Click here to join the effort!
Expositors, almost with one consent, do note that this story of the woman taken in adultery, was not in some ancient copies; and whiles I am considering upon what accident this should be, there are two little stories in Eusebius that come to mind. The one we have in these words,
So indeed the Latin interpreter: but may we not by the word volumes of those Scriptures understand the Gospels compacted into one body by way of harmony? The reason of this conjecture is twofold: partly those Eusebian canons formed into such a kind of harmony; partly because, cap. 37, he tells us that, having finished his work, he sent to the emperor threes and fours: which words if they are not to be understood of the evangelists, sometimes three, sometimes four, (the greater number including the less,) embodied together by such a harmony, I confess I cannot tell what to make of them.
But be it so that it must not be understood of such a harmony; and grant we further that the Latin interpreter hits him right, when he supposes Eusebius to have picked out here and there, according to his pleasure and judgment, some parts of the Holy Scriptures to be transcribed; surely he would never have omitted the evangelists, the noblest and the most profitable part of the New Testament.
If therefore he ascribed this story of the adulteress to the trifler Papias, or at least to the Gospel according to the Hebrews only, without doubt he would never insert it in copies transcribed by him. Hence possibly might arise the omission of it in some copies after Eusebius’ times. It is in copies before his age, viz. in Ammonius, Tatianus, etc.
Ver . Jesus went to the mount of Olives.2. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him; and he sat down, and taught them.3. And the Scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,4. They say to him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.5. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what say you?6. This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.7. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said to them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.8. And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground.9. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even to the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.10. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said to her, Woman, where are those your accusers? has no man condemned you?11. She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.
ALCUIN. Our Lord at the time of His passion used to spend the day in Jerusalem, preaching in the temple, and performing miracles, and return in the evening to Bethany, where He lodged with the sisters of Lazarus. Thus on the last day of the feast, having, according to His wont, preached the whole day in the temple, in the evening He went to the mount of Olives.
AUG. And where ought Christ to teach, except
on the mount of Olives; on the mount of ointment, on the mount of chrism. For the name Christ is from chrism, chrism being the Greek word for unction. He has anointed us, for wrestling with the devil.
ALCUIN. The anointing with oil is a relief to the limbs, when wearied and in pain. The mount of Olives also denotes the height of our Lord’s pity, olive in the Greek signifying pity. The qualities of oil are such as to fit in to this mystical meaning. For it floats above all other liquids: and the Psalmist says, Your mercy is over all Your works. And early in the morning, He came again into the temple: i.e. to denote the giving and unfolding of His mercy, i.e. the now dawning light of the New Testament in the faithful, that is, in His temple. His returning early in the morning, signifies the new rise of grace.
BEDE. And next it is signified, that after He began to dwell by grace in His temple, i.e. in the Church, men from all nations would believe in Him: And all the people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them.
ALCUIN. The sitting down, represents the humility of His incarnation. And the people came to Him, when He sat down, i.e. after taking up human nature, and thereby becoming visible, many began to hear and believe on Him, only knowing Him as their friend and neighbor. But while these kind and simple persons are full of admiration at our Lord’s discourse, the Scribes and Pharisees put questions to Him, not for the sake of instruction, but only to entangle the truth in their nets: And the Scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say to Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, if the very act.
AUG. They had remarked upon, Him already, as being over lenient. Of Him indeed it had I been prophesied, Ride on because of the word of truth, of meekness, and of righteousness. So as a teacher He exhibited truth, as a deliverer meekness, as a judge righteousness. When He spoke, His truth was acknowledged; when against His enemies He used no violence, His meekness was praised. So they raised the scandal on the score of justice For they said among themselves, If He decide to let her go He will not do justice; for the law cannot command what is unjust: Now Moses in the law commanded as, that such should be stoned: but to maintain His meekness, which has made Him already so acceptable to the people, He must decide to let her go. Wherefore they demand His opinion: And what say You? hoping to find an occasion to accuse Him, as a transgressor of the law: And this they said tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him. But our Lord in His answer both maintained His justice, and departed not from meekness. Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground.
AUG. As if to signify that such persons were to be written in earth, not in heaven, where He told His disciples they should rejoice they were v written. Or His bowing His head (to write on the ground), is an expression of humility; the writing on the ground signifying that His law was written on the earth which bore fruit, not on the barren stone, as before.
ALCUIN. The ground denotes the human heart, which yields the fruit either of good or of bad actions: the finger jointed and flexible, discretion. He instructs us then, when we see any faults in our neighbors, not immediately and rashly to condemn them, but after searching our own hearts to begin with, to examine them attentively with the finger of discretion.
BEDE. His writing with His finger on the ground perhaps showed, that it was He who had written the law on stone. So when they continued asking Him, He lifted Himself up.
AUG. He did not say, Stone her not, lest He should seem to speak contrary to the law. But God forbid that He should say, Stone her; for He came not to destroy that which He found, but to seek that which was lost. What then did He answer? He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. This is the voice of justice. Let the sinner be punished, but not by sinners; the law carried into effect, but not by transgressors of the law.
GREG. For he who judges not himself first, cannot know how to judge correctly in the case of another. For though He know what the offense is, from being told, yet He cannot judge of another’s deserts, who supposing himself innocent, will not apply the rule of justice to himself.
AUG. Having with the weapon of justice smitten them, He deigned not even to look on the fallen, but averted His eyes: And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
ALCUIN. This is like our Lord; while His eyes are fixed, and He seems attending to something else, He gives the bystanders an opportunity of retiring: a tacit admonition to us to consider always both before we condemn a brother for a sin, and after we have punished him, whether we are not guilty ourselves of the same fault, or others as bad.
AUG. Thus smitten then with the voice of justice, as with a weapon, they examine themselves, find themselves guilty, and one by one retire: And they which heard it, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest.
GLOSS. The more guilty of them, perhaps, or those who were more conscious of their faults.
AUG. There were left however two, the pitiable, and the pitiful, And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst: the woman, you may suppose, in great alarm, expecting punishment from one in whom no sin could be found. But He who had repelled her adversaries with there word of justice, lifted on her the eyes of mercy, and asked; When Jesus had lifted Himself up, and saw none but the woman, He said to her, Woman, where are these your accusers? Has no man condemned you? She said, No man, Lord. We heard above the voice of justice; let us hear now that of mercy: Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you; I, who you feared would condemn you, because You found no fault in me. What then Lord? Do You favor sin? No, surely. Listen to what follows, Go, and sin no more. So then our Lord condemned sin, but not the sinner. For did He favor sin, He would have said, Go, and live as you will: depend on my deliverance: howsoever great your sins be, it matters not: I will deliver you from hell, and its tormentors. But He did not say this. Let those attend, who love the Lord’s mercy, and fear His truth. Truly, Gracious and righteous is the Lord.
Ver 12. Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
ALCUIN. Having absolved the woman from her Sill, lest some should doubt, seeing that He was really man, His power to forgive sins, He deigns to give further disclosure of His divine nature; Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am. the Light of the world.
BEDE Where it is to be observed, He does not say, I am the light of Angels, or of heaven, but the Light of the world, i.e. of mankind who live in darkness, as we read, To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.
CHRYS. As they had brought Galilee as an objection against Him, and doubted His being one of the Prophets, as if that was all He claimed to be, Me wished to show that He w as not one of the Prophets, but the Lord of the whole earth: Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the Light of the world: not of Galilee, or of Palestine, or of Judea.
AUG. The Manichaeans suppose the sun of the natural world to be our Lord Christ; but the Catholic Church reprobates such a notion for our Lord Christ was not made the sun, but the sun was made by Him: inasmuch as all things were made by Him. And for our sake did He come to be under the sun being the light which made the sun: He hid Himself under the cloud of the flesh, not to obscure, but to temper His light. Speaking then through the cloud of the flesh, the Light unfailing, the Light of wisdom says to men, I am the Light of the world.
THEOPHYL. You may bring these words against Nestorius: for our Lord does not say, In Me is the light of the world, but, I am the Light of the world: He who appeared man, was both the Son of God, and the Light of the world; not, as Nestorius fondly holds, the Son of God dwelling in a mere man.
AUG. He withdraws you however from the eyes of the flesh, to those of the heart, in that He adds, He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. He thinks it not enough to say shall have light, but adds, of life. These words of our Lord agree with those of the Psalm, In Your light shall we see light; for with you is the well of life. For bodily uses, light is one thing, and a well another; and a well ministers to the mouth, light to the eyes. With God the light and the well are the same. He who shines upon you, that you may see Him, the Same flows to you, that you may drink Him. What He promises is put in the future tense; what we ought to do in the present. He that follows Me, He says, shall have; i.e. by faith now, in sight hereafter. The visible sun accompanies you, only if you go westward, whither it go also; and even if you follow it, it will forsake you, at its setting. Your God is every where wholly; He will not fall from you, if you fall not from Him. Darkness is to be feared, not that of the eyes, but that of the mind; and if of the eyes, of the inner not the outer eyes; not those by which white and black, but those by which just and unjust, are discerned.
CHRYS. Walk not in darkness, i.e. spiritually abide not in error. Here He tacitly praises Nicodemus and the officers, and censures those who had plotted against Him; as being in darkness and error, and unable to come to the light.
