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In the Gospel of John, we read:

John 7:32-34: "The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize Him. 33Therefore Jesus said, 'For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. 34You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.'"

It seems the "officers" encountered Jesus, and His response to them was "For a little while longer I am with you..." Soon thereafter, we read of the exchange between these same officers and the Pharisees that sent them:

John 7:45-46: "The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, 'Why did you not bring Him?' 46The officers answered, 'Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.'"

While most us can understand that no one spoke like Christ, how did the words: "Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks" keep them from arresting Him? What did they mean by this response?

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  • Christ is depicted as the embodiment of God's divine word (1:1, 1:14, 3:34); as such, his words have the power to win followers (4:41, 8:30), to heal the sick and raise the dead (4:50, 11:43), to grant eternal life (5:24. 6:63, 6:68), to keep followers from abandoning him (6:67-69), to cleanse and sanctify (15:3, 17:17), to grant the power to work miracles (15:7). This passage is basically no different than the rest; see also Matthew 8:16, Mark 4:39-41.
    – Lucian
    Aug 20 at 10:52
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How did Christ's words in John 7:32-34 prevent the officers from arresting Him (Jn. 7:45-46)?

There are two general approaches to this question: vertical and horizontal.

Vertically, God fixed a time for the arrest and time was not yet. John 7:

6 Therefore Jesus told them [his brothrs], “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do.

30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.

The Father was in complete control of the timing.

Horizontally, from the temple guards' perspective, John 7:

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.

The following was what the they heard:

33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

They were mesmerized by these words. These words had power over them.

37b Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

Their hearts were further convicted by these words.

40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”

41Others said, “He is the Messiah.”

Some started to believe in Jesus.

43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.

The guards were moved so much that they did not carry out the order to arrest Jesus.

45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”

46“No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.

They were still mesmerized by the words of Jesus.

47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted.

Their Pharisee leaders saw that as deception: the guards were deceived.

how did the words: "Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks" keep them from arresting Him? What did they mean by this response?

The hearts of the guards were softened when they saw and heard Jesus. They began to think that Jesus could be a prophet or even the Messiah.

Then their Pharisee masters tried to change their mindset:

52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”

How did Christ's words in John 7:32-34 prevent the officers from arresting Him (Jn. 7:45-46)?

Vertically speaking, it wasn't God's timing. Horizontally speaking, the officers were moved by Jesus' spoken words that he could be the promised Messiah.

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  • Great points. You wrote: "They were still mesmerized by the words of Jesus." This, I believe,, reveals a great deal. When Jesus spoke, few seemed able to discern what He was truly saying. It's as if Christ communicated to His audiences almost hypnotically on occasion. He would say things like Mark 10:33-35: "“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be [scourged and condemned to death]. To which James and John casually replied, vs. :35: "Teacher, we want You to [allow us to sit on Your right and Your left in Your Kingdom...]" What amazing obliviousness!
    – Xeno
    Aug 20 at 16:04
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The officers response was the excuse they gave. Their reason not to arrest Jesus probably encompassed more. The chief priests and Pharisees probably understood the real reason. Arresting Jesus in the Temple area was a delima.

  1. A key reason for wanting to arrest Jesus was to avoid trouble with Rome.

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. (John 11:45–53, ESV)

  1. The Romans had a legion stationed at the Temple to put down uprisings.

...it contained also four other distinct towers at its four corners; whereof the others were but fifty cubits high; whereas that which lay upon the southeast corner was seventy cubits high, that from thence the whole temple might be viewed; (243) but on the corner where it joined to the two cloisters of the temple, it had passages down to them both, through which the guard (244) (for there always lay in this tower a Roman legion) went several ways among the cloisters, with their arms, on the Jewish festivals, in order to watch the people, that they might not there attempt to make any innovations; -- Josephus, F., & Whiston, W. (1987). The works of Josephus: complete and unabridged (pp. 708–709). Peabody: Hendrickson.

  1. If an arrest of Jesus caused an uprising at the Temple the Roman soldiers would intervene.

46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet. (Matt. 21:46, ESV)

And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away. (Mark 12:12, ESV)

  1. Thus, at this point, while the chief priests and Pharisees wanted Jesus arressed, they were in a touchy situation

"No one ever spoke like this man!" (in John 7:46, ESV) probably referred to his conversation in general, not just John 7:32-34. Jesus did not speak like an insurrectionist trying to insight a rebellion like previous men who claim to be the Messiah.

Jesus spoke with authority unlike any other:

And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. (Mark 1:27–28, ESV)

Jesus captured the support of the people in such a way the the officers feared the people. They did not want to insight a riot. Later the situation is even worse for the Jewish leaders.

The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” (John 12:17–19, ESV)

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