A Commentary on the Gospel of John
by Cooper Abrams
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|Introduction: At the end of the eight day of Feast of Tabernacles the Jews returned to their homes and Jesus then went up to the Mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives is on a long sloping hill on the east side of the Temple Mount. Between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives is the Kidron valley. It is first mentioned in the Bible in when David fled Jerusalem through the valley. (2 Samuel 5:23-30) Next it was where King Asa who did right in God's eyes, removed the Sodomites from Israel, removed his mother as queen because she set up a grove to an idol, and he burnt it by the brook of Kidron. (1 Kings 15:12-13, 2 King 23:6-7) The evil queen Athaliah was killed in the Kidron Valley. The hill became a major cemetery after the days when Josiah was king of Judah. (2 King 23:6) Jeremiah's prophecies concerning the future of the valley is that it would be a holy place in the Millennium kingdom. Zechariah prophesied that when the Messiah returns to earth He will touch down on the Mount of Olives and it will be split into two large valleys. (Zech. 14:3-4)|
"Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 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 the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst" (John 8:1-3)
It appears that Jesus, having no home or place to reside, spent the night in the garden of the Mount of Olives. The early next morning, which would mean about day light, after the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jesus returned to the Temple. It seems that on seeing Him enter the Temple area, those who were there came to Him and Jesus sat down and taught them. Luke records "And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives. And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him." (Luke 21:37-38)
In the days before, Jesus' teachings had caused great interest and the people were eager to hear further of His teaching. Probably knowing of their interest Jesus returns to the Temple to teach the further. John gives the detail in verse 20, that He was in the fore court of the Temple which was part of the court for women. 2 Women could not enter the other areas, which explains why the Pharisees where able to bring the woman to this area. Seeing the interest in Christ's teaching the scribes and Pharisee plotted to discredit him in front of the people. John does not give the details of how the adulterous woman had been found out, but on learning of it these religious leaders saw it as a opportunity entrap the Lord.
"They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 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." (John 8:4-6)
Reading between the lines you can sense their eagerness to disgrace Him. They knew the Lord had shown His character of being forgiving. In this case of adultery it was either upholding the law of Moses, or forgiving the woman of her sin. It seems clear they already knew what Jesus would do and that He would forgive the sinful act. Leviticus 20:10 stated, "And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." Therefore under the law of Moses the woman was under the penalty of death. Capitol punishment under the law was by stoning the guilty party to death. 3 If such cases the accused party would be tried before the Sanhedrin, which was the high court of the Jews. It is generally accepted that the Sanhedrin did not practice capitol punishment for such offences. One reason was as a conquered nation their were ultimately under Roman law which did not allow them to practice capitol punishment without Roman approval. Another was that adultery was too wide spread for the law to be enforced. These piteous acting religious leaders were not interested in applying the law. Their intent was merely using the law as a means to discredit the Savior. You can recognize their contempt in their challenge "What sayest thou."
If Jesus responded that the law should be upheld and the woman stoned, they could have accused Him of violating Roman law that forbade the Jews from doing so. If Jesus dismissed the charge against her they could charge Him of violating Moses law before the Sanhedrin. In their minds it was a win win situation and the trap was set and they simply awaited His response. Jesus response was to bend forward (stoop down) and with His finger write on the ground as if He had not heard them. Jesus in doing so showed His loathing of their actions. Probably because of His not answering it seemed to them they had won their victory. Thus impatiently they repeatedly asked Him to respond.
"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. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground." (John 8:7-8)
Jesus then stands up, apparently looking them straight in the eye and says " He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." We can surmise that Jesus' actions were perfectly calculated to emphasize His response. The people understood that these men were trying to ensnare the Lord and were not truly interested in either response He could make. He turned the their trap against them and showed those who were there the hypocrisy of these Jewish leaders. There was never any fault found in Jesus, thus to destroy Him, His enemies had to diverse false accusations and perpetrate lies against Him. To further show His contempt for their plotting He once again leaned forward and began to write on the ground basically turning His back to them.
"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." (John 8:9)
This was an electrifying event as these men, so confident a moment earlier, now were under strong conviction for their own sins. Their hypocrisy was embarrassingly exposed in their own hearts and before the people. These outward religious men could not stand under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. Being exposed the is the worse possible moment for a hypocrite. No longer face to face with the Lord and under His accusing eye, these accusers one by one slipped away. The words, "went out" literally means they escaped from the shame of their exposed fraud. It was the elder or oldest scribes and Pharisees, being the greater hypocrites who felt the most threaten by the Lord's message and probably had devised the trap. Thus these older men slipped away first, and the younger followed seeing their leaders abandoning their failed plan.
"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? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." (John 8:10-11)
Jesus again stood up and saw that the religious leaders had left leaving the woman behind. The people who were witnessing this confrontation apparently remained. Jesus then asks the woman where were her accusers? He continued making the point that none of the scribes and Pharisees had remained to condemn her. Not one of them was sinless and thus none could cast a stone at her.
Clearly under the Mosaic law the woman if guilty deserved to die. Adultery is a serious sin, but God will forgive the adulterer when by faith they repent and accept Jesus' sacrifice for their sins. Paul writing to Titus states the reason Jesus came to earth to suffer, die and be resurrected to save the sinner. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." (1 Timothy 1:15)
Jesus' question to the woman was, "Where are the officials who pronounce you guilty and declare your sentence." The woman replied that no man had officially condemned her meaning sentenced her officially to stoning. Jesus then replied, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." We should understand that the Jewish leaders were asking Jesus to make a civil ruling as a magistrate. Although the woman had sinned against God, the matter the scribes and Pharisees presented to Jesus was a matter of executing civil law. This gives some insight into their thinking that the promised Messiah would come as a national leader to free the Jews from Roman occupation. In John 1:49 when Jesus called Nathanael to follow Him and he revealed that he had been under a fig tree when Phillip called him. Note Nathanael's response. ". . . Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel." In John 6:15, after Jesus fed the five thousands the Jews sought to make Him king. Without question they saw Him as come from God, but only as their king and not as their Savior who came sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world. Further they saw Jesus as simply a man and did not consider His deity. Later in His discourse with the Jewish rulers Jesus asserted that He was "I AM' meaning Jehovah God. (John 8:58) There is coming a day, in the promised Millennial kingdom where, Jesus sitting on the throne of David in Jerusalem, will be crowned King and will rule the world. (Rev. 2:27, 12:5, 19:15).
The Lord's statement is that He did not condemn or sentence her. He was not condoning her gross sin, but rather showing her mercy and giving her a second chance. He told her go and continue no longer in sin. The passage does not say what the woman did afterwards. And it is hoped that she repented and was saved.
"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." (John 8:12)
In the introduction of this Gospel John proclaimed that Jesus the Light of men and the world. (John 1:4-5, 9:5) Light means to "shine or make manifest" and the scope of His light was to all men and the whole world. Light is a used as a symbol of the absence of darkness. Where the light shines darkness is expelled and cannot exist. Jesus plainly stated that He and He alone was the light of the world. Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) All gods and religions of the world are false and are spawned from Satan and darkness. Following Jesus Christ means a person walks in truth and the reality that God is our Creator, that the fall of man plunged all men into sin, but that Jesus suffered, died and rose on the third day suffering the penalty for the sins of all men. Further, if a man receives the Light, which is Jesus and His truth, his faith will give him life, save him, his sins will be forgiven, and he will receive eternal life.
Those who walk in darkness are blind to God's truth. Paul explained "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14) The man who believes in Jesus Christ is "born again" which means he receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the nature of God that allows him to understand spiritual things. The unbeliever, lost in his sins, controlled by the carnal nature, walks in darkness blind to the truth. It is not God's desire that men walk in darkness and Jesus said "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:17) However, Jesus continued saying, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." (John 3:19-20)
"The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true." (John 8:13)
It appears that those who were earlier under the strong conviction of their sin now have overcome their humiliation and they returned to confront Jesus again. They still sought to find some fault in Him whereby they could bring accusations against Him and take His life. Their statement was that a anyone who praised himself could not be believe. The maxim is that self praise is true and not to be accepted.