Ver 13. The Pharisees therefore said to him, You bear record of yourself; your record is not true.14. Jesus answered and said to them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but you cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.15. You judge after the flesh; I judge no man.16. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.17. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.18. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me bears witness of me.
CHRYS. Our Lord having said, I am the Light of the world; and, he that follows Me, walks not in darkness, the Jews wish to overthrow what He has said: The Pharisees therefore said to Him, you bear record of Yourself, Your record is not true.ALCUIN. As if our Lord Himself were the only (one that bore) witness to Himself; whereas the truth was that He had, before His incarnation, sent many witnesses to prophesy of His Sacraments.CHRYS. Our Lord however overthrew their argument: Jesus answered and said, Though I bear record of Myself, yet My record is true. This is an accommodation to those who thought Him no more than a mere man. He adds the reason, For I know whence I come and whither I go; i.e. I am God, from God, and the Son of God: though this He does not say expressly, from His habit of mingling lofty and lowly words together. Now God is surely a competent witness to Himself.AUG. The witness of light is true, whether the light show itself, or other things. The Prophet spoke the truth, but whence had he it, but by drawing from the fount of truth? Jesus then is a competent witness to Himself: For I know whence I come, and whither I go: this has reference to the Father; for the Son gave glory to the Father who sent Him. How greatly then should man glorify the Creator, w ho made Him. He did not separate from His Father, however, when He came, or desert us when He returned: unlike that sun which in going to the west, leaves the east. And as that sun throws its light on the faces both of him who sees, and him who sees not; only the one sees with the light, the other sees not: so the Wisdom of God, the Word, is every where present, even to the minds of unbelievers; but they have not the eyes of the understanding, whereas with to see. To distinguish then between believers and enemies among the Jews, as between light and darkness, He adds, But you cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. These Jews saw the man, and did not believe in the God, and therefore our Lord says, You judge after the flesh, i.e. in saying, You bear record of Yourself, Your record is not true.
THEOPHYL. As if to say: You judge untruly, according to the flesh, thinking, because I am in the flesh, that I am flesh only, and not God.
AUG. Understanding Me not as God, and seeing Me as man, you think Me arrogant in bearing witness of Myself. For any man who bears high testimony to himself, is thought proud and arrogant. But men are frail, and may either speak the truth, or lie: the Light cannot lie.
CHRYS. As to live according to the flesh is to live amiss, so to judge according to the flesh, is to judge unjustly. They might say, however, If we judge wrongly, why do you not convict us, why do you not condemn us? So He adds, I judge no man.
AUG. Which may be understood in two ways; judge no man, i.e. not now: as He says elsewhere, God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved: not that He abandons, but only defers, His justice. Or having said, You Judge according to the flesh, He says immediately, I judge no man, to let you know that Christ does not judge according to the flesh, as men judged Him. For that Christ is a judge appears from the next words, And yet if I Judge, My judgment is true.
CHRYS. As if to say: In saying, I judge no man, I meant that I did not anticipate judgment. If I judged justly, I should condemn you, but now is not the time for judging. He alludes however to the future judgment, in what follows; For I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me; which means that He will not condemn them alone, but He and the Father together. This is intended too to quiet suspicion, as men did not think the Son worthy to be believed, unless He had the testimony of the Father also.
AUG. But if the Father is with You, how did He send You? O Lord, Your mission is Your incarnation. Christ was here according to the flesh without withdrawing from the Father, because the Father and the Son are every where. Blush, you Sabellian; our Lord does not say, I am the Father, and I the self-same person am the Son; but, I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. Make a distinction then of persons, and distinction of intelligences: acknowledge that the Father is the Father, the Son the Son: but beware of saying, that the Father is greater, the Son less. Theirs is one substance, one co-eternity, perfect equality. Therefore, He says, My judgment is true, because I am the Son of God. But that you may understand how that the Father is with Me, it is not for the Son ever to leave the Father. I have taken up the form of a servant; but I have not lost the form of God. He had spoken of judgment: now he speaks of witness: It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
AUG. Is this made a bad use of by the Manichaeans, that our Lord does not say, in the law of God, but, in your law? Who does not recognize here a manner of speaking customary in Scripture? In your law, i.e. the law given to you. The Apostle speaks of his Gospel in the same way, though he testifies to having received it not from men, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
AUG. There is much difficulty, and a great mystery seems to be contained, in God’s words, In the mouth of two or three witnesses, let every word be established. It is possible that two may speak false. The chaste Susannah was arraigned by two false witnesses: the whole people spoke against Christ falsely. How then must we understand the word, By the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established: except as an intimation of the mystery of the Trinity, in which is perpetual stability of truth? Receive then our testimony, lest you feel our judgment. I delay My judgment: I delay not My testimony: I am one that bears witness of Myself, and the Father that sent Me bear witness of Me.
BEDE. In many places the Father bears witness of the Son; as, This day have I begotten You; also, This is My beloved Son.
CHRYS. It is written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. If this is to be taken literally, in what respect does our Lord differ from men? The rule has been laid down for men, on the ground that one man alone is not to be relied on: but how can this be applicable to God? These words are quoted then with another meaning. When two men bear witness, both to an indifferent matter, their witness is true: this constitutes the testimony of two men. But if one of them bear witness to himself, then they are no longer two witnesses. Thus our Lord means to show that He is consubstantial with the Father, and does not need another witness, i.e. besides the Father’s. I and the Father that sent Me. Again, on human principles, when a man bears witness, his honesty is supposed, he is not home witness to; and a man is admitted as a fair and competent witness in an indifferent matter, but not in one relating to himself, unless he is supported by other testimony. But here it is quite otherwise. Our Lord, though giving testimony in His own case, and though saying that He is borne witness to by another, pronounces Himself worthy of belief; thus showing His all-sufficiency. He says He deserves to be believed.
ALCUIN. Or it is as if He said, If your law admits the testimony of two men who may be deceived, and testify to more than is true; on what grounds can you reject Mine and My Father’s testimony, the highest and most sure of all?
Ver 19. Then said they to him, Where is your Father? Jesus answered, You neither know me, nor my Father: if you had known me, you should have known my Father also.20. These words spoke Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
AUG. Those who had heard out Lord say, You judge after the flesh, showed that they did so; for they understood what He said of His Father in a carnal sense: Then said they to Him; Where is Your Father? meaning, We have heard you say, I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me. We see you alone; prove to us then that Your Father is with You.
THEOPHYL. Some remark that this is said in contumely and contempt; to insinuate either that He is born of fornication, and knows not who His Father is; or as a slur on the low situation of His father, i.e. Joseph; as if to say, Your father is an obscure, ignoble person; why do you so often mention him? So because they asked the question, to tempt Him, not to get at the truth, Jesus answered, You neither know Me, nor My Father.
AUG. As if He said, You ask where is Your Father? As if you knew Me already, and I were nothing else but what you see. But you know Me not, and therefore I tell you nothing of My Father. You think Me indeed a mere man, and therefore among men look for My Father. But, forasmuch as I am different altogether, according to My seen and unseen natures, and speak of My Father in the hidden sense according to My hidden nature; it is plain that you must first know Me, and then you will know My Father; If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.
CHRYS. He tells them, it is of no avail for them to say they know the Father, if they do not know the Son.
ORIGEN. You neither know Me, nor My Father: this seems inconsistent with what was said above, You both know Me, and know whence I am. But the latter is spoken in reply to some from Jerusalem, who asked, Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? You neither know Me, is addressed to the Pharisees. To the former persons from Jerusalem however He said, He that sent Me is true, Whom you know not. You will ask then, How is that true, If you know Me, you would know My Father also? when they of Jerusalem, to whom He said, You know Me, did Dot know the Father. To this we must reply, that our Savior sometimes speaks of Himself as man, and sometimes as God. You both know Me, He says as man: You neither know Me, as God
AUG. What does this mean: If you knew Me, you would know My Father also, but, I and My Father are one? It is a common expression, when you see one man very like another, If you have seen him, you have seen the other. You say this, because they are so like. And thus our Lord says, It you had known Me, you had known My Father also; not that the Father is the Son, but that the Son is like the Father.
THEOPHYL. Let the Arian blush: for if, as he says, the Son be a creature, how does it follow that he who knows the creature, knows God? For not even by knowing the substance of Angels, does one know the Divine Substance? Forasmuch therefore as he who knows the Son, knows the Father, it is certain that the Son is consubstantial with the Father.
AUG. This word perhaps is used only by way of rebuke, though it seems to express doubt. As used by men indeed it is the expression of doubt, but He who knew all things could only mean by that doubt to rebuke unbelief: Nay, even we sometimes say perhaps, when they are certain of a thing, e.g. when you are angry with your slave, and say, Do not you heed me? Consider, perhaps I am your master. So our Lord’s doubt is a reproof to the unbelievers, when He says, You should have known perhaps My Father also.
