The Ministry of Messiah, 2:1-12:50

6. Jesus the light of life, 8:12-10:42

iii] The true seed of Abraham


Jesus continues his teaching ministry at the Feast of Tabernacles. Some of "the Jews" believe in Jesus, responding to his teaching positively. Jesus continues to speak of his messianic authority and his unique relationship with God the Father, prompting an ever increasing aggressive reaction, particularly when he claims to be God's great I AM. Throughout the passage Jesus calls for true faith, a faith that abides / continues. Only a faith that perseveres can access God's truth and freedom.


Jesus, God's great I AM, offers freedom, sonship and life to those who persevere in faith.


i] Context: See 8:12-20.


ii] Structure: The True Seed of Abraham:

Jesus' offer of freedom, v31-36:

Perseverance of faith brings freedom, v31-32;

No one is truly free; we are all slaves of sin, v33-34;

Only the Son of God can set us free, v35-36.

Paternity is evidenced in behavior, v37-47:

"Abraham is our father", v37-41:

"You are doing the works of your own father."

"The only Father we have is God himself", v42-47:

"You belong to your father the devil."

Jesus the giver of life, v48-52:

"I honor my Father and you dishonor me."

"Whoever obeys my word will never see death."

Jesus God's timeless I AM, v53-59:

"Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day."

"before Abraham was born, I AM."


iii] Interpretation:

Some of "the Jews" (primarily referring to Israel's religious elite, Pharisees, scribes, .... / unbelieving Israel) have responded positively to Jesus' teachings and so he doubles down on his authority and his unique relationship with God the Father, and the consequent freedom / life that flows for those who menw, "abide, remain, continue" (persevere in faith) in his messianic testimony / truth-defining revelation, v31-32. "The Jews" react to the notion that they are slaves; they are children of Abraham and see themselves under no political master. Jesus points out that they are slaves of sin and so have no place in God's household. Yet, Jesus, as the Messiah / Son of God, has a place in God's household and he has the right and authority to set them free to become a member of God's household, v33-36.

Jesus agrees with "the Jews" that they are Abraham's descendants, but they are not acting like the children of Abraham. Abraham was a moral man, a man who believed God and acted accordingly, but "the Jews" are trying to kill Jesus for simply testifying to God's revealed truth. The implication is that they are the children of another father, v37-41a.

"The Jews" declare that God is their real father; they are the children of God. Jesus points out that if that were the case they would welcome his testimony because he is from God the Father. By wanting to kill Jesus and to accept lies rather than the truth, "the Jews" show that they are not God's children, but rather that they are children of the devil, v41b-47.

Calling "the Jews" children of the devil prompts a fairly strong response; they suggest that Jesus is not only a Samaritan, but that he is actually deranged (demon possessed). Giving God the glory rather than seeking glory for oneself my seem deranged, but "the Jews" do need to remember that there is one who is concerned about Jesus' messianic status, and he is the judge of the universe, so beware! The bottom line is, whoever accepts the testimony of the Messiah (abides / perseveres in faith = "obeys my word") will gain eternal life ("never see death"), v48-51.

Jesus' claim that those who accept his testimony will never see death confirms to "the Jews" that he is indeed mad. Who does Jesus think he is, someone greater than Abraham or the prophets? Of course, the answer is "yes". Jesus personally knows God the Father, and it is the Father who has bestowed on him messianic authority ("my Father .... is the one who glorifies me"); Jesus simply fulfills the Father's will by testifying to his messianic status. "The Jews", on the other hand, do not know God and so do not know who Jesus is. Yet, even Abraham looked forward to messiah's day, and believed in it ("saw it and was glad"). "The Jews" think that Jesus is claiming to be a contemporary of Abraham, although all he is claiming is that Abraham, through faith, had spiritual insight into messiah's coming. Cutting through all the obfuscation, Jesus claims in the clearest of terms that he is God's eternal messiah, God's great I AM. Before they can arrest and stone him, Jesus slips away, v52-59.


