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John 8

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Woman Caught in Adultery An Adulteress Faces the Light of the World The Woman Caught in Adultery The Woman Caught in Adultery The Adulterous Woman
7:53-8:11 7:53-8:12 7:53-8:11 7:53-8:11 7:53-8:11
Jesus, the Light of the World Jesus Defends His Self-Witness Jesus, the Light of the World Jesus, the Light of the World Jesus, the Light of the World
8:12-20   8:12-20 8:12 8:12
        A Discussion on the Testimony of Jesus to Himself
  8:13-20   8:13 8:13-18
      8:14-18  
      8:19a 8:19a
      8:19b 8:19b
      8:20 8:20
Where I Am Going You Cannot Come Jesus Predicts His Departure   You Cannot Go Where I Am Going  
8:21-30 8:21-29 8:21-30 8:21 8:21
      8:22 8:22-24
      8:23-24  
      8:25a 8:25a
      8:25b-26 8:25b-26
  The Truth Shall Make You Free   8:27-29 8:27-29
  8:30-36   8:30 8:30
The Truth Will Make You Free     The Truth Will Set You Free Jesus and Abraham
8:31-38   8:31-33 8:31-32 8:31-32
      8:33 8:33-38
  Abraham's Seed and Satan 8:34-38 8:34-38  
Your Father the Devil 8:37-47      
8:39-47   8:39-47 8:39a 8:39-41a
      8:39b-41a  
      8:41b 8:41b-47
      8:42-47  
Before Abraham Was, I Am Before Abraham Was, I Am   Jesus and Abraham  
8:48-59 8:48-59 8:48-59 8:48 8:48-51
      8:49-51  
      8:52-53 8:52-56
      8:54-56  
      8:57 8:57-58
      8:58  
      8:59 8:59

READING CYCLE THREE

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five modern translations. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

TEXTUAL BACKGROUND TO 7:53-8:11

A. John 7:53-8:11 was not part of the original Gospel of John.

 

B. Evidence for this passage (one sentence in Greek) being omitted from the Gospel are

1. External evidence

a. absent from the oldest Greek manuscripts

1) papyrus - P65 (early third century), P75 (third century)

2) uncials - א (fourth century), B (fourth century), probably absent from A and C. These are damaged at this point in John, but when the surviving leaves of the manuscript are measured there is no room for this passage.

b. many of the later Greek manuscripts that include it mark it with a special sign or symbol, like an asterisk, to show it was not original

c. it is found in several different locations in different later manuscripts

1) after John 7:36

2) after John 7:44 

3) after John 7:25

4) in Luke after 21:38

5) in Luke after 24:53

d. absent from the ancient translations

1) the old Latin

2) the old Syriac

3) the early copies of the Peshitta (later Syriac)

e. there is no comment on this text by any of the Greek fathers (until the twelfth century)

f. it is present in codex D (Bezae), a western manuscript of the sixth century, the Latin Vulgate, and the later editions of the Peshitta.

2. Internal evidence

a. the vocabulary and style are more like Luke than John. It was placed in some Greek manuscripts after Luke 21:38 and in others after 24:53.

b. it totally breaks the context of Jesus' discussion with the Jewish leaders after the feast of Tabernacles, 7:1-52; 8:12- 59.

c. there are no parallels in the Synoptic Gospels

3. For a complete technical discussion see Bruce M Metzger's A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, pp. 219-221.

 

C. This account may be genuine oral tradition from Jesus' life. However, there are many accounts of Jesus' life that Gospel writers chose to not record (John 20:30-31). It is the Gospel writers themselves who were inspired. Later scribes had no right to include an account of Jesus' life, even if authentic, that was not included by the inspired original author. The original authors alone had the insight under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to select, arrange, and adapt the works and words of Jesus. This passage is not original and, therefore, not inspired and should not be included in our Bibles!

 

D. I have chosen not to comment on this passage because I do not believe it is from the pen of John and, therefore, not part of an inspired text (even if historical).

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: JOHN 8:12-20
 12Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." 13So the Pharisees said to Him, "You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true." 14Jesus answered and said to them, "Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. 16But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me. 17Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true. 18I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me." 19So they were saying to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also." 20These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.

8:12 "Then Jesus again spoke to them" "The multitude" is not mentioned in this chapter. It may be that the Feast of the Tabernacles is over and Jesus remained in the Temple area trying to reason and witness to the Jewish leaders.

However, as Jesus used the water ceremony of the feast to reveal Himself, in this section He uses the lighting ceremony of the feast to reveal Himself. It is surely possible that 8:12-10:21 is still set on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths).

▣ "I am the Light" Chapters 6, 7, and 8 seem to be related to the "wilderness wanderings" period of Israel's history, the source of the metaphors that Jesus uses of Himself.

1. chapter 6 uses "manna" and "the bread of life"

2. chapter 7 uses "water" and "living water"

3. chapter 8 uses "light" and "Shekinah glory."

This metaphor of light is repeated throughout John (cf. John 1:4-5, 8-9; 3:19-21; 9:5; 12:46).

There has been some debate as to exactly what this refers.

1. the ancient fear of darkness

2. a title for God in the OT (cf. Ps. 27:1; Isa. 60:20; 1 John 1:5)

3. the background of the Feast of the Tabernacles, lighting of the candelabra in the Court of the Women

4. an allusion to the Shekinah cloud of glory in the wilderness wandering period that symbolized the presence of God

5. the Messianic titles in the OT (cf. Isa. 42:6, 49:6; Luke 2:32).

The rabbis also used "light" as a title for the Messiah. The lighting of the huge lamps in the Court of the Women during the Feast of Tabernacle is the obvious setting for Jesus' statement. The Messianic implications of light and the special references in John 1:4,8 coincide with the ceremony in the Temple for Jesus to continue to reveal His true origin.

This is one of the seven "I am" statements in John (followed by a predicate)

1. I am the Bread of life (John 6:35,41,48,51)

2. I am the Light of the world (John 8:12; 9: 5; cf. John 1:4,9; 12:46)

3. I am the door of the sheepfold (John 10:7,9)

4. I am the good shepherd (John 10:11,14)

5. I am the resurrection, and the life (John 11:25) 

6. I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)

7. I am the true vine (John 15:1,5)

These unique statements, found only in John, point toward the person of Jesus. John focuses on these personal aspects of salvation. We must trust Him!

▣ "of the world" This term (kosmos, see Special Topic at John 14:17) shows the universal scope of the gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. John 3:16).

▣ "he who follows me" This is a present active participle. It must be remembered that Christianity is not primarily a creed or a theology, rather, it is a personal relationship followed by a lifestyle of discipleship (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; 1 John 1:7).

▣ "will not walk in the darkness" This is an allusion to the theological concept of Satan "blinding the eyes of the unredeemed" (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4). There is a further allusion to the OT passages that speak of God's word such as a "lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path" (cf. Ps. 119:105).

Those who accept "the Light" should live different lives (cf. I Jn. 1:7)!

▣ "the Light of life" Jesus possesses the life of God and gives it to His followers (cf. Matt. 5:14), to those whom God has given to Him.

8:13 "Pharisees" See Special Topic at John 1:24.

▣ "Your testimony is not true" The Jews were claiming a legal technicality of evidence (i.e., a requirement of two witnesses, cf. Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6; 19:15-21). Jesus had spoken earlier to this very objection (cf. John 5:31ff) and had given several witnesses. In this context His witness is the Father!

8:14,16 "if. . .if" These are both third class conditional sentences which mean potential action. Most of the conditions through chapter 8 are of this type.

▣ "I know where I came from and where I am going" This again is the "above and below" dualism. Jesus had a conscious memory of His pre-existence with the Father, an understanding of His mission, and a sense of the prophetic timetable (cf. John 1:1-4, 14-18; 7:28-29; 13:1; 17:5).

▣ "but you do not know where I come from or where I am going" This must relate to chapter 7. They did not know Jesus' place of birth (cf. John 8:41-42) nor did they know where He was going (cf. John 7:34-36; 8:21). See SPECIAL TOPIC: WITNESSES TO JESUS at John 1:8.

8:15 "You judge according to the flesh" This also is an allusion to chapter 7 (cf. John 8:24). See Special Topic: Flesh (sarx) at John 1:14.

▣ " I am not judging anyone" Some see a contradiction here between John 3:17 and 9:39. Jesus came not to judge, but to give life. By the very fact of His coming, those who reject Him are judged (cf. John 3:18-21).

8:16-18 Again this was the issue of two witnesses needed in a court case (cf. Num. 35:30; Deut 17:6; 19:15). Jesus, in no uncertain terms, affirms His oneness with the Father (cf. John 7:29; 14:9). See SPECIAL TOPIC: WITNESSES TO JESUS at John 1:8.

8:16

NASB (1970),
NJB, REB"He who sent Me"
NASB (1995),
NKJV, NRSV,
NIV"the Father who sent Me"

Just as there is disagreement between two editions of the NASB, there is disagreement between the UBS3,4

1. UBS3 gives "Father" a "C" rating (MS P39,66,75, אi2, B, L, T, W,

2. UBS4 gives "Father" an "A" rating (MSS א*, D, and some Old Later and Syriac versions omit it)

Jesus is never alone! The Father is always with Him (cf. John 8:16,29; 16:32), except possibly on the cross (cf. Mark 15:34).

The joy and completion of fellowship is the essence of salvation. The purpose of creation was for God to have someone to fellowship with, so He (i.e., Christ, cf. Jn. 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2) created them in YHWH's image and likeness (cf. Gen. 1:26,27). This loss of fellowship is the penalty of sin. Its restoration is the goal of Jesus' mission!

8:19 "Where is Your Father" They were still understanding Jesus on a physical, literal level. Their preconceived and prideful minds were closed to the truth (cf. John 8:27). This misunderstanding is a literary characteristic of John's Gospel.

▣ "if you knew Me, you would know My Father also" This is a second class conditional sentence. It is often called "contrary to fact." "If you knew Me, which you do not, then you would know My Father, which you do not." This theme is repeated from John 5:37, see full note at John 7:28. It is difficult to outline John's Gospel because it is like a tapestry of recurring patterns or a symphony of repeated melodies.

8:20 "He spoke in the treasury" This verse is apparently another editorial comment from an eyewitness. The treasury was not a separate building. Rabbinical tradition (Shekalim 6) says there were thirteen trumpet-shaped containers, each marked for a specific purpose, located in the Court of the Women (cf. Mark 12:41), where the huge lamps were lighted during the Feast of Tabernacles.

▣ "His hour had not yet come" See note at John 2:4.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: JOHN 8:21-30
 21Then He said again to them, "I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come." 22So the Jews were saying, "Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, 'Where I am going, you cannot come'?" 23And He was saying to them, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." 25So they were saying to Him, "Who are You?" Jesus said to them, "What have I been saying to you from the beginning? 26I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world." 27They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father. 28So Jesus said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. 29And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him." 30As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.

8:21-22 "where I am going, you can not come. . .Surely He will not kill Himself, will He" The question of John 8:22 expects a "no" answer. It is obvious from the context that although they misunderstood His statement (cf. John 7:34-36), they related it to His death. From Josephus we learn that suicide condemned one to the lowest parts of Hades. Their question apparently indicates that this is where they thought Jesus should be.

8:21 "and will die in your sin" This is literally "In the sin of you, you will die." The term "sin" is singular in John 8:21 and plural in John 8:24. This refers primarily to their rejection of Jesus as the Christ (cf. John 8:24). This is really the unpardonable sin of the Synoptic Gospels. Their leaders are rejecting Jesus in the presence of the great light from His words and signs.

See the following notes from my commentary on Mark.

Mark 3:29 "whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit" This must be understood in its pre-Pentecostal historical setting. It was used in the sense of God's truth being rejected. The teaching of this verse has commonly been called "the unpardonable sin." It must be interpreted in light of the following criteria:

1.the distinction in the OT between "intentional" and "unintentional sins," (cf. Num. 15:27-31)

2.the unbelief of Jesus' own family contrasted with the unbelief of the Pharisees in this context

3.the statements of forgiveness in Mark 3:28

4.the differences between the Gospel parallels, particularly the change of "son of man," (cf. Matt. 12:32; Luke 12:10) to "sons of men," (cf. Matt. 12:31; Mark 3:28).

In light of the above, this sin is committed by those who, in the presence of great light and understanding, still reject Jesus as God's means of revelation and salvation. They turn the light of the gospel into the darkness of Satan (cf. Mark 3:30). They reject the Spirit's drawing and conviction (cf. John 6:44,65). The unpardonable sin is not a rejection by God because of some single act or word, but the continual, ongoing rejection of God in Christ by willful unbelief (i.e., the scribes and Pharisees).

This sin can only be committed by those who have been exposed to the gospel. Those who have heard the message about Jesus clearly are the most responsible for its rejection. This is especially true of modern cultures that have continual access to the gospel, but reject Jesus (i.e., America, western culture).

 

8:23 "You are from below, I am from above" This is another example of John's vertical dualism (i.e., below vs. above, cf. John 7:35-36; 18:36).

John's contrast between Jesus who is from above and the Jews who are from below, forms a dualism that is unique among the Gospels. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) contrast the two Jewish ages, the evil present age and the future age of righteousness. This difference is described by the terms horizontal dualism vs. vertical dualism. Did Jesus teach both in different settings? Possibly the Synoptics recorded Jesus' public teachings while John recorded Jesus' private teachings to the disciples.

▣ "you are of this world" The world lies in the power of the Evil One (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; and 1 John 5:19). For world (kosmos) see Special Topic at John 14:17.

8:24 "unless" This is a third class conditional sentence which means potential action.

NASB, NKJV"you believe that I am He"
NRSV, JB"believe that I am he"
TEV"believe that 'I Am Who I Am'"
NJB"believe that I am He"

This is one of the strongest statements of Jesus' self-understanding of His own divine nature (or it is possible that in this context "the Messiah" is the referent). He uses the OT title for YHWH (cf. "I am" of Exod. 3:14). This is distinct from the famous "I am" statements in John. This has no predicate (cf. John 4:26; 6:20; 8:24,25,58; 13:19; 18:5,6,8). See Special Topic: John's Use of "Believe" at John 2:23.

8:25 "Who are You" The Jewish authorities are looking for legal grounds for a charge of blasphemy (cf. Matt. 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65)! They want Him killed. They are not looking for information but for condemnation.

Jesus clearly reveals Himself in John (unlike the Synoptics)! His words (i.e., John 8:24) and His acts (i.e., healing on the Sabbath) clearly show His authority.

NASB"What have I been saying to you from the beginning"
NKJV"Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning"
NRSV"Why do I speak to you at all"
TEV"What I have told you from the very beginning"
NJB"What I have told you from the outset"

Originally the Greek manuscript had no spaces between the words. Therefore, the Greek letters can be divided in different places to make words that fit the context. The divergence of translations is not related to a manuscript variation, but word division. Here are the options.

1. hote - I have said to you from the beginning (NASB, NKJV, TEV, NJB, NIV)

2. ho ti as a Semitic idiom of exclamation - that I talk to you at all (NRSV, TEV footnote)

 It is probably one of John's word plays that the term "beginning" is used in the Septuagint's translation of Gen. 1:1 (creation) and in John. 1:1 (His ministry). Jesus is from the "beginning" and has been telling them this all along by words and deeds!

8:26-27 These themes are repeated in John for emphasis.

1. the Father sent Me (cf. John 3:17,34; 4:34; 5:36,38; 6:29,44,57; 7:28-29; 8:16,26,42; 10:36; 11:42; 12:49; 14:24; 15:21; 17:3,18,21,23,25; 20:21)

2. the Father is true (cf. John 3:33; 7:28)

3. Jesus' teachings are from the Father (cf. John 3:11; 7:16-17; 8:26,28,40; 12:49; 14:24; 15:15)

4. Jesus reveals the Father (cf. John 1:18; 8:26-29; 12:49-50; 14:7,9)

 

▣ "the world" See note at John 1:10.

8:27 Another editorial comment by the author. If they had understood His clear metaphorical and symbolic language, they, like other Jews, would have tried to kill Him (cf. John 5:18; 8:59; 10:33). His claims were not that hidden!

8:28 "When you lift up the Son of Man" This is an OT allusion to Num. 21:4-9, which is discussed in John 3:14. This term, as so many terms in John, had a double meaning. It can mean "lifted up" as on the cross (cf. John 3:14; 12:32,34), but it is often used in a sense of "exalted," as in Acts 2:33, 5:31; Phil. 2:9. Jesus knew He came to die (cf. Mark 10:45).

▣ "the Son of Man" This is Jesus' self-chosen title because it had no militaristic or nationalistic implications within rabbinical

Judaism. Jesus chose this title because it connects both the concepts of humanity (cf. Ezek. 2:1; Ps. 8:4) and deity (cf. Dan. 7:13).

▣ "then you will know that I am He" Even the disciples (and His family) did not fully understand until (cf. John 7:39) after Pentecost! The Spirit came with eye-opening power to all who had spiritual eyes and ears!

For the unique grammatical affirmation "I am He" see the note at John 8:24. They will know

1. who He is (i.e., Messiah)

2. that He reveals the Father (cf. John 5:19-20)

3. that He and the Father are one (John 8:29)

 

8:29 "He has not left Me alone" Jesus' fellowship with the Father sustained Him (cf. John 8:16; 16:32). This is why the broken fellowship on the cross was so difficult for Him (cf. Mark 15:34).

8:30 "many came to believe in Him" There is great latitude in the use of the term "believe" in this passage. It seems to refer to shallow faith on the part of some hearers (cf. Matt 13; Mark 4). They were willing to concede that He was the Messiah based on their understanding of what that meant. The context of John 8:30-58 clearly shows that they were not true believers (cf. John 2:23-25). In John there are several levels to belief, not all lead to salvation. See Special Topic at John 2:23.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: JOHN 8:31-33
 31So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." 33They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You will become free'?"

8:31 "If you abide" This is a third class conditional sentence which means potential action. This emphasis on continuing faith is also expressed clearly in John 15. This is the missing element in evangelical gospel proclamation. The word is to be believed (cf. John 5:24), obeyed, and abided in. See Special Topic: Abiding at 1 John 2:10.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE NEED TO PERSEVERE

▣ "in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine" Jesus emphasized lifestyle obedience (to His commands, cf. John 8:51,52,55; 14:15,21,23,24; 15:10,20; 17:6; Luke 6:46; 2 John 9). In a sense this verse reflects the shema, a Hebrew word that means "to hear so as to do" (i.e., Deut. 6:4-6).

8:32 "you will know" This is used in the OT sense of "know," which meant "personal relationship," not in the sense of "cognitive truth" (cf. Gen. 4:1; Jer. 1:5). Truth is a person! This verse, which is so often found on institutions of learning, does not refer to accumulated human knowledge. That has proved to divide and bind, not free, humans. The "truth" spoken of here is the gospel and person of Jesus Christ. There is no truth, peace, or hope apart from Him!

8:32,40,44,45,46 "the truth" This is the key concept of the context. This term has two connotations.

1. trustworthiness

2. truth versus falsehood

Both connotations are true of the life and ministry of Jesus. He is both the content and goal of the gospel. Truth is primarily a person! Jesus reveals the personal Father. This verse is often taken out of context and used in educational settings. Facts, even true facts, even lots of true facts, do not set one free (cf. Eccl. 1:18). See Special Topic on Truth at John 6:55 and 17:3.

8:32 "make you free" Believers are free from legalism, ritualism, and performance oriented, human religiosity. Yet free believers bind themselves for the sake of the gospel (cf. Rom. 14:1-15:6; 1 Cor. 8-10).

8:33 "We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone" It is amazing how blind racial pride can be. What about Egypt, Syria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Syria, and Rome?

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: JOHN 8:34-38
 34Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know that you are Abraham's descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father."

8:34 "everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin" Jesus was trying to lead them to the spiritual reality behind His previous phrase "make you free" in John 8:32, which the statement in John 8:33 shows they misunderstood. This statement is related to Jesus' strong accusations in John 8:21 and 24. His condemnations of these peripheral followers is consummated in John 8:44-47.

As Frank Stagg states in New Testament Theology, "the irony of man's plight is that bondage is the result of his attempt to be free" (p. 32).

The verb here is a present active participle, "doing," which denotes ongoing sin. Continuing sin is an evidence that one does not "know" the truth (Jesus). This same truth is expressed using the PRESENT TENSE verbs "sinning" in 1 John 3:6,9!

The question is, "Do believers still sin?" The answer must be "yes" (cf. Romans 7; 1 John). Christians struggle with sin, but the lost revel in it and do not recognize it!

The NET Bible (p. 1921 #21) adds a good comment that the contextual sin in John is "unbelief" (the unpardonable sin). This is not an ethical context but a "believe unto salvation context." The "sin" in 1 John is also unbelief (sin unto death)!

8:35 This verse does not directly relate to John 8:34, but to John 8:36. Jesus, not the Moses of rabbinical Judaism, is the true son (cf. Heb. 1:2; 3:6; 5:8; 7:28). Only faith in Him, not the performance of endless rules and rituals, can set one free (cf. John 8:32).

"forever" See Special Topic at John 6:58.

8:36 "if" This is a third class conditional sentence which speaks of potential action.

8:37 "yet you seek to kill Me" (cf. John 5:18; 7:1,19; 8:37,40; 11:53).

▣ "because My word has no place in you" This phrase can be understood in several senses. A helpful study aid is The Bible in Twenty Six Translations.

1. "because my word hath not free course in you" - American Standard Version

2. "gaineth no ground in you" - The New Testament by Henry Alford

3. "makes no headway among you" - The New Testament: A New Translation by James Moffatt

4. "findeth no place in you" - The Emphasized New Testament: A New Translation by J. B. Rotherham

5. "because my words find no room in your hearts" - The Four Gospels by E. John 8:Rieu

Again, the problem is receiving or not receiving the gospel. It is an issue of salvation, not moral progress.

8:38 "which I have seen" This is a perfect active indicative which relates to Jesus' pre-existence and current fellowship with the Father (cf. John 8:40,42).

▣ "you also do the things which you heard from your father" The first mention of "father" could be a reference to Jewish tradition (cf. Isa. 29:13). However, in John 8:41-44 the subject is qualified to Satan/Devil. Their actions, motives, and words, supposedly supporting "Moses," clearly show their spiritual orientation. Humans do not/cannot initiate in the spiritual realm. There are two sources of influence (not a dualism) - God/Christ/Spirit or Satan/and His! How one responds to the gospel (cf. John 1:12; 3:16; 10:1-18; 14:6) reveals the spiritual orientation!

There is some textual option related to this phrase.

1. both references to "father" could refer to YHWH (no pronoun "your")

2. the verb is an imperative, not an indicative

(see Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p.225).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: JOHN 8:39-47
 39They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham. 40But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 41You are doing the deeds of your father." They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God." 42Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 43Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God."

8:39 "Abraham is our father" Jesus affirmed their physical descent from Abraham, but pointed out that they had family characteristics of Satan (cf. John 8:38,44). A personal faith relationship, not racial identity, made the Jews right with God (cf. Deut. 6:5,13; Rom. 2:28-29; 9:6).

▣ "If" This is a first class conditional sentence in form (in the protasis - PRESENT ACTIVE INDICATIVE with ei), but it could be functioning as a second class conditional (cf. John 8:19 and 42). The Greek manuscript variants attempted to remove this mixed conditional form by changing the first verb to an imperfect. If so it would read, "If you were Abraham's children, which you are not, then you would be doing what Abraham did, but you are not." UBS4 gives the mixed conditional form a "B" rating (almost certain).

8:40 "a man" Jesus not only understood Himself as a representative of YHWH, equal in divine essence with YHWH, but also as a true human being. This assertion refuted the Gnostic false teachers' assertion of the eternal dualism between spirit and physical things (cf. 1 John 1:1-4; 4:1-4).

SPECIAL TOPIC: GNOSTICISM

8:41

NASB, NKJV"'We were not born of fornication'"
NRSV"'We are not illegitimate children'"
TEV"'We are true children'"
NJB"'We were not born illegitimate'"

This may be connected with the accusation of John 8:48 ("you are a Samaritan"). It seems that the Jews were asserting that Jesus was an illegitimate son, not a full blooded Jew. Later rabbinical sources would say Jesus was fathered by a Roman soldier.

▣ "we have one Father, even God" This statement reflects the strict monotheism of the OT (cf. Deut. 4:35,39; 6:4-5) expressed in paternal terms (cf. Deut. 32:6; Isa. 1:2; 63:16; 64:8). Here was the dilemma: these Jewish leaders affirmed the oneness of God (cf. Deut. 6:4-5) and that obedience to the Mosaic Law brought a right relationship with God (cf. Deut. 6:1-3,17,24-25). Jesus came claiming to be one with God! Jesus claimed that right standing with God was based not on performance of law, but on personal faith in Him. Their confusion and reluctance is understandable, but here is where the insight of the Spirit and the mighty works of Jesus bring faith!

8:42 "If" This is a second class conditional sentence called "contrary to fact." "If God were your Father which He is not, you would love me, which you do not" (cf. John 8:47).

8:43 "because you cannot hear My word" This refers to spiritual receptivity and understanding. They had no spiritual ears (cf. Isa. 6:9-10; Matt. 11:15; 13:9,15-16,43; Mark 4:9,23; 7:16; 8:18; Luke 8:8; 14:35; Acts 7:51; 28:26-27).

8:44 "You are of your father, the devil" What a startling statement to the religious leaders of His day (cf. John 8:47). This concept of shared family characteristics is expressed in a Hebrew idiom, "sons of. . ." (cf. Matt. 13:38; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:8,10).

For "devil" see Special Topic at John 12:31.

▣ a "murderer from the beginning" This is not meant to imply the eternality of evil (i.e., dualism as in Zoroastrianism), but it reflects the concept of the spiritual temptation of Adam and Eve by the agency of a lying spirit indwelling a serpent (cf. Genesis 3). Notice the purposeful contrast between God who is True, Truth and the devil!

8:46 "Which of you convicts Me of sin" In context this refers to false testimony. Satan lies, but Jesus speaks the truth. Jesus invites these Jewish leaders to refute His statements or teachings, prove Him to be false! In this context this statement does not seem to relate to Jesus' sinlessness as a theological doctrine.

In John "sin" is more a principle of evil in a fallen world in rebellion against God than a specific act of sin. Sin is everything Jesus is not! The ultimate "sin" is unbelief (cf. John 16:9).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: JOHN 8:48-59
 48The Jews answered and said to Him, "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?" 49Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death. 52The Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.' 53Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?" 54Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, 'He is our God'; 55and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. 56Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." 57So the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" 58Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am. 59Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.

8:48 "You are a Samaritan and have a demon" There is a possibility that the true contextual meaning is reflected in the Aramaic word translated by the Greek term "Samaritan," which meant "the chief of demons." Jesus spoke Aramaic. If this is true it fits in with the constant charge by the religious leaders that Jesus' power came from an evil supernatural source. It is also possible that to say someone had a demon meant they were lying (cf. John 8:52). To say Jesus was a Samaritan (cf. John 4:9) or had a demon (cf. John 7:20; 8:48,49,52; 10:20,21, see Special Topic at John 12:31) was a way of saying that one should not listen to Him or respond to His message. This then, like "Abraham is our father," was another excuse for not responding to Jesus or His message.

8:49 One cannot believe in the Father and not the Son (cf. 1 John 5:9-12); one cannot know the Father and not honor the Son (cf. John 5:23). Although two separate external persons, they are one (cf. John 10:30; 17:21-23).

8:50 "My glory" See note at John 1:14.

8:51,52 "if. . .If" These are both third class conditional sentences which mean potential action. Notice obedience is linked to faith (see list of texts in John 8:48).

▣ "he will never see death" This is a strong double negative. This obviously refers to spiritual death (cf. John 8:21,24), not physical death (cf. John 5:24; 6:40, 47; 11:25-26). It could refer to the fear of death (cf. 1 Cor. 15:54-57).

The concept of "death" (thanatos) is expressed in the Bible in three stages.

1. spiritual death, Gen. 2:17; 3:1-24; Isa. 59:2; Rom. 7:10-11; James 1:15 (the relationship with God is broken)

2. physical death, Gen. 3:4-5; 5 (the relationship with the planet is broken)

3. eternal death, "the second death," Rev. 2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8 (the broken relationship with God is made permanent)

Death is the opposite of the will of God for His highest creation (cf. Gen. 1:26-27).

8:52 This shows that they misunderstood Jesus' statement (cf. John 8:51). They took it to relate to the physical life of Abraham and the prophets.

8:53 This question expects a "no" answer. What a startling statement! But this was exactly what Jesus was claiming.