ORIGEN. It is proper to observe, that the followers of other sects think this text proves clearly, that the God, whom the Jews worshipped, was not the Father of Christ. For if, say they, our Savior said this to the Pharisees, who worshipped God as the Governor of the world, it is evident that the Father of Jesus, whom the Pharisees knew not, was a different person from the Creator. But they do not observe that this is a usual manner of speaking in Scripture. Though a man may know the existence of God, and have learned from the Father that He only must be worshipped, yet if his life is not good, he is said not to have the knowledge of God. Thus the sons of Eli, on account of their wickedness, are said not to have known God. And thus again the Pharisees did not know the Father; because they did not live according to their Creator’s command. And there is another thing meant too by knowing God, different from merely believing in Him. It is said, Be still then, and know that I am God. And this, it is certain, was written for a people that believed in the Creator. But to know by believing, and believe simply, are different things. To the Pharisees, to whom He says, You neither know Me, nor My Father, He could with right have said, you do not even believe in My Father; for he who denies the Son, has not the Father, either by faith or knowledge. But Scripture gives us another sense of knowing a thing, viz. being joined to that thing. Adam knew his wife, when he was joined to her. And if he who is joined to a woman knows that woman, he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit, and knows the Lord. And in this sense the Pharisees neither knew the Father, nor the Son. But may not a man know God, and yet not know the Father; Yes; these are two different conceptions. And therefore among an infinite number of prayers offered up in the Law, we do not find any one addressed to God the Father. They only pray to Him as God and Lord; in order not to anticipate the grace shed by Jesus over the-whole world, calling all men to the Sonship, according to the Psalm, I will declare Thy name to my brethren. These words spoke Jesus in the treasury, as He taught in the temple.
ALCUIN. Treasury (Gazophylacium): Gaza is the Persian for wealth: phylattein is to keep. It was a place in the temple, where the money was kept.
CHRYS. He spoke in the temple magisterially, and now He was speaking to those who railed at and accused Him, for making Himself equal to the Father.
AUG. Great however is His confidence and fearlessness: it not being possible that He should undergo any suffering, but that which He voluntarily undertook. Wherefore it follows, And no man laid hands on Him, for His hour was not yet come. Some, when they hear this, think Christ to have been under the control of fate. But if fate comes from the verb fari, to speak, as some derive it, how can the Word of God be under the control of fate? Where are the fates? In the heavens, you say, in the courses and revolutions of the stars. How then can fate have power over Him, by Whom the heavens and stars were made; when even your will, if you exert it aright, transcends the stars? Do you think that because the flesh of Christ was placed beneath the heavens, that therefore His power was subjected to the heavens? His hour then had not yet come; i.e. the hour, not on which he should be obliged to die, but on which He should deign to be put to death.
ORIGEN. When ever it is added, Jesus spoke these words in such a place, you will, if you attend, discover a meaning in the addition. The treasury was a place for keeping the money, which was given for the honor of God, and the support of the poor The coins are the divine words, stamped with the likeness of the great King. In this sense then let every one contribute to the edification of the Church, carrying into that spiritual treasury all that he can collect, to the honor of God, and the common good. But while all were thus contributing to the treasury of the temple, it was especially the office of Jews to contribute his gifts, which were the words of eternal life. While Jesus therefore was speaking in the treasury, no one laid hands on Him; His discourse being stronger than those who wished to take Him; for there is no weakness in that which the Word of God utters.
BEDE. Or thus; Christ speaks in the treasury; i.e. He had spoken in parables to the Jews; but now that He unfolded heavenly things to His disciples, His treasury began to be opened, which was the meaning of the treasury being joined to the temple; all that the Law and the Prophets had foretold in figure, appertained to our Lord.
Ver 21. Then said Jesus again to them, I go my way, and you shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, you cannot come.22. Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he said, Whither I go, you cannot come.23. And he said to them, You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world, I am not of this world.24. I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins.
AUG. In accordance with what was just, He said that no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come; He now speaks to the Jews of His passion, as a free, and not a compulsory sacrifice on His part: Then said Jesus again to them, I go My way. Death to our Lord was a return to the place whence He had come.
BEDE. The connection of these words is such, that they might have been spoken at one place and one time, or at another place and another time: as either nothing at all, or some things, or many may have intervened.
ORIGEN. But some one will object: If this was spoken to men who persisted in unbelief, how is it He says, You shall seek Me? For to seek Jesus is to seek truth and wisdom. You will answer that it was said of His persecutors, that they sought to take Him. There are different ways of seeking Jesus. All do not seek Him for their health and profit: and only they who seek Him aright, find peace. And they are said to seek Him aright, who seek the Word which was in the beginning with God, in order that He may lead them to the Father.
AUG. You shall seek Me, then, He says, not from compassionate regret, but from hatred: for after He had departed from the eyes of men, He was sought for both by those who hated, and those who loved Him: the one wanting to persecute, the other to have His presence. And that you may not think that you shall seek Me in a good sense, I tell you, You shall die in your sin. This is to seek Christ amiss, to die in one’s sin: this is to hate Him, from Whom alone comes salvation. He pronounces sentence on them prophetically, that they shall die in their sins.
BEDE Note: sin is in the singular number, your in the plural; to express one and the same wickedness in all.
ORIGEN. But I ask, as it is said below that many believed on Him, whether He speaks to all present, when He says, You shall die in your sins? No: He speaks to those only, whom He knew would not believe, and would therefore die in their sins, not being able to follow Him. Whither I go, He says, You cannot come; i.e. there where truth and wisdom are, for with them Jesus dwells. They cannot, He says because they will not: for had they wished, He could not reasonably have said, You shall die in your sin.
AUG. This He tells His disciples in another place; without saying to them, however, You, shall die in your sin, He only says Whither I go, you cannot follow Me now; not preventing, but only delaying their coming.
ORIGEN. The Word, while still present, yet threatens to depart. So long as we preserve the seeds of truth implanted in our minds, the Word of God does not depart from us. But if we fall into wickedness then He says to us, I go away; and when we seek Him, we shall not find Him, but shall die in our sin, die caught in our sin. But we should not pass over without notice the expression itself: You shall die in your sins. If you shall die be understood in the ordinary sense, it is manifest that sinners die in their sins, the righteous in their righteousness. But if we understand it of death in the sense of sin; then the meaning is, that not their bodies, but their souls were sick to death. The Physician seeing them thus grievously sick, says You shall die in your sins. And this is evidently the meaning of the words, Whither I go you cannot come. For or when a man dies in his sin, he cannot go where Jesus goes: no dead man can follow Jesus: The dead praise not You, O Lord.
AUG. They take these words, as they generally do, in a carnal sense, and ask, Will He kill Himself, because He said, Whither I go, you cannot come? A foolish question. For why? Could they not go where He went, if He killed Himself; Were they never to die themselves? Whither I go, then, He says; meaning not His departure at death, but where He went after death.
THEOPHYL. He shows here that He will rise again in glory, and sit at the right hand of God.
ORIGEN. May they not however have a higher meaning in saying this? For they had opportunities of knowing many things from their apocryphal books or from tradition. As then there was a prophetical tradition, that Christ was to be born at Bethlehem, so there may have been a tradition also respecting His death, viz. that He would depart from this life in the way which He declares, No man takes it from Me, I lay it down of Myself: So then the question, Will He kill Himself, is not to be taken in its obvious sense, but as referring to some Jewish tradition about Christ. For His saying, I go My way , shows that He had power over His own death, and departure from the body; so that these were voluntary on His part. But I chink that they bring forward this tradition which had come down to them, on the death of Christ, contemptuously, and not with any view to give Him glory. Will He kill Himself? say they: whereas, they ought to have used a loftier way of speaking, and have said, Will His soul wait His pleasure, to depart from His body? Our Lord answers, You are from beneath, i.e. you love earth; your hearts are not raised upwards,. He speaks to them as earthly men, for their thoughts were earthly.
CHRYS. As if to say, No wonder that you think as you do, seeing you are carnal, and understand nothing spiritually. I am from above.
AUG. From whom above? From the Father Himself, Who is above all. You are of this world, I am not of this world. How could He be of the world, by Whom the world was made?
BEDE. And Who was before the world, whereas they were of the world, having been created after the world had begun to exist.
CHRYS. Or He says, I am not of this world, with reference to worldly and vain thoughts.
THEOPHYL. I affect nothing worldly, nothing earthly: I could never come to such madness as to kill Myself. Apollinarius, however, falsely infers from these words, that our Lord’s body was not of this world, but came down from heaven. Did the Apostles then, to whom our Lord says below, You are not of this world, derive all of them their bodies from heaven? In saying then, 1 am not of this world, He must be understood to mean, I am not of the number of you, who mind earthly things.
ORIGEN. Beneath, and, of this world, are different things. Beneath, refers to a particular place; this material world embraces a different tracts, which all are beneath, as compared with things immaterial and invisible, but, as compared with one another, some beneath, some above. Where the treasure of each is, there is his heart also. If a man then lay up treasure upon earth, he is beneath: if any man lay up treasure in heaven, he is above; yes, ascends above all hearers, attains to a most blissful end. And again, the love of this world makes a man of this world: whereas he who loves not the world, neither the things that are in the world, is not of the world. Yet is there beyond this world of sense, another world, in which are things invisible the beauty of which shall the pure in heart behold, yes, the First-born of every creature may be called the world, insomuch as He is absolute wisdom, and in wisdom all things were made. In Him therefore was the whole world, differing from the material world, in so far as the scheme divested of the matter, differs from the subject matter itself. The soul of Christ then says, I am not of this world; i.e. because it has not its conversation in this world.
