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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
John 8

 

 

Verse 1

Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

The genuineness of this narrative-including the last verse of the foregoing chapter-will be best considered after the exposition.

Jesus [It should be, 'But Jesus' Ieesous (G2424) de (G1161)] went unto the mount of Olives. This verse should have formed the last verse of John 7:1-53. The information given will then be, that while "every man went unto his own house," Jesus, who had no home of His own to go to, "went unto the mount of Olives." Since "the mount of Olives" nowhere else occurs in this Gospel, and Jesus' spending the night there seems to belong only to the time of His final visit to Jerusalem; this has been thought adverse to the genuineness of the whole section. The following is Stier's explanation of this, with which, however, we are but indifferently satisfied. 'The return of the people to the inert quiet and security of their dwellings (John 7:53), at the close of the feast, is designedly contrasted with our Lord's homeless way, so to speak, of spending the short night, who is early in the morning on the scene again. One cannot well see why what is recorded in Luke 21:37-38, may not even thus early have taken place: it might have been the Lord's ordinary custom from the beginning to leave the brilliant misery of the city every night, that so He might compose His sorrowful and interceding heart, and collect His energies for new labours of love; preferring for His resting-place Bethany, and the Mount of Olives, the scene thus consecrated by many preparatory prayers for His final humiliation and exaltation.' But see the discussion of this question below.


Verse 2

And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.


Verse 3

And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

And the scribes and Pharisees - foiled in their yesterday's attempts, and hoping to entrap Him in this new way, "brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,"


Verse 4

They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.


Verse 5

Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned. The law said merely she should die (Deuteronomy 22:22), but in aggravated cases, at least in later times, this was probably by stoning (Ezekiel 16:40).

But what sayest thou? [ su (Greek #4771) oun (Greek #3767) ti (Greek #5100) legeis (Greek #3004)?] - 'what now sayest thou?'


Verse 6

This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him - hoping, whatever He might answer, to put Him in the wrong: if He said, Stone her, that would seem a stepping out of His province; if He forbade it, that would hold Him up as a relaxer of the public morals. See now how these cunning hypocrites were overmatched.

But Jesus stooped down. It will be observed He was "sitting" when they came to Him (John 8:2).

And with his finger wrote on the ground. The words of our translators in Italics - "as though he heard them not" - have hardly improved the sense, for it is scarcely probable He could wish that to be thought. Rather He wished to show them His aversion to enter on the subject. But this did not suit them. They pressed for an answer.


Verse 7

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin - not meaning 'sinless altogether;' nor yet 'guiltless of a literal breach of the Seventh Commandment;' but probably, 'He whose conscience acquits him of any such sin,'

Let him first cast a stone , [ ton (Greek #3588) lithon (Greek #3037)] - rather, 'the stone,' referred to in the Mosaic statute, Deuteronomy 17:11.


Verse 8

And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. The design of this second stooping and writing on the ground was evidently to give her accusers an opportunity to slink away unobserved by Him, and so avoid an exposure to His eye which they could ill have stood. Accordingly it is added,


Verse 9

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

And they which heard it - or, 'But they, when they heard it' [ hoi (Greek #3588) de (Greek #1161), akousantes (Greek #191)],

Being convicted by their [own] conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the oldest , [ apo (Greek #575) toon (Greek #3588) presbuteroon (Greek #4245)] - rather, 'at the elders;' in the official sense, and not the seniors in age.

Even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone - that is, without one of her accusers remaining; because it is added, "and the woman standing in the midst" - in the midst, that is, of the remaining audience. While the trap failed to catch Him for whom it was laid, it caught those who laid it. Stunned by the unexpected home-thrust, they immediately made off-which makes the impudence of those impure hypocrites in dragging such a case before the public eye the more disgusting.


Verse 10

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

When ('And when') Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?


