could happen in a specific place, from which later spread an heresy such as the Arian heresy that spread from Alexandria of Egypt.

Of course, that's an hypothesis, but it's worth thinking about.

share|improve this answer
Thanks and welcome to BH SE! – Wikis Apr 9 '14 at 16:33

Aside from the manuscript evidence, which seems inconclusive, the most practical reading is to take it exactly as it is. Or as a not in the NET Bible says in a note on v. 8...

"Jesus may simply have been refusing to accompany his brothers with the rest of the group of pilgrims, preferring to travel separately and “in secret” (v. 10) with his disciples."

Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2006).

Whether the original author included "yet" or not it seems like he meant for readers to understand that Jesus wanted to go later secretly. Perhaps we need to re-evaluate what we consider deception. It is one thing to purposely mislead someone so you can take advantage of them. It is another thing to keep you own counsel. Jesus did not owe it to his followers to let them know his future plans. All they needed to know at the moment is that they should go ahead and go without waiting for him. He wasn't going. He didn't say, "I will never go."

Just because Jesus didn't reveal his intentions doesn't mean it wasn't technically true that he wasn't (at the moment) going with the disciples. Semantically, it likely feels worse in English. Including "yet" might even have been an appropriate translation choice if the original copyist was familiar with the underlying Aramaic.

In Genesis 2:17 God says of the Tree, "you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."

Whoever first wrote that down knew the rest of the story. They knew God didn't kill Eve on that very day. They also didn't go back and edit it to say "you will eventually die."

In the same way, it is hard to imagine that John is trying to portray Jesus as a liar. Jesus was unpredictable. A characteristic John found all the more attractive. "Jesus told us he wasn't coming, which was disappointing to hear; but then he showed up anyway! It was amazing." If it were immoral deception it seems the disciples would have made a bigger issue of it in a negative sense. On the contrary, the event is reported with awe. In fact Jesus, who could have remained in secret and avoided questioning, boldly stood up and revealed himself even when others were afraid to mention his name.

share|improve this answer
Welcome, nice first answer! – Wikis Apr 15 '14 at 4:25
@justbennet - you typically have a grace period after posting your post in which to make non-substantial edits for spelling or grammar, but for correcting the spelling of a single word, you can simply delete a line and re-add it which is how I got around the 6 character change limit. Either that or I just have enough reputation. – James Shewey Dec 3 '15 at 15:07

I see where codices P66 P75 (both c. 175-225 CE) and 03 (c. 325-375 CE) contain ΟΥΠΟ (ουπω, not yet) at John 7:8, while the later codex 01 (c. 375-425 CE) has ΟΥΚ (ουκ, not) at that place.

I also see no patristic allusions referring to this verse albeit Robertson (Word Pictures in the NT) wrote:

"Some of the early Greek Fathers were puzzled over the reading ouk (I go not up) as contradictory to John 7:10 wherein it is stated that Jesus did go up.... Almost certainly ouk (not) is correct and is not really contradictory when one notes in John 7:10 that the manner of Christ’s going up is precisely the opposite of the advice of the brothers in John 7:3(-4)."

I found several explanations for the change in reading. IMO, based on my cursory readings of those explanations, the best explanation seems to be:

*"Οὔπω ... is possibly a correction ... substituted for οὐκ to avoid the charge of the heathen critic Porphyry, that Jesus here shews ... deceit, and therefore cannot be Divine. But the sense is the same, whether we read οὐκ or οὔπω;... He does not say ‘I shall not go.’ The next two verses shew exactly what the negative means." (Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges, Vol. 5 at John 7:8; cp. Metzger & Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament--Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration 4th ed. (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2005), p. 267).

share|improve this answer
I don't understand your answer, perhaps you can help? Are you saying this is an early example of a typo? – Wikis Apr 10 '14 at 4:46
@Wikis: a typo, no; a spurious alteration to the text after Porphyry's accusation that Jesus lied, possibly. – Pat Ferguson Apr 13 '14 at 18:56

Understanding Jesus' apparent lie in John 7:8

Since none of us are the scribe who wrote the words, it is impossible to say with 100% certainty that yet was added to protect the veracity of Yeshua. But with the majority of mss. omitting "yet" that would seem to be a valid supposition.

However, Yeshua needs no such protective monitoring. The words Yeshua speaks, "are spirit and life (John 6:63 AV)." The timing involved in this exchange may best be viewed from two different perspectives (public and private). Verse 8 looked ahead to verse 10, but verse 9 is found in between the two. So, basically, Yeshua tells the brethren that they should go on ahead to the feast (meaning they should make a public appearance). He would stay behind because, "it was not yet time for him to go." Thus, after the words of verse 8 (read also with verses 1 & 3), we see Yeshua waiting around in Galilee. The brethren head for the feast and later, after they were gone, Yeshua determined that it was now time for him to also go to the feast.

The "timing" here would seem to indicate that Yeshua wanted at least a partial "private" (in secret) celebration of Tabernacles, and did not desire to be thronged "publicly" by either the brethren or the crowd in general. This is, in part, collaborated by verse 11 where we find the Jews seeking to find him.

For more details here see THE NEW AMERICAN COMMENTARY, Volume 25A, pages 281-282.

share|improve this answer
Sorry, but I must disagree. Jesus did desire to be publicly present. He taught in the temple (v17), he cried out (v28) and spoke in a loud voice (v37). – Wikis Apr 9 '14 at 17:40
@Wikis No reason to be sorry about disagreement; this is how we grow beyond ourselves. Yes, he did teach publicly, but his public appearance was not until the halfway mark of the feast. – DrFry Apr 9 '14 at 19:59

A simpler, and yet more definitive reason Jesus stated to His disciples He was not going was He truly did not know if He was going or not. Remember, He did what He saw the Father was doing (John 5:19), He had already faced the threat of death the last time He went up to Jerusalem(John 5:13), and He knew it wasn't the "time" of His entry(John 7:8) into Jerusalem on a white donkey-indicating that David's Son would rightly take the throne.(1 Kings 1:38)

But just as He said to His mother, "My hour is not yet come"(John 2:4), so He said the same thing to His disciples(John 7:6), and yet the Father had other plans for Him; turning water into wine, performing His 1st public miracle in the 1st incidence, and going to Jerusalem in John 7:10.

Jesus did not 'lie', first of all, a 'lie' is a deliberate falsehood who's motive is to harm God or one's neighbor, secondly, He did what He saw the Father doing, and just like us, He didn't always see what the Father was doing ahead of time, He had to pray, like we do, and discern the Father's Will in a given situation-just like we do.

Jesus is the 2nd Adam, we forget that in talking about His Divinity, therefore He is the model and example of how we are to live out our lives daily.

share|improve this answer
Not sure about this. He could have said, "I don't think I'm going" but actually He said, "I'm not [yet] going." – Wikis Apr 10 '14 at 6:48
@Wikis That's presumptive of "He knew He was going...". My comparison is to the miracle at Cana-at first He says,"My time is not yet come", and yet his time apparently had come when He performed the miracle.If He is not duplicitous(and there's nothing in the text that says He is), then the answer is simply 'He didn't know He was going at that time'. – Tau Apr 10 '14 at 8:18
Jesus was fully God and fully man. Living as a man, he lived within the constraints of space and time. As God in heaven, He is not bound by those constraints. – Tau Apr 10 '14 at 8:25

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.