AUG. Our Lord expresses His meaning in the words, You are of this world, i.e. you are sinners. All of us are born in sin; all have added by our actions to the sin in which we were born. The misery of the Jews then was, not that they had sin, but that they would die in their sin: I said; therefore to you, that you shall die in your sin. Amongst the multitude, however, who heard our Lord, there were some who were about to believe; whereas this most severe sentence had gone forth against all: You shall die in your sin; to the destruction of all hope even in those who should hereafter believe. So His next words recall the latter to hope: For if you believe not that I am He, you shall die in your sin: therefore if you believe that I am He, you shall not die in your sin.
CHRYS. For if He came in order to take away sin, and a man cannot put that off, except by washing, and cannot be baptized except he believe; it follows, that he who believers not must pass out of this life, with the old man, i.e. sin, within him: not only because he believes not, but because he departs hence, with his former sins upon him.
AUG. His saying, If you believe not that I am, without adding any thing, proves a great deal. For thus it was that God spoke to Moses, I am that I am. But how do I understand, I am that I am, and, If you believe not that I am? In this way. All excellence, of whatever kind, if it be mutable, cannot be said really to be, for there is no real to be, where there is a not to be. Analyze the idea of mutability, and you will find, was, and will be; contemplate God, and you will find is, without possibility of a past. In order to be, you must leave him behind you. So then, If you believe not that I am, means in fact, If you believe not that I am God; this being the condition, on which we shall not die in our sins. God be thanked that He says, If you believe not, not, If you understand not; for who could understand this?
ORIGEN. It is manifest, that he, who dies in his sins, though he say that he believes in Christ, does not really believe. For he who believes in His justice does not do injustice; he who believes in His wisdom, does not act or speak foolishly; in like manner with respect to the other attributes of Christ, you will find that he who does not believe in Christ, dies in his sins: inasmuch as he comes to be the very contrary of what is seen in Christ.
Ver 25. Then said they to him, Who are you? And Jesus said to them, Even the same that I said to you from the beginning.26. I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.27. They understood not that he spoke to them of the Father.
AUG. Our Lord having said, You believe not that I am, you shall die in your sins; they inquire of Him, as if wishing to , know in whom they are to believe, that they might not die in their sin: Then said they to Him, Who are You? For when you said, If you believe not that I am, you did not add, who you are. But our Lord knew that these were some who would believe, and therefore after being asked, Who are You? that such might know what they should believe Him to be, Jesus said to them, The beginning, who also speak to you; not as if to say, I am the beginning, but, Believe Me to be the beginning; as is evident from the Greek, where beginning is feminine. Believe Me then to be the beginning but you die in your sins: for the beginning cannot be changed; it remains fixed in itself, and is the source of change to all things. But it is absurd to call the Son the beginning, and not the Father also. And yet there are not two beginnings, even as these are not two Gods. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Son; not being either the Father, or the Son. Yet Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God, one Light, one beginning. He adds, Who also speak to you, i.e. Who humbled Myself for your sakes, and condescended to those words. Therefore believe Me to be the beginning; because that you may believe this, not only am I the beginning but I also speak with you, that you may believe that I am. For if the Beginning had remained with the Father in its original nature, and not taken upon it the form of a servant, how, could men have believed in it? Would their weakly minds have taken in the spiritual Word, without the medium of sensible sound?
BEDE. In some copies we find, Who also speak to you; but it is more consistent to read for (quia), not, who (qui): in which case the meaning is: Believe Me to be the beginning, for your own sakes have I condescended to these words.
CHRYS. See here the madness of the Jews; asking after so long time, and after all His miracles and teaching, Who are You? What is Christ’s answer? From the beginning I speak with you; as if to say, you do not deserve to hear any thing from Me, much less this thing, Who I am. For you speak always, to tempt Me. But I could, if I would confound and punish you: I have many things to say, and to judge of you.
AUG. Above He said, I judge no man but, I judge not, is one thing, I have to judge another. I judge not, He says, with reference to the present time. But the other, I have many things to say, and to judge of you, refers to a future judgment. And I shall be true in My judgment, because I am truth, the Son of the true One. He that sent Me is true. My Father is true, not by partaking of, but begetting truth. Shall we say that truth is greater than one who is true? It we say this, we shall begin to call the Son greater than the Father.
CHRYS. He says this, that they may not think that He allows them to talk against Him with impunity, from inability to punish them, or that He is not alive to their contemptuous designs.
THEOPHYL. Or having said, I have many things to say, and to judge of you, thus reserving His judgment for a future time, He adds, But He that sells Me is true: as If to say, Though you are unbelievers, My Father is true, Who has appointed a day of retribution for you.
CHRYS. Or thus: As My Father has sent Me not to judge the world, but to save the world, and My Father is true, I accordingly judge no man now; but speak thus for your salvation, not your condemnation: And I speak to the world those things that I have heard of Him.
ALCUIN. And do hear from the Father is the same as to be from the Father; He has the hearing from the same sense that He has the being.
AUG. The coequal Son gives glory to the Father: as if to say, I give glory to Him whose Son I am: how proudly you detract from Him, whose servant you are.
ALCUIN. They did not understand however what He meant by saying, He is true that sent Me: they understand not that He spoke to them of the Father. For they had not the eyes of their mind yet opened, to understand the equality of the Father with the Son.
Ver 28. Then said Jesus to them, When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things.29. And he that sent me is with me: the Father has not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.30. As he spoke these words, many believed in him.
AUG. When our Lord said, He is true that sent Me, the Jews did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father. But He saw some there, who, He knew, would believe on Him after His passion. Then said Jesus to them, When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you shall know that I am. Recollect the words, I am that I am, and you will know why I say, I am. I pass over your knowledge, in order that I may fulfill My passion. In your appointed time you will know who I am; when you have lifted up the Son of man. He means the lifting up of the cross; for He was lifted up on the cross, when He hung thereon. This was to be accomplished by the hands of those who should afterwards believe, whom He is now speaking to; with what intent, but that no one, however great his wickedness and consciousness of guilt might despair, seeing even the murderers of our Lord forgiven.
CHRYS. Or the connection is this: When His miracles and teaching had failed to convert men, He spoke of the cross; When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you shall know that I am He: as if to say, you think that you have killed Me; but I say that you shall then, by the evidence of miracles, of My resurrection, and your captivity, know most especially, that I am Christ the Son of God, and that I do not act in opposition to God; But that as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things. Here He shows the likeness of His substance to the Father’s; and that He says nothing beyond the Paternal intelligence. If I were contrary to God, I should not have moved His anger so much against those who did not hear Me.
AUG. Or thus: Having said, Then shall you know that I am, and in this, I am, implied the whole Trinity: lest the Sabellian error should creep in, He immediately adds, And I do nothing of Myself; as if to say, I am not of Myself; the Son is God from the Father. Let not what follows, as the Father has taught Me, I speak these things, suggest a carnal thought to any of you. Do not place as it were two men before your eyes, a Father speaking to his son, as you do when you speak to your sons. For what words could be spoken to the only Word? If the Father speaks in your hearts without sound, how does he speak to the Son? The Father speaks to the Son incorporeally, because He begat the Son incorporeally: not did He teach Him, as having begotten Him untaught; rather the teaching Him, was the begetting Him knowing. For if the nature of truth be simple, to be, in the Son, is the same as to know. As then the Father gave the Son existence by begetting, so He gave Him knowledge also.CHRYS. He gives now a humbler turn to the discourse: And He that sent Me. That this might not be thought however to imply inferiority, He says, Is with Me. The former is His dispensation, the latter His divinity.
AUG. And though both are together, yet one is sent, the other sends. For the mission is the incarnation; and the incarnation is of the Son only, not of the Father. He says then, He that sent Me, meaning, By whose Fatherly authority I am made incarnate. The Father however, though He sent the Son, did not withdraw from Him, as He proceeds to say: The Father has not left Me alone. For it could not be that where He sent the Son, there the Father was not, He who says, If in heaven and earth. And He adds the reason why He did not leave Him: For I do always those things that please Him; always, i.e. not from any particular beginning, but without beginning and without end. For the generation from the Father has no beginning in time.
CHRYS. Or, He means it as an answer to those who were constantly saying that He was not from God, and that because He did not keep the sabbath; I do always, He says, do those things that please Him; showing that the breaking the sabbath even was pleasing to Him. He takes care in every way to show that He does nothing contrary to the Father. And as this was speaking more after a human fashion, the Evangelist adds, As He spoke these words many believed in Him; as if to say, Do not be disturbed at hearing so humble a speech from Christ; for those who had heard the greatest doctrines from Him, and were not persuaded, were persuaded by these words of humility. These then believed on Him, yet not as they ought; but only out of joy, and approbation of His humble way of speaking. And this the Evangelist shows in his subsequent narration, which relates their unjust proceedings towards Him.
31. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed in him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed;32. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.33. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how say you, you shall be made free?34. Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin.35. And the servant abides not in the house for ever: but the Son abides ever.36. If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.