Verse 11

She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

What inimitable tenderness and grace! Conscious of her own guilt, and until now in the hands of men who had talked of stoning her, wondering at the skill with which her accusers had been dispersed and the grace of the few words addressed to herself, she would be disposed to listen, with a reverence and teachableness before unknown, to our Lord's admonition. "And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more." He pronounces no pardon upon the woman-like "Thy sins are forgiven thee;" "Go in peace" - much less does He say that she had done nothing condemnable; He simply leaves the matter where it was. He meddles not with the magistrate's office, nor acts the Judge in any sense (John 12:47). But in saying "Go, and sin no more," which had been before said to one who undoubtedly believed (John 5:14), more is probably implied than expressed. If brought suddenly to conviction of sin, to admiration of her Deliverer, and to a willingness to be admonished and guided by Him, this call to begin a new life may have carried with it what would ensure and naturally bring about a permanent change.

[The genuineness of this whole section, including the last verse of John 7:1-53 - twelve verses-is by far the most perplexing question of textual criticism pertaining to the Gospels. The external evidence against it is immensely strong. It is wanting in the four oldest manuscript-the newly-discovered Codex Sinaiticus ('Aleph (')), the Alexandrian Codex (A), the Codex Vaticanus (B), and the Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C) - and in four other valuable Uncial manuscript, although two of these have a blank space, as if something had been left out; it is wanting also in upwards of 50 Cursive manuscript: of ancient versions, it is wanting in the venerable Peshito Syriac and its Philoxenian revision, in one and probably both the Egyptian versions-the Thebaic and Memphitic-the Gothic, probably the Armenian, and two or three copies of the Old Latin: several of the fathers take no notice of it-as Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, Cyril, Chrysostom: it is wanting in the most ancient tables of the sectional contents of the Gospels, though afterward inserted as an additional section: the variations in the manuscript which insert it exceed in number and extent those in any other part of the New Testament: and of those manuscript which insert it, four Uncials and upwards of fifty Cursives have an asterisk or other critical mark attached to it, as subject to doubt or requiring investigation.

The internal evidence urged against it is, that it unnaturally interrupts the flow of the narrative, whereas if John 8:12 come immediately after John 7:52, all is natural; that the language of this section is strikingly dissimilar, especially in the particles, to that of John; and that the statement in John 8:1, as to Jesus having gone to the mount of Olives, is one of the strongest grounds of suspicion, since nowhere else in this Gospel is "the mount of Olives" mentioned at all, nor does our Lord's passing the night there agree with this or any stage of His public life except the last. That we have here very strong evidence against the genuineness of this section, no intelligent and impartial judge will deny. Moved by this evidence, Lachmann and Tischendorf exclude it from their text; Tregelles prints it in small type below the approved text, which Alford also does; and hardly any recent critics acknowledge it as John's, except Stier and Ebrard, to whom may be added Lange and Webster and Wilkinson (though the latter do not, like the former, grapple with the difficulties).

But let us look at the other side of the question. Of the four most ancient manuscript which want this section, the leaves of two at this place have been lost-of A, from John 6:50-71; John 7:1-53; John 8:1-52; and of C, from John 7:3-53; John 8:1-33. We have, therefore, no certainty whether those manuscript contained it or not. As to the two (L and Delta) whose spaces are not long enough to make it possible that they contained this section, the inference is precarious, since no more may have been intended by those spaces than simply to indicate that there a portion of text was wanting. But it is found in seven Uncial manuscript, though the letters in that most remarkable one, the Codex Bezae (D), are said to be very different from the others, while in one of the others but a small number of the verses is given, and in another one verse is wanting; it is found in above three hundred of the Cursive manuscript without any note of question, and above fifty more with an asterisk or other mark of doubt.

Of versions, it is found in the Old Latin-which may be held to neutralize the fact of its absence in the Peshito Syriac, as the one appears to have been executed for the Western churches about as early as the other for the Eastern; and it is found in the Vulgate; while Jerome, to whom we owe that revision of the venerable Old Latin, states that in his time-the fourth century, and we have no manuscript of older date than that-this section was found 'in many manuscript both Greek and Latin.' Turning now from external to internal evidence in favour of this section, it appears to us to be almost overpowering. Requesting the reader to recall the exposition of it, we confidently ask if historical authenticity is not stamped upon the face of it, and-admitting that some such incident as this might not be beyond invention-whether the very special and singularly delicate details of it could be other than real.

