Did Jesus lie?

Question
In John 7:8-10 Jesus said he was not going to the feast and then went anyway. It looks like he lied. And if he is a liar, then he can't be God!
Answer
John 7:8-10: You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come. After saying this, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private.

God is not a liar (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18). And Jesus, who is God (John 1:1-3; 10:30), the second person of the Trinity, is not a liar (Heb. 3:6; 1 John 3:5). As always, some context will assist us with a broader understanding of the Scripture you are referring to.

Jesus' half-brothers, James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (aka Jude), were yet unsaved (John 7:5). They told Jesus to go to Judea and put himself on public display to the crowds that would be there because the Feast of Booths was about to take place (John 7:1-4; cf. Lev. 23:33-44; Num. 29:1-40). Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always here" (John 7:6). He essentially repeats the same phrase again in John 7:8 saying, "You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come." Jesus then remains a little longer in Galilee (John 7:9), but eventually goes quietly to the feast (John 7:10).

The Greek word used for "time" in John 7:6 and 9 is kairos and means "the proper time." In other words, although it was the appropriate time for his brothers to go the feast, it was not yet time for Jesus to go (John 7:8). Jesus doesn't say he would never go; he merely says that it wasn't yet the appropriate time for him to go. In harmony with the eternal counsel of God and his will, Jesus waits for the proper moment to arrive (cf. John 4:34; 5:19; 6:38; cf. Matt. 26:39, 42).

Jesus knew the Jews were seeking to kill him and would be looking for him at the feast (John 7:1, 11, 25; cf. John 5:18). Yet he also knew there was an appropriate time – "his hour" (John 7:30; cf. Gal. 4:4) – for him to go to the cross (cf. Acts 2:23-24; 4:27-28), so he also knew the appropriate, predestined time to go to the feast and when to speak in the temple. Instead of being murdered, the Jews were awed by his teaching (John 7:15). And although they finally did seek to arrest him, "no one laid a hand on him, because his hour [Greek, he hora] had not yet come" (John 7:30, 44; cf. John 8:20).

Throughout Jesus' time on earth, his birth, death, and resurrection (Gal 4:4; John 7:30; Matt. 16:21), we can see that God's plan is always timely and perfect (cf. Isa. 46:10; 55:11). The second coming of Christ will be timely and perfect too. God the Father has set that hour (Matt. 24:36, 42, 44; 25:13; Mark 13:32; Luke 12:40; Acts 1:7). Are you ready?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).