CHRYS. Our Lord wished to try the faith of those who believed, that it might not be only a superficial belief: Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed in Him, If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed. His saying, if you continue, made it manifest what was in their hearts. He knew that some believed, and would not continue. And He makes them a magnificent promise, viz. that they shall become His disciples indeed; which words are a tacit rebuke to some who had believed and afterwards withdrawn.
AUG. We have all one Master, and are fellow disciples under Him. Nor because we speak with authority, are we therefore masters; but He is the Master of all, Who dwells in the hearts of all. It is a small thing for the disciple to come to Him in the first instance: he must continue in Him: if we continue not in Him, we shall fall. A little sentence this, but a great work; if you continue. For what is it to continue in God’s word, but to yield to no temptations. Without labor, the reward would be gratis; if with, then a great reward indeed. And you shall know the truth.
AUG. As if to say: Whereas you have now belief, by continuing, you shall have sight. For it was not their knowledge which made them believe, but rather their belief which gave them knowledge. Faith is to believe that which you see not: truth to see that which you believe? By continuing then to believe a thing, you come at last to see the thing; i.e. to the contemplation of the very truth as it is; not conveyed in words, but revealed by light. The truth is unchangeable; it is the bread of the soul, refreshing others, without diminution to itself; changing him who eats into itself; itself not changed. This truth is the Word of God, which put on flesh for our sakes, and lay hid, not meaning to bury itself, but only to defer its manifestation, till its suffering in the body, for the ransoming of the body of sin, had taken place.
CHRYS. Or, You shall know the truth, i.e. Me: for I am the truth. The Jewish was a typical dispensation; the reality you can only know from Me.
AUG. Some one might say perhaps, And what does it profit me to know the truth? So our Lord adds, And the truth shall free you; as if to say, If the truth does not delight you, liberty, will. To be freed is to be made free, as to be healed is to be made whole. This is plainer in the Greek; in the Latin we use the word free chiefly in the sense of escape of danger, relief from care, and the like.
THEOPHYL. As He said to the unbelievers alone, You shall die in your sin, so now to them who continue in the faith He proclaims absolution.AUG. From what shall the truth free us, but from death, corruption, mutability, itself being immortal, uncorrupt, immutable? Absolute immutability is in itself eternity.
CHRYS. Men who really believed could have borne to he rebuked. But these men began immediately to show anger. Indeed if they had been disturbed at His former saying, they had much more reason to be so now. For they might argue; If He says we shall know the truth, He must mean that we do not know it now: so then the law is a lie, our knowledge a delusion. But their thoughts took no such direction: their grief is wholly worldly; they know of no other servitude, but that of this world: They answered Him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man. How say you then, we shall be made free? As if to say, They of Abraham’s stock are free, and ought not to be called slaves: we have never been in bondage to any one.
AUG. Or it was not those who believed, but the unbelieving multitude that made this answer. But how could they say with truth, taking only secular bondage into account, that we have never been in bondage to any man? Was not Joseph sold? were not the holy prophets carried into captivity? Ungrateful people! Why does God remind you so continually of His having taken you out of the house of bondage if you never were in bondage? Why do you who are now talking, pay tribute to the Romans, if you never were in bondage?
CHRYS. Christ then, who speaks for their good, not to gratify their vainglory, explains His meaning to have been that they were the servants not of men, but of sin, the hardest kind of servitude, from which God only can rescue: Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin.
AUG. This asseveration is important: it is, if one may say so, His oath. Amen means true, but is not translated. Neither the Greek nor the Latin Translator have dared to translate it. It is a Hebrew word; and men have abstained from translating it, in order to throw a reverential veil over so mysterious a word: not that they wished to lock it up, but only to prevent it from becoming despised by being exposed. How important the word is, you may see from its being repeated. Verily I say to you, says Verity itself; which could not be, even though it said not verily. Our Lord however has recourse to this mode of enforcing His words, in order to rouse men from their state of sleep and indifference. Whosoever, He said, commits sin, whether Jew or Greek, rich or poor, king or beggar, is the servant of sin.
GREG. Because whoever yields to wrong desires, puts his hitherto free soul under the yoke of the evil one, and takes him for his master. But we oppose this master, when we struggle against the wickedness which has laid hold upon us, when we strongly resist habit, when we pierce sin with repentance, and wash away the spots of filth With tears.
GREG. And the more freely men follow their perverse desires, the more closely are they in bondage to them.
AUG. O miserable bondage! The slave of a human master when wearied with the hardness of his tasks, sometimes takes refuge in flight. But whither does the slave of sin flee? He takes it along with him, wherever he goes; for his sin is within him. The pleasure passes away, but the sin does not pass away: its delight goes, its sting remains behind. He alone can free from sin, who came without sin, and was made a sacrifice for sin. And thus it follows: The servant abides not in the house for ever. The Church is the house: the servant is the sinner; and many sinners enter into the Church. So He does not say, The servant is, not in the house; but, The servant abides not in the house for ever. If a time then is to come, when there shall be no servant in the house; who will there be there? Who will boast that he is pure from sin? Christ’s are fearful words. But He adds, The Son abides for ever. So then Christ will live alone in His house. Or does not the word Son, imply both the body and the head? Christ purposely alarms us first, and then gives us hope. He alarms us, that we may not love sin; He gives us hope, that we may not despair of the absolution of our sin. Our hope then is this, that we shall be freed by Him who is free. He has paid the price for us, not in money, but in His own blood: If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.
AUG. Not from the barbarians, but from the devil; not from the captivity of the body, but from the wickedness of the soul.
AUG. The first stage of freedom’ is, the abstaining from sin. But that is only incipient, it is not perfect freedom: for the flesh still lusts against the spirit, so that you do not do the things that you would. Full and perfect freedom will only be, when the contest is over, and the last enemy, death, is destroyed.
CHRYS, Or thus: Having said that whosoever commits sin, is the servant of sin, He anticipates the answer that their sacrifices saved them, by saying, The servant abides not in the house for ever, but the Son abides ever. The house, He says, meaning the Father’s house on high; in which, to draw a comparison from the world, He Himself had all the power, just as a man has all the power in his own house. Abides not, means, has not the power of giving; which the Son, who is the master of the house, has. The priests of the old law had not the power of remitting sins by the sacraments of the law; for all were sinners. Even the priests, who, as the Apostle says, were obliged to offer up sacrifices for themselves. But the Son has this power; and therefore our Lord concludes: If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed; implying that that earthly freedom, of which men boasted so much, was not true freedom.
AUG. Do not then abuse your freedom, for the purpose of sinning freely; but use it in order not to sin at all. Your will will be free, if it be merciful: you will be free, if you become the servant of righteousness.
Ver 37. I know that you are Abraham’s seed; but you seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you.38. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and you do that which you have seen with your father.39. They answered and said to him, Abraham is our father. Jesus said to them, If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.40. But now you seek to kill me, a man that has told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.41. You do the deeds of your father.
AUG. The Jews had asserted they were free, because they were Abraham’s seed. Our Lord replies, I know that you are Abraham’s seed; as if to say, I know that you are the sons of Abraham, but according to the flesh, not spiritually and by faith. So He adds, But you seek to kill Me.
CHRYS. He says this, that they might not attempt to answer, that they had no sin. He reminds them of a present sin; a sin which they had been meditating for some time past, and which was actually at this moment in their thoughts: putting out of the question their general course of life. He thus removes them by degrees out of their relationship to Abraham, teaching them not to pride themselves so much upon it: for that, as bondage and freedom were the consequences of works, so was relationship. And that they might not say, We do so justly, He adds the reason why they did so; Because My word has no place in you.
AUG. That is, has not place in your hearts, because your heart does not take it in. The word of God to the believing, is like the hook to the fish; it takes when it is taken: and that not to the injury of those who are caught by it. They are caught for their salvation, not for their destruction.CHRYS He does not say, you do not take in My word, but My word has not room in you; showing the depth of His doctrines. But they might say; What if you speak of yourself? So He adds, I speak that which I have seen of My Father; for I have not only the Father’s substance, but His truth.
AUG. Our Lord by His Father wishes us to understand God: as if to say, I have seen the truth, I speak the truth, because I am the truth. If our Lord then speaks the truth which He saw with the Father, it is Himself that He saw, Himself that He speaks; He being Himself the truth of the Father.
ORIGEN. This is proof that our Savior was witness to what was done with the Father: whereas men, to whom the revelation is made, were not witnesses.
THEOPHYL. But when you hear, I speak that which I have seen, do not think it means bodily vision, but innate knowledge, sure, and approved. For as the eyes when they see an object, see it wholly and correctly; so I speak with certainty what I know from My Father.And, you do that which you have seen with your father.
ORIGEN. As yet He has not named their father; He mentioned Abraham indeed a little above, but now He is going to mention another father, viz. the devil: whose sons they were, in so far as they were wicked, not as being men. Our Lord is reproaching them for their evil deeds.
CHRYS. Another reading has, And do you do that which you have seen with your father; as if to say, As I both in word and deed declare to you the Father, so do you by your works show forth Abraham.
