41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.
It is possible that we have long misinterpreted this verse (I do not receive glory from people). You may say what is there to misinterpret!? Jesus says that he does not seek praise from people, but only from God Himself. It’s pure and simple.
But it is not that simple. During the Second Temple period, in addition to Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Samaritans there were other Israelite groups. Not much later some rabbis derogatorily referred to a group that is of particular interest to us here as the “people of the land.” These were Jews who were the dominant people group in Lower Galilee. They did not heavily engage with the teachings of the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. Even if they were learned, they were not considered as such by the elitist standards of hoi Ioidaioi.
We read in Mishnaic Perkei Avot (5.13) about tannaim (earliest Jewish rabbinic sages) outlook regarding the people of the land. The following is written years later when these founding fathers of Rabbinic Judaism unconnected with Jerusalem Temple’s hoi Ioidaioi had to ironically move to Lower Galilee and establish their headquaters in Roman city of Tsipori (also known as Greek Sepphoris) located only an hour from the village of Nazareth:
“There are four character types among people. One who says, ‘What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours’ is of average character, and some say, this is the character of Sodom. [One who says] ‘What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine’ is unlearned (lit., [of] the people of the land). [One who says] ‘What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is yours’ is pious. [One who says] ‘What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine’ is wicked.”
When we look, especially in John’s Gospel, for the type of person who accepted Jesus’ authority and supported his ministry, we reach an obvious conclusion. Jesus was largely rejected in Judea, but largely accepted in Jewish (Lower) Galilee. Since Judea at the time was dominated by hoi Ioudaioi, and Jewish Galilee by the Israelite am ha’aretz (the people of the land), we conclude that it is entirely possible that Jesus was not referring in vs.41 to people as such, but to the people among whom he was quickly becoming a major celebrity. These people were the Jewish Galilean – “people of the land”.
Throughout the Gospel of John, you will recall that hoi Ioudaioi challenged Jesus to submit his ministry to their approval. Jesus consistently refused. In this section (especially in vss. 42-49) Jesus leveled a strong critique against hoi Ioudaioi, explaining his reasons for not honoring their authority. They accused him of accepting praise/approval from the people (of the land) instead of from them. Jesus, however, based his non-acceptance of their authority on vs.43-47. Let us see what he said.
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