John Chapter 8: Woman Taken in Adultery, Jesus Teaches in the Temple

Dec 23rd, 2009 | By | Category: John, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

John Chapter 8: Woman Taken in Adultery, Jesus Teaches in the Temple

John 8:1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

John 8:2 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.

John 7:37 said it was the eighth (or last) day of the Feast of Tabernacles. If Jesus had gone to the Mount of Olives to spend the night and the incident with the adulterous woman occurred the next day, the feast would have been over. This discrepancy proves that John 7:53 through 8:11 is spurious because John 8:12 continues on with Jesus’ words on the eighth (last) day of the feast.

John 8:3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

John 8:4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

John 8:5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

John 8:6 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.

A woman taken in the act of adultery would not have been brought into the holy Temple precincts. The RSV, the NIV, and the Diaglott all have notes saying that John 7:53 through 8:11 is spurious. Moreover, the three most ancient “complete” manuscripts (Sinaitic, Vatican, and Alexandrian) do not contain this passage. Many want this passage included because it emphasizes forgiveness. However, the forgiveness is on improper grounds, and there are noticeable flaws in the account and contradictions with other Scriptures—all being proofs that the passage is spurious. John 7:53 through 8:11 was probably introduced by the Roman Catholic Church at the time of Jerome, for subsequent to his day, this passage was included in some Latin and Greek manuscripts.

If the scribes and Pharisees were so fastidious as to require hands to be washed before eating, then surely they would not have brought a woman caught in the act of adultery (that is, not merely a reported matter) into the Temple. Also, Jesus was sinless, which means he obeyed the Law perfectly. Therefore, if this account were true, he would have been obligated to agree to the stoning.

On rare occasions, an individual who was seeking to trap Jesus addressed him as “Master,” but it would be incongruous for the scribes and Pharisees to do so as a group when they wanted to kill him. So here is still another flaw.

John 8:7 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.

John 8:8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

John 8:9 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.

John 8:10 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?

John 8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Here is another flaw, for nothing was said about the woman’s asking for forgiveness. There was just a blanket statement, “Go, and sin no more.” Nothing was said about her repentance, and repentance is essential in order for forgiveness to be extended. We ask God to forgive us: “Forgive us our debts [trespasses]” (Matt. 6:12).

Notice what Jesus supposedly did. When he was asked this question, he did not answer the scribes and Pharisees immediately. Although it is true that Jesus often used the technique of waiting awhile to let certain things sink in, here he supposedly stooped down and wrote on the ground with his finger. To do so would have been impossible, however, for he was in the Temple in a paved court. He usually taught in Solomon’s Porch, which was stone. Incidentally, paintings of this incident show its taking place by the seashore where there is sand. The spurious account itself denies this setting by saying that Jesus was in the Temple (verse 2).

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” The principle in the Law contradicts the possibility of Jesus’ saying, “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.” Under the Mosaic Law, if a person hid his eyes from a sin as serious as adultery, he was considered to be as guilty as the one who committed the act. And there is another fallacy with this supposed statement; namely, it would stop any criticism, for it implies that reacting to any sin—no matter how blatant—is a wrong attitude, since we are all sinners (Rom. 3:10). This spurious statement is a very nice way of telling others to keep quiet.

This incident about the adulterous woman is realistically portrayed with drama. Jesus sat and taught; he stooped down and ignored; he lifted up himself—that is, at first, the account would seem to be authentic, but it is flawed in many ways.

In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” If the incident in the eighth chapter of John were authentic, it would contradict and thus destroy the Law.

Jesus had also said that not only was the act of adultery wrong but even looking upon a woman with the desire to commit adultery was wrong (Matt. 5:28). In other words, he equated the desire with the spirit of adultery. An evil thought is one thing, but to entertain the thought is more serious, for it is entering further into the sin. And actually committing the act would be “sinning the sin.” Thus there are degrees of sin.

Verse 9 states, “They … went out one by one, beginning at the eldest.” This is too fictional to be credible. Did the scribes and Pharisees all stand there and inquire who was the oldest so that they could exit in this order? Of course not!

John 8:12 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.

