I Do Not Receive Glory From People Of The Land John.5.41-42

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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© By Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, Ph.D.

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  1. […] above (vs.42-43), Jesus makes a sharp distinction between the unbelieving hoi Ioudaioi and other Israelites. He says that the entire generation that came out of Egypt were “their” fathers, the ones who […]

  2. Chris Haven

    Is there a commentary on vv. 39-40?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Chris, hi. I looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove it. You are readying carefully. My editor Lisa Loden, whom I trust a lot, told me that my commentary on these verses was really a lot of rending at Jewish evangelists that I did not care for that much any more 🙂 🙂 :-). It was so bad (she said) that she could not even go on editing it :-). I believe her. I decided to give myself some time to come down 🙂 and then write at a later stage. So thanks for telling me that it is not good to skip verses! 🙂

  3. […] Judean Temple authorities (and their followers) accused Jesus of seeking approval from the Galilean Jewish People of the Land (Am HaAretz). They also accused him of being a Samaritan (an incorrect charge, but the kind strangely enough he […]

  4. Janet Henriksen

    Thankyou for the input from historic sources which gives background. It seems somewhat of a miracle that they too have been kept, that none should forget this amazing era… an era of literature (which might have had something to do with the esteem the sons of Israel had attained among Gentiles, not for their own glory but for what was to happen. I see their influence in the book of Acts).

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thanks, Janet for your comments and welcome to the blog. Dr. Eli

  5. […] The mountains were also often used by people for hiding. Perhaps, Jesus’ early statement, addressed in the previous section, is connected with this verse (Jn. 5.41I do not accept praise from people). Not only did Jesus not […]

  6. David Gibbons

    I am sorry if I gave the impression that you translate hoi Ioudaioi as The Jews, since you don’t here at least (I had only read this article when commenting), I was referring to the other uses of Ioudaioi as in “These people were the Jewish Galilean”.

    Certainly to translate hoi Ioudaioi simply as “the Jews” is way too simplistic and misleading. Adding “authorities” is the minimal requirement for faithfulness to the original.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Agree its minimal requirement, but it is not that only as you rightly suggested in your previous comments.

  7. David Gibbons

    Very interesting idea indeed.

    There is far too much ignorance of, and confusion about, the various factions within 1st century Judeanism in the church today. I find few who can even tell the differences between Pharisee and Sadducee. Such ideas as this are much needed, I think. The more we understand the people and cultures involved, the more we will understand the events and teachings of the Gospels and of the Apostles.

    I do find the term Ioudaioi interesting. Almost everyone today translates it as Jews (I notice you do too), yet Jew is an anachronistic term coined much much later. The etymology of the word would lead one to translate is as Judeans if one came upon it for the first time with no context. If you read the Gospels using this form you get a different perspective on things, I find. It is a word with several shades of meaning: _The_ Judeans, i.e. the Temple Authorities, Judeans, i.e. the people who live in Judea, and Judean, those who follow the Temple cult, who align themselves with Jerusalem even though they may live far off. Thus Jesus, for instance, is a Judean to the Samaritan woman, but a Galilean to _The_ Judeans.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thanks for your comment, David. I am starting from your second paragraph. I do not translate hoi Ioudaioi as Jews. I think it is big mistake to do so. What John means by Hoi Iudaioi and what we today mean by the word is decisively not one and the same thing. I’ve been struggling how I should verse it as I write you may notice that in my earliest entrees I use The Jews more (and explain what it is and what it isn’t). Later I just stick with hoi Ioudaioi. Let’s keep thinking together and thank you very much for your contribution to our study group!

  8. Lois Eaton

    Maybe Yeshua was referring to Deuteronomy 18:18.
    I also find it interesting that it was Leah -the rejected, ugly woman, who mothered both the men who will sit on either side of God – Moses on the left and Yeshua on the right. What a resurrection she will have!!!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      interesting. Thanks, Lois, for your comment.