"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." (John 8:14)
Jesus countered their accusation by acknowledging that he had borne record or testified of Himself, but the difference was He has spoken the truth. He stated that He knew where He came from and where He was going. Because they refused the Light, they could not perceive or know the truth. Of course from His miracles and message it could be seen He came from God. Nicodemus, a Pharisee, recognized this truth saying ". . . Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him." (John 3:2) Nicodemus was an honest man who was open to God's truth and therefore he recognized and admitted to what was so vividly apparent. It was the sin, the darkness and of the scribes and Pharisees evil hearts that blinded them to this truth. They willingly rejected what they saw. Paul speaking of those who reject Jesus Christ said "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (2 Corinthians 4:4) "Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me." (John 8:15-18)
Jesus rebuked them saying that they "judged after the flesh." In other words, as blind men walking in darkness, they judged according to their own sinful natures. It was God, who founded their nation that set the standard of both civil and spiritual laws, but they ignored that God was the author of the law. They judged Jesus not on the merits of His person and actions, but according to their tainted hearts that sought to destroy Him because of their pride and self-righteousness.
Jesus then states the most vital principle in determining truth. He appealed to God's written word which is what the religious rulers failed to do. He declared that if He judged His judgment was not His alone, but also that of God the Father who sent Him. His judgment was authenticated by God through His written word. Jesus appealed to the law that in the mouth of two witnesses truth was established. (Deut. 19:15) Thus God the Father and Himself were witnesses and testified to the truth of His statement that He was the Light of the world and those who believed in Him did not walk in darkness and had by implication eternal life.
"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." (John 8:19)
The Jews, obviously knew that He spoke of God the Father and His written law. They knew that salvation and life was only through God and therefore understood He was referring to God the Father. However, feigning ignorance they replied asking Him where was His father? They implied that He spoke of Joseph the carpenter thereby belittling the witness of His father. They men were the highest and most knowledgeable religious leaders of Israel. Their very demeanor boasted of their supposed knowledge of God and their position of religious leadership. Yet, Jesus again rebuked them saying they did not know Him because they did not know God the Father either. If they knew God the Father who they claimed they represented, they would have know His Son. God the Father is holy and righteous as was Jesus and thus Jesus' life was a testimony of God the Father. This truth can be seen when Jesus challenged Phillip's unbelief. Jesus said "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him." (John 14:6-7) However, Phillip replied asking the Lord for some outward physical sign of the Father. There is a note of disappointment and reproof in Jesus' reply "Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?" (John 14:9) Still the Pharisees, because they would not believe, could not understand or would not accept Jesus' words.
"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." (John 8:20)
John interjects this detail that Jesus was in the treasury in the Temple when He had this discourse. The treasury was where the Jews brought their tithes and offerings within the Temple mound and was also the included the women's court.
John explains that no man laid hands on Him because it was not yet His time. Jesus had not finished His ministry and still had much to say, therefore the Jewish rulers were not allowed to arrest Him, though they certainly would have done so if the Lord had not intervened.
"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 the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come." (John 8:21-22)
This was Jesus' sixth dialog recorded by John with the Jewish leaders. It is not clear if this occurred immediately after the preceding discourse or later. Jesus says to them that He is "going His way." In John 7:33 He earlier referred to His leaving them. He was saying that as their Messiah there would come a time they would seek Him and they would not find Him. The statement "ye shall seek me, and die in your sins" plainly inferred He was the Messiah and the Savior they would seek. Israel was headed for troublesome times and in 70 AD in only thirty seven years Jerusalem would be destroyed and the Jews removed from Palestine and dispersed all over the Roman world as slaves. Titus, the Roman general would lay siege to Jerusalem which would end in Jerusalem and the temple being destroyed and according to Josephus 1.1 million Jews killed. Thus Jesus' statement also had meaning in that most of them would physical face death at the hands of the Romans and because they had rejected Him as their promised atoning Messiah, they would die in their sins and not go to heaven where He was going to return. He plainly was condemning them for their unbelief.
The Jews, still blinded by their unbelief scornfully concluded He was talking about suicide because He said they could not go where He was going. In other words they were saying, that Jesus must be talking about committing suicide and thereby condemning Himself to the Lake of Fire, because they were all going to heaven! The Jews saw suicide as a sin without redemption and that the person would be sent to "the darkest regions of Hades would receive the souls of such." 4 The statement was mocking Jesus by condemning Him to Hades, but they, seeing themselves, as devout Jews, would certainly be in heaven. The were making a strong contrast themselves as being righteous and worthy Jews and Jesus as a liar and imposter.
Jesus was speaking of His returning to the Father in Heaven. It seems totally beyond their comprehension to think they could be alienated from God and that they would perish in their sins. The hypocrite, by the very natural of hypocrisy, cannot let himself, for a second think, he is wrong. True hypocrisy is an all consuming condition. These men thought themselves worthy of heaven because of their religious works. In their minds they believed their works assured their salvation. Sadly, throughout history, men blinded in their self-righteousness and pride have made the same fatal error and died in their sins unredeemed.
"And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 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." (John 8:23-24)
In response to their wicked mocking statement Jesus said very straight forward that they were the ones who were from beneath, the final domain of Satan. They were the children of the Devil of the world which is the present domain of Satan as the prince of the powers of the air. (Eph. 2:2) Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:4 reveals the mind of the unsaved self righteous "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (2 Corinthians 4:4) The word "world" is not "kosmos" but "aion" meaning the god of this dispensation or age. 5 In John 8:44, Jesus's statement is even plainer saying they were of their father the Devil.
Jesus often stated His deity as He did in verse 23. He said He was not of this world. He was stating that though He was wholly a man, He was not an ordinary man, but was from God the Father from heaven. The Lord left on doubt of His being the redeeming Messiah come from God. He told them because they rejected Him and would not believe they would die in their sins. It should be noted that Jesus was speaking to them of their present condition. But in His statement is the offer of salvation "for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." Of course they could have believed and been saved. Many a man in rebellion against God has seen the light and believed and thus been saved.
"Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. 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. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father." (John 8:25-27)
These Jewish rules understood the implication of Jesus' statements. He was saying He and He alone was the only way to God and salvation. Their strait forward question was more in the form of scorn than of honestly wanting to understand who was Jesus. The Lord's reply shows He would not cater to them saying He was the same One He has repeatedly told them He was from the beginning of His ministry. His birth, life, message, and miracles attested to that He was the Messiah.
"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. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him." (John 8:28-30)
In stating that when they had "lifted up the Son of Man," referring to His coming crucifixion, Jesus affirmed they would know that He was the Messiah sent of God . Further they would know that it was God the Father that had taught Him to speak the things that they were objecting to. Although His message did not please them, it pleased the Father because it was true.
Throughout His encounters with the Jewish rulers they harden their hearts against Him which is the response of most of the world. Willingly blinded by their sin they refused to seriously consider His mirages and message. Yet, in the group there were many who did honestly consider His words and they believed Him to the saving of their souls. How do we explain the difference in how the message was received? The Holy Spirit, when the truth is presented, brings conviction to a person's heart that what they were hearing is of God and true. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) The difference between those who believed and the ones who rejected Him lies within one's pride. It was not the degree of the sin of the religious leaders who rejected Him, but the source of their sin which was pride. The grossest of sinners can certainly be saved if they accept the fact they are sinners and need God's forgiveness. However, most self-righteous persons will not admit to their sin and need of a Redeemer. In their pride they see themselves as their own savior and worthy of heaven.
"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32)
Though those that believed probably did not openly state their belief, Jesus knew those who were believing and He spoke to them. He encouraged them to continue in His word and they would be "disciples indeed" meaning true disciples. John 6:66 states that earlier many who were following Him as disciples left and followed the Lord no more. (See Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23) The term "disciple" simply means someone who is "pupil or learner" and does not necessarily mean someone who is a true believer. Clearly, in becoming Jesus' pupils they were attracted to Him and had some belief in His teachings. But for some the Lord's teachings had not converted them and their belief was not from the heart, but was rather a head belief. Their belief was a response from their intellect and was not spiritual. Jesus' statement was given to make it clear that a head knowledge would not be sufficient to sustain them in their spiritual walk. The true disciple, who believed from his heart would not turn back and would continue in following the Lord.
Jesus continued explaining to them that the truth of His word would make them free. The word "freedom" literally means to liberate and deliver the freed person from bondage. In one sense the Jews were in bondage to their Roman conquers and further spiritually in slavery to their sinful natures and false religion. The truth, which is the Gospel, sets the believer free from the bondage of sin. Being spiritually free, is absolute freedom and that freedom is found only in true heart accepted belief. This is a vital point in that salvation is from "knowing" the truth, which means accepting it and then living according to this knowledge. There is no freedom, no peace, no joy when sin rules one's life. "They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?" (John 8:33)
The response in verse 33 seems to have come from those who were not truly believing in Christ. Jesus' statement could have been to cause such an open response from those who were rejecting Him or those who were wavering in their belief. However, their response was clearly one of Jewish pride. They were in bondage to the Romans who had conquered their nation. It seems such a foolish remark when they were in truth chaffing under Roman domination. Throughout Israel's history they were only short periods of time when their were truly a free people. When they turned to idolatry God chastened them and allowed their enemies to rule over. The Babylonian captivity should have been fresh on their minds. Israel had been in bondage to the Assyrians, Babylonian, Greece, Syria, and now to Romans. Their declared freedom in their heritage as the seed of Abraham was preposterous. One truth seems to have been missed in their reference to being Abraham's seed. That truth was that it was God who had made the seed of Abraham a nation, and it was God who had founded then nation and made them a special people unto God. God had a plan for Israel to be His witness to the world, but they lives dishonored God. They did not respond that they were the people of God, but of Abraham's seed.
"Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John 8:34-36)
Jesus' reply was to state they were in fact the servants of sin and in bondage to it. It was not their history, or heritage that He was referring to, but to their spiritual condition. If one commits sin, he is a servant of sin. Peter states, "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage." (2 Peter 2:19) (See Rom. 6:20)
Jesus again refers to His Sonship to the Father. They had appealed to their heritage as Abraham's seed as their justification of being in God's family, but Jesus stated His relationship was that of a Son. The bond servant's relationship to the family is not permanent. However, if the Son, as a member of God's family, adopts the bond servant he then becomes a family member with the freedoms and privileges which the familial relationship brings. Jesus was once again telling them their salvation was not in Abraham, Moses or keeping the law but in accepting Him and Him alone as their Redeemer. If He, the Messiah the Son of God would make them free then and only then would they be truly free.
"I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. 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." (John 8:37-39)
To make sure they understood, Jesus replied that He knew they were Abraham's physical descendants, but He states they were not of Abraham's spiritual legacy, because they sought to kill Him. Hebrews 11:8-10 states Abraham believed God and by faith accepted His promises. Paul stated, "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." (Romans 4:3, Gal. 3:6)) Note that Jesus said that His word had no place in them. It was His word that Abraham believed and directed his life, but it was not His word that they were following. Plainly, Jesus was exposing their false religious beliefs and that they were not God's children.
Clearly, Jesus had done nothing to harm these religious leaders beyond exposing their self-righteousness and false religion. Yet, their response to His accusations was extreme in seeking to kill Him. They were claiming to be of Abraham, but Jesus plainly revealed the truth, that it was Satan they were following and thus he was their father.
Once again the Jews responded under Jesus accusations that Abraham was their father. Jesus counted that if they were truly Abraham's children, who was a man who believed God, they would do the works of Abraham. They too would believe God and live by faith as Abraham had.
"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. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. 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." (John 8:40-42)
The proof of His accusation against them was that they sought to kill Him simply because He told them the truth. The fact that Jesus knew of their plot to kill Him was further evidence that He was God's Son. He exposed their plot to the people and thus made the case against them. Abraham loved God and showed his love of others in his life. He defended his brother Lot, and freed him from his captors. Abraham was known for his benevolence and hospitality to strangers, yet the Jewish leaders, claiming affiliation with Abraham were seeking to murder an innocent man.
"Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. 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. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word." (John 8:41-43)
Once again Jesus tells them they are of their father the devil. There are various explanations given for the Jews reply that they "were not born in fornication." The context seems clear that Jesus was saying they were the children of the Devil because they did the works of Satan. Their response was to personally attack His birth inferring that He was the illegitimate son of Mary. Often when exposed to the undeniable reality of the truth, the one who is in error resorts to making a personal attack on the one proclaiming the truth. It is a weak, foolish and desperate attempt to defend that which is defenseless. It shows the corruptness of thinking that if you destroy the messenger you destroy his message.
They proudly, but falsely then proclaimed finally that God was their father. Jesus' statements that Abraham would not do what they were plotting seems to have found some hold on them. They now say they are the children of God. These false religious leaders were actually speaking to God, Jesus Christ incarnate in flesh, and declaring to Him they were of God. How blind were these poor self-righteous souls.
Jesus again repudiates their claims by asserting that if their father was God they would love Him for He "proceeded" from God. They would love whom God loved. The words "proceeded forth" means to come forth. Jesus is referring to His incarnation in that He came directly from God and that His ministry was obeying the will of God the Father.
He challenges them asking why will they not listen and try to exercise some understanding in what He was saying. No matter how plainly Jesus had taught them, they did not understand. Their pride and hypocrisy barred them from allowing themselves to comprehend the substance of His word. It was not that they could not perceive the truth, but they were only interested in the threat He posed to their authority and position as the religious leaders of Israel. Thus they impatiently wanted to remove Him as the menace He presented to them. Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 2:14 "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14) Note God's explanation of this spiritual blindness in Romans 8:6-8 "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:6-8)
"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. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not." (John 8:44-45)
Three times earlier in Jesus' discourse He inferred that they were of their father the devil, but at this point, perceiving their hostility He states this fact plainly. Jesus left nothing to chance boldly affirming the source of their motivation. He further adds that lived to satisfy the lusts of devil who was a murderer from the beginning. The Jews were very aware that when Cain murdered his brother Abel he was following Satan. The Devil lied to Eve in the Garden and deceived her into believing a lie. Satan is completely devoid of truth and Jesus was pronouncing that as the children of the Devil they and their religion also had no truth. Bare in mind that Jesus' denouncefication was being heard not only by the religious rulers, but the common Jews as well. We can only imagine the hot anger this incited in those who were being exposed.
Verse 45 implies that if Jesus had spoken lies unto them they would have believed, but they heard the truth and would not believe. How often those who seek to witness to the lost run into the brick wall of denial of truth when seeking to win the lost to Christ. It is so disheartening to carefully and lovingly share God's saving truth with the unsaved, only to have them callously dismiss it which implies the truth is in their minds a lie. There is a clear phenomena of false religions and cults to believe the lie in spite of it being shown to be false. It is hard to understand how the acceptance of truth is so far from those blinded by false teachers. God's word plainly states that when God's word is taught the Holy Spirit brings conviction that it is truly the truth and should be believed. Yet, so many are overpowered by the lust of their sins they remain so very far from the saving truth.
"Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" (John 8:46-48)
The Lord then publicly challenges them to show some proof or evidence that He had sinned, committed some lie, or was an impostor. Jesus was therefore demanding that if they could not show Him to be a false teacher having some sin, then they should believe and accept Him. Why, He asked do they refuse to believe Him when they have no grounds for unbelief?
Now for the fourth time Jesus tells them they were deceived in claiming to be God's children, because if they were of God they would accept Him. Jesus conveys the truth that their act of rejection showed they were not the children of God.
The Jews hearts are exposed once again by their answer to Him. The word "answered" means to "conclude to one's self" meaning they immediately sought to justify themselves by using accusations they knew were false. Is it not revealing that they criticized Jesus by calling Him a Samaritan and having a devil. The Samaritans had distorted God's word and founded a false religion that supposedly worshiped God. In truth that is exactly what the Jews had done. They accused Jesus of being controlled by a demon which is actually what was motivating them.
"Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth." (John 8:49-50)
In response Jesus simply stated that He was not possessed by a demon, but what honoring His Father. But they by their false accusation they dishonored Him whom God had sent. He further again made the point that He was not seeking to glorify Himself as a man would. There is a haunting prediction in Jesus' words that there was "one who seeketh and judgeth." The leaders of the nation of Israel was in their rejection of Jesus as the Christ, setting themselves up for the destruction that they would soon experience. Their pride would be turned to shame and humiliation as the Romans destroyed their land, their temple and enslaved their people. Their position as the proud leaders of Israel, so taken with their heritage, would be lost and they would be debased as the Romans killed them or made them slaves of their enemies. There is nothing so hopeless as unbelief.