ORIGEN. Also another reading has; And, do you do what you have heard from the Father. All that was written in the Law and the Prophets they had heard from the Father. He who takes this reading, may use it to prove against them who hold otherwise, that the God who gave the Law and the Prophets, was none other than Christ’s Father. And we use it too as an answer to those who maintain two original natures in men, and explain the words, My word has no place in you, to mean that these were by nature incapable of receiving the word. How could those be of an incapable nature, who had heard from the Father? And how again could they be of a blessed nature, who sought to kill our Savior, and would not receive His words. They answered and said to Him, Abraham is our father. This answer of the Jews is a great falling off from our Lord’s meaning. He had referred to God, but they take Father in the sense of the father of their nature, Abraham.
AUG. As if to say, What are you going to say against Abraham? They seem to be inviting Him to say something in disparagement of Abraham; and so to give them an opportunity of executing their purpose.
ORIGEN. Our Savior denies that Abraham is their father: Jesus said to them, If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.AUG. And yet He says above, I know that you are Abraham’s seed. So He does not deny their origin, but condemns their deeds. Their flesh was from him; their life was not.
ORIGEN. Or we may explain the difficulty thus. Above it is in the Greek, I know that you are Abraham’s seed. So let us examine whether there is not a difference between a bodily seed and a child. It is evident that a seed contains in itself all the proportions of him whose seed it is, as yet however dormant, and waiting to be developed; when the seed first has changed and molded the material it meets within the woman, derived nourishment from thence and gone through a process in the womb, it becomes a child, the likeness of its begetter. So then a child is formed from the seed: but the seed is not necessarily a child. Now with reference to those who are from their works judged to be the seed of Abraham, may we not conceive that they are so from certain seminal proportions implanted in their souls? All men are not the seed of Abraham, for all have not these proportions implanted in their souls. But he who is the seed of Abraham, has yet to become his child by likeness. And it is possible for him by negligence and indolence even to cease to be the seed. But those to whom these words were addressed, were not yet cut off from hope: and therefore Jesus acknowledged that they were as yet the seed of Abraham, and had still the power of becoming children of Abraham. So He says, If you are the children of Abraham, do the works of Abraham. If as the seed of Abraham, they had attained to their proper sign and growth, they would have taken in our Lord’s words. But not having grown to be children, they cared not; but wish to kill the Word, and as it were break it in pieces, since it was too great for them to take in. If any of you then be the seed of Abraham, and as yet do not take in the word of God, let him not seek to kill the word; but rather change himself into being a son of Abraham, and then he will be able to take in the Son of God. Some select one of the works of Abraham, viz. that in Genesis, And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. But even granting to them that faith is a work, if this were so, why was it not, Do the work of Abraham: using the singular number, instead of the plural? The expression as it stands is, I think, equivalent to saying, Do all the works of Abraham: i.e. in the spiritual sense, interpreting Abraham’s history allegorically. For it is not incumbent on one, who would be a son of Abraham, to marry his maidservants, or after his wife’s death, to marry another in his old age.But now you seek to kill Me, a man that has told you the truth.
CHRYS. This truth, that is, that He was equal to the Father: for it was this that moved the Jews to kill Him. To show, however, that this doctrine is not opposed to the Father, He adds, Which I have heard from God.
ALCUIN. Because He Himself, Who is the truth, was begotten of God the Father, to hear, being in fact the same with to be from the Father.
ORIGEN. To kill Me, He says, a man. I say nothing now of the Son of God, nothing of the Word, because the Word cannot die; I speak only of that which you see. It is in your power to kill that which you see, and offend Him Whom you see not.This did not Abraham.
ALCUIN. As if to say, By this you prove that you are not the sons of Abraham; that you do works contrary to those of Abraham.
ORIGEN. It might seem to some, that it were superfluous to say that Abraham did not this; for it were impossible that it should be; Christ was not born at that time. But we may remind them, that in Abraham’s time there was a man born who spoke the truth, which he heard from God, and that this man’s life was not sought for by Abraham. Know too that the Saints were never without the spiritual advent of Christ. I understand then from this passage, that every one who, after regeneration, and other divine graces bestowed upon him, commits sin, does by this return to evil incur the guilt of crucifying the Son of God, which Abraham did not do. You do the works of your father.
AUG. He does not say as yet who is their father.
CHRYS. Our Lord says this with a view to put down their vain boasting of their descent; and persuade them to rest their hopes of salvation no longer on the natural relationship, but on the adoption. For this it was which prevented them from coming to Christ; viz. their thinking that their relationship to Abraham was sufficient for their salvation.
Ver 41. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.42. Jesus said to them, If God were your Father you would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.43. Why do you not understand my speech? even because you cannot hear my word.
AUG. The Jews had begun to understand that our Lord was not speaking of sonship according to the flesh, but of manner of life. Scripture often speaks of spiritual fornication, with many gods, and of the soul being prostituted, as it were, by paying worship to false gods. This explains what follows: Then said they to Him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
THEOPHYL. As if their motive against Him was a desire to avenge God’s honor.
ORIGEN. Or their sonship to Abraham having been disproved, they reply by bitterly insinuating, that our Savior was the offspring of adultery. But perhaps the tone of the answer is disputatious, more than any thing else. For whereas they have said shortly before, We have Abraham for our father, and had been told in reply, If you are Abraham’s children, do the works of Abraham; they declare in return that they have a greater Father than Abraham, i.e. God; and that they were not derived from fornication. For the devil, who has no power of creating any thing from himself, begets not from a spouse, but a harlot, i.e. matter, those who give themselves up to carnal things, that is, cleave to matter.
CHRYS. But what say you? Have you God for your Father, and do you blame Christ for speaking thus? Yet true it was, that many of them were born of fornication, for people then used to form unlawful connections. But this is not the thing our Lord has in view. He is bent on proving that they are not from God. Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God.
HILARY. It was not that the Son of God condemned the assumption of so religious a name; that is, condemned them for professing to be the sons of God, and calling God the Father; but that He blamed the rash presumption of the Jews in claiming God for their Father, when they did not love the Son. For I proceeded forth, and came from God. To proceed forth is not the same with to come. When our Lord says that those who called God their Father, ought to love Him, because He came forth from God, He means that His being born of God was the reason why He should be loved: the proceeding forth, having reference to His incorporeal birth. Their claim to be the sons of God, was to be made good by their loving Christ, Who was begotten from God. For a true worshiper of God the Father must love the Son, as being from God. And he only can love the Father, who believes that the Son is from Him.
AUG. This then is the eternal procession, the proceeding forth of the Word from God: from Him. It proceeded as the Word of the Father, and came to us: The Word was made flesh. His advent is His humanity: His staying, His divinity. You call God your Father; acknowledge Me at least to be a brother.
HILARY. In what follows, He teaches that His origin is not in Himself; Neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me.
ORIGEN. This was said, I think, in allusion to some who came without being sent by the Father, of whom it is said in Jeremiah, I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. Some, however, use this passage to prove the existence of two natures. To these we may reply, Paul hated Jesus when he persecuted the Church of God, at the time, viz. that our Lord said, Why persecute you Me? Now if it is true, as is here said, If God were your Father, you would love Me; the converse is true, If you do not love Me, God is not your Father. And Paul for some time did not love Jesus. There was a time when God was not Paul’s father. Paul therefore was not by nature the son of God, but afterwards was made so. And when does God become any one’s Father, except when he keeps His commandments?
CHRYS. And because they were ever inquiring, What is this which He said, Whither I go you cannot come? He adds here, Why do you not understand My speech? even because you cannot hear My word.
AUG. And they could not hear, because they would not believe, and amend their lives.
ORIGEN. Fist then, that virtue must be sought after, which hears the divine word; that by degrees we may be strong enough to embrace the whole teaching of Jesus. For so long as a man has not his hearing restored by the Word, which says to the deaf ear, Be opened: so long he cannot hear.
Ver 44. You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.45. And because I tell you the truth, you believe me not.46. Which of you convinces me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not believe me?47. He that is of God hears God’s words: you therefore hear them not, because you are not of God.
CHRYS. Our Lord, having already cut off the Jews from relationship to Abraham, overthrows now this far greater claim, to call God their Father, You are of your father the devil.
AUG. Here we must guard against the heresy of the Manicheans, who hold a certain original nature of evil, and a nation of darkness with princes at their head, whence the devil derives his existence. And thence they say our flesh is produced; and in this way interpret our Lord’s speech, You are of your father the devil: viz. to mean that they were by nature evil, drawing their origin from the opposite seed of darkness.
ORIGEN. And this seems to be the same mistake, as if one said, that an eye which saw right was different in kind from an eye which saw wrong. For just as in these there is no difference of kind, only one of them for some reason sees wrong; so, in the other case, whether a man receives a doctrine, or whether he does not, he is of the same nature.
AUG. The Jews then were children of the devil by imitation, not by birth: And the lusts of your father you will do, our Lord says. You are his children then, because you have such lusts, not because you are born of him: for you seek to kill Me, a man that has told you the truth: and he envied man, and killed him: he was a murderer from the beginning; i.e. of the first man on whom a murder could be committed: man could not he slain, before man was created. The devil did not go, girt with a sword, against man: he sowed an evil word, and slew him. Do not suppose therefore that you are not guilty of murder, when you suggest evil thoughts to your brother. The very reason why you rage against the flesh, is that you cannot assault the soul.
ORIGEN. Consider too, it was not one man only that he killed, but the whole human race, inasmuch as in Adam all die; so that he is truly called a murderer from the beginning.