And if the question be, Whether, supposing it genuine, there were stronger motives for its exclusion, or, if spurious, for its insertion? no one who knows anything of the peculiarities of the early Church can well hesitate. The notions of the early Church on such subjects were of the most ascetic description, and to them the whole narrative must have been most confounding. Augustine accordingly says, 'Some of slender faith, or rather enemies of the true faith, have removed it from their manuscript, fearing, I believe, that an immunity to sin might be thought to be given by it.' Nor was he alone in ascribing the omission of it to this cause. Such a feeling in regard to this section is sufficient to account for the remarkable fact that it was never publicly read along with the preceding and following context in the early churches, but reserved for some unimportant festivals, and in some of the service-books appears to have been left out altogether.

In short, to account for its omission, if genuine, seems easy enough; but for its insertion, if spurious, next to impossible. Moved by these considerations, a middle course is taken by some. Meyer and Ellicott, while convinced that it is no part of the Gospel of John, are equally convinced of its historical truth and canonical authority; and observing how closely John 8:1-59 agrees with Luke 21:37, think that to be its proper place. Indeed, it is a singular fact that four of the Cursive manuscript actually place it at the end of Luke 21:1-38. Something very like this is Alford's view. This, of course, would quite explain the mention (in John 8:1) of "the mount of Olives," and our Lord's spending the night there being His last week. But this theory-of a fragment of authentic canonical Gospel History never known to have existed in its proper place (with the exception of four pretty good manuscript), and known only as part of a Gospel to which it did not belong, and with which it was out of keeping-can never, in our judgment, be admitted.

Scrivener, while impressed with its internal excellence, thinks the evidence against it too strong to be resisted, except on the singular theory that the beloved disciple himself added it in a later edition of his Gospel, and that thus copies having it and copies wanting it ran parallel with each other from the very first-a theory, however, for which there is not the slightest external evidence, and attended, it seems to us, with greater difficulty than that which it is designed to remove. On the whole, though we admit the difficulties with which this question is encompassed, as the narrative itself bears that stamp of originality, truth, purity, and grandeur which accord so well with Its place in the Gospel History, so the fact that wherever it is found it is as part of the Fourth Gospel, and among the transactions of the Feast of Tabernacles, is to us the best proof that this is, after all, its true place in the Gospel History; nor does it appear to us to interrupt the flow of the narrative, but entirely to harmonize with it-if we except John 8:1, which must be allowed to remain among the difficulties that we, at least, find it not easy to solve.] But see P.S. p. 486.

Remark: While a sanctimonious hypocrisy is not unfrequently found among unprincipled professors of religion, a compassionate purity which wins the fallen is one of the most beautiful characteristics of real religion. But until Christ appeared, this feature of religion was but dimly realized, and in the Old Testament but faintly held forth. It was reserved for the Lord Jesus to exhibit it in all its loveliness. In this incident, of the Woman Taken in Adultery, we have it in its perfection, while the spirit of the men that brought her to Jesus, appearing in such vivid contrast to it, acts but as a foil to set it off. See the notes at Luke 15:1-2.


Verse 12

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world. As the former references to water (John 4:10; John 4:13-14; and John 7:37, etc.) and to bread (John 6:27, etc.) were occasioned by outward occurrences, so possibly may this reference to light have been. For, in "the treasury," where it was spoken (see John 8:20), stood two colossal golden lampstands, on which hung a multitude of lamps, lighted after the evening sacrifice (probably every evening) during the feast of Tabernacles, diffusing their brilliancy, it is said, over all the city. Around these the people danced with great rejoicing. Now, as amidst the festivities of the water from Siloam, Jesus cried, saying, "If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink," so now, amidst the blaze and joyousness of this illumination, He proclaims, "I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD" - plainly in the most absolute sense. For though He gives His disciples the same title (see the note at John 5:14), they are only "light in the Lord" (Ephesians 5:8); and though He calls the Baptist "the burning and shining light" (or 'lamp' of his day-see the note at John 5:35), yet "he was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light: That was THE TRUE LIGHT which, coming into the world, lighteth every man" (John 1:8-9). Under this magnificent title Messiah was promised of old, Isaiah 42:6; Malachi 4:2, etc.

