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Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NT

John 8

Verses 1-99

THE “PERICOPE DE ADULTERA”

(7:53-8:11)

The section (περικοπέ) of the Fourth Gospel which contains this incident is contained in many late manuscripts and versions, but it cannot be regarded as Johannine or as part of the Gospel text.

It is not found in any of the early Greek uncials, with the single exception of Codex Bezae (D), being omitted without comment in אBNTWΘ. L and Δ omit it, while leaving a blank space where it might be inserted, thus indicating that their scribes deliberately rejected it as part of the Johannine text. A and C are defective at this point, but neither could have contained the section, as the missing leaves would not have had room for it.

The section is omitted also in important cursives, e.g. 22, 33, 565 (in which minuscule there is a note that the scribe knew of its existence). The Ferrar cursives, i.e. fam. 13, do not give it in Jn., but place the section after Luke 21:38, where it would be, indeed, in better agreement with the context than before John 8:12. Cursives 1, 1582, and some American MSS. place the section at the end of the Fourth Gospel. Cursive 225 places it after John 7:36.


The Old Syriac vss. (whether in Tatian’s Diatessaron, Syr. sin., or Syr. cur.) betray no knowledge of the passage, nor is it contained in the best MSS. of the Peshitta. In like manner the Coptic vss. omit it, e.g. the fourth century Coptic Q (see p. xvi). Some of the O.L. MSS. are also without it, e.g. a f l* q.

Even more significant is the absence of any comment on the section by Greek commentators for a thousand years after Christ, including Origen, Chrysostom, and Nonnus (in his metrical paraphrase), who deal with the Gospel verse by verse. The earliest Greek writer (Euthymius Zygabenus or Zygadenus) who comments on it lived about 1118, and even he says that the accurate copies of the Gospel do not contain it.

Further, the evidence of vocabulary and style is conclusive against the Johannine authorship of the section. The notes which follow demonstrate this sufficiently. Nor in its traditional place does it harmonise with the context. It interrupts the sequence of 7:52 and 8:12f.; while 7:53 is not in harmony with what goes before, and has no connexion with 8:12f.

The early Greek evidence in favour of the mediæval view that the section is an authentic part of the Fourth Gospel reduces itself to the witness of Codex Bezae (D), a manuscript with many other Western interpolations. The section is found in the great mass of later uncials and cursives, whatever be the reason of this intrusion into the more ancient text. To be borne in mind, however, is the significant fact that in many of the later MSS. which contain it, the Pericope de adultera is marked with an obelus (e.g. S) or an asterisk (e.g. ΕΜΛ).

The Latin evidence in its favour is considerable. The section appears in several O.L. texts, e.g. b e (sæc. v.) and ff2 (sæc. vii.), as well as in Jerome’s Vulgate. Jerome says expressly “in multis graecis et latinis codicibus inuenitur de adultera,” etc. (adv. Pelag. ii. 17). Augustine (de conj. adult. ii. 6) accounts for its omission from some texts, by hinting that the words of Jesus which it records might seem too lenient.

The section is found also in some late Syriac and Coptic texts, while omitted in the earlier and better versions.

These facts show that the authorities on the side of the Pericope are almost wholly Western, and do not become numerous in any language until after the acceptance by Jerome of the section as Johannine. Jerome seems to have followed here some Greek MSS. not now extant. This evidence is, however, wholly insufficient to justify the inclusion of the narrative in the Fourth Gospel. The ignoring of it by the early Greek MSS., vss., and commentators is thus left unexplained.

Nevertheless, the story of the adulteress seems to be an authentic fragment of early tradition as to the sayings and actions of Jesus. The story is mentioned (although not referred to the Fourth Gospel) in the Apostolic Constitutions (ii. 24), a passage which goes back to the fourth century or perhaps even to the third. It must have been current as a tradition in the third century at any rate. Eusebius probably refers to it when he says of Papias that “he relates another story of a woman who was accused of many sins before the Lord which is contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews” (Eus. H.E. iii. 39). Whether Papias got the story from the extra-canonical “Gospel according to the Hebrews,” or from some other source, is not certain. But that the Pericope de adultera is the story which Papias told has been accepted by many critics; and, accordingly, in Lightfoot’s Apostolic Fathers the passage [Jn.] 7:53-8:11 is printed as one of the surviving fragments of Papias, bishop of Hierapolis.

This is highly probable, but is not certain. All we can assert with confidence is that the passage is very like the Synoptic stories about Jesus; while its tenderness and gravity commend it as faithfully representing what Jesus said and did when a woman who had sinned unchastely was brought before Him.

No reason for the ready acceptance in the West of the story as evangelical, and of its incorporation in the Latin Gospels as early as the fourth century, can be assigned with certainty. It is perhaps significant that in the Apostolic Constitutions (ii. 24), where we find the narrative for the first time, it is cited as a lesson to bishops who are inclined to be too severe to penitents. Now writers like Origen, Tertullian, and Cyprian, who discuss at length the problems of discipline for adultery, never mention this case. Like the rest of the Church, East and West, in the second and third centuries, they held that punishment for fornication ought to be very severe, inasmuch as it seemed essential to mark the divergence of Christian ethics from heathen ethics on this point. But by the time we reach the fourth century, ecclesiastical discipline began to be relaxed and to be less austere; and a story which had been formerly thought dangerous because of its apparent leniency would naturally be appealed to by canonists and divines as indicating the tenderness with which our Lord Himself rebuked sins of the flesh. It was but a short step from quoting the story as edifying to treating it as suitable for reading in Church. It would thus get into lectionaries, and in the Greek Menology it is the lection for St. Pelagia’s day. From its insertion in Evangelistaria, it readily crept into Gospel texts, from which Jerome did not feel it practicable to expel it. Perhaps thus, or somewhat thus, its presence in the textus receptus of the Fourth Gospel is to be explained.

The text of the Pericope which is given here is that adopted by Hort. The various readings are more numerous than in any other part of the N.T., and a large number of explanatory glosses were added to the text in ancient times. Hort’s analysis of these can hardly be improved. We have to do here only with the later uncials, and these are cited by the customary letters (EGH, etc.) as explained by Gregory or Scrivener. We cite the cursive 1071 because of its remarkable agreement with D in this section. (See K. Lake, Texts from Mount Athos, p. 1481.)

7:53. ἐπορεύθησαν. So D, etc., with O.L. and vg.; the rec. has ἐπορεύθη with minor uncials and fam. 13.

πορεύεσθαι εἰς … occurs only at 7:35 in Jn., who prefers πορ. πρός (cf. 14:28, 16:28, 20:17); the constr. is common in the Synoptists.

8:1. τὸ ὄρος τῶν ἐλαιῶν is, again, a Synoptic term, not occurring again in Jn. When Jn. introduces a place-name for the first time he is apt to add a word of explanation (4:5, 11:1), but nothing of the kind is here.

Mention of the Mount of Olives would fall in with the story referring to the week before the Passion, when Jesus lodged at Bethany; cf. Mark 11:11, Mark 11:19, Mark 11:13:3.

2. ὄρθρου is Lucan (Luke 24:1; cf. Acts 5:21); Jn. does not use it, but has πρωΐ instead (18:28, 20:1, 21:4).


The frequent use of δέ in this section to the exclusion of Jn.’s favourite οὖν (see on 1:22) marks the style as non-Johannine.

παρεγένετο. D 1071 have παραγίνεται. The verb occurs in Jn. only once (3:22). ἦλθεν is read by fam. 13.

λαός is found in Jn. only twice (11:50, 18:14); he prefers ὄχλος, which some MSS. give here.

The clause καὶ πᾶς ὁ λαὸς … ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς is omitted by fam. 13; while D om. καὶ καθίσας ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς.

For καθίσας, as describing the attitude of Jesus when teaching, see on 6:3 (cf. Mark 13:3). Jn. generally specifies the nature of Jesus’ teaching in the Temple (cf. 7:28, 8:20), but at 7:14 he writes simply ἐδίδασκεν as here.


3. For ἄγουσιν δέ, fam. 13 gives καὶ προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ.

οἱ γραμματεῖς. There is no mention of scribes in Jn. “Scribes and Pharisees” is a frequent Synoptic phrase for the opponents of Jesus, whom Jn. prefers to describe briefly as “the Jews” (see on 1:19).

The woman was not brought before Jesus for formal trial, but in order to get His expression of opinion on a point of the Mosaic law, which might afterwards be used against Him (see v. 6), of which other examples are given by the Snyoptists (cf. Mark 12:13, Mark 12:18).


Some minor uncials ins. πρὸς αὐτόν before γυναῖκα, but om. D 1071 and fam. 13.

ἐπὶ μοιχείᾳ is supported by the uncials MSUΓΛ and fam. 13; ἐν μοιχείᾳ is read by EGHKΠ, and is smoothed down in D 1071 to ἐπὶ ἁμαρτίᾳ.

κατειλημμένην. καταλαμβάνειν, “to overtake,” occurs in John 1:5, John 12:35. Milligan gives from a fourth- or fifth-century papyrus an exact parallel to the present passage, where it is used of detection in sin, viz.: γυναῖκα καταλημφθεῖσαν ὑπὸ τοῦ ἠδικημένου μετὰ μοίχου.

στήσαντες αὐτὴν ἐν μέσῳ (ἐν τῳ μεσῷ, fam. 13). Cf. Acts 4:7 for the phrase descriptive of “setting” people in the midst of bystanders for the purpose of examining them.

4. After αὐτῳ, D adds ἐκπειράζοντες αὐτόν, and EGHK 1071 πειράζοντες only. The phrase with ἐκπειράζειν is Lucan; cf. Luke 10:25.


For διδάσκαλε, see on 1:38.

For κατείληπται (D 1071), MSΛ and fam. 13 have εἰληπται, while EGHKΓΠ give κατειλήφθη.

ἐπʼ αὐτοφώρῳ, “in the act.” The phrase does not occur again in the Greek Bible, but is thoroughly classical. Cf. Philo, de spec. leg. iii. 10, μοιχείας δὲ τάς μὲν αὐτοφώρους …�

5. ἐν δὲ τῷ νόμῳ κτλ. In an ordinary case of adultery (e.g. Leviticus 20:10) the penalty was death for both parties, but the manner of execution is not specified, the Talmud prescribing death by strangulation. But in the exceptional and specially heinous case of a betrothed woman’s unchastity, death was to be by stoning (Deuteronomy 22:21). It was an unusual case like this that was put before Jesus.