CHRYS. He does not say, his works, but his lusts you will do, meaning that both the devil and the Jews were bent on murder, to satisfy their envy. And stood not in the truth. He shows whence sprang their continual objection to Him, that He was not from God.
AUG. But it will be objected perhaps, that if from the beginning of his existence, the devil stood not in the truth, he was never in a state of blessedness with the holy angels, refusing, as he did, to be subject to his Creator, and therefore false and deceitful; unwilling at the cost of pious subjection to hold that which by nature he was; and attempting in his pride and loftiness to simulate that which he was not. This opinion is not the same with that of the Manichaeans, that the devil has his own peculiar nature, derived as it were from the opposite principle of evil. This foolish sect does not see that our Lord says not, Was alien from the truth, but Stood not in the truth, meaning, fell from the truth. And thus they interpret John, The devil sins from the beginning, not seeing that if sin is natural, it is no sin. But what do the testimonies of the prophets reply? Isaiah, setting forth the devil under the figure of the prince of Babylon, says, How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! Ezekiel says, You have been in Eden, the garden of God. Which passages, as they cannot be interpreted in any other way, show that we must take the word, He stood not in the truth, to mean, that he was in truth, but did not remain in it; and the other, that the devil sins from the beginning, to mean, that he was a sinner not from the beginning of his creation, but from the beginning of sin. For sin began in him, and he was the beginning of sin.
ORIGEN. There is only one way of standing in the truth; many and various of not standing in it. Some try to stand in the truth, but their feet tremble and shake so, they cannot. Others are not come to that pass, but are in danger of it, as we read in the Psalms, My feet were almost gone: others fall from it. Because the truth is not in him, is the reason why the devil did not stand in the truth. He imagined vain things, and deceived himself; wherein He was so far worse than others, in that, while others are deceived by him, he was the author of his own deception. But farther; does the truth is not in him, mean that he holds no true doctrine, and that every thing he thinks is false; or that he is not a member of Christ, who says, I am the truth? Now it is impossible that any rational being should think falsely on every subject and never be even ever so slightly right in opinion. The devil therefore may hold a true doctrine, by the mere law of his rational nature: and therefore his nature is not contrary to truth, i.e. does not consist of simple error and ignorance; otherwise he could never have known the truth.
AUG. Or when our Lord says, The truth is not in him, He intends it as an index: as if we had asked Him, how it appeared that the devil stood not in the truth; and He said, Because the truth is not in him. For it would be in him, if he stood in it.When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
AUG. Some have thought from these words that the devil had a father, and asked who was the father of the devil This is the error of the Manichaeans. But our Lord calls the devil the father of a lie for this reason: Every one who lies is not the father of his own lie; for you may tell a lie, which you have received from another; in which ease you have lied, but are not the father of the lie. But the lie wherewith, as with a serpent’s bite, the devil slew man, had no source but himself: and therefore he is the father of a lie, as God is the Father of the truth.
THEOPHYL. For he accused God to man, saying to Eve, But of envy He has forbidden you the tree: and to God he accused man, as in Job, Does Job serve God, for wrought?
ORIGEN. Note however this word, liar, is applied to man, as well as to the devil, who begat a lie, as we read in the Psalm, All men are liars. If a man is not a liar, he is not an ordinary man, but one of those, to whom it is said, I have said, you are Gods. When a man speaks a lie, he speaks of his own; but the Holy Spirit speaks the word of truth and wisdom; as he said below, He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it to you.
AUG. Or thus: The devil is not a singular, but a common name. In whomsoever the works of the devil are found, he is to be called the devil. It is the name of a work, not of a nature. Here then our Lord means by the father of the Jews, Cain; whom they wished to imitate, by killing the Savior: for he it was who set the first example of murdering a brother. That he spoke a lie of his own, means that no one sins but by his own will. And inasmuch as Cain imitated the devil, and followed his works, the devil is said to be his father.
ALCUIN. Our Lord being the truth, and the Son of the true God, spoke the truth; but the Jews, being the sons of the devil, were averse to the truth; and this is why our Lord says, Because I tell you the truth, you believe not.
ORIGEN. But how is this said to the Jews, who believed in Him? Consider: a man may believe in one sense, not believe in another; e.g. that our Lord was crucified by Pontius Pilate, but not that He was born of the Virgin Mary. In this same w way, those whom He is speaking to, believed in Him as a worker of miracles, which they saw Him to be; but did not believe in His doctrines, which were too deep for them.
CHRYS. You wish to kill Me then, because you are enemies of the truth, not that you have any fault to find in Me: for, which of you convinces Me of sin?
THEOPHYL. As if to say: If you are the sons of God, you ought to hold sinners in hatred. If you hate Me, when you cannot convince Me of sin, it is evident that you hate Me because of the truth: i.e. because I said I was the Son of God.
ORIGEN. A bold speech this; which none could have had the confidence to utter, but he Who did no sin; even our Lord.
GREG. Observe here the condescension of God. He who in by virtue of His Divinity could justify sinners, deigns to show from reason, that He is not a sinner. It follows: He that is of God hears God’s words; you therefore hear them not, because you are not of God.
AUG. Apply this not to their nature, but to their faults. They both are from God and are not from God at the same time; their nature is from God, their fault is not from God. This was spoken too to those, who were not only faulty, by reason of sin, in the way in which all are: but who it was foreknown would never possess such faith as would free them from the bonds of sin.
GREG. Let him then, who would understand God’s words ask himself whether he hears them with the ears of his heart. For there are some who do not deign to hear God’s commands even with their bodily ears; and there are others who do this, but do not embrace them with their heart’s desire; and there are others again who receive God’s words readily, yes and are touched, even to tears: but who afterwards go back to their sins again; and therefore cannot be said to hear the word of God, because they neglect to practice it.
Ver 48. Then answered the Jews, and said to him, Say we not well that you are a Samaritan, and have a devil?49. Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honor my Father, and you do dishonor me.50. And I seek not mine own glory; there is one that seeks and judges.51. Verily, verily, I say to you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
CHRYS. Whenever our Lord said any thing of lofty meaning, the Jews in their insensibility set it down madness: Then answered the Jews and said to Him, Say we not well that you are a Samaritan, and have a devil?
ORIGEN. But how, we may ask, when the Samaritans denied a future life, and the immortality of the soul, could they dare to call our Savior, Who had preached so much on the resurrection and the judgment, a Samaritan? Perhaps they only mean a general rebuke to Him for teaching, what they did not approve of.
ALCUIN. The Samaritans were hated by the Jews; they lived in the land that formerly belonged to the ten tribes, who had been carried away.
ORIGEN. It is not unlikely too, some may have thought that He held the Samaritan opinion of there being no future state really, and only put forth the doctrine of a resurrection and eternal life, in order gain to the favor of the Jews. They said that He had a devil, because His discourses were above human capacity, those, viz. in which He asserted that God was His Father, and that He had come down from heaven, and others of a like kind: or perhaps from a suspicion, which many had, that He cast out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.
THEOPHYL. Or they called Him a Samaritan because He transgressed the Hebrew ordinances, as that of the sabbath: the Samaritans not being correct observers of the law. And they suspected Him of having a devil, because He could disclose what was in their thoughts. When it was that they called Him a Samaritan, the Evangelist no where says: a proof that the Evangelists left out many things.
GREG. See; when God suffers a wrong, He does not reply reproachfully: Jesus answered, I have not a devil. An intimation this to us, that when reproached by our neighbors falsely, we should not retort upon them by bringing forward their evil deeds, however true such charges might be; lest the vehicle of a just rebuke turn into a weapon of rage.
CHRYS. And observe, when He had to teach them, and pull down their pride, He used roughness; but now that He has to suffer rebuke, He treats them with the utmost mildness: a lesson to us to be severe in what concerns God, but careless of ourselves.
AUG. And to imitate His patience first, if we would attain to His power. But though being reviled, He reviled not again, it was incumbent on Him to deny the charge. Two charges had been made against Him: You are a Samaritan, and have a devil. In reply He does not say, I am not a Samaritan: for Samaritan means keeper; and He knew He was a keeper: He could not redeem us, without at the same time preserving us. Lastly, He is the Samaritan, who went up to the wounded, and had compassion on him.
ORIGEN. Our Lord, even more than Paul, wished to become all things to all men, that He might gain some and therefore He did not deny being a Samaritan. I have not a devil, is what Jesus alone can say; as He alone can say, The prince of this world comes, and has nothing in Me. None of us are quite free from having a devil. For; even lesser faults come from him.
AUG. Then after being so reviled, all that He says to vindicate His glory, is, But I honor My Father: as if to say, That you may not think Me arrogant, I tell you, I have One, Whom I honor.
THEOPHYL. He honored the Father, by revenging Him, and not suffering murderers or liars to call themselves the true sons of God.
ORIGEN. Christ alone honored the Father perfectly. No one, who honors any thing which is not honored by God, honors God.
GREG. As all who have zeal toward God are liable to meet with dishonor from wicked men, our Lord has Himself set us an example of patience under this trial; And you do dishonor Me.
AUG. As if to say, I do my duty: you do not do yours.
