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

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

1 The Mount of Olives plays such a prominent part in the affairs of Palestine, especially in the time of Christ and the apostles, that I believe it will be well to quote from Smith's Bible Dictionary on the subject. "This mountain is the well-known eminence on the east of Jerusalem, intimately connected with some of the gravest events of the history of the Old Testament and the New Testament, the scene of the flight of David and the triumphal progress of the Son of David, of the idolatry of Solomon, and the agony and betrayal of Christ. It is a ridge of rather more than a mile in length, running in general direction north and south, covering the whole eastern side of the city . . . on the east the mount is close to the walls, parted only by the narrow ravine of the Kidron. It is the portion which is the real Mount of Olives of the history." The brief statement is made that Jesus went unto the mount of Olives, but in Luk 21:37 it is stated that "at night he went out" and abode there.

Verse 2

2 The people evidently understood where Jesus spent the nights, and that he would return in the morning. In the early morning the people were on hands to greet Jesus. He did not disappoint them, but sat down and taught them.

Verse 3

3 The Jewish leaders had made a number of unsuccessful attempts to entrap Jesus in his teaching. They concluded to try the plan of play ing upon his great compassionate nature, in the hopes of having him try to set aside one of the ordinances of Moses. They brought a woman who had been taken in the act of adultery and placed her in their midst.

Verse 4

4 Since the woman was taken in the act of adultery, they had the same chance of bringing the guilty man as they did the woman. The fact they did not is proof they were not concerned about the law of Moses. Lev 20:10 and Deu 22:22 is the law referred to, and it required that both the man and woman should be stoned. But they brought only the woman, because they thought the natural leniency of a man for the feminine sex would cause Jesus to set the law aside unconditionally.

Verse 5

5 The Pharisees made the correct interpretation of the law in the case, but their use of the word such condemned them, for that applied to both the man and woman. What sagest thou? This direct question was said in the tone of a challenge, thinking Jesus would say, "it would be harsh to stone a woman, so turn her loose." Such a statement would have furnished the Pharisees a pretext for accusations.

Verse 6

6 The inspired writer tells us these Jews said this to Jesus to tempt him. He knew all of that, and delayed giving them any answer at all. As though he heard them not. No one of these words is in the Greek text, but have been added by the King James translators as their comment on the action of Jesus in writing with his finger and saying nothing. He certainly did not pretend not to hear the accusers, for that would have been unreasonable for One who had been able even to read the minds of men before they said anything. My comment on the circumstance is that Jesus thereby showed his distaste for the whole thing. Another thing that was accomplished by ignoring them, was to force them to repeat their cowardly remarks, which would render their humiliation all the more evident when the time came. He finally stood before them and made a statement that must have surprised them. He did not advise releasing the woman (as they desired), neither did he give direct instruction to slay her. Another thing, even had Jesus directed that the woman should be stoned, they did not stop to think that they would have to be the executioners, having forgotten the stipulations in Deu 17:7. He that is without sin. This could not mean one who was absolutely sinless in every respect, for that requirement would have made it impossible for anyone to be punished, seeing their own Scriptures declare there is no man who "doeth good, and sinneth not" (Ecc 7:20). The only conclusion possible is that Jesus meant the one who casts the stone must be innocent of the sin for which he wished the woman to be slain. That doubtless put them out of the right to act, for Jesus hal called that generation of Jews an "adulterous" one (Mat 16:4).

Verse 7

8 Jesus placed the termination of the case at the feet of these hypocrites, then stooped down and resumed his writing to let them think upon the proposition.

Verse 9

9 Conscience is from SUNEI-DESIS, and the lexicons give a various description. The outstanding definition of the word as Thayer gives it is, "The soul as distinguishing between what is morally good and bad, prompting to do the former and shun the latter, commending the one, condemning the other." These accusers were convicted by their conscience, which means it condemned their own conduct. That was because they knew they had done that which was bad, and hence were not qualified to be the executioners of the law at hand. Went out means they left the temple where they had been in their pretended attempt to enforce the law, leaving Jesus and the woman yet together.

Verse 10

1 Jesus asked the woman if no man condemned her. This could not mean whether any man accused her, for they had already done that. The word is from KATAKRINO, and Thayer defines it, "To give judgment against one, to judge worthy of punishment, to condemn." Jesus did not excuse the woman's act, but he would not require that the ordinance be executed upon her. The accusers failed to execute it, which is what she meant when she said, No man, Lord. Jesus said, neither do I condemn thee, and immediately admonished her to sin no more. It was somewhat like a case where a judge hears evidence against a prisoner. He might consider all the facts in the case, and decide he would give him another chance. He would probably say, "I will let you off this time, but don't be guilty again." Another thing, the witnesses were the only ones who could lawfully execute this ordinance, and they had left the assembly. Jesus did not care to act the part of executioners, hence bade the woman go, giving her an admonition concerning her future conduct.

Verse 12

2 After disposing of the incident with which the Pharisees interrupted his main work, Jesus resumed his teaching pertaining to spiritual matters. When Jesus said I am the light of the world, he only repeated what John the Baptist said of him in chapter 1:6-9. Walking in this light means to conduct one's self according to the teaching that Jesus gives.

Verse 13

3 It is a commonly-accepted principle that one's personal testimony is lacking in force unless there is something or someone else to support it. The Pharisees knew this, and thought they could apply it to the assertion of Christ concerning himself.

Verse 14

4 Jesus did not call in question the rule to which they alluded, yet he maintained the truthfulness of his own testimony. He was speaking from personal experience and did not have to rely on other facts for its support. This truth gave Jesus a distinction above the situation of the Pharisees, for they did not have any "inside information" at all. But Jesus was soon to show that his own personal information was confirmed by that of another, and that therefore he was not alone.

Verse 15

5 Flesh is from SARX, which Thayer defines in this passage, "Man as he appears, such as he presents to view, man's external appearance and condition." No doubt the bodily appearance of Jesus was like that of the ordinary Jew, and the Pharisees classed him among the others on that account. Jesus did not judge any man on that basis, for he was able to see through the veil of flesh and read his mind.

Verse 16

6 Here Jesus states the reason for his assertion in verse 14 as to the assurance of his testimony, that it was verified by that of his Father. He testified to the divinity of his Son at the baptism (Mat 3:17), and also enabled him to perform miracles which no man could do on his own human strength.

Verse 17

7 Jesus often referred to the Old Testament for proof of his statements, because the Jews professed to have great respect for that document. (See the comments on chapter 5:39.) In our present verse they are reminded of an established rule concerning the force of testimony that their law contained. That rule is written in various places, and one outstanding passage is Deu 19:15.

Verse 18

8 Jesus and his Father would make two witnesses testifying to the same truth. According to the ordinance of their own document of law, that would establish the divinity of Jesus, the fact that was especially offensive to these Jews.

Verse 19

9 The Pharisees would not deny the principle that Jesus just uttered, but thought to weaken it by pretending to be unacquainted with one of his witnesses, hence they asked, where is thy Father? To know a person in the practical sense, meant to acknowledge him and give full consideration to all his claims. This the Pharisees refused to do with Jesus, consequently they did not know him nor his Father.

Verse 20

0 The treasury was one of the departments of the temple where the -people came who wished to make certain financial contributions. It would be where a great many could see and hear Jesus as he was teaching. That teaching did not suit many of them, but they kept hands off because his hour was not yet come. (See comments on chapter 7:30.)

Verse 21

1 I go my way refers to the return of Jesus to his Father. Shall seek me does not mean they will seek to find Jesus as their Saviour, for he did not intend ever to get out of reach of any man who was honestly disposed unto eternal life. It refers to the desire for the benefits that had been bestowed upon man while Jesus was in his personal ministry. (See the comments on Luk 17:22.) With only such a selfish motive for seeking Jesus, they would fail to find him and would die unsaved, which would make it impossible for them to go into his presence.

Verse 22

2 Will he kill himself? This was not said in seriousness, for had Jesus meant that, he would not have said they could not follow him; any man can commit suicide. They took this method of "changing the subject," for they knew Jesus had predicted his own death at the hands of the Jews, but they were unwilling to recognize their connection with the sad deed.

Verse 23

3 The human side of the person of Christ was from beneath, but otherwise he was from above the earth. This verse is another statement of the divinity of Jesus.

Verse 24

4 The thought in this verse is the same as that in chapter 3:16, for one must believe in the "Only Begotten Son of God" to have everlasting life. These Jews were persisting in their unbelief, hence Jesus warned them that they would die in their sins.

Verse 25

5 Who art thou? This question was asked in pretense of interest, for they had been told in plain terms about the personality of Jesus. He understood their motive, and only referred them to what he had said to them previously.

Verse 26

7 Jesus could have said many things truthfully against these Jews, that he knew from personal association among them; however, he was supported in all this by his Father. But the hardness of their hearts prevented the Jews from "catching on" to what Jesus meant.

Verse 28

8 This lifting up refers to the crucifixion, which Jesus had predicted in chapter 3:14. The fulfillment of that prediction, and the Gospel facts that immediately were to follow, would convince some of them that Jesus was a true prophet and teacher. Having proved that he was true, the people would have reason to believe that He was the one sent to the earth from God.

Verse 29

9 God was not with Jesus in person, but was in spirit, and gave evidence of it by supporting him in his great works. Jesus did not come into the world to do his own will, but, to do that of his Father. (See Heb 10:7.)

Verse 30

0 Many believed on him. The evident fairness of Jesus in leaving the truthfulness of his claims to rest on proposed facts to come, had its effect on some of the people, so that they professed confidence in it.

Verse 31

1 A mere profession of belief is not enough to satisfy the Lord. That profession must be followed up with adherence to his teaching.

Verse 32

2 This verse was still addressed to the believers directly, but it was in the hearing of all those present, so that its application was general.

Verse 33

3 They answered him. This means the ones who had not become believers. They interpreted the statement of Jesus to mean the bondage enforced upon people by man, in the social and political realm. But even from that standpoint, their claim was not correct if they were speaking of Abraham's descendants as a whole. They had spent four centuries in bondage in Egypt, and 70 years in captivity in Babylon.

Verse 34

4 Jesus explained that he was considering another kind of bondage. Servant is from a Greek word that means "slave." Many people who boast of their personal liberty, are slaves under the cruelest of all masters, that of sill.

Verse 35

5 Passing from the moral and spiritual phase of the subject, to the social and political for the purpose of illustration, Jesus shows these self-righteous Jews that they are detsined to be thrust out unless they change.

Verse 36

6 A favor backed up by a servant might be of short duration, for that servant could be put out of the household at any time, and hence that favor would go out also. But a son's place in a home is permanent, and favors brought about by him would be permanent also. That is why the favor of being made free would be lasting (free indeed) if the son had caused it to be given.

Verse 37

7 Jesus did not deny the fleshly relationship of these people to Abraham, but that did not excuse their resistance to his word. Instead, it should have inclined them to think favorably upon the teaching of Jesus, for Abraham had been informed of this very great seed of his, and his belief in that promise had obtained for him the title "friend of God" (Jas 2:23).

Verse 38

8 A rule is for a son to speak as his father speaks, and to walk in his footsteps. Jesus applied that rule to himself and to these self-important Jews.

Verse 39

9 Abraham is our Father. All that could be meant by this was their blood relationship to the patriarch. If ye were Abraham's children. In this phrase Jesus meant to question their true relation to Abraham in faithfulness. Had that been the case they would have shown those traits of the worthy ancestor.

Verse 40

0 These Jews had sought to kill Jesus for telling them the truth, which was something that Abraham would not have done. On that account, they were not worthy of being considered the children of Abraham.

Verse 41

1 The Jews would swing back and forth from one position to another, as they felt the need to keep up their defence. When they thought, it was to their credit to be the children of Abraham, they were inclined to boast of it. They knew that Jesus would not say anything against Abraham, yet he implied by this last statement that they were begotten of some unknown man; one among the morally promiscuous. Then they changed their base and denied any parentage but that of God.

Verse 42

2 Jesus made the same kind of reply to this claim that he did when they boasted of being children of Abraham (verse 39). Their conduct toward Jesus indicated they were not of God, for he was the Father of Christ whom they did not love.

Verse 43

3 As long as people are devoted to the devil (as these Jews were) they cannot hear (heed) the words of Christ. By the same token they would not understand his speech when he spoke to them upon the matters of correct living.

Verse 44

4 The Greek word for father is PATER, and it is used 417 times in the New Testament. The definitions are so numerous that lack of space forbids copying them all. The first definition of Thayer is, "Generator or male ancestor." As a secondary definition he gives, "The founder of a race or tribe, progenitor [ancestor in the line] of a people, forefather." In his comments or explanations of one of the secondary definitions, Thayer says, "The originator or transmitter of anything . . . one who has infused his own spirit into others, who actuates [causes to act] and governs their minds." The last sentence Thayer applies to the verse of this paragraph. That is true, for it was the spirit of the devil that caused Cain to slay his brother, then lie about it when he said he did not know where he was. It is the same spirit that has caused men to lie and commit murder all down through the centuries. Hence it was perfectly Just for Jesus to -call these wicked Jews the children of the devil.

Verse 45

5 This short verse is a logical deduction from the description of the devil as given in the preceding verse. The reason the Jews would not believe what Jesus told them was because it was the truth, for the devil does not want the truth, neither do his children who are following after his principles.

Verse 46

6 Convince is from a word that means to convict or prove one to be guilty of sin. The question of Jesus was a challenge which amounted to a denial beforehand. Since they knew they could not convict Jesus of sin, that would mean that all he said was the truth. On that basis, the only correct answer to his last question would be that their unbelief was due to their relation to the devil.

Verse 47

7 Of is from EK, and Thayer uses three whole pages in his lexicon in defining and explaining the word. The reader may thereby form some estimate of the importance of the term. But his first and general definition is, "From out of, out from, forth from, from." He also explains that it is the opposite of the terms "into" and "in." In composition such as our verse, it means one whose character and principles of life originated with God. Jesus affirmed that all whose character came from God would hear his words. These Jews were refusing to hear them, therefore it proved they were not of God, which is the conclusion which Jesus charged against them.

Verse 48

8 Thou art a Samaritan. This was said to show their contempt of Jesus, in view of the low estimate the Jews had of the Samaritans. A description of that subject is given with the comments on chapter 4:9. Say we not refers to chapter 7:20 where they first charged Jesus with having a devil. See that passage for comments on their charge as they said thou host a devil.

Verse 49

9 A sober denial of their charge was the first reply of Jesus. He then made a logical statement, based on his relation to God. Jesus honored his Father and they dishonored Him (Jesus). That was the same as accusing them of dishonoring God also, although these Jews made great claims of respect for God.

Verse 50

0 The outstanding thought that John stresses in his record of Jesus, is his divinity or close relationship with God. And that seems to have been the point on which the Jews showed their bitterest feeling for Him. And that explains why Jesus so often referred to that relationship, which is the thought in the words, I seek not mine own glory. There is one. It is stated in many places that Jesus came into the world to do his Father's will, therefore the one in this phrase is God.

Verse 51

1 Shall never see death. The Bible recognizes two kinds of death, the physical and the spiritual. The man who accepts the words of Jesus and keeps them will never suffer the spiritual death. (See chapter 11:26.)

Verse 52

3 The Jews either did not know or they deliberately refused to recognize the two kinds of death. With that as the basis for their speech, they repeated the charge they first made at chapter 7:20, and pretended to ascribe His statement about dying to the effects of the devil in him. Adhering to their notion of there being only the physical death, they referred to the death of Abraham and the prophets as proof against the statement of Jesus.

Verse 54

4 This verse has the same reasoning Jesus gives in verses 14-18.

Verse 55

5 The Jews made a great profession of knowing God, yet they constantly refused to recognize his Son. In rejecting Jesus they were also rejecting God, which is a principle that is taught in numerous passages throughout the New Testament. If Jesus had denied any knowledge of God, it would have been untrue, and that would have placed him in the same class as the Jews who were guilty of falsifying.

Verse 56

6 God told Abraham that he was to have a seed or descendant in whom the whole world would be blessed. (See Gen 22:18.) That promised seed was Christ, and Abraham believed the promise that was made concerning him. That is the sense in which he rejoiced to see the day of Christ on the earth.

Verse 57

7 The Jews were still think-in of Jesus as an ordinary human being only, who had been born less than fifty years before. Abraham had been dead for more than 20 centuries, hence they denied that Jesus could ever have seen him.

Verse 58

8 Am is from EIMI, a Greek verb whose fundamental meaning is, "to be." The word is used in the Greek text without inflection (suffixes), therefore it has its full original meaning. As Jesus used the word in this verse, it means that Abraham had a definite time at which he came into being, that is why he used the word was. Jesus existed always, hence he says I am with reference to himself. A noted writer has worded this much better than I can, hence I shall give the reader the benefit of it. "Divinity has no past tense, nor future tense, but always the present."

Verse 59

9 This assertion was completely beyond the comprehension of these Jews, and in sheer desperation they thought of stoning Jesus. But "his time had not yet come," hence he miraculously passed from their midst.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on John 8". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/john-8.html. 1952.
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