These severe laws were rarely put in force, but nevertheless the dilemma was neatly framed. If He said that the guilty woman should be stoned, He would have been subject to the Roman law for inciting to murder; and although the Roman authorities were lax on occasion about such acts of violence (as in the case of Stephen, Acts 7:58), there would have been a good pretext for handing Him over to them to deal with. If, however, He inclined to more merciful treatment, as was probably expected of Him, He would have been declared by His critics to be a blasphemous person who did not accept the enactments of the sacred law. Cf. Mark 12:14 for the dilemma about the tribute money; and Mark 10:2 for the question about divorce, which, however puzzling, would not involve difficulty with the Roman authorities.


Augustine, however, puts the dilemma in a simpler way: “Si ut iuberet occidi perderet mansuetudinis famam; si autem iuberet dimitti incurreret, tanquam reprehensor legis, calumniam” (Enarr. in Psa_1. § 8). This may be right, but it does not recall the attempts to entrap Jesus recorded by the Synoptists.

For the first clause D has Μωυσῆς δὲ ἐν τῷ νόμῳ ἐκέλευσεν. For λιθάζειν (cf. 10:31), which is read by DMSU 1071 and fam. 13, the rec. has λιθοβολεῖσθαι (the verb used Deuteronomy 22:21) with EGHKΠ.


After λέγεις ins. περὶ αὐτῆς MSUΛ fam. 13 c ff.2

6. From τοῦτο δέ to κατηγ. αὐτοῦ is om. by DM, the clause appearing in the rec. supported by SUL fam. 13 (in the form κατηγορίαν κατʼ αὐτοῦ). Such laying of traps for Jesus is often mentioned in the Synoptists, e.g. Mark 8:11, Luke 11:16.


κατά is seldom used by Jn., but cf. κατηγορίαν κατά followed by a genitive, at 18:29.

κάτω κύψας is read here, but κατακύψας at v. 8, “having stooped down.” κατακύπτειν occurs again in the Greek Bible only at 4 Kings 9:32, in the sense of “peeping out”; see, for παρακύπτειν, on 20:5. For κατακύπτειν, “to stoop,” Milligan cites Aristeas ix. I.

κατέγραφεν. So DEGHMS, but KUΓΛ fam. 13 have ἔγραφεν. καταγράφειν does not occur again in N.T., but appears several times in LXX, often meaning “to register,” a sense also found in papyri. It indicates a record or register of something blameworthy in Job 13:26, Job 13:1 Esdr. 2:16, Ecclus. 48:10; and this meaning is accepted in some ancient comments, both here and at v. 8.

In a short recension of the story found in an Armenian MS. of the Gospels of A.D. 989, we have: “He Himself, bowing His head, was writing with His finger on the earth, to declare their sins; and they were seeing their several sins on the stones.”1 And again, after εἰς τὴν γῆν in v. 8, U and some cursives add ἕνος ἐκάστου αὐτῶν τᾶς ἁμαρτίας, as if Jesus was writing down the names and sins of the several accusers. Jerome has the same tradition: “Jesus inclinans digito scribebat in terra, eorum, uidelicet qui accusabant et omnium peccata mortalium, secundum quod scriptum est in propheta Relinquentes autem te in terra scribentur” (adv. Pelagium ii. 17, citing Jeremiah 17:13).


There is, however, no evidence that Jesus was writing anything by way of record. That He was able to write may be assumed, although in no other place in the N.T. is He said to have written anything. But it is probable that on this occasion He was only scribbling with His finger on the ground, a mechanical action which would suggest only an unwillingness to speak on the subject brought before Him, and preoccupation with His own thoughts.2

If, however, the meaning of register for κατέγραφεν is to be pressed, the emphasis must be placed on εἰς τὴν γῆν: “He began to register the accusation in the dust,” as if He would have no permanent record.

After γῆν the rec. adds, with EGHK, the gloss μὴ προσποιούμενος, “affecting that it was not so,” sc. “as though He heard them not.” This is a classical use of προσποιεῖσθαι with a neg. (cf. Thucyd. iii. 47); the verb occurs again in the N.T. only at Luke 24:28 (cf. 1 Samuel 21:13, προσεποιήσατο, “feigned himself,” sc. to be mad).

7. ἐπέμενον ἐρωτῶντες, “they went on asking,” as at Acts 12:16 ἐπέμενεν κρούων. ἐπιμένειν does not occur in Jn.

D om. αὐτόν, ἐρωτῶντες then being used absolutely or intransitively, as in the (unusual) instance of John 17:9.

ἀνέκυψεν καί. So D 1071. The rec., with EGHK, has�Luke 13:11, Luke 13:21:28, “to lift oneself up”;�


εἶπεν αὐτοῖς. So DSUΓ 1071 fam. 13. M om. αὐτοῖς. EGHK have πρὸς αὐτούς, the rec. reading.

ὁ�Matthew 5:28.�Deuteronomy 29:19, Deuteronomy 29:2 Macc. 8:14, 12:42.


For πρῶτος (D 1071), EGH give πρῶτον.

βαλέτω λίθον. So D and fam. 13. Other uncials read τὸν λίθον, to bring out the point that the casting of the first stone was the duty of the witnesses who certified to the crime (Deuteronomy 17:7). But the allusion is the same, even if τόν is omitted. The question of Jesus asks, in fact, who is to be the executioner in this case? (cf. Augustine, Sermo xiii. § 4).


8. καὶ πάλιν κτλ. Jesus again indicates His unwillingness to discuss the matter with the Pharisees. He begins to scribble on the dust for the second time.

τῷ δακτύλῳ is ins. here after κατακύψας by D 28, 74, 1071 ff2; but om. fam. 13.

As at v. 6, fam. 13 support ἔγραφεν for κατέγραφεν (so D 28, 31).

9. The rec., following EGHKS, after�

The glosses are unnecessary, although doubtless right in the explanations they offer. The elder men (πρεσβύτεροι, a word not occurring in Jn.; cf. 3 John 1:1) were naturally the first to leave, having taken the lead in trying to ensnare Jesus, and having been silenced by His suggestion that they must have felt the power of the temptation which had overcome the woman. If the scene is to be placed in the week following the Triumphal Entry, their acquiescence in the moral authority which Jesus exercised is more readily intelligible. They dared not press the moral issue before the admiring and awestruck people.

For εἷς καθʼ εἷς, cf. Mark 14:19; it is not a Johannine phrase.


καὶ κατελείφθη μόνος. μόνος is om. by fam. 13. Perhaps some disciples were present, and nothing is said of their going away, but the words may mean that Jesus and the woman were left quite alone (as the rec. text indicates), the onlookers feeling the painfulness of the scene. Augustine says: “Remansit magna miseria et magna misericordia” (Enarr. in Psa_1. § 8). Yet the woman remained ἐν μέσῳ, which suggests the presence of a little group; and, furthermore, the words that Jesus said to her were overheard and were preserved.


κατελείφθη. The verb καταλείπειν is not used by Jn.

10. For�

D 1071 have εἶπεν τῇ γυναικί, but MSUΓ fam. 13 have εἶπεν, Γυναί. The rec., with cursive support, has εἶπεν αὐτῇ, Ἡ γυνή, the nom. with the article being used for the vocative, a Hebraic use that occurs Mark 14:36, Matthew 11:26, Luke 10:21, but not in Jn. (see on 17:21).


ποῦ εἰσίν; The rec. adds ἐκεῖνοι οἱ κατήγοροί σου, and fam. 13 has the gloss, omitting ἐκεῖνοι; but om. DMΓΛ 1071.

οὐδείς σε κατέκρινεν; The compound κατακρίνειν is not Johannine.

In this verse, Jesus is represented as waiting for a little before He spoke. “Has no one proceeded to condemn you?” is His question at last.

11. Οὐδείς, κύριε. “No one, sir.” That is all the woman says from beginning to end. Indeed, she has no excuse for her conduct.

Οὐδὲ ἐγώ σε κατακρίνω. The verbal similarity of these words to ἐγὼ οὐ κρίνω of 8:15 (where see note) may have suggested the position which the interpolated section occupies in the rec. text, viz. at the beginning of c. 8. But κατακρίνειν conveys condemnation in a degree which the simple verb κρίνειν does not connote. Jesus does not say here that He does not pass judgment, even in His own mind, upon the woman’s conduct, but that He does not condemn her judicially or undertake the duty of a judge who had to administer or interpret the Mosaic law (cf. Luke 12:14). Still less does His reply convey forgiveness; the woman who was forgiven in Luke 7:48 was a penitent, but there is no hint of penitence in this case.


Probably, the apparent leniency of the words οὐδὲ ἐγώ σε κατακρίνω (which could readily be misunderstood) led to their omission in the tenth-century Armenian MS. quoted above on v. 6, and also in a Syriac paraphrase given by Dionysius Barsalibi.1 The Armenian codex ends, “Go in peace, and present the offering for sins, as in their law is written,” while the Syriac paraphrase has only, “Go thou also now and do this sin no more.”

The warning μηκέτι ἁμάρτανε is found also at 5:14, where (as here) the person addressed has not confessed any sin. The woman had still time to repent.

ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν is om. by fam. 13, but ins. DMSUΓ 1071. The phrase is Lucan (Luke 1:48, Luke 5:10, Luke 12:52, Luke 22:69) but not Johannine.






Jesus Declares Himself the Light of the World (8:12-20.)



8:12. πάλιν οὖν αὐτοῖς ἐλάλησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς.1 The introductory πάλιν does not fix the context of the discourse which follows, for it is merely resumptive or indicative of the beginning of a new section, as at v. 21 (see on 1:35). Verses 12-20 have points of contact with c. 7 (cf. 7:28 and 8:14), and it is possible (although not certain; see on 7:45) that they should be taken in continuation of the sayings 7:28-38. If vv. 12-20 follow directly on 7:52, as we take them, we must suppose the words of 8:12 to be addressed to the Pharisees, who proceed (8:13) to find fault with them. This, indeed, is implied in αὐτοῖς. Nevertheless, the proclamation “I am the Light of the World” recalls such sayings as 7:37, 38, which were addressed to all and sundry.

ἐλάλησεν λέγων, λέγων introducing the words spoken; see on 3:11, and cf. Matthew 14:27.


ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου. This is one of the great “I am’s” of the Fourth Gospel, for which see Introd., p. cxviii.

Just as the word of Jesus about the Living Water (7:37, 38) may have been suggested by the water ceremonial at the Feast of Tabernacles, so it has been thought that the claim “I am the Light of the World” may also have a reference to the festal ceremonies. On the first night of the feast, there was a ceremony of lighting the four golden candlesticks in the Court of the Women (see v. 20), and there is some evidence for the continuance of the ceremony on other nights. This may have provided the occasion for the words of Jesus about light and darkness. But Philo’s account of the Feast of Tabernacles would furnish an equally plausible explanation. He says that this feast is held at the autumnal equinox, in order that the world (κόσμος) may be full, not only by day but also by night, of the all-beautiful light (τοῦ παγκάλου φωτός), as at that season there is no twilight (de septen. 24). We have in this passage a close parallel to τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου, but no stress ought to be laid upon such verbal coincidences. The passage of Philo shows, however, that the Feast of Tabernacles suggested the idea of light to some minds.2

The Hebrews had thought of God as giving them light, and as being their light. “The Lord is my Light” was the confession of a Psalmist (Psalms 27:1); “the Lord shall be thy everlasting Light” was the promise of a prophet (Isaiah 60:19). The later Rabbis applied the thought to the Messiah: “Light is the Name of Messiah,” they said.1 The vision of Deutero-Isaiah was larger, for he proclaimed that the Servant of Yahweh would be a Light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6; cf. Luke 2:32). But the saying ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου goes far beyond this, for the κόσμος (see on 1:9) includes all created life.2 There is no Hebraic parallel to be found for such a thought,3 the expression of which here is thoroughly Johannine in form. See Introd., p. cxviii.


In the Prologue, the Word of God is spoken of as the Light. John the Baptist was not the Light, but he came to bear witness of the Light (1:8), which was τὸ φῶς τὸ�

In the Sermon on the Mount, according to Matthew 5:14, Jesus said to His hearers ὑμεῖς ἐστε τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου. This is apparently to say more than Paul said to his converts when he called them φωστῆρες ἐν κόσμῳ (Philippians 2:15); and it is not certain that Mt.’s Greek rendering of our Lord’s words is accurate here.4 But if it is precise, the application of the words τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου to faithful citizens of the kingdom of heaven must be wholly different from its application when Christ used it of Himself and said, “I am the Light of the World.” This is to make an exclusive claim, such as could be made by no other speaker, although others might claim to share in the assurance of Christ that His people are, as contrasted with non-Christians, the world’s light. Cf. 7:38 and the note thereupon.


ὁ�

The Hebrew verb הָלַךְ “to walk” is often used in the O.T. figuratively of conduct in general (e.g. 2 Kings 20:3), and is sometimes, when used in this sense, rendered in the LXX by περιπάτειν (e.g. Proverbs 8:20, Ecclesiastes 11:9). This use of περιπάτειν is found only once in the Synoptists (Mark 7:5; cf. Acts 21:21), but occurs over 30 times in Paul, and frequently in Jn. (see 12:35, 1 John 1:6, 1 John 1:7, 1 John 1:2:6, 11; cf. 2 John 1:6, 3 John 1:3, 3 John 1:4). It is, in fact, a Hebraism.

The contrast between the Two Ways, of Darkness and of Light, is not peculiar to Jn. (cf. Barnabas, § 18), but it is a favourite topic in his Gospel (see, for “walking” in light or in darkness, 11:9, 12:35, 1 John 1:6, 1 John 1:7). Job (29:3) speaks of the days when God watched over him: “and by His light I walked through darkness” (cf. Micah 7:8). This is part of the thought in “he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life”; but it is less explicit. The Light of God is the Light of Life (τὸ φῶς τῆς ζωῆς).


The Odes of Solomon several times express the idea of the believer walking in the Light of Christ, e.g. “He set over [His way] the footprints of His light, and I walked therein” (7:17; cf. 29:7, 32:1).

The phrase τὸ φῶς τῆς ζωῆς may mean the Light which imparts life or illuminates life; or it may mean the Light which issues from Life. We have seen that in 6:35 the primary meaning of “I am the Bread of Life” is understood by the evangelist to be “the Bread which gives life” (6:33), but the deeper meaning of “the Living Bread” is not excluded (6:51). So here we must allow for a double suggestiveness in the phrase τὸ φῶς τῆς ζωῆς. When we apply such concepts as ζωή, φῶς, to God or to Christ, we cannot treat them as if we knew them to be fundamentally distinct. They are qualities or aspects of Absolute Being, and it is beyond our powers to define them adequately or explain their mutual relation. In the Fourth Gospel, Christ is the Light: He is also the Life (11:25, 14:6). Perhaps Light is Life, in its essence; perhaps Life, truly understood, is Light. See on 1:4, and Introd., p. cxl.

13. εἶπον οὖν αὐτῷ οἱ φαρισαῖοι. For the “Pharisees,” see on 7:32, and cf. 1:24. Their objection was that the testimony of Jesus to His own claims was not admissible, according to the rules of evidence which governed the controversies of the Rabbis (see on 5:31). Self-witness was always suspect, and might be disregarded as being untrue.

14. The answer of Jesus κἂν ἐγὼ μαρτυρῶ περὶ ἐμαυτοῦ,�Revelation 3:14).


ὅτι οἶδα πόθεν ἦλθον, “because I know (with complete knowledge) whence I came,” sc. at the Incarnation (cf. 1:1, 13:3, 16:28).

καὶ ποῦ ὑπάγω, “and whither I go”; see on 7:33 for ὑπάγειν used of “going to the Father.”

The words which follow, ὑμεῖς … ὑπάγω, do not appear to have been present in the texts known to Origen, but the omission is readily explicable by homoioteleuton, ὑπάγω … ὑπάγω.

ὑμεῖς δὲ (א om. δέ) οὐκ οἴδατε πόθεν ἔρχομαι. That is, they did not know of His heavenly origin, although (like the Jewish interlocutors of 7:28) they may have known that He was of the family at Nazareth.

ἢ ποῦ ὑπάγω. See on 7:33.

BDNT support ἤ; the rec., with אLWΘ, has καί.

15. The Pharisees had complained that the self-witness of Jesus was unsupported and therefore untrustworthy (v. 13). In v. 14 Jesus has answered that their objection, however sound if applied to a mere man, fails in His case: they do not know His origin or His home. He now adds that their judgment is superficial because of this ignorance of His true being.

ὑμεῖς κατὰ τὴν σάρκα κρίνετε, “you judge superficially”; cf. for κατὰ τὴν σάρκα, 1 Corinthians 1:26, 2 Corinthians 5:16. The Pharisees had done just what He had previously warned them not to do, when He said μὴ κρίνετε κατʼ ὄψιν (7:24).

ἐγὼ οὐ κρίνω οὐδένα. The ultimate purpose of His coming into the world was to save it, not to judge it (3:17); and if an individual man would not obey His word, Jesus did not judge him then: the spoken word would judge him at the Last Day (12:48). At that Great Assize, the Son of Man will be the Judge (see on 3:17, 5:22, and Introd., p. clviii). But the saying ἐγὼ οὐ κρίνω οὐδένα refers to the action of Jesus during His public mission on earth, and not to the future judgment of the world. There is a sense in which He did judge, or discriminate between one man and another, during His earthly ministry (see vv. 16, 26); but ἐγὼ οὐ κρίνω οὐδένα expresses not only that this was not the purpose of His mission (see 3:17), but that it was not His habit. It was a charge made against Him that He did not discriminate sufficiently, that He consorted with publicans and sinners (Mark 2:16, Luke 15:2), that He did not repel the sinful woman at the Pharisee’s house (Luke 7:39). Even in the case of the adulteress whose guilt was proved, when judgment must have been condemnation, He said οὐδὲ ἐγώ σε κατακρίνω [8:11]. His example was consonant to His own precept μὴ κρίνετε (Matthew 7:1).


This saying of Christ ἐγὼ οὐ κρίνω οὐδένα is found only in Jn., but its genuineness becomes the more apparent the more closely it is examined. It is a paradox, for it is seemingly contradicted in the next verse, but it is one of those terse, pregnant paradoxes of which the Synoptists have preserved many examples.1

16. For�

ἐν τῷ νόμῳ κτλ. This is a free reference to the maxim of evidence in Deuteronomy 19:15 (cf. Numbers 35:30, Deuteronomy 17:6; and see 2 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Timothy 5:19). For another reference by Jesus to this legal maxim, cf. Matthew 18:16.

The phrase “your law” challenges scrutiny. Jesus accepted the “law,” i.e. the Old Testament scriptures, very explicitly (see Introd., pp. cxlvii, clv); and it is unlike the way in which He was accustomed to speak of it, that he should say “your law, ” thus dissociating Himself, as it were, from any recognition of its authority. He is represented in 10:34 as again using this expression, and in 15:25 as speaking to His disciples of Scripture as “their law,” i.e. the law of the Jews. It is true that in 8:17 and 10:34 the phrase appears in controversy with the Jews, and it might be thought that it supplied an argumentum ad hominem. Those who disputed with Jesus were shown to be in the wrong, on their own principles. But in the equally argumentative passage 7:19, 23, He speaks of “the law” and “the law of Moses”; and no such explanation can be given of the phrase “their law” in 15:25, which would definitely dissociate Him from the people of Israel, by suggesting that their Scriptures were not His Scriptures. In every place where ὁ νόμος is mentioned by Him in the Synoptists, whether it refers to the law which He came “not to destroy, but to fulfil,” or in a wider sense to the O.T. books, He always says “the Law” (cf. Matthew 5:17, Matthew 5:18, Matthew 5:7:12, Matthew 5:11:13, Matthew 5:12:5, Matthew 5:22:40, Matthew 5:23:23, Luke 2:22, Luke 2:24, Luke 2:27, Luke 2:39, Luke 2:10:26, Luke 2:16:16; the word νόμος does not occur in Mk.).


It is difficult to think that in these Johannine texts (8:17, 10:34, 15:25) the words of Jesus have been exactly reproduced.1

18. The use of ἐγώ εἰμι in solemn affirmation has been discussed in Introd., p. cxviii; and the present passage provides an instructive example of this usage.

ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ μαρτυρῶν περὶ ἐμαυτοῦ. This is the style of Deity. As the Pharisees had urged, a man’s witness about himself is not trustworthy (v. 13); but Jesus replies to this by expressing Himself in terms which suggest His Divinity. This, however, is not said explicitly; and the point of His answer which the Pharisees understand is that He says that there is a second Witness, sc. His Father who sent Him (cf. 5:32). There is a prophetic passage, Isaiah 43:10, which has close verbal relations with this and v. 28: γένεσθέ μοι μάρτυρες, καὶ ἐγὼ μάρτυς, λέγει κύριος ὁ θεός, καὶ ὁ παῖς μου ὃν ἐξελεξάμην, ἵνα γνῶτε καὶ πιστεύσητε, καὶ συνῆτε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι. The thought in Isaiah 43:10, however, is of witness being borne to Yahweh (1) by the people, (2) by His Servant, and, according to the LXX interpolation, (3) by Himself.


For the witness of the Father to the Son, see on 5:37.

19. ποῦ ἐστιν ὁ πατήρ σου; This is the rejoinder of the Jewish objectors. They understand that by ὁ πατήρ (v. 16) Jesus means God the Father, and they do not ask “Who is He?” But they say “Where is He?” This second Witness, of whom Jesus had spoken, is not visible, and therefore (according to the Rabbinical doctrine of evidence) no appeal can be made to Him.

The answer of Jesus is, in effect, that their ignorance is invincible. God cannot, of course, be perceived by the senses. He is appealing to the witness of One whom no man can see.

οὔτε ἐμὲ οἴδατε οὔτε τὸν πατέρα μου. There is no inconsistency with 7:28 κἀμὲ οἴδατε, for there Jesus speaks only of the Jews’ knowledge of Him as man, and of the family at Nazareth; here He speaks of their ignorance of His true Personality, which is Divine (cf. v. 14). Being ignorant of this, and therefore of His relation to the Father, they betray ignorance also of the Father Himself. Cf. οὐκ ἐγνώκατε αὐτόν (v. 55), and οὐκ ἔγνωσαν τὸν πατέρα οὐδὲ ἐμέ (16:3). See Matthew 11:27, Luke 10:22.


εἰ ἐμὲ ᾔδειτε, καὶ τὸν πατέρα μου ἄν ᾔδειτε. This principle is repeated 14:7, εἰ ἐγνώκειτέ με, καὶ τὸν πατέρα μου ἄν ᾔδειτε (cf. 12:45 and 14:9), and it is deep rooted in the Fourth Gospel. Jesus came to reveal the Father, not only by His words but by His life.

Note that εἰ ἐμὲ ᾔδειτε of this verse is replaced by εἰ ἐγνώκειτέ με at 14:7, showing what precarious ground we are on when an attempt is made to distinguish οἶδα from γιγνώσκω (see on 1:26).

20. ταῦτα τὰ ῥήματα. Emphatic, and therefore placed at the beginning of the sentence.

ἐλάλησεν ἐν τῷ γαζοφυλακίῳ. The γαζοφυλάκιον was the name for the treasure-chamber of the Temple (cf. Mark 12:41, Luke 21:1, and 2 Macc. 3:6, 4:42). It abutted on the Court of the Women, and against its walls were placed chests, trumpet-like in form, as receptacles for the offerings of the worshippers. It is not probable that Jesus was teaching within a treasure-chamber, and so it seems that ἐν should be taken as denoting proximity only, “near the treasury” (cf. ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θεοῦ, Romans 8:34). Hence ἐν τῷ γαζοφυλακίῳ διδάσκων ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ means “teaching in the Temple precincts (see on 2:14) near the treasury chamber,” i.e. in the colonnade between it and the open court (cf. Mark 12:41). The hall where the Sanhedrim met was hard by, and probably within earshot of the place where Jesus was teaching.


καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐπίασεν αὐτόν κτλ., “and yet” (καί being used for καίτοι, as often in Jn.; see on 1:10) “no man took Him, because His hour was not yet come.” This is almost verbally repeated from 7:30, where see note. For οὔπω ἐληλύθει ἡ ὤρα αὐτοῦ, see also on 2:4.

Jesus Develops His Lofty Claims: Some of the Jews Who Hear Believe (vv. 21-30)

21. The occasion of the discourse which follows is not mentioned. It may be a continuation of what precedes (see on v. 26), and if so οὖν may be causative, having reference to the fact that Jesus had not been arrested (v. 20; cf. 7:33). But perhaps οὖν is used as a mere conjunction (see on 1:22), and πάλιν only marks (as in v. 12) the beginning of a new discourse. It is not possible to assign every discourse in Jn. to its original occasion; and one of the many rearrangements of the Gospel (that of F. W. Lewis) would place 8:21-59 after 7:52. Ver. 21 reproduces, though not verbally, the warning of 7:33, 34, and its last clause is addressed in identical terms to the disciples at 13:33 (where see note). But πάλιν is not to be taken as an allusion to the repetition of 7:34; as has been said, it may only mark the opening of a new discourse or paragraph (v. 12, 10:7; and see on 1:35).

εἶπεν οὖν πάλιν αὐτοῖς. NΓΔΘ add ὁ Ἰησοῦς (from 7:33), but om. אBDLTW.

ἐγὼ ὑπάγω. For this verb and its usage in Jn., see on 7:33. “I go away,” sc. to God.

καὶ ζητήσετέ με. As in 7:34, this is the search of despair; they will seek Jesus as their Messiah, when it is too late. καὶ οὐκ εὑρήσετέ με is added by a few manuscripts from 7:34, where it is part of the text; but it is implied in any case.

καὶ ἐν τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ ὑμῶν�Ezekiel 3:18, Ezekiel 18:18, and especially Proverbs 24:9


ὅπου ἐγὼ ὑπάγω ὑμεῖς οὐ δύνασθε ἐλθεῖν, “whither I go ye cannot come”: this is repeated verbally at 13:33, where it is addressed to the disciples. Cf. 7:34, where the same thing (in substance) was said to the Jews, and see the note there.

22. ἔλεγον οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι, sc. the Jewish objectors.

μήτι�

23. καὶ ἔλεγεν. The rec. has εἶπεν, but אBDLNTWΘ have the imperfect ἔλεγεν, which suggests that what follows was a habitual saying of Jesus. He leaves their taunt unanswered, but adds that His origin and natural home were different from the origin and home of “the Jews.” It was not surprising that they did not understand Him when He said that He was moving to a region where they could not follow. Cf. Matthew 6:21.

ὑμεῖς ἐκ τῶν κάτω ἐστέ, “You are from beneath,” i.e. “of the earth.” Cf. ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς κάτω (Acts 2:19). κάτω does not occur again in Jn. (but cf. 8:8).


ἐγὼ ἐκ τῶν ἄνω εἰμί. The contrast is the same as that of 3:31. The implied argument, sc. that the Jews’ failure of understanding has its root in moral causes, has met us before (5:38f., 7:17f.), and is repeated 8:42.

ὑμεῖς ἐκ τούτου τοῦ κόσμου ἐστέ. BT give the emphatic τούτου τοῦ κόσμου here, but the more usual τοῦ κόσμου τούτου in the second clause of the verse (so W in both clauses). אDLΓΔ give τοῦ κόσμου τούτου in both clauses, and ὁ κόσμος οὗτος is the order in every other N.T. passage where the expression occurs. So, too, we always find ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος (except Matthew 12:32).

The idea of imperfection which the word κόσμος, the totality of created being, suggests in Jn. has been noted on 1:9. This idea is specially brought out in the phrase ὁ κόσμος οὗτος. When thus limited, the word does not embrace any plane of creation other than that of earth (11:9), and “this world” is contrasted with the spiritual or heavenly world, as being in a special degree affected by evil powers (16:11) and as awaiting the Judgment (9:39, 12:31). The kingdom of Jesus is not of “this world” (18:36), from which He passed after His Passion (13:1). It is the place of our earthly discipline (1 John 4:17), in which he who hates his life shall keep it to life eternal (12:25). The phrase occurs with a like hint of evil, 1 Corinthians 3:19, 1 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 7:31.1 Corinthians 7:1

So here it is said of the Jews ὑμεῖς ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου ἐστέ. Cf. for the same construction εἶναι ἐκ, 1 John 4:5 αὐτοὶ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου εἰσί.


ἐγὼ (emphatic) οὐκ εἰμὶ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου. Cf. 17:14, 16. It is the perpetual theme of the Fourth Gospel that He who was not “of the world” came “into the world” for its rescue.

24. εἰπον οὖν ὑμῖν, sc. at v. 21, where see note.

ἀποθανεῖσθε ἐν ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ὑμῶν, the singular τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ being changed to the plural. To this no significance is to be attached, as when phrases are repeated in Jn., there are generally slight verbal alterations (see on 3:16).

ἐὰν γὰρ μὴ πιστεύσητε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι,�Isaiah 43:10 ἳνα πιστεύσητε … ὃτι ἐγώ εἰμι (see on v. 18). Jesus had uttered His message; henceforth they had no excuse for their sin (15:22).


25. ἔλεγον οὖν αὐτῷ Σὺ τίς εἶ; The Jews are puzzled by the last words of Jesus. They sounded like the Divine proclamations in the prophetical books. Who is this, that says I AM ? And they ask Him, “Who art Thou?” (cf. 1:19). But He gives no direct or simple answer (cf. 19:9). Cf. 10:24 for a similar question, and a similar indirectness of reply.

τὴν�

τὴν�1 John 1:1 and passim). In the LXX τὴν�Genesis 43:20, Daniel 9:21 (LXX), and Daniel 8:1 (Theod.)—which is a sound classical construction. (Cf. Herod. viii. 132 ἐόντες�

The R.V. margin treats the sentence as a question, and for the relative ὃ τι substitutes ὃτι. Thus τὴν�Mark 9:19, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you!” But it is difficult to connect a rebuke of this kind with the words which immediately follow in v. 26, πολλὰ ἔχω περὶ ὑμῶν λαλεῖν.

The Latin and Syriac vss. take the sentence as affirmative, not as interrogative; and herein they are probably right. But neither can be followed in detail. Syr. sin. gives “The chief is that I should speak myself with you, seeing that I have much that I should speak concerning you and judge”; but this provides no answer to the question “Who art thou?” Some O.L. texts give “initium quod et loquor uobis,” i.e. “I am the Beginning (cf. Revelation 21:6), that which I am saying to you”; but τὴν�


We come back to the rendering, “Primarily, I am what I am telling you,” as the least open to objection of the many renderings that have been offered of this difficult passage. τὴν�

To speak εἰς τὸν κόσμον is a constr. that is not found again in Jn.; but cf. 1 Corinthians 14:9 εἰς�Mark 13:10 εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη δεῖ κηρυχθῆναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον.


ταῦτα λαλῶ. So אBDLNTWΔΘ, but minor uncials substitute λέγω for λαλῶ.

27. οὐκ ἔγνωσαν ὅτι τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῖς ἔλεγεν. This is one of the evangelist’s comments on his narrative (see Introd., p. xxxiv), and it seems to confirm what has been said on v. 25 about the Jews’ misunderstanding of the words of mystery which Jesus had uttered.

28. εἶπεν οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς, “Jesus therefore said,” sc. because of their misunderstanding. אDNΓΔΘ add αὐτοῖς, but om. BLTW; אD further add πάλιν.

ὅταν ὑψώσητε τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ�John 12:32. In the present passage ὑψοῦν must relate to the lifting up on the Cross, and not to the “lifting up” of the Ascension, for the latter was not in any sense the act of the Jews, as the Crucifixion was (cf. Acts 3:14).


For the title “the Son of Man,” see Introd., p. cxxxi.

τότε γνώσεσθε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι, “then ye shall know that I am (the Son of Man),” the predicate of ἐγώ εἰμι being understood from the preceding clause of the sentence. Otherwise, we must take ἐγώ εἰμι as used absolutely, as in v. 24 (cf. 8:58, 13:19), the phrase being then identical with the self-designation of Yahweh in the prophets, אֲנִי־הוּא “I (am) He” (see Introd., p. cxx). On either interpretation, the style of the sentence is that of Divine proclamations: cf. Ezekiel 11:10 ἐπιγνώσεσθε ὅτι ἐγὼ κύριος.


Too late, the pressure of facts, the fall of Jerusalem and the like, would convince them of the truth of His words: “cognoscetis ex re, quod nunc ex uerbo non creditis” (Bengel). This, rather than the conviction of sin wrought by the Holy Spirit (16:8f.), seems to be the force of τότε γνώσεσθε.

ὅτι governs not only ἐγώ εἰμι, but also the next clause�

29. καὶ ὁ πέμψας με (see on 3:17 for the mission of the Son) μετʼ ἐμοῦ ἐστιν κτλ. This has already been said at v. 16, ὅτι μόνος οὐκ εἰμί,�Acts 10:38), for all through Jn. the ineffable union of the Son with the Father is behind the narrative (cf. 10:38).


οὐκ�

ὅτι is causal, “because I do the things pleasing to Him.” Thus at 15:10 Jesus tells His disciples that by keeping His commandments they will abide in His love, even as He by keeping His Father’s commandments abides in the Father’s love. The adj.�1 John 3:22, and there, as here, of doing the things that are pleasing to God, i.e. of keeping His commandments. See, for a similar use of�Exodus 15:26, Wisd. 9:18, Isaiah 38:3.


For the thought that the continual aim of Jesus was to do the will of the Father, cf. 4:34, 5:30, 6:38. Here He claims always (πάντοτε) to do that which is pleasing to the Father, a claim which implies a consciousness of sinlessness (cf. v. 46 below).

The language of Ignatius (Magn. 8), ὃς κατὰ πάντα εὐηρέστησεν τῷ πέμψαντι αὐτόν, seems to rest on this verse.

30. ταῦτα αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος, “As He was saying these things.” The gen. absolute is infrequent in Jn., partly because of his fondness for parataxis; he never uses it in his report of the words of Jesus.

πολλοι ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτόν. For this favourite phrase of Jn., see on 4:39, where (as here) belief in Christ is due to what He said rather than to the “signs” which He wrought. Those who “believed in Him ” were fewer in number than those who “believed Him”—a larger body who are addressed in the next verse, and of whom some, as the sequel shows, soon began to cavil at His teaching.

Jesus Tells the Jews Who are Inclined to Believe Him, that Truth Would Emancipate Them from the Slavery of Sin (vv. 31-34)

31. ἔλεγεν οὖν … πρὸς τοὺς πεπιστευκότας αὐτῷ Ἰουδαίους, “So He began to say to the Jews that believed Him,” i.e. those who had been impressed by His recent utterances (but cf. vv. 33 and 40). πιστεύειν followed by a dative does not represent so high a degree of faith as πιστεύειν εἴς τινα; but it indicates a stage on the way to discipleship. You must believe what a man says before you can believe in him. For the constr. πιστεύειν εἴς τινα, see on 1:12; and cf. the note at 6:30 on πιστεύειν τινί. For the constr. ἔλεγεν πρός τινα, see on 2:3.

ἐὰν ὑμεῖς μείνητε ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῷ ἐμῷ κτλ. Cf. 2 John 1:9, where we have μὴ μένων ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ τοῦ Χριστοῦ θεὸν οὐκ ἔχει. In v. 37 and at 5:38 a different metaphor is employed, sc. that of the λόγος of God abiding in the believer. But (see on 5:38) the two expressions “abiding in His word” and “His word abiding in us” come to the same thing. See also on 6:56, 15:7.


ἀληθῶς μαθηταί μού ἐστε. This is the highest rank among Christians, sc. those who have reached the stage of discipleship. See on 15:8, where this is repeated.

32. καὶ γνώσεσθε τὴν�

Σπέρμα Ἀβραάμ ἐσμεν (cf. Psalms 105:6, Isaiah 41:8). This was the proudest boast of the Jews, that they were the heirs of the covenant with Abraham, because of their direct descent from him. Cf. Genesis 22:17, Luke 1:55.


καὶ οὐδενὶ δεδολεύκαμεν πώποτε. This was, of course, not true. The captivity in Babylon was only one instance of the contrary; and they were under the yoke of Rome even while they were speaking. But they would not admit, even to themselves, that they were not a free people. They were not bondslaves (ο͂εδουλεύκαμεν), indeed, but Jesus had not used the word δοῦλος yet. Their petulant retort really marked the uneasy consciousness that they were not as free as they would like to be: “How sayest thou, Ye shall become free men?”

34.�

πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν means (as it does 1 John 3:4, 1 John 3:8) “every one who lives in the practice of sin,” just as ὁ ποιῶν τὴν�

The Hebrews regarded sin in the light of violation of God’s law, rather than as a state of slavery. This latter doctrine is Greek rather than Hebrew; it is not often expressed by Greek writers so clearly as by Xenophon: ὅστις οὖν ἄρχεται ὑπὸ τῶν διὰ τοῦ σώματος ἡδονῶν, καὶ διὰ ταύτας μὴ δύναται πράττειν τὰ βέλτιστα, νομίζεις τοῦτον ἐλεύθερον εἶναι; Ἥκιστα, ἔφη (Memorab. iv. 5. 3). Cf. Œconom. i. § 22. Paul has the same idea when he speaks of sinners as δοῦλοι τῆς ἁμαρτἴας (Romans 6:17, Romans 6:20), but it does not appear elsewhere in his epistles. He dwells often on the freedom of the Christian from the yoke of the Jewish law (Galatians 5:1, Galatians 5:13), but that is a different conception. In 2 Peter 2:19 we have the phrase δοῦλοι τῆς φθορᾶς, which is parallel to δοῦλοι τῆς ἁμαρτίας. But it is remarkable that the idea of sin as a master which makes slaves of men is found in the N.T. only here, and at Romans 6:17, Romans 6:20, 2 Peter 2:19. It is not quite apposite to cite James 1:25, James 1:2:12, 2 Corinthians 3:17, which express the principle that the Christian law is a law of liberty.


Jesus Tells the Jews that They are Only Slaves Without Tenure in the Household of God: They are Not True Sons of Abraham, for They Try to Kill Him: Their Father is the Devil. It is Just Because They Have Not God for Their Father that They Will Not Believe Jesus, Who Offers Them Eternal Life (vv. 35-51)

35. In the report of this discourse, there is at this point a sudden change of metaphor. In v. 34 the δοῦλος is the slave of sin (or of the devil); but in v. 35 a contrast is drawn between the positions of the δοῦλος and the υἱός in a household presided over by its rightful master. A slave may be cast out at any moment; he has no covenant with his master. But if the heir emancipates him from his state of serfdom, sc. to his lawful master, he becomes a free man and obtains a footing in the house comparable to that of a son. This seems to be the trend of the argument, but it involves a transition from a particular conception of the δοῦλος to a quite different conception.

ὁ δὲ δοῦλος οὐ μένει ἐν τῇ οἰκία εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. The slave has no tenure. The story of Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 21:10) suggests itself, but it is not clear that Jn. intends any allusion to it, or to Paul’s use of it (Galatians 4:30). If a slave offends his master, he is liable to expulsion from the household. This seems to be meant as a warning to the Jews, who are really slaves because of their sins, that they have no fixed tenure in the household of God (cf. 4:53 for οἰκία as equivalent to “a household”).

ὁ υἱὸς μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. A similar contrast between the slave and the son appears Hebrews 3:5, where (quoting Numbers 12:7) Moses is described as a faithful servant (θεράπων) in the house (οἶκος) of God, but Christ as the Son of that house. For the οἰκία of the Father, cf. 14:2; and for the permanence of a son’s tenure in his father’s house, cf. Luke 15:31: τέκνον, σὺ πάντοτε μετʼ ἐμοῦ εἶ. For the phrase εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα in Jn., see on 4:14.

The last clause, ὁ υἱὸς μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, is omitted by אWΓ 33 124 and in the quotation of the passage by Clem. Alex. (see on v. 34). But the omissions here and in the preceding verse only serve to show that the difficulties of the argument were felt by scribes and exegetes alike. It is possible that the whole of v. 35 is an early gloss, brought in from familiarity with such passages as Galatians 4:30, Hebrews 3:5.

36. ἐὰν οὖν ὁ υἱὸς ὑμᾶς ἐλευθερώσῃ κτλ. If v. 35 is part of the original text, then this sentence has in view the fact that the son and heir had a special privilege in the emancipation of his father’s slaves. Cf. Galatians 5:1. But if v. 35 may be treated as a gloss, then v. 36 relates itself naturally to v. 34: “You are the slaves of sin; but if the Son (ὁ υἱός used absolutely, as at 3:35) make you free (cf. v. 32), you will be free indeed.” What the Son does will be ratified by the Father.