ORIGEN. And this was not addressed to them only, but to all who by unrighteous deeds inflict injury upon Christ, who is righteousness; or by scoffing at wisdom wrong Him who is wisdom: and the like.
GREG. How we are to take injuries, He shows us by His own example, when He adds, I seek not Mine own glory, there is one that seeks and judges.
CHRYS. As if to say, I have told you this on account of the honor which I have for My Father; and for this you dishonor Me. But I concern not myself for your reviling: you are accountable to Him, for whose sake I undergo it.
ORIGEN. God seeks Christ’s s glory, in every one of those who receive Him: which glory He finds in those who cultivate the seeds of virtue implanted in them. And those in whom He finds not His Son’s glory, He punishes: There is one that seeks and judges.
AUG. Meaning of course the Father. But is it then that He says in another place, The Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son. Judgment is sometimes put for condemnation, whereas here it only stands for trial: as if to say, There is one, even My Father, who distinguishes My glory from yours; you glory after this world, I not after this world. The Father distinguishes the glory of the Son, from that of all men: for that He has been made man, does not bring us to a comparison with Him. We men have sin: He was without sin, even when He was in the form of a servant; for, as the Word which was in the beginning, who can speak worthily of Him?
ORIGEN. Or thus; If that is true which our Savior says below, All men are yours, it is manifest that the judgment itself of the Son, is the Father’s.
GREG. As the perversity of the wicked increases, preaching so far from giving way, ought even to become more active. Thus our Lord, after He had been accused of having a devil, imparts the treasures of preaching in a still larger degree: Verily, verily, I say to you, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death.
AUG. See is put for experience. But since, about to die Himself, He spoke with those about to die, what means this, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death? What, but that He saw another death from which He came to free us, death eternal, the death of the damned, which is shared with the devil and his angels! That is the true death: the other is a passage only.
ORIGEN. We must understand Him, as it were, to say, If a man keep My light, he shall not see darkness forever; forever being taken as common to both clauses, as if the sentence were, If a man keep My saying for ever, He shall not see death for ever: meaning that a man does not see death, so long as he keeps Christ’s word. But when a man, by becoming sluggish in the observance of His words, and negligent in the keeping of his own heart, ceases to keep them, he then sees death; he brings it upon himself. Thus taught then by our Savior, to the prophet who asks, What man is he that lives, and shall not see death? we are able to answer, He who keeps Christ’s word.
CHRYS. He says, keep, i.e. not by faith, but by purity of life. And at the same time too He means it as a tacit intimation that they can do nothing to Him. For if whoever keeps His word, shall never die, much less is it possible that He Himself should die.
Ver 52. Then said the Jews to him, Now we know that you have a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and you say, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.53. Are you greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead; whom make you yourself?54. Jesus answered, If I honor myself, my honor is nothing; it is my Father that honors me; of whom you say, that he is your God:55. Yet you have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like to you: but I know him, and keep his saying.56. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
GREG. As it is necessary that the good should grow better by contumely, so are the reprobate made worse by kindness On hearing our Lord’s words, the Jews again blaspheme: Then said the Jews to Him, Now we know you have a devil.
ORIGEN. Those who believe the Holy Scriptures, understand that what men do contrary to right reason, is not done without the operation of devils. Thus the Jews thought that Jesus had spoken by the influence of the devil, when He said, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death. And this idea they labored under, because they did not know the power of God. For here He was speaking of that death of enmity to reason, by which sinners perish: whereas they understand Him of that death which is common to all; and therefore blame Him for so speaking, when it was certain that Abraham and the Prophets were dead: Abraham is dead, and the Prophets; and you say, If man keep My saying, be shall never taste of death. Shall never taste of death, they say, instead of, shall not see death; though between tasting and seeing death there is a difference. Like careless hearers, they mistake what our Lord said. For as our Lord, in that He is the true bread, is good to taste; in that He is wisdom, is beautiful to behold; in like manner His adversary death is both to be tasted and seen. When then a man stands by Christ’s help in the spiritual place pointed out to him, he shall not taste of death if he preserves that state: according to Matthew, There those standing here, which shall not taste of death. But when a man hears Christ’s words and keeps them, he shall not see death.
CHRYS. Again, they have recourse to the vainglorious argument of their descent: Are you greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? They might have said, Are you greater than God, whose words they are dead who heard? But they do not say this, because they thought Him inferior even to Abraham.
ORIGEN. For they do not see that not Abraham only, but every one born of women, is less than He who was born of a Virgin. Now were the Jews right in saying that Abraham was dead? for he heard the word of Christ, and kept it, as did also the Prophets, who, they say, were dead. For they kept the word of the Son of God, when the word of the Lord came to Hosea, Isaiah, or Jeremiah; if any one else kept the word, surely those Prophets did. They utter a lie then when they say, We know that you have a devil; and when they say, Abraham is dead, and the Prophets.
GREG. For being given over to eternal death, which death they saw not, and thinking only, as they did, of the death of the body, their minds were darkened, even while the Truth Himself was speaking. They add: Whom makes you Yourself?
THEOPHYL. As if to say, you a person of no account, a carpenter’s son of Galilee, to take glory to Yourself!
BEDE. Whom make you Yourself? i.e. Of what merit, of what dignity would you be accounted? Nevertheless, Abraham only died in the body; his soul lived. And the death of the soul which is to live for ever, is greater than the death of the body that must die some time.
ORIGEN. This was the speech of persons spiritually blind. For Jesus did not make Himself what He was, but received it from the Father: Jesus answered and said, If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing.
CHRYS. This is to answer their suspicions as above, If I bear witness of Myself My witness is not true.
BEDE. He shows in these words that the glory of this present life is nothing.
AUG. This is to answer those who said, Whom make you Yourself? He refers His glory to the Father, from Whom He is: It is My Father that honors Me. The Arians take occasion from those words to calumniate our faith, and say, Lo, the Father is greater, for He glorifies the Son. Heretics, have you not read that the Son also glorifies the Father?
ALCUIN. The Father glorified the Son, at His baptism, on the mount, at the time of His passion, when a voice came to Him, in the midst of the crowd, when He raised Him up again after His passion, and placed Him at the right hand of His Majesty.
CHRYS. He adds, Of whom you say that He is your God; meaning to tell them that they were not only ignorant of the Father, but even of God.
THEOPHYL. For had they known the Father really, they would have reverenced the Son. But they even despise God, who in the Law forbade murder, by their clamors against Christ. Wherefore He says, You have not known Him.
ALCUIN. As if to say, you call Him your God, after a carnal manner, serving Him for temporal rewards. You have not known Him, as He should be known; you are not able to serve Him spiritually.
AUG. Some heretics say that the God proclaimed in the Old Testament is not the Father of Christ, but a kind of prince of bad angels. These He contradicts when He calls Him His Father, whom the Jews called their God, and knew not. For had they known Him, they would have received His Son. Of Himself however He adds, But I know Him. And here too, to men judging after the flesh, He might appear arrogant. But let not arrogance be so guarded against, as that truth be deserted. Therefore our Lord says, And if I should say I know Him not, I should be a liar like to you.
CHRYS. As if to say, As you, saying that you know Him, lie; so were I a liar, did I say I knew Him not. It follows, however, (which is the greatest proof of all that He was sent from God,) But I know Him.
THEOPHYL. Having that knowledge by nature; for as I am, so is the Father also; I know Myself, and therefore I know Him. And He gives the proof that He knows Him: And I keep His saying, i.e. His commandments. Some understand, I keep His saying, to mean, I keep the nature of His substance unchanged; for the substance of the Father and the Son is the same, as their nature is the same; and therefore I know the Father. And here has the force of because: I know Him because I keep His saying.
AUG. He spoke the saying of the Father too, as being the Son; and He was Himself that Word of the Father, which He spoke to men.
CHRYS. In answer then to their question, Are you greater than our father Abraham, He shows them that He is greater than Abraham; Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: he saw it, and was glad; he must have rejoiced, because My day would benefit him, which is to acknowledge Me greater than himself.
THEOPHYL. As if to say, He regarded My day, as a day to be desired, and full of joy; not as if I was an unimportant or common person.
AUG. He did not fear, but rejoiced to see: he rejoiced in hope, believing, and so by faith saw. It admits of doubt whether He is speaking here of the temporal day of the Lord, that, viz. of His coming in the flesh, or of that day which knows s neither rising or setting. I doubt not however that our father Abraham knew the whole: as he says to his servant whom he sent, Put your hand under my thigh, and swear to me by the God of heaven. What did that oath signify, but that the God of heaven was to come in the flesh, out of the stock of Abraham.
GREG. Abraham saw the day of the Lord even then, when he entertained the three Angels, a figure of the Trinity.
CHRYS. They are aliens from Abraham if they grieve over what he rejoiced in. By this day perhaps He means the day of the cross, which Abraham prefigured by the offering up of Isaac and the ram: intimating hereby that He did not come to His passion unwillingly.
AUG. If they rejoiced to whom the Word appeared in the flesh, what was his joy, who beheld in spiritual vision the light ineffable, the abiding Word, the bright illumination of pious souls, the indefectible wisdom, still abiding with God the Father, and sometime to come in the flesh, but not to leave the Father’s bosom.
Ver 1a. In the beginning was the Word,
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on John 8". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent