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John 7:1-3 New American Standard Bible

After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near. So His brothers said to Him, “Move on from here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing.

Did Jesus' brothers set a death trap against him?

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  • + 1 ... a challenging but useful question. Would be better if you could cite expert opinion in support of this thesis. Jan 26 at 23:30

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The interpretation implied in the OP presumes too much. The text is clear that Jesus' brothers did not believe in him (at least not in the way that the author of this Gospel does) and that they pushed him to show himself in Jerusalem. The mention of known danger in Jerusalem does seem suspicious. But there are benign interpretations that work just as well as the "death trap" scenario of the OP.

  • Although the text says his brothers did not believe in him, this do not mean they wished him harm. They may have even wanted him to succeed, believing him to the Jewish messiah, rather than the 'Only Begotten Son' of John's theology. The "works that you are doing" were good works, and the brothers may have wanted this known in Jerusalem.

  • The text does not say that the brothers were aware of any plot against Jesus. His brothers doubted, but they may have wanted him to 'show himself' in the sense of declaring himself - similar to John the Baptist asking Jesus "are you he who is to come or shall we look for another?" (Mt. 11:3)

  • Sukkot was one the major holidays when Jews were expected to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem. His brothers may have simply encouraged Jesus to come with them to Jerusalem and join his disciples there. At the same time, Jesus' participation in the festival could dissipate the concern of Jewish authorities concerning Jesus' teaching and practice.

Conclusion: It is not impossible that Jesus' brothers wished to entrap him. But there are several more benign interpretations that work just as well.

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  • Good answer to an interesting question.
    – Jason_
    Jan 26 at 23:49
  • 6 Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” Jesus appears to unmask the trap here
    – Betho's
    Jan 27 at 1:03
  • I think it's important to keep in mind John's perspective: Jesus knows from the start that he will die in Jerusalem when his time has come. He makes the same remark (my time has not yet come) to his mother during the marriage at Cana. So it is not necessarily unmasking a trap, but rejecting their timing. He knows he will die in Jerusalem and does not resist this fate at all. But the brothers do not know his destiny. When his time did come, according to John, he went willingly. As I mentioned, I don't rule out the possibility of a trap. The text requires interpretation. Jan 27 at 3:55
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We read of a similar situation in John 11:6-11:

when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble,for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

< Here, we see the disciples speaking of the impending danger and Jesus fortifying them. But, we cannot be sure if the disciples had similar apprehension in the situation quoted in John 7. Maybe, only Jesus knew of the brewing plot in John 7. The attempt-to- stone incident they are quoting in John 11 is from John 8:59. Presuming that the Evangelist did put all the incidents in chronological order, the disciples get a clean chit in John 7.

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    Who represents Jesus' "brothers" in the context? I believe they are his relatives.
    – Betho's
    Jan 27 at 12:48
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    In Mark 3:20-21, it is Jesus' family which comes to take him home , saying that he is out of his mind. But in John 7 and 11, it is the disciples who are intervening. Jan 27 at 14:36
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    Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.” ( Mtt 28 ) . Jesus himself refers to his disciples as brothers. Remember that the Gospels were written after the Resurrection. It was quite natural that John sometimes used the word 'brothers' for the disciples. Jan 27 at 15:37

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