This verse should follow right after John 7:52. Jesus was still in the Temple, and it was still the last day of the feast. He had said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37). Then discussions ensued, some saying one thing and some another. While Jesus was speaking, activity and comments were going on in the background. On the side, for example, Nicodemus said to the chief priests and Pharisees that they were being too hasty in judging Jesus. Things happened contemporaneously, so John 8:12 took place very shortly after John 7:37,38.

At the end of the feast, there was a final ceremony of lights. Other practices and traditions, including this one, had been added to the Law. Not all of the additions were harmful, for some, such as the ceremony of lights, were in harmony with what was occurring. However, the Word of God always comes first. Jesus capitalized on this traditional ceremony of lights to announce that he was the light of Israel.

Paul used this same tactic in Greece when he said to those present, “I was looking at all your statues of gods. You Grecians have many gods, but I would like to speak to you about the unknown God” (Acts 17:22,23). Hence Paul took the liberty of using a custom to introduce truth. It is permissible to capitalize on a custom to give a witness. Sometimes an inroad can be made in this manner, whereas a too direct or too abrupt approach would lead nowhere. Water was used at the Feast of Tabernacles, and Jesus also capitalized on that custom (John 7:37,38). Water from the Pool of Siloam was put in a golden pitcher and brought to the Temple Mount. The timing was such that when the water was carried through the gate of the Temple to where the people were assembled inside, it was apparent that the bringing of the water was a climax to the ceremony. The water was poured out as an oblation on the sacrificial altar.

For Jesus to say he was the “light of the world” was really saying he was the Messiah because a prophecy of Messiah alludes to this: “I the LORD [Jehovah] … will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles” (Isa. 42:6).

Therefore, Jesus took advantage of two customs at the Feast of Tabernacles: the water and the light. It is even possible that the ceremony of lights took place at night or dusk. Then it would have been very impressive after seeing this display—and even more startling—for the people to hear Jesus say, “I am the light of the world!”

John 8:13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

John 8:14 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 continued a line of reasoning used earlier. Normally, if we defended ourselves by saying, “I did not do such and such” or “I did do it,” the statement itself would not be sufficient in a court of law. A witness is needed so that there will be at least two testimonies—ours and that of another individual. When Jesus said he was the light of the world, the Pharisees replied, “That is what you say. Your testimony is not true.” Jesus answered, “Yes it is.” Jesus continued, “What I am saying is true. And my Father bears witness of me.” This saying was too hard for the Pharisees to accept because Jesus was referring to an invisible personage.

They did not consider the evidence creditable, but Jesus had said something earlier that supported this thought. He said (paraphrased), “Moses in the law spoke of me”; that is, the Old Testament testified, and the Old Testament is the Father’s Word (see John 5:45-47).

We are getting only a brief summary of what Jesus actually said to the Pharisees. If he taught them for, say, one hour, his words would have been far more extensive. John recorded only the pertinent and startling statements.

John 8:15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.

John 8:16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

The thought here is that God judges. Jesus does not judge independently but judges as the Father directs. In other words, “The Father, who has taught me, does the judging.”

We can understand these verses based on other things Jesus said, both earlier and later, such as in Chapters 15-17. Verses 15 and 16 harmonize with Isaiah 11:3,4, “He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge.” In that same context, the Prophet Isaiah indicates that Jesus judges thus because it is really God’s judgment. Jesus conforms to what he thinks the Father would do; that is, Jesus pronounces judgments, but since they are the Father’s, it is really the Father who judges. Verse 15 expresses a profound principle in a simple statement: “Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.” The Pharisees judged outward appearance. They were partial to the wealthy, for example. Deuteronomy 1:17 and 16:19 warn us not to regard the poor in judgment. Just because one is poor does not establish his innocence before a court of law. A poor person can be just as guilty. Conversely, the person of the rich is not to be regarded in judgment. In other words, emotions should not override judgment. God judges the sincerity of the heart, and we are to judge righteous judgment.

Sometimes the most vicious criminals are handsome—which proves we cannot judge by looks, generally speaking. Also, even if we saw something happen with our own eyes, there might be extenuating circumstances. Circumstantial evidence is not incontrovertible.

Sometimes we must make a judgment, and to do nothing is also a judgment. Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me”; that is, “If you are not for me, you are against me” (Luke 11:23). The point is that inaction can be counterproductive.

John 8:17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.