He that followeth me - as one does a light going before him, and as the Israelites did the pillar of bright cloud in the wilderness,

Shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life - the light as of a new world, the light of a newly awakened spiritual and eternal life.


Verse 13

The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. How does He meet this specious cavil! Not by disputing the wholesome human maxim that 'self-praise is no praise,' but by affirming that He was an exception to the rule, or rather, that it had no application to Him.


Verse 14

Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and where I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and where I go. See the notes at John 7:28-29.


Verse 15

Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.

Ye judge after the flesh - with no spiritual apprehension; "I judge no man."


Verse 16

And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

And yet if I judge , [ kai (Greek #2532) ean (Greek #1437) krinoo (Greek #2919) de (Greek #1161) egoo (Greek #1473)]. The "I" here is emphatic:-q.d., 'Yet in My case, even if I do judge,'


Verse 17

It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 18

I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.

I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me: - q.d., 'Ye not only form your carnal and warped judgments of Me, but are bent on carrying them into effect; I, though I form and utter My judgment of you, am not here to carry this into execution-that is reserved to a future day; yet the judgment I now pronounce and the witness I now bear is not Mine only, as ye suppose, but His also that sent Me. (See the notes at John 5:31-32.) And these are the two witnesses which your law requires to any fact.'


Verse 19

Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.

Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. The same spiritual light and darkness would suffice to reveal to the mind, or to hide from it, at once the Father and the Son, the Sender and the Sent.


Verse 20

These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.

These words spake Jesus in the treasury - a division, so called, of the forecourt of the temple, part of the court of the women (Josephus, Ant. 19: 6. 2, etc.), which may confirm the genuinenss of John 8:2; John 8:11, as the place where the woman was brought. As he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come. See the note at John 7:30. In the dialogue that follows, the conflict waxes sharper on both sides.


Verse 21

Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.

Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins , [ en (Greek #1722) tee (Greek #3588) hamartia (Greek #266) humoon (Greek #5216)] - it should be 'in your sin.'

Whither I go, ye cannot come.


Verse 22

Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.

Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. They evidently saw something more in His words than when He spake thus before (John 7:33-36); but their question now is more malignant and scornful.


Verse 23

And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. He contrasts Himself here, not as in John 3:31, simply with earth-born messengers of God, but with men sprung from and breathing an opposite element from His, which rendered it impossible that He and they should have any present fellowship, or dwell eternally together. See again the note at John 7:34, and at John 8:44, below.


Verse 24

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.

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am [he], [ hoti (G3754) egoo (G1473) eimi (G1510)], ye shall die in your sins. "That I am [He]." Compare Mark 13:6, Greek, and Matthew 24:5. They knew well enough what He meant. But He would not, by speaking it out, give them the materials for a charge for which they were watching. At the same time, one is irresistibly reminded by such language, so far transcending what is becoming in men, of those ancient declarations of the God of Israel, "I AM HE," etc. (Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 43:13; Isaiah 46:4; Isaiah 48:12.) See the note at Mark 6:50.


Verse 25

Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.

Then said they unto him Who art thou? - hoping thus to extort an explicit answer; but they are disappointed.

And Jesus saith - `said' [ eipen (Greek #2036)] unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning , [ teen (Greek #3588) archeen (Greek #746) ho (Greek #3588) ti (Greek #5100) kai (Greek #2532) laloo (Greek #2980) humin (Greek #5213)]. This clause is in the original somewhat obscure, and has been variously rendered and much discussed. But the sense given in our version seems the true one, and has on the whole the best support.


Verse 26

I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.

I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him: - q.d., 'I could, and at the fitting time will say and judge many things of you (referring perhaps to the work of the Spirit, which as for judgment as well as salvation, John 16:8), but what I do say is just the message My Father hath given Me to deliver.'


Verse 27

They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 28

Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man - the plainest intimation He had yet given in public of the manner and the authors of His death.

Then shall ye know that I am [he], and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me - or, 'as my Father taught Me' [ edidaxen (Greek #1321)]

I speak these things - that is, they should find out, or have sufficient evidence, how true was all He said, though they would be far from owning it.


