The first chapter of John’s gospel records a group of Priests and Levites sent on a, “fact-finding mission,” to determine the identity and mission of John the Baptist.  These Priests and Levites, who came from Jerusalem, were commissioned by the Pharisaic faction of Jerusalem’s ruling elite. They publicly demanded that John provide them with his credentials. In rapid-fire succession, they asked, “Are you Christ? Are you Elijah? Are you the Prophet?”

In a later Jesus-related event, (Jn. 10:24) the Judean authorities admonished Jesus to tell them (emphasis on “them”) clearly if he was the Messiah.

First, John believed that his authority was based on God’s approval. No approval from the Judean authorities was therefore required. Later in John’s Gospel, the author will present these Jerusalem authorities as the evil Shepherds of Israel prophesied by the prophet Ezekiel. (Ezek. 34:1-16) The author will further show Jesus to be the Good Shepherd of Israel who will govern Israel in their stead. 

Second, John launched the charge of “not-knowing,” at these authorities.  This would become a repetitive theme in the entire Gospel, resulting in a fully developed court case against Israel’s formal leadership. This, in turn, would show Jesus to be the Good Shepherd of Israel (again).

John challenged the delegation: “You’ve come to me because you’ve been sent from the official shepherds of Israel. Isn’t it interesting that neither you, nor those who sent you, know about the One who is coming after me? He is so much greater than I am. You have not seen anything yet”.

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  1. The question posed in Jn 10:24 is most probably rooted in the Feast of Dedication/Hanukkah. There existed a Messianic expectation connected to this feast.

  2. I am struggling with the word evil because of replacement theology. The word evil meant the natural man without the Holy Spirit. Ezekiel says the LORD is against the power of the evil shepherds. Power and Spirit seem like different words. Perhaps I am confused about Christ as Priest (Intercessor) and Christ as LORD (Spirit).

  3. With great respect Dr. Eli: because they always put Jesus as “Jesus Jew” and you never use Jesus Christ, or Jesus the Messiah. Would I like an answer?

  4. You mention “govern”- now that’s a thought-and-a-half. To think that Jesus and John weren’t Jewish is ludicrous. To understand why Jesus was crucified is now more understandable. So: is the word to “govern” in need of analysis?

  5. Educated people in prominent positions don’t like their authority being questioned; this’s why the Priests and Levites responded like this, today is no different. When we come forward in public life and stand up making statements for truth and righteousness against public perceptions, there is always an attempt to bring us down. The response is usually similar; What would you know? Where’s you info come from? Who do you represent? But let’s remember; “The Lord doesn’t choose The qualified, He qualifies the chosen.” The wisdom of the world is foolishness in Gods sight (1Corinthians 1:18-31). Thank you Dr Eli.

  6. I’m learning by just reading the comments of the participants. Thanks Doctor Eli. I am not enrolling in your program. But, I will be reading what are posyed here.

    • I’m glad you are enjoying the posts, Exu, but this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Consider it an investment to enroll and really dig in.

  7. When is the Computer dictionary going to add the word ‘led’? Being led is different to the metal ‘lead.’ By the way, Kat., eastern shepherds do lead their sheep; unlike we in the west who drive them. A bad shepherd is a hired hand, who runs for cover when danger emerges. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, for he did not run but lay down his life for all we, who are His sheep. I think Paul refers to his old ‘man’, his old nature that tries to rear its ugly head. But Paul’s new ‘man,’ conquers it, with God’s help.

  8. Shalom. John is telling the delgation that neither them nor the one who sent them knows about the one one coming after him. They surely know that a Maschiach is expected to come sometime; so, John must be saying that they do not know that Yeshua is the promised Machiach (Messiah). So the authorities did not want anyone teaching what they have not approved. Some things never change.

  9. Your statement that: “These Priests and Levites, who came from Jerusalem, were commissioned by the Pharisaic faction of Jerusalem’s ruling elite” assumes something that is not justified by the text. The text in no way implies that the Pharisees were participants in this mission. The Pharisees shouldn’t be confused with the Priests and Levites with whom they had significant disagreements.
    In Addition, the Greek text states that “the Ioudaios (Strongs G2543) sent priests and Levites ..” It is regrettable that our translations make no distinction between the Ioudaios and the term “Jews” that is used in the gospel of John.

  10. ““You’ve been sent from the official shepherds of Israel.” It was the job of the priests and leaders to investigate anyone who taught with authority- especially if this person might be the Messiah. They were doing what they were supposed to do. So it would seem Yochanon was the one being confrontational. Your idea he was charging them with not knowing is interesting though. For many Meshiachim who left the church, it is common to be angry with pastors with MA’s and PhD’s. If I, a layman can figure out something is wrong, why can’t they?

  11. Dr. Eli, A case against the formal authority? Was it permitted? Wouldn’t it be treason anyway? Were they not mediator like our Lord Jesus between God & the Israel’s people? The Lord didn’t want a case anyway but the will of God & the redemption plan of God. So grateful!

  12. Authority comes only from God through laying of hands performed by prophets following the priesthood line.

    • Wow, that’s very specific. Aren’t there several Biblical prophets that are not priestly nor does the Bible record a laying-on-of-hands ceremony for them?

  13. As I read these emails, what is becoming clearer and clearer is that Jesus was and remained a Jew. Imagine what he would think if he were living today and realised what had been done by anti-semites like hitler and his nazis, to his beloved Jews.


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