John 8


The story of the woman taken in adultery, 1-11.

Jesus declares himself the light of the world, 12.

The Pharisees cavil, 13.

Jesus answers, and shows his authority, 14-20.

He delivers a second discourse, in which he convicts them of

sin, and foretells their dying in it, because of their

unbelief, 21-24.

They question him; he answers, and foretells his own death,


Many believe on him, in consequence of this last discourse, 30.

To whom he gives suitable advice, 31, 32.

The Jews again cavil, and plead the nobility and advantages of

their birth, 33.

Jesus shows the vanity of their pretensions, and the wickedness

of their hearts, 34-47.

They blaspheme, and Christ convicts and reproves them, and

asserts his Divine nature, 48-58.

They attempt to stone him, 59.


Verse 3. A woman taken in adultery] Some of the popish writers

say that her name was Susanna; that she was espoused to an old

decrepid man, named Manasseh; that she died a saint in Spain,

whither she had followed St. James. These accounts the judicious

Calmet properly terms fables.

It is allowed that adultery was exceedingly common at this time,

so common that they had ceased to put the law in force against it.

The waters of jealousy were no longer drunk, the culprits or those

suspected of this crime, being so very numerous; and the men who

were guilty themselves dared not try their suspected wives, as it

was believed the waters would have no evil effect upon the wife,

if the husband himself had been criminal. See the whole of the

process on the waters of jealousy in the notes on Nu 5:14, &c.;

and see at the end of chap. 18. See Clarke on Joh 18:40.

Verse 5. That such should be stoned] It is not strictly true

that Moses ordered adultery in general to be punished by stoning.

The law simply says that the adulterer and the adulteress shall be

put to death. Le 20:10; De 22:22. The rabbins say they were

strangled. This they affirm was the ordinary mode of punishment,

where the species of death was not marked in the law, If the

person guilty of an act of this kind had been betrothed, but not

married, she was to be stoned: De 22:23. But if she was the

daughter of a priest, she was to be burned alive: Le 16:9. It

appears, from Eze 16:38, 40, that adulteresses in the time of

that prophet were stoned, and pierced with a sword.

Selden and Fagius suppose that this woman's case was the same

with that mentioned, De 22:23.

If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto a husband, and a

man find her in the city, and lie with her; then ye shall stone

them with stones that they die, the damsel because she cried not,

and the man because he hath humbled his neighbours wife. As the

Pharisees spoke of stoning the woman, it is possible this was her

case; and some suppose that the apparent indulgence with which our

Lord treated her insinuates that she had suffered some sort of

violence, though not entirely innocent. Therefore he said, I do

not condemn thee, i.e. to death, because violence had been used.

Sin no more. Nevertheless thou art in certain respects guilty;

thou mightest have made more resistance.

Verse 6. That they might have to accuse him.] Had our Lord

condemned the woman to death, they might have accused him to

Pilate, as arrogating to himself the power of life and death,

which the Romans had taken away from the Jews; besides, the Roman

laws did not condemn an adulteress to be put to death. On the

other hand, if he had said she should not be put to death, they

might have represented him to the people as one who decided

contrary to the law, and favoured the crime of which the woman was


With his finger wrote] Several MSS. add their sins who accused

her, and the sins of all men. There are many idle conjectures

concerning what our Lord wrote on the ground, several of which may

be seen in Calmet.

We never find that Christ wrote any thing before or after this;

and what he wrote at this time we know not. On this the pious

Quesnel makes the following reflections:-

"1. Since Jesus Christ never wrote but once that we hear of in

his whole life; 2. since he did it only in the dust; 3. since it

was only to avoid condemning a sinner; and, 4. since he would not

have that which he wrote so much as known; let men learn from

hence never to write but when it is necessary or useful; to do it

with humility and modesty; and to do it on a principle of charity.

How widely does Christ differ from men! He writes his Divine

thoughts in the dust: they wish to have theirs cut in marble, and

engraved on brass." Schools for children are frequently held under

trees in Bengal, and the children who are beginning to learn write

the letters of the alphabet in the dust. This saves pen, ink, and

paper. WARD.

Verse 7. He that is without sin] αναμαρτητος, meaning the same

kind of sin, adultery, fornication, &c. Kypke has largely proved

that the verb αμαρτανειν is used in this sense by the best Greek


Let him first cast a stone at her.] Or, upon her, επαυτη.

The Jewish method of stoning, according to the rabbins, was as

follows: The culprit, half naked, the hands tied behind the back,

was placed on a scaffold, ten or twelve feet high; the witnesses,

who stood with her, pushed her off with great force: if she was

killed by the fall there was nothing farther done; but, if she was

not, one of the witnesses took up a very large stone, and dashed

it upon her breast, which generally was the coup de grace, or

finishing stroke. This mode of punishment seems referred to,

Mt 21:44. However, this procedure does not appear to have been

always attended to. See Le 24:16, and ver. 59 of this chapter.

Joh 8:59

Verse 9. Being convicted by their own conscience] So it is

likely they were all guilty of similar crimes. Their own is not in

the original, and is needless: being convicted by conscience is

expressive enough.

Beginning at the eldest even unto the last] αποτωνπρεσβυτερων

εωςτωνεσχατων, from the most honourable to those of the least

repute. In this sense the words are undoubtedly to be understood.

The woman standing in the midst.] But if they all went out, how

could she be in the midst? It is not said that all the people whom

our Lord had been instructing went out, but only her accusers: see

Joh 8:2. The rest undoubtedly continued with their teacher.

Verse 11. Neither do I condemn thee] Bishop Pearce says: "It

would have been strange if Jesus, when he was not a magistrate,

and had not the witnesses before him to examine them, and when she

had not been tried and condemned by the law and legal judges,

should have taken upon him to condemn her. This being the case, it

appears why Jesus avoided giving an answer to the question of the

scribes and Pharisees, and also how little reason there is to

conclude from hence that Christ seems in this case not enough to

have discouraged adultery, though he called it a sin. And yet this

opinion took place so early among the Christians, that the reading

of this story was industriously avoided, in the lessons recited

out of the Gospels, in the public service of the churches; as if

Jesus's saying, I do not condemn thee, had given too much

countenance to women guilty of that crime. In consequence of this,

as it was never read in the churches, and is now not to be found

in any of the Evangelistaria, and as it was probably marked in the

MSS. as a portion not to be read there, this whole story, from

Joh 8:1-11, inclusive, came, in length of time, to be left out

in some MSS., though in the greater part it is still remaining."

Thus far the judicious and learned bishop. How the passage stands

in all the MSS. hitherto collated may be seen in Wetstein and

Griesbach. After weighing what has been adduced in favour of its

authenticity, and seriously considering its state in the MSS., as

exhibited in the Var. Lect. of Griesbach, I must confess, the

evidence in its favour does not appear to me to be striking. Yet I

by no means would have it expunged from the text. Its absence from

many MSS., and the confused manner in which it appears in others,

may be readily accounted for on the principles laid down by Bishop

Pearce above. It may however be necessary to observe, that a very

perfect connection subsists between Joh 7:52 and Joh 8:12-all

the intermediate verses having been omitted by MSS. of the first

antiquity and authority. In some MSS. it is found at the end of

this Gospel; in others a vacant place is left in this chapter; and

in others it is placed after the 21st chapter of Luke. See at the

end of this chapter. Joh 8:59

Verse 12. Then spake Jesus again unto them] Allowing the story

about the woman taken in adultery to be authentic, and to stand

here in its proper place, we may consider that our Lord, having

begun to teach the people in the temple, was interrupted by the

introduction of this woman by the scribes and Pharisees; and now,

having dismissed them and the woman also, he resumes his


I am the light of the world] The fountain whence an intellectual

light and spiritual understanding proceed: without me all is

darkness, misery, and death. The Divine Being was, by the rabbins

denominated, The light of the world. So in Bamidbar Rabba: "The

Israelites said to God, O Lord of the universe, thou commandest us

to light lamps to thee, yet thou art THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD: and

with thee the light dwelleth." Our Lord, therefore, assumes here a

well known character of the Supreme Being; and with this we find

the Jews were greatly offended.

Shall not walk in darkness] He shall be saved from ignorance,

infidelity, and sin. If he follow me, become my disciple, and

believe on my name, he shall have my Spirit to bear witness with

his, that he is a child of God. He shall have the light of

life-such a light as brings and supports life. The sun, the

fountain of light, is also the fountain of life: by his vivifying

influences, all things live-neither animal nor vegetative life

could exist, were it not for his influence. Jesus, the Sun of

righteousness, Mal 4:2, is the fountain of all spiritual and

eternal LIFE. His light brings life with it, and they who walk in

his light live in his life. This sentiment is beautifully

expressed and illustrated in the following inimitable verse (all

monosyllables except one word) of that second Spenser, Phineas

Fletcher. Speaking of the conversion of a soul to God, he says:-

"New LIGHT new LOVE, new LOVE new LIFE hath bred;

A LIFE that lives by LOVE, and loves by LIGHT:

A LOVE to him, to whom all LOVES are wed;

A LIGHT, to whom the sun is darkest night:

Eye's LIGHT, heart's LOVE, soul's only LIFE he is:

LIFE, soul, love, heart, LIGHT, eye, and all are his:

He eye, LIGHT, heart, LOVE, soul; He all my joy and bliss."

PURPLE ISLAND, Can. I. v. 7.

Some suppose our Lord alludes to the custom of lighting lamps or

torches, on the first day of the feast of tabernacles. But as

these words seem to have been spoken the day after that last and

great day of the feast, mentioned Joh 7:37, they may rather be

considered as referring to the following custom: It has already

been observed, that the Jews added a ninth day to this feast,

which day they termed, The feast of joy for the law; and on that

day they were accustomed to take all the sacred books out of the

chest where they had been deposited, and put a lighted candle in

their place, in allusion to Pr 6:23:

For the commandment is a LAMP (or CANDLE) and the law is life:

or to Ps 119:105:

Thy word is a LAMP unto my feet, and a LIGHT unto my path. If

this custom existed in the time of our Lord, it is most likely

that it is to it he here alludes; as it must have happened about

the same time in which these words were spoken. See Buxtorf.

Synagog. Jud. c. xxi.

As the Messiah was frequently spoken of by the prophets under

the emblem of light, see Isa 60:1; 49:6; 9:2, the Pharisees must

at once perceive that he intended to recommend himself to the

people as the Messiah, when he said, I am the light of the world.

The rabbins think that the Messiah is intended in Ge 1:8,

And God said, Let there be light, and there was light. "From

this we may learn that the holy and blessed God saw the light of

the Messiah and his works before the world was created; and

reserved it for the Messiah, and his generation, under the throne

of his glory. Satan said to the holy and blessed God, For whom

dost thou reserve that light which is under the throne of thy

glory? God answered: For him who shall subdue thee, and overwhelm

thee with confusion. Satan rejoined, Lord of the universe, show

that person to me! God said, Come and see him. When he saw him, he

was greatly agitated, and fell upon his face, saying, Truly this

is the Messiah, who shall cast me and idolaters into hell." Yalcut

Rubeni, fol. 6. This is a very remarkable saying; and, as it might

have existed in the time of our Lord, to it he might have alluded

in the verse before us. The thing itself is true: the Messiah is

the light of the world, and by him Satan's empire of idolatry is

destroyed in the world, and the kingdom of light and life

established. See several similar testimonies in Schoettgen.

Verse 13. Thou bearest record] As if they had said, Dost thou

imagine that we shall believe thee, in a matter so important, on

thy bare assertion? Had these people attended to the teaching and

miracles of Christ, they would have seen that his pretensions to

the Messiahship were supported by the most irrefragable testimony.

Verse 14. I know whence I came] I came from God, and am going to

God, and can neither do nor say any thing but what leads to and

glorifies him.

Verse 15. Ye judge after the flesh] Because I appear in the form

of man, judging from this appearance, ye think I am but a mere

man-pay attention to my teaching and miracles, and ye shall then

see that nothing less than infinite wisdom and unlimited power

could teach and do what I have taught and performed. Our Lord

speaks here exactly in the character of an ambassador. Such a

person does not bring a second with him to vouch his truth; his

credentials from his king ascertain his character: he represents

the king's person. So our Lord represents the Father as bearing

witness with him. The miracles which he wrought were the proof

from heaven that he was the promised Messiah: these were the great

seal of all his pretensions.

Verse 19. Ye neither know me, &c.] Ye know neither the Messiah,

nor the God that sent him.

If ye had known me] If ye had received my teaching, ye would

have got such an acquaintance with the nature and attributes of

God as ye never could have had, and never can have any other way.

That is a true saying, No man hath seen God at any time: the only

begotten Son, who lay an the bosom of the Father. he hath DECLARED

him. The nature and perfections of God never can be properly

known, but in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is

worthy of remark that, in all this discourse, our blessed Lord

ever speaks of the Father and himself as two distinct persons.

Therefore, the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, as

some persons vainly imagine; though it is plain enough that the

completest unity and equality subsists between them.

Verse 20. The treasury] Lightfoot observes, from the rabbins,

that the treasury was in what was called the court of the

women-that there were thirteen chests in it; in the thirteenth

only the women were permitted to put their offerings. Probably the

other twelve were placed there in reference to the twelve tribes;

each perhaps inscribed with the name of one of Jacob's twelve


It seems that our Lord sometimes sat in this court to teach the

people. See Mr 12:41, &c.

His hour was not yet come.] The time was not arrived, in which

he had determined to give himself up into the hands of his


Verse 21. Then said Jesus again unto them] He had said the same

things to them the day before. See Joh 7:34.

Ye shall seek me] When your calamities come upon you, ye shall

in vain seek for the help of the Messiah, whom ye now reject, and

whom ye shall shortly crucify.

Verse 22. Will he kill himself?] They now understood that he

spoke concerning his death; but before, Joh 7:35, they thought he

spoke of going to some of the Grecian provinces, to preach to the

dispersed Jews.

Verse 23. Ye are from beneath] Ye are capable of murder, and of

self-murder too, because ye have nothing of God in you. Ye are

altogether earthly, sensual, and devilish. They verified this

character in murdering the Lord Jesus; and many of them

afterwards, to escape famine, &c., put an end to their own lives.

Verse 25. Who art thou?] This marks the indignation of the

Pharisees-as if they had said: Who art thou that takest upon thee

to deal out threatenings in this manner against us?

Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from

the beginning.] Rather, Just what I have already told you, i.e.

that I am the light of the world-the Christ-the Saviour of

mankind. There are a variety of renderings for this verse among

the critics. Some consider τηναρχην (which makes the principal

difficulty in the text) as the answer of our Lord. Who art thou? I

am τηναρχην, the chief, the supreme; and have therefore a right

to judge, and to execute judgment. But if our Lord had intended to

convey this meaning, he would doubtless have said ηαρχη, or ο

αρχων, and not τηναρχην, in the accusative case. This mode of

reading appears to have been followed by the Vulgate, some copies

of the Itala, and some of the fathers; but this construction can

never be reconciled to the Greek text. Others take τηναρχην as an

adverb, in which sense it is repeatedly used by the best Greek

writers; and, connecting the 25th with the 26th verse, they

translate thus: I have indeed, as I ASSURE ye, many things to say

of you, and to condemn in you. See Wakefield. Raphelius takes up

the words nearly in the same way, and defends his mode of

exposition with much critical learning; and to him I refer the

reader. I have given it that meaning which I thought the most

simple and plain, should any departure from our own version be

thought necessary: both convey a good and consistent sense.

Verse 26. I have many things to say and to judge of you] Or, to

speak and to condemn, &c. I could speedily expose all your

iniquities-your pride and ambition, your hypocrisy and irreligion,

your hatred to the light, and your malice against the truth,

together with the present obstinate unbelief of your hearts, and

show that these are the reasons why I say you will die in your

sins; but these will appear in their true light: when, after you

have crucified me, the judgments of God shall descend upon and

consume you.

He that sent me is true] Whatever he hath spoken of you by the

prophets shall surely come to pass; his word cannot fail.

Verse 28. When ye have lifted up] When ye have crucified me, and

thus filled up the measure of your iniquities, ye shall know that

I am the Christ, by the signs that shall follow; and ye shall know

that what I spoke is true, by the judgments that shall follow. To

be lifted up, is a common mode of expression, among the Jewish

writers, for to die, or to be killed.

Verse 29. The Father hath not left me alone] Though ye shalt

have power to put me to death, yet this shall not be because he

hath abandoned me. No-he is ever with me, because I do that which

pleaseth him; and it is his pleasure that I should lay down my

life for the salvation of the world. Does not our Lord allude to

the following scriptures?-Sacrifice and offering thou didst not

desire; my ears hast thou opened: (or, a body hast thou prepared

me: Heb 10:5:) then said I, Lo, I come: this is written in the

volume of the book concerning me. I delight to do thy will, O my

God! Thy law is in my heart. Ps 40:6-8.

Verse 30. As he spake these words, many believed on him.] The

same sun that hardens the clay softens the wax. This discourse,

which proved the savour of death unto death to the obstinate

Pharisees, became the savour of life unto life to many of the

simple-hearted people.

Verse 31. If ye continue in my word] Or, in this doctrine of

mine. It is not enough to receive God's truth-we must retain and

walk in it. And it is only when we receive the truth, love it,

keep it, and walk in it, that we are the genuine disciples of


Verse 32. Ye shall know the truth] Shall have a constant

experimental knowledge of its power and efficacy.

And the truth shall make you free.] It was a maxim of the Jews,

"That no man was free, but he who exercised himself in the

meditation of the law." No man is truly free, but he in whose

heart the power of sin is destroyed, and who has received the

Spirit of adoption, through which he cries, Abba! Father! See

Ro 8:15. The

bondage of sin is the most grievous bondage; and freedom from

its guilt and influence is the greatest liberty.

Verse 33. They answered] That is, the other Jews who had not

believed-the carping, cavilling Pharisees already mentioned; for

the words cannot be spoken of the simple people who had already

believed. See Joh 8:30.

Were never in bondage to any man] This assertion was not only

false, but it was ridiculous in the extreme; seeing their whole

history, sacred and profane, is full of recitals of their

servitude in Egypt, in Chaldea, under the Persians, under the

Macedonians, and under the Romans. But those who are not under

the influence of the truth of God will speak and act according to

the influence of the spirit of falsehood and error. If the words

are to be restrained to themselves alone, they may be understood

thus: We are Abraham's seed: and we were never in bondage. Both

these propositions had a faint shadow of truth.

Verse 34. Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.] Or,

δουλοςεστι, &c., is the slave of sin. This was the slavery of

which Christ spoke; and deliverance from it, was the liberty which

he promised.

Verse 35. And the servant abideth not in the house] Or, rather,

Now the slave abided not in the family. As if Jesus had said:

And now that I am speaking of a slave, I will add one thing more,

viz. a slave has no right to any part of the inheritance in the

family to which he belongs; but the son, the legitimate son, has a

right. He can make any servant of the family free, though no slave

can. He can divide or bestow the inheritance as he pleases. Our

Lord seems here to refer to the sending away of Ishmael,

mentioned, Ge 21:10-14. Only those who are genuine children can

inherit the estate. If sons, then heirs: heirs of God, and joint

heirs with Christ: Ga 4:21-31; Ro 8:17; and see Bishop Pearce's


Verse 37. My word hath no place in you.] Or, this doctrine of

mine hath no place to you. Ye hear the truths of God, but ye do

not heed them: the word of life has no influence over you; and how

can it, when you seek to kill me because I proclaim this truth to


It is a dismal omen when a person is regardless of the truth of

God: it is more so to be provoked against it: but to persecute and

endeavour to destroy those who preach it is the last degree of

perverseness and obduracy. The word of God requires a heart which

is empty. A heart filled with earthly projects, carnal interests

ambition, thoughts of raising a fortune, and with the love of the

superfluities and pleasures of life, is not fit to receive the

seed of the kingdom. When a man shuts his heart against it by his

passions, he at the same time opens it to all sorts of crimes.


From what is here said, it is manifest, says Dr. Lightfoot, that

the whole tendency of our Saviour's discourse is to show the Jews,

that they are the seed of that serpent which was to bruise the

heel of the Messiah: else what could that mean, Joh 8:44:

Ye are of your father the devil, i.e. ye are the seed of the


Verse 38. I speak that which I have seen] I speak nothing but

that unchangeable, eternal truth which I have received from the

bosom of God.

Ye do that which ye have seen] Instead of εωρακατε, ye have

seen, I think we should read ηκουσατε, ye have heard, on the

authority of BCKL, fifteen others; Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian,

later Syriac in the margin, Gothic, one copy of the Itala; Origen,

Cyril, and Chrysostom. This reading, says Bishop Pearce, (who has

adopted it,) seems preferable to the other, because it could not

be said, with the same propriety, that the Jews had seen any thing

with their father the devil, as it could that Jesus had seen with


Jesus saw the Father, for he was the WORD that was with God from

eternity. The Jews did not see, they only felt and heard, their

father the devil. It is the interest of Satan to keep himself out

of sight, and to work in the dark.

Verse 39. If ye were Abraham's children] Griesbach reads εστε,

ye are, instead of ητε, ye were, on the authority of BDL,

Vulgate, four copies of the Itala; Origen and Augustin.

Ye would do the works of Abraham.] As the son has the nature of

his father in him, and naturally imitates him, so, if ye were the

children of Abraham, ye would imitate him in his faith, obedience,

and uprightness; but this ye do not, for ye seek to kill me-ye are

watching for an opportunity to destroy me, merely because I tell

you the truth: Abraham never did any thing like this; therefore,

you have no spiritual relationship to him.

Verse 41. Ye do the deeds of your father.] You have certainly

another father than Abraham-one who has instilled his own

malignant nature into you; and, as ye seek to murder me for

telling you the truth, ye must be the offspring of him who was a

murderer from the beginning, and stood not in the truth,

Joh 8:44.

We be not born of fornication] We are not a mixed, spurious

breed-our tribes and families have been kept distinct-we are

descended from Abraham by his legal wife Sarah; and we are no


We have one Father, even God.] In the spiritual sense of father

and son, we are not a spurious, that is, an idolatrous race;

because we acknowledge none as our spiritual father, and worship

none as such, but the true God. See Bishop Pearce.

Verse 42. If God were your Father, ye would love me] I came from

God, and it would be absurd to suppose that you would persecute me

if you were under the influence of God. The children of the same

father should not murder each other.

Verse 43. Why do ye not understand my speech?] τηνλαλιαντην

εμην, This my mode of speaking-when illustrating spiritual by

natural things: λαλια refers to the manner of speaking; λογος, to

the matter or subject on which he spoke. For λαλιαν, the Codex

Bezae had originally αληθειαν: why do ye not acknowledge this

TRUTH of mine? A few other MSS. agree in this reading.

Because ye cannot hear my word.] That is, ye cannot bear my

doctrine: it comes too close to you; it searches your hearts,

detects your hypocrisy, and exposes your iniquitous intentions and

designs; and as ye are determined not to leave your sins, so ye

are purposed not to hear my doctrine.

Verse 44. Ye are of your father the devil] Ye are the seed of

the old serpent. See Clarke on Joh 8:37.

The lusts of your father] Like father like son. What Satan

desires, ye desire; because ye are filled with his nature. Awful

state of unregenerate men! They have the nearest alliance to

Satan; they partake of his nature and have in them the same

principles and propensities which characterize the very nature and

essence of the devil! Reader, canst thou rest in this state? Apply

to God, through Christ, that thou mayest be born again.

He was a murderer from the beginning] It was through him that

Adam transgressed; in consequence of which death entered into the

world, and slew him and all his posterity. This was the sentiment

of the Jews themselves. In Sohar Kadash, the wicked are called,

"The children of the old serpent, who slew Adam and all his

descendants." See Schoettgen.

Abode not in the truth] He stood not in the truth-was once in a

state of glorious felicity, but fell from it; and, being deprived

of all good himself, he could not endure that others should enjoy

any; therefore by his lies he deceived Eve, and brought her, her

husband, and, through them, their posterity, into his own


He speaketh of his own] εκτωνιδιωνλαλει, He speaketh of his

own offspring, or, from his own disposition, for he is the father

and fountain of all error and falsity; and all who are deceived by

him, and partake of his disposition, falsity and cruelty, are his

offspring, for he is a liar, and the father of it-καιοπατηρ

αυτου-literally, his father also. There is considerable difficulty

in this verse. The Cainites, and the Archontites, mentioned by

Epiphanius, read it thus: "Ye are the children of your father the

devil, because he is a liar, and his father was a liar. He was a

man-slayer, and he did not remain in the truth. When he speaketh,

he speaketh a lie of his own, (progenitors understood,) because

his father also was a liar." The consequences which the above

heretics drew from this verse were the following. They said that

the father of the Jews was a demon; that he also had a demon for

his father; and that he had a demon for his father, &c. The

Archontites maintained that Cain had a demon for his father, the

spirit which our Lord speaks of here; and that the Jews proceeded

from the race of Cain.

Grotius, supposing that the devil who tempted Eve was not the

prince of devils, but rather a subordinate one, seems to think

he may be understood here, he is a liar, and his father also,

which is the literal translation of the latter clause of the text,

ωςκαιοπατηραυτου, as it has been read by many of the primitive


Mr. Wakefield, by changing το, before ψευδος, into τις, gives

the text the following translation:-"The devil is your father, and

ye willingly perform the lusts of your father. He was a man-slayer

from the first, and continued not in the truth, because there is

no truth in him. When ANY ONE speaketh a lie, he speaketh

according to his own kindred: for his father also is a liar." Our

own translation, that refers πατηραυτου to ψευδος, a lie, and

not to ψευστης, a liar, is probably the most correct.

Verse 46. Which of you convinceth me of sin?] Do you pretend to

reject the truths which I announce, because my life does not

correspond to the doctrines I have taught? But can any of you

prove me guilty of any fault? You have maliciously watched all my

steps; have you seen the smallest matter to reprove, in any part

of my conduct?

But it is probable that αμαρτια, sin, is put here in opposition

to αληθεια, truth, in the same verse, and then it should be

rendered falsehood. The very best Greek writers use the word in

the same sense: this, KYPKE proves by quotations from Polybius,

Lucian, Dionysius Halicarnassensis, Plutarch, Thucydides, and

Hippocrates. RAPHELIUS adds a pertinent quotation from

Herodotus, and shows that the purest Latin writers have used

the word peccatum, sin, in the sense of error or falsehood.

See Clarke on Ge 13:13.

Verse 47. He that is of God] Meaning probably himself: he who

came from God, or was born of God-heareth the words of God-has the

constant inspiration of his Spirit, speaks nothing but truth, and

cannot possibly err.

Verse 48. Thou art a Samaritan] This was the same, among them,

as heretic, or schismatic, among us. This is the only time in

which the Jews gave our Lord this title of reproach; and they

probably grounded it on his having preached among them, and lodged

in their villages. See the account in Joh 4:39, 40; but

Samaritan, among them, meant a person unworthy of any credit.

Hast a devil?] Art possessed by an evil spirit; and art, in

consequence, deranged.

Verse 49. I have not a devil] The first part of the charge was

too futile: if taken literally, it was both absurd and impossible;

they did not believe it themselves, and therefore our Lord does

not stop a moment to refute it; but he answers to the second with

the utmost meekness and conclusiveness: I honour God. This is what

no demon can do, nor any man who is under such influence.

Verse 50. I seek not mine own glory] Another proof that I am not

influenced by any spirit but that which proceeds from God. But

there is one that seeketh-i.e. my glory-and judgeth-will punish

you for your determined obstinacy and iniquity.

Verse 51. Shall never see death.] As Moses promised a long life,

with abundance of temporal blessings, to those who should keep his

statutes and ordinances, so he who keeps my doctrine shall not

only have a long life, but shall never see death-he shall never

come under the power of the death of the soul, but shall live

eternally with me in glory.

Verse 54. Your God] Many MSS. and most of the versions read

ημων, our, instead of υμων. The variation is of very little

consequence. They called God their God, while enemies to him both

in their spirit and conduct.

Verse 56. Abraham rejoiced to see my day] Or, he earnestly

desired to see my day; ηγαλλιασατο, from αγαν, very much, and

αλλομαι, I leap-his soul leaped forward in earnest hope and

strong expectation that he might see the incarnation of Jesus

Christ. The metaphor appears to be taken from a person who,

desiring to see a long-expected friend who is coming, runs

forward, now and then jumping up to see if he can discover him.

There is a saying very like this in Sohar Numer fol. 61: "Abraham

rejoiced because he could know, and perceive, and cleave to the

Divine NAME." The Divine name is Yehovah; and by this they

simply mean God himself.

And he saw it] Not only in the first promise, Ge 3:15, for the

other patriarchs saw this as well as he; and not only in that

promise which was made particularly to himself, Ge 12:7; 22:18,

(compared with Ga 3:16,) that the Messiah should spring from his

family; but he saw this day especially when Jehovah appeared to

him in a human form, Ge 18:2, 17, which many suppose to have been

a manifestation of the Lord Jesus.

Verse 57. Thou art not yet fifty years old] Some MSS. read

forty. The age of our blessed Lord has never been properly

determined. Some of the primitive fathers believed that he was

fifty years old when he was crucified; but their foundation,

which is no other than these words of the Jews, is but a very

uncertain one. Calmet thinks that our Lord was at this time about

thirty-four years and ten months old, and that he was crucified

about the middle of his thirty-sixth year; and asserts that the

vulgar era is three years too late. On the other hand, some allow

him to have been but thirty-one years old, and that his ministry

had lasted but one year. Many opinions on this subject, which are

scarcely worthy of being copied, may be found in Calmet.

Verse 58. Before Abraham was, I am.] The following is a literal

translation of Calmet's note on this passage:-"I am from all

eternity. I have existed before all ages. You consider in me only

the person who speaks to you, and who has appeared to you within a

particular time. But besides this human nature, which ye think ye

know, there is in me a Divine and eternal nature. Both, united,

subsist together in my person. Abraham knew how to distinguish

them. He adored me as his God; and desired me as his Saviour. He

has seen me in my eternity, and he predicted my coming into the


On the same verse Bishop Pearce speaks as follows:-"What Jesus

here says relates (I think) to his existence antecedent to

Abraham's days, and not to his having been the Christ appointed

and foretold before that time; for, if Jesus had meant this, the

answer I apprehend would not have been a pertinent one. He might

have been appointed and foretold for the Christ; but if he had not

had an existence before Abraham's days, neither could he have seen

Abraham, (as, according to our English translation, the Jews

suppose him to have said,) nor could Abraham have seen him, as I

suppose the Jews understood him to have said in the preceding

verse, to which words of the Jews the words of Jesus here are

intended as an answer."

Verse 59. Then took they up stones, &c.] It appears that the

Jews understood him as asserting his Godhead; and, supposing him

to be a blasphemer, they proceeded to stone him, according to the

law. Le 24:16.

But Jesus hid himself] In all probability he rendered himself

invisible-though some will have it that he conveyed himself away

from those Jews who were his enemies, by mixing himself with the

many who believed on him, (Joh 8:30, 31,) and who, we may

suppose, favoured his escape. Pearce.

But where did they find the stones, Christ and they being in the

temple? It is answered: 1st. It is probable, as the buildings of

the temple had not been yet completed, there might have been many

stones near the place; or, 2dly. They might have gone out so the

outer courts for them; and, before their return, our Lord had

escaped. See Lightfoot and Calmet.

Going through the midst of them, and so passed by.] These words

are wanting in the Codex Bezae, and in several editions and

versions. Erasmus, Grotius, Beza, Pearce, and Griesbach, think

them not genuine. The latter has left them out of the test. But,

notwithstanding what these critics have said, the words seem

necessary to explain the manner of our Lord's escape. 1st. He hid

himself, by becoming invisible; and then, 2dly. He passed through

the midst of them, and thus got clear away from the place. See a

similar escape mentioned, Lu 4:30, and the note there.

THE subjects of this chapter are both uncommon and of vast


1. The case of the woman taken in adultery, when properly and

candidly considered, is both intelligible and edifying. It is

likely that the accusation was well founded; and that the scribes

and Pharisees endeavoured maliciously to serve themselves of the

fact, to embroil our Lord with the civil power, or ruin his moral

reputation. Our Lord was no magistrate, and therefore could not,

with any propriety, give judgment in the case; had he done it, it

must have been considered an invasion of the rights and office of

the civil magistrate, and would have afforded them ground for a

process against him. On the other hand, had he acquitted the

woman, he might have been considered, not only as setting aside

the law of Moses, but as being indulgent to a crime of great moral

turpitude, and the report of this must have ruined his moral

character. He disappointed this malice by refusing to enter into

the case; and overwhelmed his adversaries with confusion, by

unmasking their hearts, and pointing out their private

abominations. It is generally supposed that our Lord acquitted the

woman: this is incorrect; he neither acquitted nor condemned her:

he did not enter at all juridically into the business. His saying,

Neither do I condemn thee, was no more than a simple declaration

that he would not concern himself with the matter-that being the

office of the chief magistrate; but, as a preacher of

righteousness, he exhorted her to abandon her evil practices,

lest the punishment, which she was now likely to escape, should be

inflicted on her for a repetition of her transgression.

2. In several places in this chapter, our Lord shows his

intimate union with the Father, both in will, doctrine, and deed;

and though he never speaks so as to confound the persons, yet he

evidently shows that such was the indivisible unity, subsisting

between the Father and the Son, that what the one witnessed, the

other witnessed; what the one did, the other did; and that he who

saw the one necessarily saw the other.

3. The original state of Satan is here pointed out-he abode not

in the truth, Joh 8:44. Therefore he was once

in the truth, in righteousness and true holiness-and he fell

from that truth into sin and falsehood, so that he became the

father of lies and the first murderer. Our Lord confirms here

the Mosaic account of the fall of man, and shows that this fall

was brought about by his lies, and that these lies issued in the

murder or destruction both of the body and soul of man.

4. The patience and meekness exercised by our Lord, towards his

most fell and unrelenting enemies, are worthy the especial regard

of all those who are persecuted for righteousness.-When he was

reviled, he reviled not again. As the searcher of hearts, he

simply declared their state, Joh 8:44, in order to their

conviction and conversion: not to have done so, would have been to

betray their souls. In this part of his conduct we find two grand

virtues united, which are rarely associated in man, MEEKNESS and

FIDELITY-patience to bear all insults and personal injuries; and

boldness, is the face of persecution and death, to declare the

truth. The meek man generally leaves the sinner unreproved: the

bold and zealous man often betrays a want of due

self-management, and reproves sin in a spirit which prevents

the reproof from reaching the heart. In this respect also, our

blessed Lord has left us an example, that we should follow his

steps. Let him that readeth understand.

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