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Bible: What Does John 8:27-59 Teach Us About the Truth, the Father of Unbelievers, and the Deity of Jesus?

Updated on September 15, 2016

The Apostle John


The Truth


John 8: "Ye Shall Know the Truth, and the Truth Will Set You Free"

The Apostle John again inserts a narrative comment, asserting that the Jews still do not know the identity of the One Who sent Jesus (v. 27).

Christ foretells that as they watch Him die on the cross, some of these men will realize that they have crucified their King; they will understand the Son’s complete submission to the Father’s will in both word and deed (v. 28).

Jesus claims perfect obedience to the Father in all things; He rests assured of the Latter’s presence with Him always (v. 29).

At this point, God’s Spirit regenerates the hearts of many who hear these words, and they believe in Jesus (v. 30).

Both believers and unbelievers listen to Him, so He offers a conditional promise.

If they obey His commandments (“abide in My word”), then they will prove that they have

(1) entered into a true discipleship relationship with Him (v. 31),

(2) come to know “the truth” experientially (v. 32a), and

(3) consequently realize freedom (from sin’s domination) [v. 32b].

[“The truth” may refer to the whole counsel of God’s revelation—salvation, sanctification, etc.—or it may more specifically point to Jesus the Son, who “makes you free” (cf. v. 36).]

Wearing their “this-world-only” spectacles, many in the audience butt into the dialogue and misinterpret Jesus’ words, as they frequently did, proudly responding that they have never been politically subject to anyone (v. 33).

Christ redirects their attention away from the physical to the spiritual, asserting the concept of slavery to sin (v. 34) and admonishing them that slaves (to sin) do not “abide in the house forever,” i.e., remain members of the family into the eternal state (v. 35).

Father Abraham


True and False "Sons of Abraham"

A “son” [of Abraham]—one who trusts in God as Abraham did—possesses a permanent status in His family; he (or she) has true freedom from sin, having been made such by the Son (v. 36).

[Obedience to the Son’s word manifests a heart rightly related by faith to the Father.]

Jesus acknowledges the Jewish leadership as Abraham’s physical descendants, yet He also identifies them as His would-be murderers, because they despise His word (which proceeds directly from “what I have seen with My Father”) [vv. 37-38a].

Whereas Christ speaks God’s word, the Jews perform their “father’s” will (v. 38b).

When the latter assert their relationship to Abraham, Jesus counters their argument logically by showing them the inconsistency of their practice: they are not doing works similar to Abraham’s.

On the contrary, they are seeking to do something that Abraham would never have done—kill “a Man who has told you the truth which I have heard from God” (vv. 39-40).

Jesus: "I Proceeded Forth and Have Come From God"

The Lord reiterates the conclusion that the Jews “do the deeds of your [their] father” (v. 41a).

The Jews begin to become even more offensive, labeling Jesus an illegitimate son; yet they continue to claim God as their Father (v. 41).

[They thought that He was a child conceived through premarital intercourse between Joseph and Mary.]

Again, Christ responds logically, averring that they would love Him if they were truly God’s children (v. 42a).

He adds seemingly accidental data, which figure prominently in the Church’s later Christological formulation, when He notes that He “proceeded forth and came from God” (v. 42b).

[One of the early creeds used this phrase (or part of it) to explain how the Son related to the Father and the Spirit within the “economic Trinity”].

In addition, He notes that the Father sent Him; He did not come “on My [His] own initiative” (v. 42c).

[Although the three “Persons” of the Triune Godhead are co-equal, the Father performs the executive function in the way God manages His universe, and He thus seems superior to the Son and the Spirit.]

The Father of All Unbelievers


Lack of Spiritual Understanding

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Satan: The Father of Lies

The Jews’ spiritual inability to understand Jesus’ speech stems from their inability (and unwillingness) to hear His word/message (with the intention of obeying it) [v. 43].

Rather than agreeing with them that God is their Father, Christ pointedly assigns the devil to that role, and then specifically offers them two telling evidences how Satan fulfills that relationship in their lives:

(1) The devil was always a murderer (v. 44a; cf. Gen. 4); and

(2) The devil does not stand in the truth, i.e., his nature, confirmed in the state of lying, places him forever outside the sphere of truth-telling (v. 44b).

[Since the Jews do not believe Jesus but instead seek to kill Him, they are imitating their true father and exhibiting the same desires as he.]

Jesus’ characteristic truth-telling finds no place in the Jews’ hearts, and they cannot point out any error in His words (because none exists) [vv. 45-46a].

The Lord seeks to convince them that certain ones belong to God because they hear and believe God’s words.

On the other hand, others exist who do not believe His words of truth because they do not belong to God (vv. 46b-47).

[Notice that one should not understand the former assertion the other way around.

In other words, believing God does not make you elect; you believe because you are elect.]

These latter comments propel the opposition into even more vehement denunciations of Jesus, calling Him a “Samaritan” and demonized (v. 48).

Promise to Enter Into Life


Death: Physical, Spiritual, and Eternal

Christ categorically denies their accusation, states positively His faithfulness to the Father, and names them as those who “dishonor Me” (v. 49).

Again, the Lord asserts that He seeks God’s glory, not His own (v. 50a); Another One seeks and judges (v. 50b).

[Who is this One who seeks and judges? What does He seek and judge?]

Christ promises to keep from “death” (eternal, spiritual separation from God) those who keep His word (v. 51).

[Is keeping His word the same thing as abiding in His word (v. 31)?]

Jesus’ latest provocative claim convinces the Jews that a demon controls Him (v. 52a).

They also misinterpret what Christ means by “death,” thinking that he refers to physical death.

Both Abraham and the prophets kept God’s word, but all of them died physically (vv. 52b-53a).

Unknowingly, the Jews stumble upon two vital issues that they need to resolve—

(1) Is Jesus greater than Abraham and the prophets? and

(2) Who is He claiming to be?

Unfortunately, they do not believe that He is greater than all (v. 53).

Attempted Stoning

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Jesus: The Great I AM

To conclude His dialogue with His opponents, Jesus now focuses on three truths:

(1) The Father—Whom the Jews claim to know, but do not—honors Him (v. 54);

(2) Christ, on the other hand, does know the Father, and He keeps His word (v. 55); and

(3) Abraham saw Christ’s “day,” and was glad (v. 56).

[This “day” appears to be the era of Messiah’s reign which Abraham, now in heaven, somehow has been privileged to witness before it happens].

The Jews’ incredulous query implies that they thought it impossible for a Man who is less than fifty years of age to have seen Abraham (v. 57).

[Why do they say “fifty years,” and not an age closer to what He actually was?

Maybe Christ looked much older than thirty-two.]

Jesus’ most astounding claim to deity and pre-existence follows—“Before Abraham was [came into being], I AM (I have always been)” (v. 58; cf. Ex. 3:14)—sending the Jews into an absolute frenzy.

Anticipating what would come, the Lord “hides” Himself before they begin to stone Him for His perceived blasphemy (v. 59).

[He may have become invisible, since they could not locate Him.

The Nestle version omits the last half of verse fifty-nine (“going . . . by”).]

© 2014 glynch1


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