In John this name refers to

1. the people of Judea who were hostile to Jesus

2. the Jewish religious leaders only (some related examples: John 1:19; 2:18; 5:10,15,16,18; 6:41,52; 7:13; 9:22; 12:42; 18:12; 19:38; 20:19)

Some scholars have asserted that a Jew would not refer to other Jews in this derogatory way. However, Jewish opposition to Christianity intensified after the Council of Jamnia in a.d. 90.

The word "Jew" basically comes from "someone from the tribe of Judah." After the twelve tribes split in 922 b.c., Judah became the name for the southern three tribes (i.e., Judah, Benjamin, and the Levites/priests of the Tribe of Levi; also the tribe of Simeon was incorporated into Judah very early). Both Jewish kingdoms, Israel and Judah, were taken into exile, but only a few, mostly from Judah, returned under Cyrus' edict of 538 b.c. (i.e., see Ezra and Nehemiah).The term then became a title for the descendants of Jacob who lived in Palestine and were scattered throughout the Mediterranean world.

In John the term is mostly negative, but its general use can be seen in John 2:6 and 4:22.

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