John 8:18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.

In the fifth chapter, Jesus showed that others bore witness of him: John the Baptist, the testimony of the Law, and Jesus’ own life (his works). Incidentally, when Jesus healed, virtue went out of him (Luke 6:19). Evidently, he was renewed overnight with the Father giving him strength. However, the healing did cost Jesus.

Verses 17 and 18 show a separateness of being between Jesus and the Father, and hence disprove the Trinity. Jesus used the example of two men under the Law, that is, two separate individuals, and then applied the principle to himself and the Father. The doctrine of the Trinity is scandalous, for it has no Scriptural foundation. Two of the three or so main texts quoted are spurious, whereas literally hundreds of Scriptures show the separateness of the Father and the Son. It is impossible for them to even be coequal, let alone one being.

We should beware of cliché statements that sound good and not accept them just because of the sincerity of the individual. Sincerity is not a proof of correctness, for one can be sincere in error. The Bible is our only standard.

John 8:19 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.

The pronoun “they” referred to the Pharisees (verse 13), who had said, “Your testimony is not true. You are bearing record of yourself.” However, the pronoun also included other Jews who had an attitude of disbelief and were sympathetic to the Pharisaical viewpoint. In the crowd that was listening, some were wholly sympathetic to Jesus, some were prone to be sympathetic, and the disbelieving element were his critics.

The crowd certainly knew that Jesus was not speaking about Joseph when he said, “my Father,” “the Father,” etc. Jesus’ level of teaching was high and of great depth, and the people knew it.

John 8:20 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.

This scene took place at the Feast of Tabernacles about six months before Jesus’ “hour” was come. The treasury was a conspicuous location in the Temple, and the people gathered around him.

“No man laid hands on him.” Jesus’ apprehension was not permitted here because the timing would have been premature. How his apprehension was prevented on this occasion is not explained. In the Garden of Gethsemane, near the time of his death, Jesus used the power of charisma. His apprehenders came at night to take him as if he were a common thief. To show this was not true, he looked on them, and they all fell backward. Thus we know that he possessed the power to “magnetically” repel them. Perhaps he used that power here, while talking, so that no one could seize him. Other methods or techniques were used on other occasions.

John 8:21 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.

With these short, terse statements, we must use a reasonable amount of conjecture to figure out what Jesus had in mind. He was still addressing those of a questioning or disbelieving attitude.

Just six months hence Jesus would be talking about the destruction of Jerusalem and saying, “Your house is left unto you desolate.” When the things he predicted would begin to come to pass, the disbelieving element would start to see the veracity of his statements, for he had warned of impending disaster. Then they would see that he was the Messiah or some great prophet, but it would be too late to go to him personally and say, “I am sorry.” Many do not have the faith to believe in a living, resurrected Lord, but if he were here as a person whom they could see, hear, and touch, they would be more apt to believe. Realizing their loss later when Jesus’ predictions came to pass, they would then seek him and not find him. Any who made a consecration would also die sooner or later but not because of personal sins, which were covered by Christ’s robe of righteousness. They would die as a new creature, and death as a new creature in Christ is not Adamic death. However, this disbelieving element would later “seek” Jesus, not to consecrate but to pay more attention to his words. Some would even “seek” him upon hearing the news of his resurrection.

“Whither I go, ye cannot come.” Jesus made this same statement on other occasions, for example, to his own disciples (believers) at the time of the Memorial. “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come” (John 13:33). Thus there were differences in depth of meaning behind the same remarks made on various occasions.

John 8:22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.

In other words, the Jews were asking, “Where will he go? Is he contemplating suicide?” In John 7:34-36, at the same Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus said similarly, “Ye shall seek me, and not find me. Where I am then, ye cannot come.” The Jews responded, “Where will he go? Will he go to the dispersed Jews among the Gentiles? Will he leave Judea and go to teach the Gentiles?” Evidently, because of their response here, the Jews decided that that was not the case. Now they thought Jesus must be contemplating suicide.

John 8:23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

“I am not of this world [Greek kosmos, arrangement].” The Jews knew that Jesus was flesh and blood and that he had a “father” and mother here on earth. Hence they realized he was talking about the mysterious beyond. Even though “born” here, he was originally born elsewhere (“above”). Though in the flesh now, he was pointing back to an earlier origin, the “heaven” to which he would be going. From Jesus’ remarks, the Jews understood him to be saying, “I came from elsewhere, and I am returning to that place.”

John 8:24 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.

Jesus continued to address the element that “believe[d] not.”

John 8:25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.

Notice Jesus’ reply: “Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.” The Jews’ question is astounding: “Who art thou?” Not only had Jesus been telling them all along, but they should have been able to figure out who he was because of his miracles. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he asked his apprehenders, “Why do you come after me at night? I have boldly, throughout my ministry, stated these things to you frequently, yet you apprehend me like a thief.” And at his trial, they asked what he had been saying when he had taught over and over, and they should have known. He spoke openly of his purpose in appearing before them as a teacher. The point is, if one is not sympathetic to the words spoken by another, it is like talking to a stone wall. The reasoning will not get through no matter how plainly stated.

John 8:26 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.

What are some of the “many things to say and to judge”? It is true that the scribes and Pharisees neglected the weightier things of the Law and paid attention to superficial matters.

They swatted a gnat and swallowed a camel. However, here Jesus was referring to things yet to be uttered in the remaining six months of his ministry, especially at the time of Passover. At the beginning and at the end of his ministry, he spoke the most parables. At the upcoming Passover, he gave them parable after parable after parable, as well as answered questions they posed to try to trap him and thus have an excuse to openly apprehend him before the people.

For example, Jesus said, “What about John the Baptist? When he spoke of me, was he telling the truth or not?” The Pharisees were afraid to say yes or no. If “yes,” then Jesus was the Messiah. If “no,” then they would be denying that John was a true prophet, and the people would be angry. So the Pharisees said, “We cannot answer that.” Jesus replied, “Neither will I answer you” (Matt. 21:25-27).

Thus Jesus still had many things to say, especially at the Passover six months hence. The other Gospels relate his sayings. He spoke a great deal publicly in the Temple, and many heard him. The “judging” at the Passover included “woes” to the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus also cast out the money changers, using a whip. This action was a rebuke to the priesthood, who should have banned the existing practices that made the Temple a “house of merchandise” (John 2:16; Matt. 21:12). Instead of remaining outside, the commercial practices encroached on the Temple precincts. Jesus’ rebuke was a judging work. He judged in words, parables, and actions.

Just as in the populace there were different degrees of motivation, so this was also true of the priesthood. Some of the scribes and Pharisees were sympathetic to Jesus, and some sinned greatly against light and will even merit Second Death. In between, there were varying degrees. Some of the Pharisees will be resuscitated from the grave but be so hardened in character that they will prove to be beyond retrieval.

John 8:27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.

John 8:28 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.

How would they know that Jesus was the Messiah when he was crucified? Jesus prophesied of his crucifixion beforehand, so when it came to pass, a few remembered his words and believed.

Although the scribes and Pharisees were conniving in the background to trap him in his words and/or secretly apprehend him, many of those listening were unaware of the scheming. For the most part, however, the Jews did not believe on Jesus when he was crucified. Therefore, this prediction will be fulfilled in the Kingdom. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). Ultimately, all will know, for they will see a replay of the Crucifixion scene.

Remember, a mixed audience was listening to Jesus. Some were sincerely troubled as to whether he was the Messiah, others believed he was the Messiah, and still others were trying to trap him. Here, therefore, Jesus might have been addressing that element among the scribes and Pharisees who were not so prejudiced that they would utterly condemn him. Examples are Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.

It is significant that the sign above Jesus’ head on the Cross (a characteristic practice) stated his crime as “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” In other words, the sign did not say “blasphemer” or “false Messiah” but actually stated the fact that he was their Messiah. This fact, coupled with Jesus’ prediction here in John 8:28, indicated a very peculiar circumstance. In addition, the earthquake, the darkening of the sun, the rending of the Temple veil, etc., added to the accumulative effect to convince those who were sincerely questioning and wondering if Jesus was the promised Messiah. Then, hearing about his subsequent resurrection would be the clincher—they would want to become his disciples.

Notice, even though Jesus spoke strongly against the scribes and Pharisees, he usually made a very constructive statement as well to the honest-hearted. Thus even his opposers, if they were honest and just, would have their thinking awakened. Sometimes hard statements are the best kind because they expose iniquity.

John 8:29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

Jesus always pleased the Father. With us, in proportion as we endeavor to please and serve God, He appreciates our efforts in a similar proportion. The principle “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” operates not only prior to our consecration but afterwards, throughout our consecration (James 4:8). The Father will not forsake us unless we first turn our backs on Him. Such turning away would not be a single misdeed or a slip of the tongue but a serious deflection, such as a dog returning to its vomit (2 Pet. 2:22).

When we fall, the reaction of our conscience is very important. We should recognize the wrong and seek redress and forgiveness. In some cases, mental weakness hereditary factors may be permitted to take over momentarily. Or another illustration could be used. Sometimes we pray for patience, and to develop patience, we are given frustrating circumstances in which we are prone to become impatient. If we act impulsively, we are then made aware of our lack of patience and realize even more that we need it. Thus we can pray for something and then get trials that are exactly the opposite; that is, instead of getting peaceful circumstances to develop our patience, we get the opposite. Hence our true disposition is revealed regardless of hereditary factors. Then we pray for forgiveness and struggle to overcome. Our struggle is pleasing to the Father. We cannot be perfect—we need the robe of Christ’s righteousness—but our desire to do better is very much appreciated.

God is a master lapidarian or jeweler who can look at the gold, silver, and precious stones and know just what is needed to remove the dross. How we react to circumstances is very important. It is as if God looks into the fire and says, “That is enough!” or “More heat is needed.”

We are to wrestle, not box. In boxing, one good blow can knock out an opponent. “We wrestle not [merely] against flesh and blood, but against principalities … [and] powers” (Eph. 6:12).

Wrestling generally requires stamina, agility, strength, and endurance. Then, later, a pruning may occur quickly. Jacob wrestled all night with the angel. After a half hour of wrestling, one is usually tired, so we can imagine how exhausted Jacob must have been. But that length of time was considered very important in developing Jacob, in crystallizing his character. And a wound left in his loin as a result of the wrestling served as a constant reminder of his previous conflict. In addition, a mark was left on the Apostle Paul, and the importunate widow had to almost cry to get an answer. Sometimes the delay factor is extremely important.

The thought of abiding is also here. Just as the Son abides in the Father, so we abide in Jesus (John 15:5).

John 8:30 As he spake these words, many believed on him.

As Jesus spoke these words, “many believed on [into] him.” Did Jesus’ words in verse 29 constitute sufficient evidence for some to make this decision? No, these words alone were not enough. The decision to consecrate was based on the accumulative words and actions of Jesus that led up to his statement about the Father being with him and his always doing the things that please the Father. Of course the miracles were part of the cumulative effect. And his always giving God the glory was observed. Jesus’ humility was apparent. Although he stated forcefully that he was the Son of man (that is, Messiah), he also said that the words he spoke were from the Father.

John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

The clause “those Jews which believed on [into] him” shows a mixed audience: some who did not believe, some who already believed, and some who were not quite sure. The latter category were not convinced until they saw the Cross. The element being addressed here already believed. A real disciple would continue in Jesus’ words. One cannot hear, believe, consecrate, and then return to a previous existence and still be Jesus’ disciple.

Depending on the individuals who were listening, Jesus would tear down like a lion and then build up. “If the shoe fits, wear it” was the principle.

John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

“Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness…. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Rom. 6:18,22). “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). The truth makes us free from sin and allows us to be exercised in other avenues of life: holiness, righteousness, learning the truth, and ultimate salvation. These are progressive. First comes freedom from Adamic death at consecration.

Then come other kinds of freedom. There will be trials and self-denials, but for every selfdenial, there is compensating grace along another line. Ultimately comes the salvation all are looking for: freedom from death eternally. For the Jews whom Jesus was addressing, there was freedom not only from sin but also from the yoke, or bondage, of the Law.

Psalm 27:1 mentions another kind of freedom: freedom from fear. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” We should want to let our light shine; we should want to talk about the truth. There should be no reason to fear talking about the truth if we are sincere. “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but the spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7 paraphrase).

The truth frees us from fear of the unknown—fear of death, the wrath of God, etc.