Verse 29

And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him , [ ta (Greek #3588) aresta (Greek #701)] - 'the things that are pleasing to Him:'-q.d., 'To you, who gnash upon Me with your teeth, and frown down all open appearance for Me, I seem to stand uncountenanced and alone; but I have a sympathy and support transcending all human applause; I came here to do My Father's will, and in the doing of it have not ceased to please Him; therefore is He ever by Me with His approving smile, His cheering words, His supporting arm.'


Verse 30

As he spake these words, many believed on him. As he spake these words, many believed on him.

As he spake these words many believed on him. Instead of wondering at this, the wonder would be if words of such unearthly, surpassing grandeur could be uttered without captivating some that heard them. And just as "all that sat in the council" to try Stephen "saw his face" - though expecting nothing but death - "as it had been the face of an angel" (Acts 6:15), so may we suppose that, full of the sweet supporting sense of His Father's presence, amidst the rage and scorn of the rulers, a divine benignity beamed from His countenance, irradiated the words that fell from Him, and won over the candid "many" of His audience.


Verse 31

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;


Verse 32

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. The impression produced by the last words of our Lord may have become visible by some decisive movement, and here He takes advantage of it to press on them "continuance" in the faith, since then only were they "His real disciples" (compare John 15:3-8), and then should they experimentally "know the truth," and "by the truth be made spiritually free."


Verse 33

They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Who said this? Not surely the very class just spoken of as won over by His divine words, and exhorted to continue in them. Most interpreters seem to think so; but it is hard to ascribe such a petulant speech to newly gained disciples, even in the lowest sense, much less persons so gained as they were. It came, probably, from persons mixed up with them in the same part of the crowd but of a very different spirit. The pride of the Jewish nation, even now, after centuries of humiliation, is the most striking feature of their character. 'Talk of freedom to us? Pray when or to whom were we ever in bondage?' This bluster sounds almost ludicrous from such a nation. Had they forgotten their long and bitter bondage in Egypt? their dreary captivity in Babylon? their present bondage to the Roman yoke, and their restless eagerness to throw it off? But probably they saw that our Lord pointed to something else-freedom, perhaps, from the leaders of sects or parties-and were not willing to allow their subjection even to these. Our Lord, therefore, though He knew what slaves they were even in this sense, drives the plowshare somewhat deeper than this, to a bondage they little dreamt of.


Verse 34

Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever [or 'Everyone that' pas (G3956) ho (G3588)] committeth sin - that is to say, 'liveth in the commission of it' (compare 1 John 3:8; Matthew 7:23),

Is the servant of sin - the bond-servant, or slave of it; because the question is not about free-service, bait Who are in bondage? (Compare 2 Peter 2:19; Romans 6:16). The great truth here expressed was not unknown to pagan moralists; but it was applied only to vice, because they were total strangers to what in Revealed Religion is called sin. But the thought of slaves and freemen in the house suggests to our Lord a wider idea.


Verse 35

And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.

And the servant (or, 'Now the [bond-]servant') abideth not in the house forever: [but] the Son abideth ever.


Verse 36

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. A very glorious statement, the sense of which may be thus expressed: 'And if your connection with the family of God be that of BOND-SERVANTS, ye have no natural tie to the house; your tie is essentially uncertain and precarious. But THE SON'S relationship to the FATHER is a natural and essential one; it is an indefeasible tie; His abode in it is perpetual and of right: That is My relationship, My tie: If, then, ye would have your connection with God's family made real, rightful, permanent, ye must by the Son be manumitted and adopted as sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.' In this sublime statement there is no doubt a subordinate allusion to Genesis 21:10, "Cast out this bond-woman and her son, for the son of this bond-woman shall not be heir with my son, with Isaac" (Compare Gal. 4:22-20 ).


Verse 37

I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me. He had said this to their face before; He now repeats it, and they do not deny it; yet are they held back, as by some marvelous spell-it was the awe which His combined dignity, courage, and benignity struck into them.

