Were "the Jews" in John 10:19-21 the same group of people or a different group than the ones mentioned in 10:24-39?

Some in vs 21 seem on the verge of believing in Him, while the ones in the second group of verses are ready to stone and arrest him. Since the Gospel of John often refers to "the Jews," how does the reader know specifically whom is being referred to? This is seen throughout the Gospel of John.

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    Hi and welcome to hermeneutics.stackexchange. If you have not already done so, please take the tour and see what kinds of questions work well on this site. As it stands, your question may be deemed too broad to apply hermeneutic techniques. It would help if you identify one or two of John's typical references to the 'Jews', even if you are after a wider understanding. This way we can identify exactly what you want to know and provide answers based on your examples. – Dick Harfield Nov 15 '16 at 1:12
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    it simply means Judeans which included believers and non believers holytextures.com/2011/02/its-judeans-not-jews.html – Michael16 Nov 16 '16 at 17:34
  • Awesome! So clear and simple seen this way, and Judeans is of course so much preferable to the "Jews." I can also go back and verify by context in all those places where this word occurs. Thank you very much! – user17480 Nov 17 '16 at 8:02
  • this is even better link christianthinktank.com/ajews.html – Michael16 Nov 17 '16 at 10:49
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    It is almost certainly not a reference to Judeans in the "Geographical sense". Jesus was Judean. But, the writer of John certainly did not consider Jesus as one of "The Jews". Many of the "common people" Jesus spoke to were Judean. But still, Jesus pointed certain people out - as "Judeans". There is a very big distinction, in context, between "a Geographical Judean", and "One of the Jews" - even if the underlying Greek is the same. – elika kohen Apr 25 '17 at 23:05

I agree with asking the question, for it is a perplexing one and one that troubled me in my younger days. John's book is about seven signs that, if believed, will result in one obtaining eternal life. But in the book there is revealed a false faith, also.

Many believed - something or other, apparently - but afterwards followed Jesus no more. In your quotes, I understand one party to be a part of the other party. Later, there is a a separation as true faith and false faith reveal themselves.



What basis is there for taking them as different? Jesus was a Messiah very different from what the Jews expected through tradition. Jesus and his disciples were Jews and usually the people he taught were Jews. The Jews, even Jesus' disciples, were often perplexed by Jesus' teachings. You would expect those who were not close followers of Jesus to swing back and forth on what they though about Jesus.


Wikipedia cites theologians Carroll and Hendricks, Jr to caution that "the Jews" should be seen as inter-Jewish sectarian infighting rather than anti-Jewish animosity toward Jews or Christian animosity toward Jews:

...John, which regularly describes Jesus' opponents simply as "the Jews", is more consistently hostile to "the Jews" than any other body of New Testament writing.[21][Notes 7] Historian and former Roman Catholic priest James Carroll states: "The climax of this movement comes in chapter 8 of John, when Jesus is portrayed as denouncing 'the Jews' who were gathered at the Temple as the offspring of Satan."[22] In John 8:44 Jesus tells the Jews: "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him." In 8:38 and 11:53, "the Jews" are depicted as wishing to kill Jesus. However, Carroll cautions that this and similar statements in the Gospel of Matthew and the 1 Thessalonians should be viewed as "evidence not of Jew hatred but of sectarian conflicts among Jews" in the early years of the Christian church.[23]

As noted by New Testament scholar Obrey M. Hendricks, Jr.: "Although its scathing portrayal of the Jews has opened John to charges of anti-Semitism, a careful reading reveals 'the Jews' to be a class designation, not a religious or ethnic grouping; rather than denoting adherents to Judaism in general, the term primarily refers to the hereditary Temple religious authorities."[24] In later centuries, John was used to support anti-Semitic polemics, but the author of the gospel regarded himself as a Jew, championed Jesus and his followers as Jews, and probably wrote for a largely Jewish community.[25][26]... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John

However it must be noted that the concept of divine hatred of Jews has its roots in Deuteronomy, and earlier:

NIV Deuteronomy 32: 5They are corrupt and not his children; to their shame they are a warped and crooked generation. 6Is this the way you repay the Lord, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator,a who made you and formed you? ... 15Jeshurunc grew fat and kicked; filled with food, they became heavy and sleek. They abandoned the God who made them and rejected the Rock their Savior. 16They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. 17They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God— gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your ancestors did not fear. 18You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth. 19The Lord saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters. 20“I will hide my face from them,” he said, “and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful. 21They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols. I will make them envious by those who are not a people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding. 22For a fire will be kindled by my wrath, one that burns down to the realm of the dead below. It will devour the earth and its harvests and set afire the foundations of the mountains. 23“I will heap calamities on them and spend my arrows against them. 24I will send wasting famine against them, consuming pestilence and deadly plague; I will send against them the fangs of wild beasts, the venom of vipers that glide in the dust. 25In the street the sword will make them childless; in their homes terror will reign. The young men and young women will perish, the infants and those with gray hair. 26I said I would scatter them and erase their name from human memory, 27but I dreaded the taunt of the enemy, lest the adversary misunderstand and say, ‘Our hand has triumphed; the Lord has not done all this.’ ” 28They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them. 29If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be! 30How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the Lord had given them up? 31For their rock is not like our Rock, as even our enemies concede. 32Their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah. Their grapes are filled with poison, and their clusters with bitterness. 33Their wine is the venom of serpents, the deadly poison of cobras. 34“Have I not kept this in reserve and sealed it in my vaults? 35It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.”

It must also be noted that despite all of this divine contempt he continues to profess undying commitment to keep his covenant loyalty and even love to them as a people and bring to pass their ultimate glory:

NIV Deuteronomy 32: 1Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. 2Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. 3I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! 4He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. 5They are corrupt and not his children; to their shame they are a warped and crooked generation. 6Is this the way you repay the Lord, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator,a who made you and formed you? 7Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. 8When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.b 9For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance. 10In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, 11like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. 12The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him. 13He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields. He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag, 14with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats, with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat. You drank the foaming blood of the grape. ... 21They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols. I will make them envious by those who are not a people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding. ... 36The Lord will vindicate his people and relent concerning his servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free.d 37He will say: “Now where are their gods, the rock they took refuge in, 38the gods who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offerings? Let them rise up to help you! Let them give you shelter! 39“See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. 40I lift my hand to heaven and solemnly swear: As surely as I live forever, 41when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. 42I will make my arrows drunk with blood, while my sword devours flesh: the blood of the slain and the captives, the heads of the enemy leaders.” 43Rejoice, you nations, with his people,e f for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people.

Unlike the synoptics that seem to be entirely hopeful of a coming kingdom the 4th gospel seems to be clued in on the divine mystery of a gentile church that will eclipse God's Israel-centric agenda in favor of a turning to the gentiles. We can compare:


NIV John 1: 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.


Acts 13: 44On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him. 46Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”


37Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: 40“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.” 41Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. 42Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved human praise more than praise from God.


NIV Romans 11: 7What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, 8as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.” 9And David says: “May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. 10May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.”

So the harshness of the pronouncements against the Jews is a consistent feature of the scriptures beginning with Moses but always with a view toward a day when God would give them a new heart and finally have his holy covenant people:

NIV Isaiah 62: 1For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. 2The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. 3You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah,a and your land Beulahb ; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. 5As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. 6I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, 7and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth. 8The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: “Never again will I give your grain as food for your enemies, and never again will foreigners drink the new wine for which you have toiled; 9but those who harvest it will eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather the grapes will drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.” 10Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones. Raise a banner for the nations. 11The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’ ” 12They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.

However, even "at the present time" from Paul's view there remained a remnant, faithful to YHVH:

NIV Romans 11: 1I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3“Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”a ? 4And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

So to answer the question, "the Jews" in the 4th canonical gospel are the Jews, other than the elect Jews who YHVH kept faithful to himself in his covenant loyalty.

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