ἐλεύθερος, ἐλευθεροῦν, do not occur elsewhere in Jn., and in the Synoptists only at Matthew 17:26 do we find ἐλεύθερος. ὄντως is not used elsewhere by Jn.


37. οἶδα ὅτι σπέρμα Ἀβραάμ ἐστε κτλ., “I know that you are of the stock of Abraham, but, despite that, you are the slaves of sin, for you seek to kill me, my word not being operative in you.” This seems to be the sequence of the argument. The metaphor that they are the slaves of sin and need emancipation is now dropped; and Jesus tells them in the verses which follow that, sinners as they are, it is the devil who is their spiritual father.

ἀλλὰ ζητεῖτέ με�

39. ὁ πατὴρ ἡμῶν Ἀβραάμ ἐστιν, “Our father is Abraham.” They repeat what they have said before (v. 33). It was true, in so far as their physical pedigree was concerned; but Jesus tells them that they are not true sons of Abraham if their conduct is unlike his. His reply is almost in the words used by Paul οὐδʼ ὅτι εἰσὶν σπέρμα Ἀβραάμ, πάντες τέκνα (Romans 9:7). He had admitted (v. 37) that they were σπέρμα Ἀβραάμ, but this natural descent did not, by itself, guarantee all the privileges which belong to the τέκνα who are Abraham’s true heirs (cf. Galatians 3:7, Galatians 3:9).


εἰ τέκνα τοῦ Ἀβραάμ ἐστε, τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ ποιεῖτε. “If you are Abraham’s children, do Abraham’s works,” ποιεῖτε being imperative.

ποιεῖτε, although only read by B, is probably the true reading,1 and should be rendered in the imperative mood, with Syr. sin. ἐποιεῖτε ἄν (W omits ἄν) is read by אcCLNW; but this requires the rec. ἦτε instead of ἐστέ in the first clause, while ἐστέ is read by אBDLT.

40. νῦν δέ, “but as things are,” ζητεῖτέ με�

ἄνθρωπον. A difficulty has been found in the use of this word as applied (here only) to Himself by Jesus. Nowhere else in the N.T. is He described as “a man,” for Rom. v. 15 and 1 Timothy 2:5 both imply that He was ἄνθρωπος in a unique sense. Cf. Acts 2:22, Acts 17:31, where He is spoken of as�


ἥν ἤκουσα παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ. This is the perpetual teaching of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel, sc. that His words reveal the mind of the Father, who taught them to Him; cf. v. 26 and the references given in the note at that place.

τοῦτο Ἀβραὰμ οὐκ ἐποίησεν. Abraham welcomed the heavenly messengers (Genesis 18:3); he did not seek to kill them.


41. Paulatim procedit castigatio is the comment of Grotius on the severe denunciation which follows.

ὑμεῖς ποιεῖτε τὰ ἔργα τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν. “You,” with emphasis, “do the works of your father,” sc. the devil, although that is not yet said explicitly.

The Jews still misapprehend what is meant. They say, first, that if it is being suggested that they are not the legitimate descendants of Abraham and Sarah, it is not true; and secondly, that if it is spiritual and not physical descent that is in question, then their Father is God. The sentence is very much compressed.

ἡμεῖς ἐκ πορνείας οὐκ ἐγεννήθημεν (so BD*; οὐ γεγεννήμεθα is the rec. reading with אcCD2NWΓΔΘ). It has been held by some expositors, both ancient and modern, that the Jewish disputants mean to affirm by these words the legitimacy of the spiritual relation of Israel to Yahweh. See on 1:12 for the conception of Israel as Yahweh’s wife, and Israelites as His children, in contradistinction to the heathen or Samaritans. Idolatry was fornication, and those who went after other gods were τέκνα πορνείας (Hosea 2:4). This is a possible interpretation of ἐκ πορνείας οὐκ ἐγεννήθημεν, and accords well with what follows; but it is simpler to take the words literally and to regard them as a reaffirmation of σπέρμα Ἀβραάμ ἐσμεν … ὁ πατὴρ ἡμῶν Ἀβραάμ ἐστιν (vv. 33, 39), “we were not begotten of fornication” (see on 1:13).

ἕνα πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν θεόν. As for spiritual parentage, it was a fundamental and often expressed principle of the Israelites that Yahweh was their Father; cf. Exodus 4:22, Deuteronomy 32:6, Isaiah 63:16, Isaiah 64:8. This is a wholly different figure from that of Israel as Yahweh’s wife, and it is difficult to believe that there is a sudden transition from the one figure to the other, as we must suppose if ἡμεῖς ἐκ πορνείας οὐκ ἐγεννήθημεν is to be interpreted of spiritual fornication, i.e. idolatry.


The sentence “We have one Father, even God,” is, then, not to be taken in strict connexion with what immediately precedes. It is a new plea, put forward for the Jewish disputants, who are beginning to understand that Jesus has been speaking of spiritual, not natural, parentage.

42. The rec. adds οὖν after εἶπεν, with אDΔ; om. BCLNTWΓΘ.

εἰ ὁ θεός κτλ., “If God were your Father, you would love me.” This is the same argument as that in 1 John 5:1, 1 John 5:2, sc. “If you were the children of God, you would love God, and, as whoever loves a father loves his son, therefore you would love Jesus, His Son.” The Jews have turned the argument, so that now spiritual fatherhood is in question, and Jesus shows them what the consequences of this spiritual fatherhood must be.


ἐγὼ γὰρ ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐξῆλθον, sc. “for I, even I who speak to you (ἐγώ being emphatic), came forth from God,” i.e. in the Incarnation. ἐκ θεοῦ is a phrase that has found a place in the Nicene Creed; while as early as 196 b.c. Ptolemy Epiphanes was described as ὑπάρχων θεὸς ἐκ θεοῦ καὶ θεᾶς.1

Attempts have been made to distinguish ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ (cf. 16:28) and�

καὶ ἥκω (cf. 1 John 5:20). The present tense is emphatic, “and I am here.”


οὐδὲ γὰρ�

44. ὑμεῖς (an emphatic beginning) ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστέ κτλ., “You are of your father, the devil.” Similar language is ascribed to Jesus Matthew 13:38, Matthew 23:15.

The sentence would admit of the translation, “You are of the father of the devil”; and Hilgenfeld, with some other critics, have found here a trace of Gnostic doctrine. According to the Ophites, Ialdabaoth, the God of the Jews, was the father of the serpent (Iren. Hœr. I. xxx. 6, 10). But such a notion is not relevant to this context, the evangelist representing Jesus as telling the Jews plainly for the first time that they are the devil’s children, a climax of denunciation to which the preceding verses have led up. Closely parallel in language and in thought 1 John 3:8 ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστίν, ὅτι�


For the constr. εἶναι ἐκ, see on v. 23 above.

καὶ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν θέλετε ποιεῖν, “And your will is to do the lusts of your father,” θέλετε indicating a settled purpose of will.

ἀνθρωποκτόνος occurs elsewhere in the Greek Bible only at 1 John 3:15. In the Apostolic Constitutions (VIII. vii. 5) the devil is alluded to as ὁ�

That he was “a murderer from the beginning” is probably a reference to the Jewish doctrine that death was a consequence of the Fall, which was due to the devil’s prompting; cf. Wisd. 2:24 φθόνῳ δὲ διαβόλου θάνατος εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον, and see Romans 5:12.�1 John 3:8 (quoted above); cf. Ecclesiastes 3:11, Matthew 19:4. See on 15:27.

The allusion, however, may be to the murder of Abel by Cain. At 1 John 3:12 we have Κάϊν ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ ἦν καὶ ἔσφαξε τὸν�


Whatever be the precise reference of the words ἐκεῖνος�

ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν�Genesis 3:4), which led to sin and death.

For the phrase “the truth is not in him (us),” cf. 1 John 1:8, 1 John 2:4 and 1 Macc. 7:18.

ὅταν λαλῇ τὸ ψεῦδος, ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων λαλεῖ. It is the devil’s nature to be false; “when he tells a lie, he speaks out of his own inmost being”: cf. Matthew 12:34 ἐκ τοῦ περισσεύματος τῆς καρδίας τὸ στόμα λαλεῖ. Much stress is laid in Jn. on the repeated assurance of Jesus, ἐγὼ ὲξ ἐμαυτοῦ οὐκ ἐλάλησα (12:49; and see on 7:17). His words always express the mind of God; while the devil’s words only express his own false nature. In contradistinction to this, it is said (16:13) that the Holy Spirit will lead into all truth, because “He will not speak of Himself �

ὅτι ψεύστης ἐστὶν καὶ ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ. Jn. uses the word ψεύστης frequently (8:55, 1 John 1:10, 1 John 1:2:4, 22, 1 John 1:4:20, 1 John 1:5:10), just because he dwells on the significance of�


Westcott would render the sentence differently, sc. “Whenever a man speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for his father also is a liar.” But it is difficult to supply a new subject to the verb, between ὅταν and λαλῇ.1 The point is not that the Jews have been lying, for they have not been charged with lying up to this point (cf. v. 55), but that they are following the promptings of their father the devil, who is both a murderer and a liar, in seeking to kill Jesus. And this leads up naturally to the next verse. They are trusting to the promptings of a liar, but they will not trust Jesus who tells them the truth. Indeed, it is because He speaks the truth that His words are unwelcome, for His hearers are spiritual sons of one in whom the truth is not.

45. ἐγὼ δὲ ὅτι τὴν�

46. τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν ἐλέγχει με περὶ ἁμαρτίας; No answer to this challenge is recorded. Probably no answer was attempted. His hearers did not understand, of course, that Jesus was literally χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας (Hebrews 4:15); but they could prove nothing to the contrary, and they knew it. The phrase ἐλέγχειν περὶ ἁμαρτίας occurs again 16:8, where see note.


After a pause, as we may suppose, Jesus then resumes the argument, “If I tell the truth (and none of you has accused me of being a liar), why do you not believe me?”

47. ὁ ὢν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ, i.e. the true child of God: cf. 1 John 3:10, 1 John 3:4:6, 1 John 3:5:19, 3 John 1:11, and see on ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγεννήθησαν (1:13).