Because my word hath no place in you , [ ou (Greek #3756) choorei (Greek #5562) en (Greek #1722) humin (Greek #5213)] - 'finds no entrance' or 'room in you.' When did ever human prophet so speak of his words? They tell us of "the word of the Lord" coming to them. But here is One who holds up "His word" as that which ought to find entrance and abiding room for itself in the souls of all who hear it.


Verse 38

I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.

I speak that which I have seen with my Father; and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. See the note at John 8:23.


Verse 39

They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children ye would do the works of Abraham. He had just said He "knew they were Abraham's children" - that is, according to the flesh; but the children of his faith and holiness they were not, but the reverse.


Verse 40

But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.

But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard [or 'which I heard' eekousa (G191)] of God: this did not Abraham. In so doing ye act in direct opposition to him.


Verse 41

Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one father [even] God. The meaning is, the were not an illegitimate race in point of religion, pretending only to be God's people, but were descended from His own chosen Abraham.


Verse 42

Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came [or 'am come' heekoo (G2240)] from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.


Verse 43

Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word: - q.d., 'If ye had anything of His moral image, as children have their father's likeness, ye would love Me, because I am immediately of Him and directly from Him. But "My speech" (meaning His special style of expressing Himself on these subjects) 'is unintelligible to you' because ye cannot take in the truth which it conveys.'


Verse 44

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Ye are of your father the devil. This, as Alford remarks, is one of the most decisive testimonies to the objective personality of the Devil. It is quite impossible to suppose an accommodation to Jewish views, or a metaphorical form of speech, in so solemn an assertion as this.

And the lusts of your father - his impure, malignant, ungodly propensities, inclinations, desires,

Ye will do , [ thelete (Greek #2309) poiein (Greek #4160)] - or 'are willing to do,' that is, 'willingly do;' not of any blind necessity of nature, but of pure natural inclination.

He was a murderer from the beginning. The reference here is not to the murderous spirit which he kindled in Cain (as Lucke, DeWette, Tholuck, Alford, Webster and Wilkinson), which yields but a tame and very limited sense, but to that which he did to Man in the person of Adam. So the majority of ancient and modern interpreters, including Grotius, Calvin, Meyer, Luthardt. The death of the human race, in its widest sense, is ascribed to the murderous seducer of our race.

And abode not in the truth. Since the word [ hesteeken (Greek #2476)] properly means 'abideth,' it has been, by Lucke and others, denied that the fall of Satan from a former holy state is here expressed; and some superior interpreters, as Olshausen, think this only implied. But though the form of the thought is present-not past-this is to express the important idea, that his whole character and activity are just a continual aberration from his own original truth or rectitude; and thus his fall is not only the implied basis of the thought, but part of the statement itself, properly interpreted and brought out.

Because there is no truth in him - because he is void of all that holy, transparent rectitude which, as God's creature, he originally possessed.

When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own , [ ek (Greek #1537) toon (Greek #3588) idioon (Greek #2398)]. Since the word here is plural, perhaps the meaning is, as Alford expresses it, 'of his own resources,' his own treasures (Matthew 12:35). It means that he has no temptation to it from without; it is purely self-begotten, springing from a nature which is nothing but obliquity.

For he is a liar, and the father of it - that is, of lying itself: all the falsehood in the world owes its existence to him. What averse is this! It holds up the Devil, first, as the murderer of the human race; but as this is meant here in the more profound sense of spiritual death, it holds him up, next, as the parent of this fallen human family, communicating to his offspring his own evil passions and universal obliquity, and stimulating, these into active exercise. But as there is "a Stronger than he," who comes upon him and overcomes him (Luke 11:21-22), it is only such as "love the darkness" who are addressed as children of the Devil (Matthew 13:38; 1 John 3:8-10).


Verse 45

And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

And (or rather, 'But') because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not - not although He told it them, but because He did so, and for the reason given in the former verse. Had. He been less true, they would have hailed Him the more readily.


Verse 46

Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

Which of you convinceth , [ elengchei (Greek #1651) rather, 'convicteth'] me of sin?}-or can bring home against Me a charge of sin?

[And] if I say the truth (the "and" appears not to belong to the genuine text), why do ye not believe me?

