This is a clear example of a "private interpretation" (II Peter 1:19-21). Nowhere in the Old Testament does it say that no one would know where the Messiah was from. In fact, it says just the opposite! Matthew shows that Micah 5:2 names Bethlehem in Judah as the town in which He would be born, and that Isaiah 9:1-2 identifies Galilee as where He would launch His ministry.
Where did the Jews get such an outrageous, unbiblical idea? It was someone's private opinion that over time had become tradition, an accepted "fact." It became a proverb that is just as true as, "If you touch a toad, you'll get warts."
Is it any wonder that the people argued about Him so much? Earlier in John 7, we see some of this:
And there was much murmuring among the people concerning Him. Some said, "He is good"; others said, "No, on the contrary, He deceives the people." (verse 12)
They had no idea what to expect because they were burdened by their traditional yet wrong understanding about the Messiah.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
No Private Interpretation
These people must have had a penchant for magic; they thought the Messiah would simply appear out of nowhere!
Their silly idea probably sprung from misinterpreting Malachi 3:1: "And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple. . . ." To them, "suddenly" implied that no one would know from where Christ came. Matthew 13:54-57 shows that many Galileans knew that He was the carpenter's son. They were familiar with His mother and family. Word got down from Galilee to the people of Jerusalem, and they, too, knew all about Him. How, they asked, could He be the Messiah?
We understand that Malachi 3:1 means that Christ will suddenly come to His temple, the church. But these citizens of Jerusalem, not "rightly dividing" the Scripture, did not realize that Christ would have two witnesses, two ministries. He would first come in "the form of a servant" (Philippians 2:7). The second time He would come "on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:30) suddenly, quickly, when we do not expect Him, as many scriptures mention (Mark 13:32-37; I Thessalonians 5:2-3). Even then, those of God's people who are awake will know from where He comes.
Because Jesus did not just pop out of nowhere, these "magicians" refused to recognize Him as their Messiah.
Recognizing the Second Witness
The Jewish people at that time had a tradition that when the Messiah came, He would just suddenly materialize. Nobody would know where He was from. Everyone familiar with Scripture ought to know this is not true. The book of Micah 5:2 plainly says that the Savior would come out of Bethlehem. It also says in Isaiah 9:1 that He would shine from the lands of Zebulon and Naphtali, "in Galilee of the Gentiles." They knew that. They were not facing up to the truth of the Scriptures.
Was the information about where Jesus was born available to them? Yes, it was. They knew that Jesus descended from David and that Bethlehem was the city of his birth. All they had to do was check the records or ask Him or His family. It would have been easy to verify that He was born of Bethlehem in Judea at such a time and that His family lived in Galilee, fulfilling both prophecies. Those pieces of truth would have fallen into place.
Instead, what are the people relying on? Fables, traditions that the Messiah would just suddenly materialize out of nowhere.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 2)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing John 7:27: