43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.
If another comes in his own name, you will receive him has been interpreted by many to be a reference to the coming Anti-Christ. Even if this is a new thought for you, you can see how this idea might be relevant in this context. However, I do not think it is possible to confidently state what Jesus is referring to here.
There is another interesting possibility that has been largely overlooked. In Jesus’ time, the concept of the Wicked Priest was known among Essene-influenced Jews. Writings regarding the Wicked Priest are well represented in the Qumran Collection (Dead Sea Scrolls Collection). Presumably the Qumranite Jewish monks, who left Jerusalem in protest and established the headquarters of the Israelite Essene movement in Judean Desert (a century before Jesus), were persecuted by this Wicked Priest (of Jerusalem Temple). The Essenes had a figure they called the Teacher of Righteousness who was the oppositional counterpart to the figure of the Wicked Priest.
We read about both of them in the Qumranite Commentary on the Book of Habakkuk (words in italics below are from prophet Habakkuk, and in regular fonts from Qumran leaders):
“Because of the blood of men and the violence done to the land, to the city, and all its inhabitants. Interpreted, this concerns the Wicked Priest whom God delivered into the hands of his enemies because of the iniquity committed against the Teacher of Righteousness and the men of his Council, that he might be humbled by means of a destroying scourge, in bitterness of soul, because he had done wickedly to His elect.” (1QpHab, col. 9, lines 8-12, translated by G. Vermes)
Among many other references we cite this passage:
“… the arrogant man seizes wealth without halting. He widens his gullet like Hell and like Death he has never enough. All the nations are gathered to him and all the people are assembled to him. Interpreted, this concerns the Wicked Priest who was called by the name of truth when he first arose. But when he ruled over Israel his heart became proud, and he forsook God and betrayed the precepts for the sake of riches. He robbed and amassed the riches of men of violence who rebelled against God, and he took the wealth of the peoples, heaping sinful iniquity upon himself …” (1QpHab, col. 8, lines 4-11, translated by G. Vermes)
Theories as to the identity and dating of both of these figures (if historical at all) vary greatly. There is certainly no consensus. There is, however, an influential theory that the Wicked Priest is a composite that includes a series of various wicked priests whose administration of the Jerusalem Temple covered several centuries.
Though one cannot be certain, I speculate here, that it is possible in vs. 43b that Jesus referred either to present or past events involving the Wicked Priest/s (Remember Jesus was very familiar with Essene movement and no doubt was aware of these interpretations).
I, however, want to underscore that my thinking here is no more than a speculation (only a possibility). We cannot be sure if Jesus referred to something particular such as the above mentioned possibility, or to something hypothetical, or to something that was yet in the future as Anti-Christ.
44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
Jesus’ argument is simple. How can I trust you (hoi Ioudiaoi) to make a judgment about me if you yourself need each other’s approval to remain in power? His point is also simple – there is a conflict of interest. A judge who stood to lose or gain, or was in some way personally connected with a case would be disqualified and not considered able to judge righteously. Jesus strongly criticized the entire Temple establishment, more particular its contemporary leadership and its administration. These leaders were in danger of losing their position and authority. It was logical, therefore, for Jesus to refuse to submit to their judgment.
45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
Jesus justified and defended himself, but he also “stuck to his story.” He did not come to condemn those whose evil stood clearly exposed by the light of his person, words and deeds. He insisted that judgment was not his role. His job was to save and not to condemn. This does not imply that the role of the chief prosecutor against evil was necessarily a negative role, but rather that the chief prosecutor of Israel had long since been appointed by the God of Israel himself. His name was Moses.
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