Glorious dilemma! 'Convict me of sin, and reject me: But if ye cannot, why stand ye out against My claims?' Of course they could only be supposed to impeach His life; but in one who had already passed through unparalleled complications, and had continually to deal with friends and foes of every sort and degree, such a challenge, thrown wide among His bitterest enemies, can amount to nothing short of a claim to absolute sinlessness.


Verse 47

He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore, [ dia (G1223) touto (G5124), or 'for this reason,'] hear them not, because ye are not of God. How often and how sharply does our Lord in this discourse draw the line of awful separation between those that are and those that are not "of God!" The hostile part of His audience were stung to the quick by it.


Verse 48

Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?

Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? What intense and virulent scorn! (See Hebrews 12:3) The "say we not well" is a reference to their former charge, "Thou hast a devil," John 7:20. "Samaritan" here means more than 'no Israelite at all:' it means one who pretended, but had so manner of claim to connection with Abraham-retorting, perhaps, His denial of their true descent from the father of the faithful.


Verse 49

Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.

Jesus answered, I have not a devil. What calm dignity is here! Verily, "when reviled, He reviled not again" (1 Peter 2:23). Compare Paul before Festus, "I am not mad, most noble Festus" (Acts 26:25). Our Lord adds not, 'Nor am I a Samaritan,' that He might not even seem to partake of their contempt for a race that had already welcomed Him as the Christ, and begun to be blessed by Him.

But I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. This is the language of wounded feeling. But the interior of His soul at such moments is only to be seen in such prophetic utterances as these, "For thy sake I have borne reproach: shame hath covered my face: I am become a stranger unto my brethren, an alien unto my mother's children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up, and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me" (Psalms 69:7-9).


Verse 50

And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.

And (or, 'But') I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. There should be a supplement here: 'There is one that seeketh [it]; that is, 'that seeketh My glory and judgeth'-Who requireth "all men to honour the Son even as they honour the Father;" Who will judicially treat him "who honoureth not the Son as honouring not the Father that hath sent Him" (John 5:23, and compare Matthew 17:5); but Who will yet give to Him (see John 6:37) those who will one day cast their crowns before His throne, in whom He "shall see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied" (Isaiah 53:11).


Verse 51

Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death: - thus vindicating His lofty claims, as Lord of the kingdom of life everlasting, and, at the same time, holding out even to His revilers the scepter of grace. The word "keep" [ teereesee (Greek #5083)] is in harmony with His former saying to those who believed in Him, "If ye continue in my word," expressing the permanency, as a living and paramount principle, of that faith to which He referred. This promise - "he shall never see death" - though expressed before (John 5:24; John 6:40; John 6:47; John 6:51), is the strongest and most naked statement yet given of a very glorious truth. In John 11:26 it is repeated in nearly identical terms.


Verse 52

Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.

Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead - or 'died' [ apethanen (Greek #599)], "and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death."


Verse 53

Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?

Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? (or 'died,') and the prophets are dead (or 'died:') Whom makest thou thyself? 'Thou art now self-convicted; only a demoniac could speak so; the most illustrious of our fathers are dead, and thou promisest exemption from death to anyone who will keep thy saying! pray, who art thou?'


Verse 54

Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:


Verse 55

Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.

Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying , [ logon (Greek #3056)] - or 'word.' Our Lord now rises to the summit of holy, naked severity, thereby to draw this long dialogue to a head.


Verse 56

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day , [ eegalliasato (Greek #21) hina (Greek #2443) idee (Greek #1492)] - 'exulted,' or 'exceedingly rejoiced that he should see;' that is, exulted to see it by anticipation;

And he saw it, and was glad - he actually beheld it to his joy. If this mean no more than that he had a prophetic foresight of the Gospel Day-the second clause just repeating the first-how could the Jews understand our Lord to mean that He "had seen Abraham?" And if it mean that Abraham was then beholding, in his disembodied spirit, the incarnate Messiah, as Stier, Tholuck, Alford, etc., understand it, the words seem very unsuitable to express it. Plainly it speaks of something past-he saw my day, and was glad-that is, surely, while he lived. We understand it therefore to refer to the familiar conversation which Abraham had with that "Angel of the Lord" who in the History is repeatedly called "The Lord" or Yahweh-the Angel of the covenant, with whom Christ here identifies Himself. On those occasions, says our Lord, Abraham "saw ME." Such is the view of Olshausen; but we need not suppose it, with him, to refer to some unrecorded scene. Taking the words in this sense, all that follows will, we think, be quite natural.