1. He was greater than Abraham, John 8:53

2. He was greater than Jacob, 4:12

3. He was greater than Jonah, Matt. 12:41; Luke 11:32

4. He was greater than John the Baptist, 5:36; Luke 7:28

5. He was greater than Solomon, Matt. 12:42; Luke 11:31

The whole book of Hebrews shows the superiority of Jesus over Moses, new covenant over old covenant (see my commentary on Hebrews free online at www.freebiblecommentary.mobi ).

▣ "whom do You make Yourself out to be" This was exactly the point! Jesus states the conclusion clearly in John 8:54 and 58 and they try to stone Him for blasphemy (cf. John 8:59).

8:54 "If" Another third class conditional sentence which meant potential action.

▣ "glorify" It is used here in the sense of honor (cf. Rom. 1:21; 1 Cor. 12:26).

8:55 "know. . .know" The English term translates two Greek terms in this verse, ginōskō and oida, which seem in this context to be synonyms (cf. John 7:28-29). Jesus knows the Father and reveals Him to His followers. The world (even the Jews) does not know the Father (cf. John 1:10; 8:19,55; 15:21;16:3; 17:25).

8:56 "Your father Abraham" This is a startling statement. Jesus distances Himself from "the Jews," "the Law" (cf. John 8:17), "the Temple," and even the patriarch Abraham. There is a clear break from the Old Covenant!

▣ "rejoiced to see My day" This is an aorist middle indicative. How much did Abraham understand about the Messiah? Several translations translate this in a future sense. These options are taken from The Bible in Twenty-Six Translations.

1. "exulted that he should see" - The Emphasized New Testament: A New Translation by J. B. Rotherham

2. "rejoice that he was to see my day" - Revised Standard Version

3. "was extremely happy in the prospect of seeing - The Berkeley Version of the New Testament by Gerrit Verkuyl

4. "of seeing my coming" - The New Testament: An American Translation by Edgar J. Goodspeed

5. "was delighted to know of My day" - The New Testament in the Language of Today by William F. Beck

Also, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised edited by Harold K. Moulton lists the verb as meaning "to desire ardently" from the Septuagint's usage (p. 2).

▣ "he saw it and was glad" This refers to one of two things.

1. that Abraham, in his lifetime, had a vision of the Messiah (cf. II Esdras 3:14)

2. that Abraham was alive (in heaven) and conscious of the Messiah's work on earth (cf. Heb 11:13)

The whole point of Jesus' statement is that the Father of the Jewish nation looked forward to the Messianic age with great joy, but the current "seed" (generation) refused to believe and rejoice! Abraham is the father of believers (cf. Rom. 2:28-29), not unbelievers!

8:57 Again Jesus' hearers misunderstood His words because of their literalism! This confusion may have been purposeful! They did not see because they did not want to see or possibly could not see!

8:58 "before Abraham was born, I am" This was blasphemy to the Jews and they tried to stone Jesus (cf. Exod. 3:12, 14). They understood completely what He was saying, which was that He was pre-existent Deity (cf. John 4:26; 6:20; 8:24,28,54-59; 13:19; 18:5,6,8).

8:59 "they picked up stones to throw at Him" Jesus' words were very plain. He was the Messiah and He was one with the Father. These Jews, who in John 8:31 are said to have "believed Him," are now ready to stone Him for blasphemy (cf. Lev. 24:16). It was so hard for these Jews to accept Jesus' radical new message.

1. He did not act the way they expected the Messiah to act

2. He challenged their sacred oral traditions

3. He confused their strict monotheism

4. He asserted that Satan, not YHWH, was their "father"

One must "stone" Him or "receive" Him! There is no middle ground!

▣ "Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple" This is one of those verses that have caused interpreters to speculate (and add phrases to the Greek text) on whether

1. this was a miracle (cf. Luke 4:30 and textual additions here)

2. Jesus melted into the crowd because He looked like all the other Jews in attendance

There was a divine timetable. Jesus knew that He came to die and He know how, when, and where. His "hour had not yet come"!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Is John 7:53-8:11 an original part of the Gospel of John?

Why or why not?

2. What is the background to Jesus' statement "I am the light of the world"?

3. Why were the Pharisees so antagonistic to Jesus?

4. Explain the use of the term "believe" in John 8:30 in light of the context that follows.