The word "seeketh" literally or figuratively means specially (by Hebraism) to worship God. 6 In other words God the Father would vindicate His Son the Lord Jesus and in turn in His wrath judge those that rebelled against Him. It is not dishonoring to be falsely accused or persecuted when one obeys the Lord and seeks to do God's will. In human terms it seems humiliating and belittling, but in God's eyes is it quite different. To Timothy who knew of persecution for his faith first hand Paul said, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (2 Timothy 3:12) Peter's word exhort those who are persecuted to "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." (1 Peter 5:8-9)
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 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. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?" (John 8:51-53)
Jesus affirms the seriousness of what He had explained to the Jewish leaders, by saying "Verily, Verily." He bring sharp attention to the fact if a man would keep His saying He would never see death. Jesus was undaunted by their rejection of His word and reiterates that He was the Redeemer then One who could give them eternal life if they would believe. He had promised to them freedom from sin and adoption as the children of God, but they would not consider the truth they had heard. They off handedly once again accused Him of having a demon. Their response shows they did understand what Jesus was saying. Jesus had implied that Abraham had believed His words and that His words was the word of God the Father. They asked Him was He greater than Abraham saying that Abraham was dead, as was the prophets of God , so how could He claim those that believed would never die.
Further, their statement "whom thou makest thou thyself" demonstrates they knew that Jesus was proclaiming His deity as being equal with God. (See John 5:18, 10:33, 19:7) Only God could forgive sins and give eternal life and it was plain that Jesus was offering everlasting life to those who would accept Him.
"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: 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. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad." (John 8:54-56)
One can be awed by the simplicity of Jesus' response. He simply states the truth that He was not seeking to honor Himself beyond that which He was. Jesus always pointed to God the Father as the source of His message and authority. He did not proclaim that of Himself, but repeatedly stated this came from God whom they claimed was their God. He brings to their attention that He was glorifying the Father which they should have recognized, but seemed to be obvious.
Jesus once again says that they did not know God, and if He was to say He did not know Him He would be a liar like they were. He admits that He does know the Father and keeps His saying. They had asked was He greater than Abraham and His answer is found in verse 56. Yes, He was greater because Abraham by faith saw "my day" meaning the predicted Messiah's appearance. Abraham, because he believed God, rejoiced, meaning he literally jumped for joy looking to day when God would fulfill His promise and the Messiah would come and bring with Him the redemption of man. By faith Abraham saw it and rejoiced.
Believers today can rejoice as well in knowing that Jesus did come and accomplished salvation them on the cross. They too can look to the future when the Lord will return and end this age of sin and rebellion. The child of God can see the day when the Lord will come triumphant in all His glory and receive the honor and glory He desires as the worthy Lamb of God. (Rev. 5:12)
The Jews response is redundant. Before them stood the promised Messiah who showed Himself as the Son of God by His miracles and message, yet they responded with silly and foolish statements that apparently knew were such. They replied how could Jesus who was not even fifty years old say He had seen Abraham. You can also see the smirk on their faces. What could not be seen was what was going on in their cold and sinful hearts.
"Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." (John 8:58)
Jesus then makes a profound statement they could not misunderstand. He preferences His statement with "Verily, Verily" shows the seriousness and importance of His following words. "Before Abraham was, I AM." In other words before Abraham existed, Jesus was which plainly attested to His deity, that He that stood before them was Almighty God incarnate in flesh. The statement "I AM" was the name God told Moses to tell the Hebrews of who was delivering them from Egypt. "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." (Exodus 3:14)
Jesus stated that He existed before Abraham "was." Using the word "was" implies that Abraham until he was born did not exist. Yet, Jesus used the words "I am" which unquestionably refers to eternally. Jesus did not come into being but existed eternally. The Psalmist proclaimed "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." (Psalms 90:2) Jesus said "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." (Revelation 1:8) (See Rev. 1:11, 21:6, 22:13).
This affirmation by Jesus of His deity proves beyond any question that Jesus Christ is God, come in the flesh, incarnate in man. To deny the deity of Jesus Christ in that He is Almighty God, is to blaspheme His Being. "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." (1 John 4:2-3)
Those who deny Jesus is God have the spirit of the antichrist. If anyone denies Jesus' words He is not saved. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . .And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (John 1:1,14)
John records the reaction of the Jews was to take up stones. They fully understood who Jesus said He was and were so angered they sought execute Him on the spot. Jesus plainly had said He was Jehovah God. Jesus then "hid" or concealed Himself from their sight and departed the temple. The wording indicates that unseen Jesus pasted through the midst of them.
1 This passage titled the Pericope de Adultera, John 7:53-8-11, was not found in Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus, as well as eleven other uncials of the corrupted Minority Text, or Eastern Text found in Egypt. It is also found in eleven minuscules of the same origin. However, the passage is found in thousands of manuscripts of the Western or Majority texts and it proven authenticate.