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Monday, June 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
John 8

Harvey's Notes on the Gospel of JohnHarvey's Notes on John

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Verse 1

John 8:1

He went to the Mount of Olives for the night. Jesus might have been lodging at Lazarus’ house which was in Bethany on the eastern side of the mountain (Matthew 21:17, Mark 11:1, Luke 19:29, John 11:1). Bethany was not far from Jerusalem (John 11:18). It was only fifteen furlongs away. A furlong is six hundred feet. G4712 Fifteen furlongs would be nine thousand feet or slightly over 1.7 miles. With Bethany not even two miles from Jerusalem, Jesus had a history of retreating to Bethany rather than spending His nights in the city of David (Mark 11:11, John 18:2).

He could have also been spending the night in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36, Mark 14:32) which was on the other side of the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39-40). Gethsemane was another place Jesus would often resort to (John 18:2). Interestingly, the word Gethsemane means “oil press G1068.” Olives would be pressed to extract olive oil. Olive oil was the base for the holy anointing oil (Exodus 30:22-25), which was a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Exodus 30:31-33). On the night of Jesus’ arrest, He was pressed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44), and we were able to receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21, Hebrews 1:9, 1 John 2:27).

Truly, the Holy Bible is deep and profound. Surely, there could never have been anyone other than God able to inspire such a rich and intricate fabric of wisdom and truth (Psalms 119:160, 1 Peter 1:24-25).

Verse 2

John 8:2

The “early in the morning” phrase is from the Greek word orthros G3722, which means, “dawn (as sun-rise, rising of light).” So, Jesus came to the temple at daybreak. Look at our Lord and see how He would want to use all available time well.

As soon as the people noticed Him, they gathered around Him. Jesus could have spent the precious time He had left enjoying thrilling adventures and seeing the sights of interest, but He chose instead to invest the time in people interested in His teachings. So the day begins, and the scene opens, with the Son of God sitting with common man and taking the time to teach him of heavenly things.

Verse 3

John 8:3

About the “scribes:”

There were no printing presses or Bible bookstores. To get copies of the scriptures, the scrolls had to be copied by hand. It was an occupation, and those employed to do it were called “scribes.” Historically, scribes were closely affiliated with the priests (2 Samuel 8:17, 2 Samuel 20:25, 2 Kings 12:10, Nehemiah 13:13). Additionally, scribes were teachers of the people (Matthew 7:29). Since they copied the scriptures, the scribes were very familiar with them. Scribes were held in high esteem (Mark 12:38, Luke 20:46), and they had authority (Acts 6:12). The scribes had influence among the people, and Jesus would need to address their behaviors and attitudes.

About the “Pharisees G5330:”

Pharisee means “separatists,” from the word parash H6567, which means to separate. Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion, and his separatist views must have comfortably agreed with revelations he was subsequently given by the Holy Spirit such as, 1 Corinthians 5:13, 1 Corinthians 5:11, 2 Corinthians 6:17, Ephesians 5:10-11, Romans 16:17, and 2 Thessalonians 3:6. The Pharisees were evangelistic, and they would seek to make converts to their interpretation of scripture (Matthew 23:15). They taught about the law and Godly things, but they were more focused on outward signs of what they viewed as righteousness rather than the inward condition of the heart (Matthew 23:23-27). A Pharisee would think he was better than anybody else (Matthew 23:5-6, Luke 18:11). The Pharisees were also a political party and a force within the governmental system of the Israelites (Matthew 12:14, Mark 3:6). They sought to protect the Law from corruption and misinterpretation, and they tried to correct Jesus on several occasions regarding His violations, as they saw it, of the Law (Matthew 9:11, Matthew 12:1-2, Matthew 12:10, Luke 6:7, John 9:16).

So, here we have two groups of people known for their knowledge of the scriptures and their commitments to keep the Law of Moses unaffected by new thinking or changed in any way. They were, if looked at by today’s standards, preachers. They were religious leaders that oversaw religious goings on in the places of worship. They were the pastors of Jesus’ day. However, this scene took place not in a courtroom but in the courts of God’s temple. These preachers were acting like both police and prosecutors.

The scribes and Pharisees behaved as though they were prosecutors that had a suspect and all the evidence they needed to have her convicted according to the law. On the other side of the scene, we have Jesus whose very purpose was to fulfill the Law and save mankind (Matthew 5:17); the one thing the Law could never do (Acts 13:39, Romans 8:3). The Law accuses (Romans 3:20, Romans 7:9, 1 Corinthians 15:56, 1 John 3:4)- Jesus saves (John 3:14-17, Romans 8:2, Galatians 4:4-5).

The tranquil scene of a teacher with His class (John 8:2) had been turned into that of a court room. On one side is the prosecution spouting violated law. On the other side, there was the defense. In this trial though the defense is argued by the Law giver Himself, and how can anyone stand against His pure logic and reasoning?

Verse 4

John 8:4

“The very act,” they said, as if to emphasize what she was caught doing. Not that they heard of her eating the cookie only, or that they merely saw the crumbs (the left over evidence), but she was caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar. They had her “dead to rights.” They were saying, “The prosecution rests.” Now it was the defense’s turn.

Verse 5

John 8:5

They used the Law found in Deuteronomy 22:21-24 to condemn her. Interestingly, the Law they referenced called for them both (her and the man) to be stoned. Where was he? Why wasn’t the man she had been caught with drug into this court and thrown before God and accused in front of all the people?

She had broken the Law. The Law said that she should die. The accusers asked, “What do you say?” If Jesus said, “Stone her,” it would seem as though he was overstepping his role as a teacher and stepping into the ancient role of the Israelite Judges of old. If he said, “Let her go,” he would appear to be lax and soft on moral corruption and sin and thus promote a climate of lawlessness. They believed they had him in a no-win situation. Yes, what would he say?

They don’t get it. God is right in front of them. They missed the awe, because they were focusing on the Law. Don’t miss the awe of God right where you are either. Is there a law that you’ve submitted yourself to that has stolen your focus away from the Fulfiller of the Law? Keep your eyes upon Jesus. Your efforts to do anything but trust Him are useless to save you or give you righteousness (Galatians 2:21, Galatians 3:21-22, Philippians 3:9).

Verse 6

John 8:6

The Jews (see notes on John 1:19) were trying to trap Jesus into saying something worthy of death, so they could justify killing Him (see notes on John 5:12), but Jesus didn’t say anything. He didn’t respond right away at all. The disciples must have become anxiously disturbed by his silence. “Say something,” they must have thought. “Why doesn’t He say something? He’s usually very good in situations like this. This is a tough one though. Maybe He’s stuck. Maybe, He doesn’t know what to say.

When we are personally struggling for answers, we can feel the need to hear from God. Sometimes though, our answer from God is in His silence. Learn to be still (Psalms 4:4, Psalms 46:10, Psalms 84:4) and trust Him (Proverbs 3:5).

Don’t fail to notice that Jesus would go down into the dirt and draw in the sand. Yet He is God, and He suffered Himself to be made dirty, He who is perfectly clean and without blemish (1 Peter 1:19, 1 John 1:5).

Verse 7

John 8:7

They didn’t ask only once. Upon realizing that Jesus was choosing to ignore their query in favor of doodling in the dirt, “they continued asking Him.” How frustrating it must have been to have made a perfectly good and cogent argument based in the Law (see notes on John 8:5) only to have the effort fall on what appears to be deaf ears (John 8:6). “Perhaps,” they must have thought, “we should repeat the question.” Still, there was no answer. “What do you say?” they insisted.

“He lifted up himself,” -- a picture of the crucifixion. He would be lifted up on the cross and redeem the lost, as this woman surely was, from their sins (John 3:14-15, John 8:28, John 12:32). She didn’t deserve it. I didn’t deserve it. You didn’t deserve it either.

Why do we cast stones of condemnation at others? We have our own sins. Let each person have grace enough to seek God’s forgiveness without the judgmentalism rooted in self-righteousness and pride. How beautiful this challenge from our Lord. No one is perfect (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 3:19-23). We all need grace (Romans 3:9, Romans 11:32, Galatians 3:22, 1 John 1:8-10).

Verse 8

John 8:8

Jesus was continually willing to stoop down to where people were hurting (see notes on John 8:6 and John 13:5). This woman was wounded in her sins and sitting there in the dirt of the floor full of pain and guilt and regret and fear. Jesus got down where she was. She was dirty in her sinful nature, and He made Himself dirty in the same environment as she found herself. It was what He did at the cross.

Think of it. The very finger of God that had written the Law on the tablets of stone before the eyes of Moses (Exodus 31:18), now clothed in flesh and blood, writes again. Moses saw God’s finger write the Law in stone that it might be given to those made of dust (Genesis 3:19) to help the people see what was the will of God (Exodus 24:12, Deuteronomy 4:14). This time the finger is in dust confronting those that used the Law to twist and thwart the will of God.

The ways of God are beautiful and artistic and poetic and philosophically deep. How incredible it must have been to witness such a display of humility and grace. Let us even now be blessed to see God’s mercy through John’s eyes.

Verse 9

John 8:9

The word “conscience” is used thirty one times in our Bible (all New Testament) and here are the verses (John 8:9, Acts 23:1, Acts 24:16, Romans 2:15, Romans 9:1, Romans 13:5, 1 Corinthians 8:7, 1 Corinthians 8:10, 1 Corinthians 8:12, 1 Corinthians 10:25, 1 Corinthians 10:27-29, 2 Corinthians 1:12, 2 Corinthians 4:2, 1 Timothy 1:5, 1 Timothy 1:19, 1 Timothy 3:9, 1 Timothy 4:2, 2 Timothy 1:3, Titus 1:15, Hebrews 9:9, Hebrews 9:14, Hebrews 10:2, Hebrews 10:22, Hebrews 13:18, 1 Peter 2:19, 1 Peter 3:16, 1 Peter 3:21). It was used once in the plural (2 Corinthians 5:11).

This verse is the first time “conscience” was used, although the concept was referred to in the Old Testament (Genesis 42:21, Ecclesiastes 7:22).

What a perfect example of conscience. It is the picture of our Lord with the Scribes and Pharisees when the woman caught in adultery was accused before Jesus (John 8:3-5). Their conscience convicted them while they stood in the presence of God, having heard from God Himself, while God wrote the Word with His finger as He had done on Mount Sinai. Sure, they were convicted. Who wouldn’t be?

“Conscience” is from the Greek word suneidesis G4893, pronounced soon-i’-day-sis, and it means “co-perception, that is moral consciousness.” It is, “a prolonged form of suneido G4892, pronounced soon-i’-do, which means, “to see completely, to understand, to become aware, and to be conscious.”

Convicted comes from the Greek word elegcho G1651, pronounced el-eng’-kho, which means, “admonish... tell a fault, rebuke, reprove.”

So, our conscience communicates to us (or our spirit selves). It appears to be the middle ground between the Holy Spirit and our spirits. It is our spiritual nervous system, if you will. Our physical nerves tell us when something is hot and therefore will harm us. When we sense the possibility of burning our finger, we immediately pull it away from the source of danger. Likewise, our conscience warns us of spiritual harm. It doesn’t tell us when we might hurt ourselves, but rather when we are in danger of hurting our relationship with God.

The conscience isn’t merely a mental aspect of our makeup, because we see in Romans 2:15 and Titus 1:15 that the mind, heart and conscience are all separate things. A person can still act mentally and make decisions even while their conscience is dead or has been desensitized. So, the conscience has its own separate function in the soul (see notes on John 5:42), i.e., as a reinforcement of what is right. It is the “N” (signifying true north) on the moral compass we use to guide our actions in this life.

I believe its pull or force in our lives is in ratio to our relationship or closeness with the Lord. As our relationship with Him is developed, the more effect the conscience has in our spirits or the better or stronger our moral compasses becomes (1 Timothy 4:2, Romans 1:28, Ephesians 4:19). In 1 Corinthians 8:7, we see that the conscience can be either strong or weak. The synapse between the Holy Spirit and our spirits either functions well, or there is not a strong connection. A weak conscience is defiled (Titus 1:15), or doesn’t function as it should, and the connection between us and God is poor.

These men in the temple that day were religious folk. They were proud of their relationship with God. They knew the scriptures. They had invested a great deal of personal time in the pursuit of both knowing the Law and living it out in their everyday lives. Having perceived that their actions were in danger of hurting their relationship with God, they gave up the idea of stoning the woman and simply left the temple.

Interestingly, they left one at a time in order of age. This may be because the older you are, the more opportunity you’ve had to offend God. It is more likely though, since opportunity to sin isn’t dependent upon available time but rather on what one chooses to expose one’s self to, that the older devout Jews had exposed themselves to the scriptures to a greater degree and were more easily and quickly influenced by their conscience.

After everyone else had gone, Jesus was alone with the woman. Notice that somewhere between being sat down in John 8:3 and the end of this verse, the woman had stood up.

Verse 10

John 8:10

Jesus had been bent over, in some way or another, writing on the ground (John 8:8). John 8:6 in the KJV used the phrase “stooped down.” The whole advent of Christ on the Earth in human form was a stooping down. He had stooped to our level. Here He was, stooping again. This time Jesus stooped down to where a woman was. She had been caught “in the very act” of adultery (John 8:4). She was ripe with sin and the despair of her public shame. However, the spectacle had not caused the Lord to rise above it all in divine indifference to the flaw laden exhibition of her lust driven weakness. Instead, Jesus gets dirty too.

After all the plaintiffs leave, Jesus ceased His writing on the ground, and He stood up (John 12:32). Look at the image. He went to the ground. He arose. He freed the sinner and encouraged her to walk in newness of life (John 8:11). It is the same with every believer. In Christ alone, we should place our trust (Proverbs 3:5). It is only He and His resurrection power than can bring us up from the ground in which were too are buried and free us to walk according to the Spirit (Ezekiel 36:27, Romans 8:1, Romans 8:4, Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:25) as a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). Through Him, we that were once dead in sin are born again into everlasting life (John 3:14-17).

Verse 11

John 8:11

The crowd of her accusers had all left the area of the temple she and Jesus had been in (John 8:9), and they went to the Treasury (John 8:20). Jesus and the woman were now alone (John 8:10), and He spoke to her. His words challenged her to reassess her situation. Her circumstances only moments before had seemed hopeless. Her life choices had caught up with her, and she was humiliated and shamed. Jesus told her that He didn’t condemn her though, and He commanded her to stop sinning on purpose. She was free. She was saved. She had declared that Jesus is Lord.

I remember when I heard the voice of Jesus speak into my spirit words of life and hope. I too had humiliated and shamed myself, and those that cared about me, by my choices. I too had expected the stones of people’s disapproval to justly fling in my direction. It seemed I had very little hope, and I knew I deserved every wretched minute of my plight. But, Jesus didn’t condemn me. He spoke gently to me and called me back from the darkness and into His light. He didn’t slay me. He forgave me, and then He encouraged me to go on with my life. Praise God! Hallelujah!

Verse 12

John 8:12

The Scribes and Pharisees had gone into the Treasury area of the temple (John 8:20) and left Jesus and the woman alone (John 8:9). After setting the woman free (John 8:11), Jesus turned again His attention to the religious leaders. Since they had slipped into the Treasury, Jesus went into that area too and spoke with them.

He said that He is “the light of the world” (John 1:4-9, 1 John 1:5). If you want to rise up out of the dark tombs of your lives, follow Him. You who are dead in the darkness of your sins (John 12:46), He can make you alive and able to walk in the light (see notes on John 11:9).

Verse 13

John 8:13

Jesus claimed to be the “light of the world” (John 8:12). According to Mosaic Law, claims couldn’t be verified by only one person’s word (Deuteronomy 17:6). The Pharisees (see notes on John 8:3) argued that since He doesn’t have anyone else to back-up His claim, it can’t be verified and therefore could rightfully be rejected.

Verse 14

John 8:14

In John 8:14-18, Jesus gave His exceptions to the rule the religious leaders had referenced (John 8:13) regarding claims (see Deuteronomy 17:6):

· First, by virtue of Himself alone, He is reason enough to believe what He says, because He has knowledge they can’t possibly have (Luke 23:34, John 4:32, John 5:42, John 8:55, John 13:7).

· Secondly, we condemn people based on our mortal, physical and temporal concerns rather than forgive them as we have been forgiven (Matthew 18:23-35). The word “judge” in this passage is from the Greek word “krino G2919,” pronounced kree’-no, and it means, “by implication to try, condemn, punish.” He doesn’t condemn anyone (John 8:15), and the case in point shows that He didn’t condemn the adulterous woman that day either (John 8:11). Given that He is able to rise above our mortal limitations and love everybody equally, He has exhibited moral superiority and can therefore be trusted and believed.

· Third, not that He does condemn, but if He did condemn it would be righteous and just for Him to do so, because He only does what Father God sent Him to do (John 4:34, John 5:30, John 6:38). Additionally, He would have been fully within the Law, and His own standard of having no sin, to stone the woman earlier (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5).

· Finally, He is not alone in His claim, because the Father is with Him (John 8:29, John 10:30, John 16:32).

Verse 15

John 8:15

See notes on John 8:14.

Verse 16

John 8:16

See notes on John 5:31, John 8:14.

Verse 17

John 8:17

See notes on John 8:13-14.

Verse 18

John 8:18

See notes on John 8:14.

Verse 19

John 8:19

Jesus’ mortal father wasn’t there. Consequently, Jesus appeared to be relying on a back-up witness that wasn’t there to back up His claim (see notes on John 8:13-14) ... or so the Pharisees thought. However, He spoke of His Father in Heaven (John 14:7, John 15:24).

Verse 20

John 8:20

Convicted by their conscience, the Scribes and Pharisees left the area of the temple Jesus and the woman had remained in (John 8:9), and they went into the Treasury. After Jesus sent the woman away, He evidently also went into the Treasury where the religious leaders had retreated (John 8:11-12).

John added that no one tried to seize Jesus. It was as though the Jews (see notes on John 1:19) wanted to, but they were restrained. The Spirit restrained them, because there was more work yet to be done.

Verse 21

John 8:21

How horrible for them. Imagine the Lord God Almighty prophesying over you that you will not be allowed to go into Heaven. Jesus told them they would die without forgiveness of their sins, and sinful man cannot enter into Heaven (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 14:12, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, Revelation 21:8). The good news for us is ... we can be saved (John 3:15-17, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Timothy 1:15).