In verses 31 and 32, Jesus was giving a “formula”: “If you continue in my word, you shall know the truth. Knowing the truth is conditional and progressive, leading up to, hopefully, graduation.”

John 8:33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

The Jews resented Jesus’ statement that the truth would make his disciples free. Also, they claimed Abraham as their father, whereas Jesus called God his Father.

John 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

John 8:35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.

The Israelites were a house of servants; Christians are a house of sons. Sons get an inheritance; servants do not.

The human race was condemned to death in Adam. Hence they went into the tomb, awaiting a future far-off resurrection some day. (The Jews back there believed the dead were truly dead until that appointed time.) Jesus, too, would die, but his resurrection was almost immediate, relatively speaking, and no more would he see death. He is “alive for evermore” to succor his followers and later the world (Rev. 1:18). Israel, a house of servants, would have to wait a long time in the grave. All were servants of sin, appointed to death until the general resurrection, but the Son is alive in the interim period. Meanwhile, Christians, followers of the Son, will come forth first. Christians are on a higher level of fellowship.

John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Followers of Jesus, who become sons of God, are free from servitude to sin. It was a grievous error for Christian Jews to subsequently try to force all Christians back under the Law, which would bring condemnation. In fact, Jews were under double condemnation. They were condemned in Adam and also under the Law and hence were servants of sin from both standpoints.

John 8:37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

These Jews were natural Israelites but not Israelites indeed. It does not really matter who one’s father is if the heart is not right. One could literally be of Abraham’s seed yet not be a spiritual child of Abraham. In other words, Jesus was saying, “I know you are Abraham’s seed in a natural sense, but the Scriptures speak of Abraham’s seed in a spiritual sense.” Jesus spoke truth, but because some of the mixed multitude who were listening had wrong heart conditions, they wanted to kill him—both his influence and literally.

John 8:38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.

Two fathers were being contrasted here: God and Satan. The Jews were still thinking of Abraham as their father and did not get the point (verses 33 and 39).

John 8:39 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.

Jesus questioned whether they were really Abraham’s children (in a higher sense because, of course, they were the natural children).

John 8:40 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.

Verse 40 is one of many texts in the Gospel of John that show Jesus’ subserviency to the Father. Although Abraham was a friend of God, he did not have the direct, personal, intimate communication with the Father that Jesus had.

John 8:41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

Jesus continued, “Ye do the deeds of your father [the devil].” Then the Jews switched the subject: “We be not born of fornication.” Thus they cast aspersion on Jesus’ background, that is, on Mary’s pregnancy before her marriage to Joseph. This rumor, which still existed, was used here to stigmatize Jesus and kill his influence. Moreover, the Jews denied their father was the devil with the statement “We have only one Father: God.”

John 8:42 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.

John’s Gospel is used to support the Trinity, yet there are many verses, of which this is one, to show that Jesus is subordinate to the Father. Jesus was saying, “In proportion as you love God, in the same proportion you will love me, because I say and do the things He would say and do if He were here.”

John 8:43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

“Hearing, they do not hear, and seeing, they do not see” is the thought of verse 43. If one is highly prejudiced against another individual, nothing that individual can say or do will make an inroad.

John 8:44 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.

Verse 44 is an insight into Jesus’ appraisal of Satan’s character. Through and through, Satan was and is a deceiver. His purposes are for self-satisfaction and self-grandeur, not to please God or to make known the truth. Satan was a murderer and a liar from the beginning, that is, in the Garden of Eden, where he said, “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). That is where lies began, for previously, no rebellion had been voiced. It is true that Satan premeditated what he would say for a while and nurtured the rebellion, but in making the actual pronouncement, he sinned a sin: a lie. That lie later led to Adam’s sin.

“There is no truth in him [Satan].” Satan has used truth mixed with error, especially when posing as an angel of light, but the fact that he is a deceiver would override any truth he might use. Such truth would be used for a wrong purpose, so in essence, it is no truth at all.

John 8:45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

The way to be popular with this audience would be to not tell the truth—to tell pleasant things and tickle their ears. Then they would believe what was said.

John 8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

“Which of you convinceth [convicts] me of sin?” The Jews could not find fault with Jesus’ deeds or his words, for he had not sinned. “So why do you not believe the truth that I speak?” he asked.

John 8:47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

This was strong talk—not at all diplomatic! Hence to be Christlike is not always to be softspoken and tactful. There is a time for tact and a time for bluntness.

John 8:48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?

Based on this question, Jesus can be identified as the good Samaritan in the parable (Luke 10:33).

Again the Jews pressed the charge that Jesus was a devil. Because they did not sufficiently probe into matters, they could easily conclude such a thing. If they listened to rumors and surmised that he had too high an opinion of himself, that he was too young and/or too boastful, etc., then his words would sound strange to them and quite offensive.

Q: On what basis could they accuse Jesus of being a Samaritan? They knew his background was purely Jewish.

A: The Samaritan, who believed in animal sacrifices and the Pentateuch, for example, was considered a half-breed, one who ostensibly followed the Law but was not a Jew. Those of pure Jewish descent considered the mixture inferior. They likened Jesus to a Samaritan because although he obeyed the Law, he was not a Jew in their eyes.

John 8:49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.

John 8:50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.

God is the One who seeks honor and judges.

John 8:51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

Jesus knew this statement would be misunderstood. He spoke the truth from his perspective, knowing that many listening would find fault and think he was crazy. “If a man obeys your words, he will never die?!?” they would say. What Jesus really meant was that those who obey his commandments will not see “second death” (Rev. 2:11; 20:6; 21:8).

The disciples would have gone privately to Jesus to ask him what his words meant. When he said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you,”

those with a sincere heart pursued the matter (John 6:53). Others were turned off and went their way. Therefore, provocative statements were of value to those who would seek further information, but the effect was the opposite to those who were critical and looking for flaws.

In verse 51, Jesus was saying that the resurrected Christian will never see death any more henceforth. Actually, under the Law, anyone who could perfectly obey would never have to die at all.

John 8:52 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.

John 8:53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?

Jesus knew his remark would turn many off and convince them he was mad, but there was a beneficial effect upon others who would later ask him privately what he meant. The function of the sickle of truth is very interesting: it repels one group and attracts another class.

John 8:54 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:

John 8:55 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.

Sometimes Jesus’ sayings were not understood, but he felt duty-bound to speak the truth rather than to be quiet, for he felt that quietness would be a disservice to God. He came here to teach and do God’s will regardless of persecuting repercussions on himself. The principle was expressed by Paul: “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

Jesus repeatedly said words to the effect, “As I have heard of my Father, so I speak”—whether or not his sayings were appreciated or perceived (John 8:28; 12:49,50; 14:10; 15:15). By speaking the truth, Jesus was really speaking for the hearing ear, the minority. Even when he rebuked the scribes and Pharisees, he kept in mind the “hearing ear” class, who would later come to him privately. “Unto you [those with hearing ears] it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God,“ he said (Mark 4:11).

John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

According to human philosophy, this was the last thing one would say, even though it was true.

This statement convinced the scribes and Pharisees more and more that Jesus was mad—but not the honest-hearted. It is true that the saying was a hard one, but based on Jesus’ former works, miracles, sayings, teachings, and his life, the honest-hearted would at least go to him to inquire further what he meant. Few would take this step, for it would put them in an inferior role of asking to be taught instead of doing the teaching. The same principle applies today; namely, if we want to know the truth, we will humble ourselves and expend the effort. We should desire to know Jesus better so that we will know the Father better.

Even here the Jews were responsible for knowing the Abrahamic promise, that in Abraham and his seed will all the families of the earth be blessed (Gen. 22:18; 26:3,4; 28:14). The “gospel” was preached to Abraham, and Jesus was the chief seed (Gal. 3:8).

John 8:57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

Again Jesus’ statement turned them off.

John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

And this statement was the clincher! They were ready to stone Jesus. Many Trinitarians use the “I am” to prove that Jesus is Jehovah, but all we have to do is go back to the context of the entire discourse. Jesus was taught of God, given the words to speak by Him, sent by Him, etc. Jesus plainly had a subservient role. Here he was merely saying that he had a prehuman existence, that he existed before Abraham did.

John 8:59 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.

The words “going through the midst of them, and so passed by” are spurious. Jesus frequently spoke in Solomon’s Porch, which was filled with colonnades that made it easy to evade others. It was not time for his death. Six more months remained.

(1986–1987 Study)

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