τὰ ῥήματα τοῦ θεοῦ. For this phrase, see on 3:34.

The principle that it is only the true child of God who can hear God’s words is frequently stated in Jn.; see on 7:17 and on 8:43 above. The man who is not “of God” is not in spiritual affinity with Divine things, and does not catch the sound of the Divine voice. As has been pointed out already (see on 3:8, 5:37),�1 John 4:6 the distinction between the man who is, and the man who is not, ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ is that the former understands the apostolic teaching �


For the constr. διὰ τοῦτο, relating to what follows, see on 5:16.

ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ οὐκ ἐστέ. We should expect οὐκ ἐστέ to precede ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ (as at 10:26), but emphasis is gained by altering the order of the words from that in the first clause of the verse.

48. οὐ καλῶς λέγομεν ἡμεῖς κτλ., the emphasis resting on ἡμεῖς: “We are right, after all.” For καλῶς λέγειν, cf. 4:17, 13:13.

Σαμαρείτης εἶ σύ. For Σαμαρείτης, cf. 4:9, 39. Jesus had been combating their claim to be the true children of Abraham (vv. 39, 40), and had thus challenged their boasted spiritual privileges. This was a principal point with the Samaritans, who would never allow that the Jews had any exclusive right to the promises made to Abraham and his seed. And so, observing, as they thought, that Jesus agreed with their despised Samaritan neighbours, they said contemptuously, “You, after all, are only a Samaritan.” The position of σύ at the end of the sentence is emphatic.

καὶ δαιμόνιον ἕχεις. This had been said before (7:20, where see note) by the people, and it was said again (10:20). The Jewish disputants say it here, with a touch of contempt: “You must be mad, or you would not talk in this way.” There may be an allusion to the charge recorded by the Synoptists (Mark 3:22) as having been made against Jesus by scribes from Jerusalem, that “He casts out demons by the prince of demons”; but the emphasis laid in Jn. on demoniac possession is always in connexion with the dementia which was supposed to be its consequence (see Introd., p. clxxvii). It is not put forward in Jn. (either at 7:20 or 10:20) as a sign of wickedness, which is implied in Mark 3:22.


49. Jesus does not take any notice of the imputation, “You are a Samaritan.” That was not so offensive to Him as it was intended to be, for He looked to the day when the rivalries between Jews and Samaritans would disappear (4:21). His reply is mild and calm: “I am not mad.” His claim to be God’s messenger and to speak with a delegated authority (v. 42) did not arise out of a disordered brain, but from His fixed purpose of “honouring His Father,” τιμῶ τὸν πατέρα μου. Cf. 7:18 ὁ ζητῶν τὴν δόξαν τοῦ πέμψαντος αὐτόν. For ὁ πατήρ μου, see on 2:16.

His Jewish adversaries, on the other hand, had been insulting, ὑμεῖς�

ἐάν τις τὸν ἐμὸν λόγον κτλ. So אBCDLW; the rec., with NO, has τὸν λόγον τὸν ἐμόν (from v. 43). “To keep the word” of Christ or of God (τὸν λογὸν τηρεῖν) is a characteristic phrase in Jn.; cf. vv. 52, 55, 14:23, 24, 15:20, 17:6, 1 John 2:5. It is practically identical in meaning with τηρεῖν τὰς ἐντολὰς τὰς ἐμάς (see on 14:21; and cf. Introd., p. lxvii). Cf. 5:24, where he who “hears” and “believes” is promised eternal life; and see 11:26, 12:47.

The phrase “shall never see death” is a Hebraism for “shall never die.” See on 3:3 for ἰδεῖν, used as θεωρεῖν (see on 2:23) is used here, in the sense of “participate in” or “have experience of.” “To see death,” meaning “to die,” is found Psalms 89:48, Luke 2:26, Hebrews 11:5. The promise given here is not, of course, one of exemption from the death of the body, which is not in question. But the man who “keeps the word” of Christ has eternal life already. See 14:23.


To the Jews’ Suggestion that Jesus is Not as Great as Abraham Was, Despite His Claims, He Replies that He Was in Existence Before Abraham (vv. 52-58)

52. אBCWΘ omit the rec. οὖν (so N) after εἶπαν.

For οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι (cf. vv. 22, 31, 48, 57), see on 1:19. They misunderstood the meaning of Christ`s saying, interpreting it of exemption from physical death. They thought He was mad: νῦν ἐγνώκαμεν, “now we are sure,” ὅτι δαιμόνιον ἔχεις. Cf. v. 48.

Abraham and the prophets had “kept the word” of Yahweh, and yet they had died (cf. Zechariah 1:5). Was Jesus really claiming to be greater than Yahweh? Was His word more powerful? He ventured to say ἐάν τις τὸν λόγον μου τηρήσῃ, οὐ μὴ γεύσηται (the rec. has γεύσεται, but with insufficient support) θανάτου εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.

γευεῖν θανάτου, “to taste of death,” means “to die,” and is used of the death of Jesus Himself at Hebrews 2:9. Cf. for the same usage Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27, Luke 9:2 Esd. 6:26. The phrase is a Hebrew one, although not found in the O.T., and Wetstein (on Matthew 16:28) has collected some instances of its use in the Talmud. By pressing the distinction between θεωρεῖν θάνατον in v. 51 and γευεῖν θανάτου in v. 52, it has been inferred that Jn.’s report makes the Jews deliberately misquote what Jesus had said; but this is not probable. That they misunderstood it is certain.

In a saying of Jesus among the Oxyrhynchus Papyri1 (about 280 a.d.) there is found, as restored by the editors: [πᾶς ὅστις] ἂν τῶν λόγων τούτ[ων�John 8:52, and in any case οὐ μὴ γεύσηται provides a parallel.


53. μὴ σὺ μείζων εἶ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἀβραάμ; Cf. the similar question at 4:12.

ὅστις�1 John 1:2) and ὅτι. How could Jesus claim exemption from death for those who kept His word, when the saints of old, Abraham and the prophets, had died like every one else?


τίνα σεαυτὸν ποιεῖς; They are beginning to suspect that His claims are blasphemous, an accusation which has not yet been made in this discourse. Cf. 5:18, 10:33, 19:7. Who does He really claim to be? As usual, Jesus gives no explicit answer to this question; but, having first defended Himself again in reply to the charge of undue self-assertion (vv. 54, 55), He makes a statement which implies that He is greater than Abraham (v. 56).

54. ἐὰν ἐγὼ δοξάσω (so א*BC*DW, as against δοξάζω of LN and the rec. text) ἐμαυτόν, ἡ δόξα μου οὐδέν ἐστιν. Cf. v. 50 and 5:31, 41, 7:18. In all these passages δόξα signifies honour (see on 1:14), and the contrast is between the δόξα that men can bestow and that which comes from God.

ἔστιν ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ δοξάζων με, “it really is (ἔστιν being placed first for emphasis) my Father who honours me”; i.e. primarily by the honour given to Him in the power to do divine acts, which is a form of the Father’s “witness” (5:31, 36), but more generally the reference is to the honour and glory of His mission (3:16, 17) throughout His Incarnate Life, although this the Jews could not recognise. See on 17:22; and cf. 2 Peter 1:17, λαβὼν παρὰ θεοῦ πατρὸς τιμὴν καὶ δόξαν, referring to the Voice at the Transfiguration. See also on 1:14.


ὃν ὑμεῖς λέγετε (cf. 10:36 for constr.) ὅτι θεὸς ὑμῶν ἐστιν. So they had said (v. 41). This is, for the first time, an explicit identification by Jesus of ὁ πατήρ μου with the God of Israel.

For ὑμῶν (אB*D, with the rec. text), AB2CLNWΔΘ have ἡμῶν, ὅτι then being recitantis. The Coptic Q omits any possessive pronoun before “God.”

55. καὶ οὐκ ἐγνώκατε αὐτόν. So at 16:3; and cf. 1:10, 17:23, 25, 1 John 3:1, 1 John 3:6. The verb οἶδα is used in similar contexts 7:28 (where see note) 8:19, 15:21. Although the Jews claimed God as their Father (v. 41), they did not know Him.


ἐγὼ δὲ οἶδα αὐτόν. Cf. 7:29 ἐγὼ οἶδα αὐτὸν ὅτι παρʼ αὐτοῦ εἰμι, and for the same claim, the verb γινώσκω being used, cf. 10:15, 17:25. See note on 1:26.

This unique knowledge of the Father, Jesus could not disclaim without denying the validity of His mission: ἔσομαι ὅμοιος ὑμῖν ψεύστης. He had not yet directly accused the Jewish objectors of lying, but He had told them that they were the children of the devil, who is the father of lies (v. 44).

ὅμοιος ὑμῖν. So ABDWΘ. ὑμῶν is read by אCLNΓΔ (cf. Job 35:8), which would be doubtful Greek.


τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ τηρῶ. See on v. 51 above.

56. Jesus now explains that He is truly “greater” than Abraham (cf. v. 53).

Ἀβραὰμ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ἠγαλλιάσατο (exultauit, cf. 5:35) ἵνα εἴδῃ (this is the reading of אAB*) τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ἐμήν, i.e. probably the day of Christ’s birth or appearance in the flesh (cf. Job 3:1). “The days of the Son of Man” (Luke 17:22, Luke 17:26) was the Rabbinical description of the Messianic age generally.

The moment in Abraham’s life to which reference is made is not certain. Many expositors have referred to Genesis 17:17, where Abraham “laughed” at the idea of Sarah becoming “a mother of nations,” but this was the laughter of incredulity. That Abraham “received the promises” is noted at Hebrews 11:17, and it is probable that the Rabbinical idea was that Abraham had welcomed the implicit promise that Messiah should be born of his seed, in which all nations were to be blessed (Genesis 12:3, quoted Galatians 3:8 as Messianic). Westcott quotes a Jewish tradition (Bereshith, R 44) that Abraham saw the whole history of his descendants in the vision of Genesis 15:6f., when he “rejoiced with the joy of the law.” With this agrees 2 Esd. 3:14, “Abraham … thou lovedst, and unto him only thou shewedst the end of the times secretly by night.”1


The constr. ἠγαλλιάσατο2 ἵνα εἴδῃ seems to mean “exulted in the anticipation of seeing,” which is not far removed from “desired to see”; and this rendering is adopted several times in the Latin version of Origen (Lommatzsch, vi. 38, ix. 145, xiv. 425; cited by Abbott, Diat. 2688), and also appears in the Syriac commentary of Isho’dad, which embodies much early material. We should expect an infinitive instead of ἵνα εἴδῃ, but ἵνα cannot be judged incorrect. Milligan1 cites from a third-century papyrus ἐχάρην ἵνα σὲ�

πεντήκοντα ἔτη οὔπω ἔχεις. Chrysostom reads τεσσαράκοντα, but this is plainly due to an attempt to reconcile the statement with such passages as Luke 3:23. At fifty years of age, the Levites were superannuated from further service (Numbers 4:3), and all that the sentence means is, “You are not yet an old man.” Irenæus, however, resting his argument on this passage, concludes that Jesus was not far short of fifty years of age at the conclusion of His earthly ministry (Hær. II. xxii. 6), and that therefore its duration exceeded the single year which the Synoptists suggest.


58.�

πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι ἐγὼ εἰμί, i.e. “before Abraham came into being, I AM.” The contrast between the verbs γίγνεσθαι and εἶναι is as unmistakable as it is in Psalms 90:2, πρὸ τοῦ ὄρη γενηθῆναι …�Colossians 1:17 for this absolute use of εἶναι; see also on 1:1. It has been pointed out already (see Introd., p. cxxi) that ἐγὼ εἰμί used absolutely, where no predicate is expressed or implied, is the equivalent of the solemn אֲנִי־הוּא, I (am) He, which is the self-designation of Yahweh in the prophets. A similar use of the phrase is found at 13:19. It is clear that Jn. means to represent Jesus as thus claiming for Himself the timeless being of Deity, as distinct from the temporal existence of man. This is the teaching of the Prologue to the Gospel about Jesus (1:1, 18); but here (and at 13:19) Jesus Himself is reported as having said I (am) He, which is a definite assertion of His Godhead, and was so understood by the Jews. They had listened to His argument up to this point; but they could bear with it no longer. These words of mystery were rank blasphemy (see 10:33), and they proceeded to stone Him.


For other occurrences in Jn. of ἐγὼ εἰμί without a predicate following, see 6:20, 9:9, 18:6, as well as vv. 24, 28 of the present chapter.

The Angry People Would Stone Jesus, But He Escapes from Them into Hiding (V. 59)

59. ἦραν οὖν λίθους κτλ. So again at 10:31-33, when He said “I and the Father are One,” the Jews attempted to stone Him for blasphemy. The Temple was not finished, and stones were lying about its courts (cf. Mark 13:1); Josephus (Antt. XVII. ix. 3) gives an account of the stoning of soldiers in the Temple precincts.


Ἰησοῦς δὲ ἐκρύβη, “But He hid Himself,” as again at 12:36.

After ἱεροῦ the rec. text (so NΘcorr) adds διελθὼν διὰ μέσου αὐτῶν (from Luke 4:30) καὶ παρῆγεν οὕτως, probably suggesting that the escape of Jesus from the angry Jews was miraculous. But of this there is no trace in the true text, ending with ἱεροῦ, which is supported by אBDWΘ* latt sah arm. The words παρῆγεν οὕτω are added in the rec. text to the interpolation from Luke 4:30, in order to introduce c. 9.


See 10:39, where Jesus again escapes from the hostile Jews.







אԠSinaiticus (δ 2). Leningrad. iv.

B Vaticanus (δ 1). Rome. Cent. iv.

N Purpureus Petropolitanus (ε 19). Dispersed through the libraries of Leningrad, Patmos, Rome, Vienna, and British Museum. vi. Some pages are missing. Edited by H. S. Cronin in Cambridge Texts and Studies (1899).

T Borgianus (ε 5). Rome. v. Græco-Sahidic. Contains cc. 6:28-67 7:6-8:31.

W Freer (ε 014). Washington. iv-vi. Discovered in Egypt in 1906. The Gospels are in the order Mt., Jn., Lk., Mk. Collation in The Washington MS. of the Four Gospels, by H. A. Sanders (1912).

Θ̠Koridethi (ε 050). Tiflis. vii-ix. Discovered at Koridethi, in Russian territory, and edited by Beermann & Gregory (Leipzig, 1913). The text is akin to that of fam. 13, fam. 1, and the cursives 28, 565, 700 See Lake and Blake in Harvard Theol. Review (July 1923) and Streeter, The Four Gospels. Cf. also J.T.S. Oct. 1915, April and July 1925.

L Regius (ε 56). Paris. viii. Cc. 15:2-20 21:15-25 are missing.

Δ̠Sangallensis (ε 76). St. Gall. ix-x. Græco-Latin.

C Ephræmi (δ 3). Paris. v. Palimpsest. Contains considerable fragments of Jn.

D Bezæ (δ 5). Cambridge. v-vi. Græco-Latin. Cc. 18:14-20:13 are missing in the Greek text, and the gap has been filled by a ninth-century scribe (Dsupp).

1 See Conybeare, D.B. i. 154; and Burkitt, Two Lectures on the Gospels, p. 88.

2 Perhaps Seeley’s comment hits on the truth: “He was seized with an intolerable sense of shame. He could not meet the eye of the crowd, or of the accusers, and perhaps at that moment least of all of the woman. … In His burning embarrassment and confusion He stooped down so as to hide His face, and began writing with His fingers on the ground” (Ecce Homo, c. ix.).

1 See Gwynn. Trans. R.I. Acad. xvii. p. 292.

Bernard, J. H. (1929). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Gospel according to St. John. Paged continuously. (A. H. McNeile, Ed.) (2:715-721). New York: C. Scribner' Sons.

1 For the section 7:53-8:11, see the notes at the end of this volume on the Pericope de Adultera.

2 Strayer (J.T.S., 1900, p. 138) argues that the imagery was suggested by the Feast of Dedication or τὰ Φῶτα (10:22), in connexion with which he puts this discourse.

1 Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr., iii. 330.

2 This majestic claim is weakened in the form in which it appears in the Acts of John (§ 95): λύχνος εἰμί σοι τῷ βλέποντί με.

3 Westcott quotes from Buxtorf a sentence from the Jerusalem Talmud (Shabb. c. 2) to the effect that “the first Adam was the light of the world”; but the parallelism seems to be only verbal. Indeed, the Hebrews had not any clear idea of the κόσμος as an ordered universe of being.

4 Abbott (Diat. 1748; cf. 435) urges that Mt.’s report must be wrong, and that what Jesus really said was, “Ye have the Light of the World.” But there is no evidence for this, nor would it suit the context, Matthew 5:13-16.


אԠSinaiticus (δ 2). Leningrad. iv.

B Vaticanus (δ 1). Rome. Cent. iv.

D Bezæ (δ 5). Cambridge. v-vi. Græco-Latin. Cc. 18:14-20:13 are missing in the Greek text, and the gap has been filled by a ninth-century scribe (Dsupp).

N Purpureus Petropolitanus (ε 19). Dispersed through the libraries of Leningrad, Patmos, Rome, Vienna, and British Museum. vi. Some pages are missing. Edited by H. S. Cronin in Cambridge Texts and Studies (1899).

T Borgianus (ε 5). Rome. v. Græco-Sahidic. Contains cc. 6:28-67 7:6-8:31.

L Regius (ε 56). Paris. viii. Cc. 15:2-20 21:15-25 are missing.

W Freer (ε 014). Washington. iv-vi. Discovered in Egypt in 1906. The Gospels are in the order Mt., Jn., Lk., Mk. Collation in The Washington MS. of the Four Gospels, by H. A. Sanders (1912).

Θ̠Koridethi (ε 050). Tiflis. vii-ix. Discovered at Koridethi, in Russian territory, and edited by Beermann & Gregory (Leipzig, 1913). The text is akin to that of fam. 13, fam. 1, and the cursives 28, 565, 700 See Lake and Blake in Harvard Theol. Review (July 1923) and Streeter, The Four Gospels. Cf. also J.T.S. Oct. 1915, April and July 1925.

1 Cf. Introd., p. cx.

Γ̠(ε 70) Oxford and Leningrad. ix-x. Contains Song of Solomon 1:1-13 8:3-15:24 19:6 to end.


Δ̠Sangallensis (ε 76). St. Gall. ix-x. Græco-Latin.

Diat. E. A. Abbott’s Diatessarica, including his Johannine Vocabulary and Johannine Grammar, Parts I.-X. (1900-1915).

1 See also McNeile in Cambridge Biblical Essays, p. 242.

1 Cf. Hobhouse, The Church and the World, p. 352, Note D.

1 In the passage from Alciphron (Ep. iii. 7) quoted by Field in support of this rendering, χωρεῖν is used transitively, and so the passage does not provide a parallel.

2 Dr. L. C. Purser has pointed out this passage to me.

C Ephræmi (δ 3). Paris. v. Palimpsest. Contains considerable fragments of Jn.

1 Origen has it frequently (Comm. in Joann. 308, 313, 316, 317, etc.; but he has ἤτε … ἐποιειτε, 104).

1 See on 1:14.

1 i.e. on the Rosetta Stone; see Moulton-Milligan, Vocab. of N.T., s.v. ἐκ.

1 Westcott’s rendering was suggested by Middleton (On the Greek Article, ed. 1808, p. 362), who mentions an emendation τις for τό before ψεῦδος, which would remove the difficulty about the subject of the verb.

1 New Sayings of Jesus, ed. B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt (1904), p. 12.

A Alexandrinus (δ 4). British Museum. v. Cc. 6:50-8:52 are missing.

1 Cf. a fanciful version of a similar idea in the Testament of Abraham, § ix. (A).

2 F. H. Chase (J.T.S., July 1925, p. 381) suggested that ἠγαλλιάσατε may be a primitive error for ἠγωνίσατο (cf. 18:36).

1 Vocab., s.v. ἵνα.

2 Evang. Nicodemi, II. ii (18).

1 Dr. L. C. Purser has pointed out to me a striking passage in Plutarch (De Ei apud Delphos, c. 20, p. 393) where εἶναι is similarly used for the timeless existence of Deity, being contrasted with γίγνεσθαι: Ἀλλʼ ἔστιν ὁ θεὸς … καὶ ἔστι κατʼ οὐδένα χρόνον�

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Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on John 8". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/john-8.html. 1896-1924.