Verse 22

John 8:22

Notice how they seemed to have simply missed the part about them dying in their sins. Also notice how they automatically accepted that Jesus was talking about dying when He said, “I go my way.” They assumed however, since they think He’s talking about His own death, He planned to commit suicide. The Pharisees (see notes on John 8:3) believed in a spiritual life and the resurrection (Acts 23:8). Obviously, they thought they were going to heaven. So, if Jesus is talking about His own death, and He wouldn’t go to Heaven where they believed they will be, then He must be planning to commit suicide. The Pharisee believed, as do many in the Christian church, that those who commit suicide will not go to Heaven.

See notes on John 5:24 about spiritual life compared to physical life.

Verse 23

John 8:23

This verse does damage to the notion of some that there is a pre-life for all spirits. A pre-life existence would mean that we were in Heaven with God before we were put into a mortal body, but Jesus tells us in this verse that that is only true in His case. He, that is, His spirit, is from Heaven. We were always from this world. Our spirits were created and placed into our physical bodies here on Earth. Incredibly though, the Lord gives us, through Jesus, the opportunity to be with Him for eternity (John 14:6).

Verse 24

John 8:24

Jesus already said in John 3:14-17 that salvation from eternal death due to sin is available through Him to all those that believe. Believe what? That He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). In other words, believe in Him.

Verse 25

John 8:25

If by “from the beginning” He meant from the start of this conversation, He told them that He was the “light of the world” (John 8:12). He could have meant from the beginning of His ministry on Earth (John 3:19) or perhaps THE beginning (Genesis 1:3, John 1:1-5).

Verse 26

John 8:26

Jesus could spend a lot more time preaching to their cold sin-laden hearts, but His focus needed to be on the mission at hand, that is, to save the whole world. His ministry on Earth was to say and do only what the Father sent Him to say and do (John 5:19, John 12:49, John 14:10).

Verse 27

John 8:27

They must have wondered though who “him” is.

Verse 28

John 8:28

Not all of them had to wait until the crucifixion in order to understand, because some were converted as soon as He said these things (John 8:30). However, Jesus was prophesying here that upon seeing how He will conduct Himself on the cross, the Jews (see notes on John 1:19) will be able to see that what He is saying is true. Knowledge of truth though is still not enough reason to repent and believe. There must be a conversion. See notes on John 8:26.

Verse 29

John 8:29

The Father is always with Jesus (John 10:30, John 16:32), because Jesus is always faithful (Hebrews 11:6) to what the Father directs Him to do (John 4:34, John 5:19, John 5:30, John 6:38, John 12:49, John 14:10, John 17:8). God doesn’t leave Jesus, and the Lord will not leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6-8, 1 Samuel 12:22, Psalms 37:28, Isaiah 41:10, Hebrews 13:5). If we are without God, it is because we left Him through our lack of faith (Job 21:14, Job 22:17, Psalms 18:21, Jeremiah 17:5, Hebrews 3:12, Hebrews 10:38, Hebrews 12:25).

Verse 30

John 8:30

Remember that Jesus was speaking to the Scribes and Pharisees (John 8:3, John 8:13-14). He was speaking to the Jewish leadership (see notes on John 1:19), and “many” of the leaders were converted that day to belief in Jesus. However, it was difficult to show Christian belief openly in those days (John 7:13). Regardless of the consequences though, we mustn’t be ashamed to declare our faith in Him (Matthew 10:32-33) or His gospel (Romans 1:16, 2 Timothy 1:8).

Verse 31

John 8:31

Jesus spoke to these new believers (see notes on John 8:30), but really He was reaching through time and space to all those that believe. He told them and us to stay in the word. Read the scriptures. Learn of Him. One must renew their mind (Romans 12:2). We need to change our responses to things. We were once the servants of sin (John 8:34). We couldn’t help ourselves (Romans 7:14-15). We were in bondage to our sinful nature and lusts (Proverbs 5:22, Acts 8:23, Romans 6:6-23, Romans 7:14, Romans 7:25, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:3-6, 2 Peter 2:19, 1 John 3:8-9). Abiding in the word (see notes on John 15:3) reveals to us the truth about our slavery and defeat, and the word gives us the keys to freedom and victory (Acts 17:11, Romans 10:17, Galatians 5:1, Ephesians 5:26, Ephesians 6:17, Colossians 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Timothy 5:17, 2 Timothy 2:9, Hebrews 4:12, Hebrews 6:5, James 1:21-23, 1 Peter 1:23-25, 1 John 1:1, 1 John 2:14).

Verse 32

John 8:32

If we abide in His word (see notes on John 8:31, John 15:3) we abide with Jesus, and Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). Through His truth we find liberty (Psalms 119:45, Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18, Romans 8:21, 2 Corinthians 3:17, Galatians 5:1, Galatians 5:13, 2 Timothy 2:25-26, James 1:25, 1 Peter 2:16).

Verse 33

John 8:33

They were indeed blind. It is as though they had forgotten or refused to acknowledge that they were in bondage to Rome. Anyway, only moments before they believed on Him. Suddenly, because of a saying that is hard for them to understand, they question God.

Don’t be too hasty in judging them though. Many of us have done the same sort of thing. Many of us have encountered circumstances that were hard to understand and caused us to question the Lord. Still, their wavering faith in Jesus had historic underpinnings.

Note how they placed too much confidence in their station as the chosen people of God. It was as though they thought their sinfulness could be overlooked, because they were heirs of the promise to Abraham (Matthew 3:9, Luke 3:8). It was as though, regardless of their circumstances or place in their contemporary political structure, they were above it all. Their transcendence of the reality of their condition isn’t due to a sure faith in the Lord Himself, but in merely the covenant the Lord made with their ancestor. They believed they didn’t need a redeemer, because they already have through Abraham’s righteousness a “get out of jail free card.”

Verse 34

John 8:34

The Jews’ (see notes on John 1:19) faith seemed to be placed more in their standing with God as His chosen people than in God and their personal relationships with Him (see the notes on John 8:33).

Jesus set the record straight and clear. Your ancestor’s righteousness only gets you so far. It may entitle you, through the favor of the Lord, to certain blessings you otherwise don’t deserve (2 Kings 20:6), but ultimately everyone will have to stand before the judgment seat to answer for themselves (Ecclesiastes 12:14, 2 Corinthians 5:10). So, Jesus said, “whosoever.” That means ... everyone (Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12, James 3:2, 1 John 1:8-10). A sinner is a sinner whether Jew or gentile (Acts 10:34, Romans 3:23).

Once one sins, and it takes only once, he is enslaved to sin and captivated by a lust for more gratification. Only acceptance of what Christ did at the cross, and a submittal to Jesus as Lord, brings freedom from sin and its ultimate eternal consequences and ramifications (Isaiah 3:11, Ezekiel 18:4, Ezekiel 18:20, Genesis 3:19, Romans 6:23, Galatians 6:7-8, James 1:15).

Verse 35

John 8:35

Any servant serves at the will of the master. The relationship is not a permanently binding social contract, and the servant can be sent away or choose to leave the service. The servant is the servant only so long as the master retains the servant. However, a son has a lasting relationship with his father. The fatherson biological connection can’t be terminated by the will of the father or the son. Even if the relationship is severed, even if the son is sent away or chooses to leave, the son is still the genetic offspring of his father.

Jesus is not a servant to sin as we are (John 8:34), and He has more than a servantmaster relationship with God. He is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16). His connection with the Father is permanent.

Verse 36

John 8:36

Before becoming adopted children of God (Romans 8:15, Romans 8:23, Romans 9:3-5, Galatians 4:5, Ephesians 1:5), we were servants to sin (see notes on John 8:34, John 8:35). Jesus never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus is free from sin and enjoys full favor from the Father (Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22, 2 Peter 1:17). He has the authority and the right (Matthew 28:18, Luke 4:36, John 5:22, Ephesians 1:20-21), as the Son, to set the servant of sin free (Isaiah 61:1, John 17:2, 2 Peter 1:2-4). When Jesus sets us free from sin, we are free!

Verse 37

John 8:37

In one sentence Jesus summed up the dissatisfaction of God in the children of Israel. His people have put the word into their minds, and even on their bodies (Exodus 13:16, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Deuteronomy 11:18-21, Matthew 23:5), but they have not committed His word into their hearts. They have studied the Law, but they have missed the intent behind the Law (John 3:10, Matthew 23:23). God, and their relationship with God, has been reduced to legislative constructs forming mores that govern their everyday lives. However, they love their society more than they love their God, and they see no problem even killing anything that poses a threat to their way of life... even if it is God Himself.

Verse 38

John 8:38

Jesus told the Jews (see notes on John 1:19) that He said only what He has learned from His father (John 5:19, John 12:49-50, John 14:10), but they do what they have learned from their father (1 John 3:8-10). His father is God, the Father. Their father is the devil (John 8:44).

Verse 39

John 8:39

The Scribes and Pharisees (John 8:3) are indeed the descendants of Abraham by seed, but they have not inherited from Abraham his righteousness nor his love for God (John 8:37). They don’t act like Abraham. Abraham was a man of faith and believed God (Galatians 3:6-7). They act like they are the offspring of the devil (Matthew 13:38, John 8:44).

Verse 40

John 8:40

Jesus essentially told the Scribes and Pharisees (John 8:3) that he was not lying to them. Everything He had said to them was the truth. They may not have liked hearing it, but it was the truth. Abraham didn’t try to kill someone simply because that person told him a truth that was unpleasant to hear (Galatians 4:16), and the truth Jesus was telling them had come directly from God, the Father (see notes on John 8:38). Their actions and reactions didn’t match up with their spiritual heritage (John 8:39). They may have physically descended from Abraham, but, unlike their ancestor, they were spiritually lost (John 8:44).

Verse 41

John 8:41

By this statement, we see that the Jews (see notes on John 1:19) had come to understand that Jesus had been talking about spiritual fathers (see notes on John 8:40). They then sought to transcend Jesus’ example of Abraham as a spiritual father, since Abraham is a physical person, with their own rebuttal that they didn’t look at a man but to God Himself. They argued that they practiced their religion they received from God, and so they were legitimate offspring of their spiritual father, God, and they are not the illegitimate children of Abraham or any other man.

Verse 42

John 8:42

They escalated their argumentative premise to God Himself as their father (John 8:41). Jesus responded by returning to His original point (John 8:19) utilizing their new frame of the debate. If they were children of God, they would abide in God’s word and keep His commandments (John 15:6-7). Since Jesus is the word in the flesh (John 1:14), they would seek to abide with Him. Jesus is God and was from God (John 1:1-3). If they too were from God, their behavior would be different (see notes on John 8:40). If they were from God and loved God, they wouldn’t seek to kill Jesus (see notes on John 5:16, John 7:1, John 7:20, John 7:25); they would love Him. However, they do not love Jesus, so how can they say they love the one who sent Him?

Verse 43

John 8:43

Jesus asked the Scribes and Pharisees (John 8:3) a rhetorical question, “Why can’t you understand what I’m saying?” Then He gives the answer. They can’t receive His word, because it seems too foreign and strange to them (John 6:60). He brought words from God the Father (Deuteronomy 18:18, John 12:49-50), and they weren’t really from God as they supposed (John 8:47).

Verse 44

John 8:44

Ouch! They claimed to be children of God (John 8:41), but Jesus tells them that they acted like children of the devil. The devil is a liar, and the father of lies. Jesus adds, “… there is no truth in him.” When the devil lies, he simply is doing what has become natural for him. Besides being a liar, the devil is a murder, and they were seeking to kill Him (John 8:37).

Jesus had asked them to abide in His word (John 8:31), but the devil didn’t abide in the truth (“abode not”) and neither did they.

Verse 45

John 8:45

See notes on John 8:40, John 8:44.

Verse 46

John 8:46

Can anyone prove that Jesus had sinned? If He was therefore sinless, He must have been speaking the truth. If He told the truth and did not lie, why then did they not believe what He told them? Perhaps, they didn’t really hear and understand what He was saying (John 8:47).

Verse 47

John 8:47

Jesus had simply asked them to continue in His word (John 8:31) so that they might become free from their sinful nature (John 8:32), but they argued with Him about their nature. They contended that they weren’t inherently evil, because they are descendents of Abraham (John 8:39). This contention was escalated to a claim that they were actually children of God as well (John 8:41). Jesus pointedly informed them that they acted like children of neither Abraham (John 8:40) nor of God (John 8:42). They behaved like children of the devil (John 8:44-46). To finish His case, Jesus concluded in this verse that they won’t abide in His word, because they are not yet fully converted (Luke 22:32).

They may believe (John 8:30-31), but they still think like people conformed to the old covenant. They need their minds renewed (Romans 12:2). A believer in Jesus is one that puts complete trust in and full confidence in Jesus’ word (see notes on John 3:15). However, their initial belief turned into doubt, and they began to argue with God. Have you ever doubted God? Did you argue with Him? It is natural to doubt. Even people very close to God have doubts (Matthew 14:31). When you doubt God, don’t believe your doubts. Doubt can rob you of victory over the big obstacles in your life (Mark 11:23).

Verse 48

John 8:48

What happened to their belief (John 8:30)? The result of doubts unchecked can render the heart hardened against God. A God-defensive heart can find no fault in themselves or threat to themselves by accusing God. To call Him a Samaritan was to separate Him from the Jewish people (John 4:9), and make Him out to be less than they were. Besides the cut-down of not being one of them, they added that He must be possessed by a devil. See how sudden a heart softened by the truth can be rendered into stone because of doubt. See notes on John 8:47.

Verse 49

John 8:49

Notice that He didn’t even answer the accusation that He is a Samaritan. However, their suggestion that God can be controlled by the devil required a response. They dishonored Him, that is to say, they blasphemed Him. Jesus’ response is that by serving God it is obvious He isn’t controlled by God’s enemy (Matthew 12:25, Luke 11:17).

Verse 50

John 8:50

Jesus had said that His ministry is neither about Him nor from Him (John 5:19).

Verse 51

John 8:51

Jesus spoke of Spiritual death. See notes on John 5:24 about spiritual life compared to physical life.

