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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
John 8

 

 

Verses 1-59

CHAPTER 8

1. The Woman Taken in Adultery. (John 8:1-11.)

2. The Light of the World. (John 8:12.)

3. His Testimony Concerning Himself and the Father. (John 8:13-20.)

4. His Solemn Declarations. (John 8:21-47.)

5. Before Abraham Was, I Am. (John 8:48-59.)

The first verse belongs to the preceding chapter. The officers returned without Him, bearing their testimony that “never man spake like this man.” Nicodemus ventured his timid defense. Then every man went to his own house while the Lord went to the Mount of Olives.

The story of the woman taken in adultery has been rejected by many leading scholars. It is claimed that it is nothing less than a forgery. The chief arguments against it are the following: That the story is missing in some of the oldest manuscripts and earlier translations; that some of the Greek Fathers never refer to it; that it differs in style from the rest of the Gospel of John, and that the incident ought to be discredited on moral ground. However all these arguments have been proven invalid. Many old manuscripts have the story as well as some of the oldest translations. Others of the so-called church-fathers speak of it. There can be no question whatever of its genuineness. It was omitted on purpose in certain manuscripts. The Grace, which shines forth so marvelously in the Lord’s dealing with the woman, was unpalatable to teachers who mixed Law and Grace. They left it out for a purpose. [“The argument from alleged discrepancies between the style and language of this passage, and the usual style of St. John’s writing, is one which should be received with much caution. We are not dealing with an uninspired but with an inspired writer. Surely it is not too much to say that an inspired writer may occasionally use words and constructions and modes of expression which he generally does not use, and that it is no proof that he did not write a passage because he wrote it in a peculiar way.”]

It was a clever scheme from the side of the Scribes and Pharisees to tempt Him. The Law of Moses demanded her death by stoning. If He gave as an answer, “let her be stoned!” He would contradict His own testimony that He came not to judge, but to save. If He declared that the guilty woman was not to be stoned, then would He break the law. They appealed to Him as teacher, not as judge. He was silent and stooped down and wrote with His finger in the ground. (The words, “as though He heard them not” are in italics and must be omitted.) It is the only time we read of our Lord that He wrote. The finger which wrote in the ground was the same which had written the law in the tables of stone. What He wrote we do not know; but it was symbolical of the fact that the law against man is written in the dust, the dust of death. Not alone had the woman deserved death, but all were equally guilty. After His demand, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” the oldest in the company left first till the Lord was alone with the guilty woman. He did not set aside the law, and yet He manifested His marvelous Grace. The self-righteous accusers were condemned and sneaked into darkness, away from Him Who is the Light. The woman addressed Him as Lord, showing she believed on Him; and He told her to go and sin no more. The Grace He shows demands holiness.

The scene occurred in the Temple and the words He spoke following this incident were likewise spoken there. A great testimony again follows, which He gives concerning Himself. He is the Light of the world; it is not confined to Israel, but the light is to reach the Gentile nations. This is revealed in the Prophet Isaiah. After Messiah’s complaint, “I have labored in vain,” the rejected One is to be the light to the Gentiles. “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 59:1-6.) Then follows an individual promise. He that followeth Him walks not in darkness, but has the light of life. In Him is life as well as light; there is then fellowship with God for the child of life, fellowship one with another if we walk in the light. He then bore additional testimony concerning Himself. He knew where He came from and whither He went. The blind Pharisees did not. And when He spoke of the fellowship of Himself and the Father, they asked, “Where is thy Father?” They were blind and blinded, and knew neither Him nor the Father.

Very solemn are the declarations in John 8:21-29. They are as solemn and as true today as when they were uttered by the lips of the Son of God. “I said therefore unto you that ye shall die in your sins; for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.” Rejecting Christ, not believing on Him, means to die in sin. When they ask Him again, “Who art thou?” He answered, “Absolutely what I am also speaking to you.” [The rendering of the Authorized Version is incorrect.] He is the Word, the Truth, the Life, the Light. He is, in the principle of His being, what also He speaks. Essentially, precisely, what He is, He also speaks. The phrase “lifting up” means His crucifixion. (See 3:14 and 12:32.) After that event His vindication would come. He is the “I am.” Many believed on Him. Were they true believers or the same class as we find at the close of the second chapter? Most likely they misunderstood His statement of being lifted up. They may have thought of Him becoming King; they certainly knew nothing of the Cross.

More teaching follows. To be a true disciple means to abide in His Word. By the Word and the Spirit we are begotten, and to live as a disciple needs abiding in His Word. The Son is the Deliverer Who makes free from the power of Satan and of Sin, of which He bears witness.

This interesting chapter ends with a startling self-revelation of His absolute Deity, that He is the Eternal Jehovah. Eleven times the name “Abraham” is found in the eighth chapter of John. At the close the Lord speaks of Abraham having seen His day and rejoiced. He saw it in faith. Then when the Jews expressed their astonishment He answered, “Before Abraham was, I AM!” It is the most positive, the clearest declaration of our Lord of His Eternity, that He is God. He is the “I AM”--Jehovah. Thus this great testimony has always been received. We let a few of the ancient teachers speak:

Chrysostom observes: “He said not before Abraham was, I was, but, I AM. As the Father useth this expression I AM, so also doth Christ, for it signifieth continuous being, irrespective of all time. On which account the expression seemed to the Jews blasphemous.”

Augustine says: “In these words acknowledge the Creator and discern the creature. He that spake was made the Seed of Abraham; and that Abraham might be, He was before Abraham.”

Gregory remarks: “Divinity has no past or future, but always the present; and therefore Jesus does not say before Abraham was I was, but I am.”

The Unitarians try to explain this away by saying, “Jesus only meant that He existed as Messiah in God’s counsels before Abraham.” Astonishing! How do they know what He meant? It is a satanic invention. The Jews knew better. They understood what He meant. They took up stones to stone Him because they knew He claimed absolute Deity. A miracle followed. The Greek means literally “He was hid.” Their eyes must have been holden as He went out of the Temple and passed by.

 


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Bibliography Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on John 8:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/john-8.html. 1913-1922.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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