Verse 57

Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old. No inference, as Alford properly says, can he drawn from this as to our Lord's age as man at that time. Fifty years was, with the Jews, the term of ripe manhood, and at that age the Levites ceased to officiate.

And hast thou seen Abraham? He had not said He saw Abraham, but that Abraham saw Him, as being Abraham's special privilege. They, however, give the opposite turn to it - "Hast thou seen Abraham?" - as an honour which it was insufferable for him to pretend to.


Verse 58

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, [ prin (G4250) Abraam (G11) genesthai (G1096) - 'Before Abraham came into existence'] I am , [ egoo (Greek #1473) eimi (Greek #1510)]. The difference between the two verbs applied to Abraham and Himself, in this great saying, is to be carefully observed. 'Before Abraham was brought into being, I exist. The statement, therefore, is not that Christ came into existence before Abraham did-as Arians affirm is the meaning: it is that he never came into being at all, but existed before Abraham had a being; which, of course, was as much as to say that He existed before all creation, or from eternity, as in John 1:1. In that sense, beyond all doubt, the Jews understood Him, as will appear from what follows.


Verse 59

Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Then took they up stones to cast at him - precisely as they did on a former occasion when they saw that He was making Himself equal with God, John 5:18.

But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, [going through the midst of them, and so passed by].

See the note at Luke 4:30. [These bracketed words-dielthoon dia mesou autoon; kai pareegen houtoos-are excluded from the text, as spurious, by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford; while Meyer, DeWette, Ebrard, and nearly all recent critics, concur in that judgment. Olshausen says it is undoubtedly spurious; even Stier suspects it; only Lucke speaks doubtfully. Yet how stands the evidence? B lacks it; but A has it: D lacks it; but all the other Uncial manuscripts-some of them of the greatest value-contain it, as well as the best cursive manuscripts. The Old Latin and the Vulgate want it-early and weighty evidence, no doubt; but evidence about as early and weighty, that of both the principal Syriac versions, is in its favour. One of the ancient Egyptian versions, the Thebaic, wants it; but the other, the Memphitic, has it. With these facts before us, we must regard the unhesitating rejection of this clause as quite unwarrantable; and whereas it is said to be an unauthorized repetition of Luke 4:30, the words are not quite the same, nor is there anything improbable in our Lord, when precisely the same in circumstances of danger as then, escaping their grasp in the very same way. We certainly think that the clause should be bracketed, as the evidence against it is the very same way. We certainly think that the clause should be bracketed, as the evidence against it is undoubtedly strong; but more than this, in our judgment, it will not warrant.]

Remarks:

(1) What a lurid brightness invests the scene of this long discourse-the majesty of the one party and the malignity of the other combining to give it this aspect; while the welcome which the words of grace found in the breasts of "many," and the encouraging words addressed to them, threw for the moment a heavenly radiance over the scene, though only to be overcast again! Who could have written this, if it had not been matter of actual occurrence? And who but an eye-witness could have thrown in such details as these? And what eye-witness even could have penned it as it is here penned, except under the ever-present guidance of Him Whom Jesus promised that the Father should send in His name, Who should "teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance whatsoever He spake unto them?" (John 14:26).

(2) Who can believe that One whose jealousy for His Father's honour even "consumed" Him, should have exposed Himself once and again to the imminent risk of being stoned to death for "making Himself equal with God," if He was not so, and never meant to teach that He was so; when-either by avoiding those speeches from which they drew that inference, or by a few words of explanation-He could so easily have avoided such a construction of His words, or explained it away? But as He did neither, but advisedly did the reverse, that cornerstone of the Christian religion-the essential divinity of the Lord Jesus-must be seen to stand firmer than the everlasting hills.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 8:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-8.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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