Verse 52

John 8:52

The Jews (see notes on John 1:19) brought their case back to the accusation that Jesus must have a devil (John 8:48). How could any sane person claim their teachings could keep people from dying? However, Jesus’ proclamation was truthful and not demon inspired. Their thinking was limited into terms of physical life and physical death. Jesus’ doctrine transcended the natural boundaries of this temporal world. Jesus was speaking of spiritual death (see notes on John 5:24 about spiritual life compared to physical life). Those that follow Jesus will not taste of the second death (Revelation 21:8).

Verse 53

John 8:53

The Jews (see notes on John 1:19) were asking the same question the Samaritan woman at the well had asked (John 4:12). They thought Jesus was boasting and making Himself out to be greater than any man that has ever lived, and the children of Israel had some impressive people in their history. Although they misunderstood the point of spiritual life Jesus was making (see notes on John 8:52), they also were missing the significance (see notes on John 1:10, John 2:23, John 8:5) of Jesus’ stature among men (Luke 2:52). They were missing the awe.

Verse 54

John 8:54

Some people put forth the assertion that Jesus never actually claimed to be the Son of God. However, Jesus openly admitted that He is the Son of God (John 9:35-37, John 10:36). Jesus also acknowledged that He was the Messiah too (see notes on John 4:36, John 17:3).

Verse 55

John 8:55

The Jewish leaders believed they knew God and were from Him, but neither is true (see notes on John 8:39, John 8:42, John 8:44). If they were speaking the truth, they would keep God’s commandments as Jesus does (1 John 3:10, 3 John 1:11).

Verse 56

John 8:56

Here Jesus told us that Abraham was given a prophetic vision of the future how through his own seed the world would receive the Christ (Genesis 12:3, Galatians 3:8, Galatians 3:16), and it made Abraham exceedingly glad.

Verse 57

John 8:57

Jesus, in His low thirties at this point in His physical ministry, was obviously not in His fifties. By pointing out the obvious, they were scoffing at Jesus’ argument essentially saying Jesus’ statement is laughable. Abraham lived centuries before this discussion and had been dead long before the days of Jesus upon the Earth. However, although Jesus did see Abraham (John 8:58), He hadn’t yet said He saw Abraham. Even though many generations separated the time of Abraham and the time of Jesus, Jesus was saying that Abraham prophetically saw the time of Christ (John 8:56).

Interestingly, forty two generations had come and gone between the times of Abraham and Jesus (Matthew 1:17). There are Biblical students that believe a generation is forty years (Psalms 95:10). Others think that a Biblical generation is seventy years, because we are given seventy years to live (Psalms 90:10). The fact is; the length of a generation can vary, because some people live longer than other people, as in the genealogy of Jesus. The use of the word generation in Matthew 1:17 simply illustrates that each descendant came after his father.

The point of argument over lengths of generations ultimately rests in attempts to determine approximate dates or times associated with prophetic events. For example, Jesus said that the generation that sees the parable of the fig tree come to pass will also see the return of Christ (Matthew 24:30-35). If the fig tree is Israel, and Israel’s rebirth on May 14, 1948, is the fulfillment of the parable, then we are in the last generation. If that were true, it would be indeed interesting to nail down a length of time in a generation. However, we must also remember what Jesus said next ... only God the Father knows when Jesus will return (Matthew 24:36).

Generations have come and gone, and we don’t know how many are left yet to come. The unbelievers and misled religious people, like these Jews (see notes on John 1:19) who scoffed at even the true Christ, will scoff at us who follow Him (John 15:20). Ridicule from scoffers though is a sign that we are in the last days (2 Peter 3:3, Judges 1:18).

Verse 58

John 8:58

Jesus had never said He saw Abraham ... they had said that (John 8:56-57). However, Jesus takes their argument based in ridicule (see notes on John 8:57) and goes beyond even Abraham. He told them that He existed before Abraham.

“I am,” referred back to what the Lord called Himself when talking with Moses (Exodus 3:14). The Lord also used this term to Abraham (Genesis 15:1, Genesis 17:1). To the Jews (see notes on John 1:19), this was a bold-faced blasphemy.

Verse 59

John 8:59

Believing Jesus was guilty of a most grievous blasphemy (see notes on John 8:58), they felt compelled to stone Him to death. However, after taking their eyes off of Him long enough to gather the rocks, they couldn’t find Him. John told us, “Jesus hid himself.” We don’t know how He hid Himself, but it wasn’t by hiding in a secret place. Jesus wasn’t hiding somewhere, because He walked right through the middle of the crowd. Incredibly, He was hiding right before their eyes.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on John 8". "Harvey's Notes on the Gospel of John". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shj/john-8.html.
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