In the passage before us John continues to make the point that "whoever belongs to God hears what God says", v47. "The Jews" (the religious authorities) continue to react to Jesus' messianic testimony, misunderstanding his words, and this because they are not ek tou qeou, "of God"; they are ek tou patroV tou diabalou, "of the (their) father the devil." The devil is a lier and so they believe lies; he is a murderer and so they plan the murder of Jesus. "The Jews", representing agents of unbelief, cannot accept Jesus messianic claim that he is sent from God as God's great I AM. Consequently, they misunderstand Jesus' offer of freedom, v32, sonship (Abraham's true sons), v39, 41, and eternal life, v51. In addressing Hellenistic Jews of the dispersion, John would have his readers be Jews who believe rather than stone God's messiah.

Text - 8:31

The True Seed of Abraham, v31-59. i] Jesus' offer of freedom, v31-36. Addressing those who have responded positively to him ("the ones having believe in him"), Jesus makes the point that it is those who meinhte, "abide, continue, remain", those who persevere in faith, who will gain both knowledge (the mind of Christ, divine truth) and freedom from guilt, self and fear, v31-32.

oun "-" - therefore. Here transitional, so untranslated as NIV, but possibly inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so", as ESV. "Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him", Peterson.

touV pepisteukotaV (pisteuw) perf. part. "[to the Jews] who had believed" - [jesus said to the jews] having believed. The perfect tense indicates a past act with enduring consequences. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the Jews." In John, the term "the Jews" often refers to Israel's religious establishment - the Pharisees, Scribes, etc.; they usually represent unbelieving Israel. Here John tells us that they "believed in" Jesus. Yet, by v33 they are again arguing against Jesus, rejecting his messianic testimony and misunderstanding everything he says. Arguments abound as to how John is using the word here; see Carson. It seems likely that John uses the verb pisteuw, "to believe", in the sense of commitment to / acceptance of / reliance upon / trust in / faith in Jesus' teachings / word / testimony. Yet, for that "faith" to be valid it must menw, "abide, continue, remain." A believer is a person who perseveres in faith (Note the similar idea in the Revelation of John - the one who is victorious is the one who perseveres). The parable of the Sower well illustrates John's perspective on the act of believing in Jesus.

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - in him. Dative of direct object after the verb to "believe." Morris notes that "the use of the dative often denotes simple credence rather than trust in a person", ie., eiV + acc., "believe into him" (often interchangable with en + dat.), "but John does not appear to put much difference between the two", so Schnackenburg, Brown, Ridderbos, ..... ie., the different expressions of belief in v30 and 31 do not give the sense "believers" and "sympathizers." Lindars suggests that the dative here may not be original, ie., it was originally as v30, eiV + acc.

elegen (legw) imperf. "[Jesus] said" - The use of the imperfect at the beginning of this verse probably indicates narrative transition, probably foregrounding; see Novakovic.

ean + subj. "if" - if. "If, as may be the case, you abide in my word, then you are truly my disciples." Introducing a 3rd. class conditional clause where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true.

en + dat. "hold to [my teachings]" - [abide] in [my word]. Local, expressing sphere / state. This preposition with the verb menw, "to abide, remain, continue", gives the sense that "the believer must move completely into the sphere of influence and action of Christ's word and let himself be led to that deeper union with Christ which menw denotes", Schnackenburg. In simple terms Jesus is telling "the Jews" to "adhere to his teaching", Bruce.

alhqwV adv. "really" - [you are] truly [disciples of me]. Adverb of manner. Harris notes the elliptical sense of the clause; "If you persevere with my teaching you will thereby show that you are my genuine disciples."


kai "then" - and. Coordinate, "and", as ESV. Possibly inferential, although technically epexegetic; "ie., given your abiding faith, you will know the truth and ....." The person who perseveres in faith accesses truth and freedom.

thn alhqeian (a) "the truth" - [you will know] the truth [and] the truth [will free you]. Harris defines the truth as "the revelation of God that Jesus brings", but some hold that the presence of the article is indicating that Jesus himself is the truth. It is true that the embodiement of all truth is found in Jesus, but John is probably not using "the truth" here as a title for Jesus. "You will know the truth and the truth will liberate you", Barclay.


In typical form "the Jews" question Jesus offer of freedom, v33-34. They probably think that under the grace of God, the people of Israel, as the children of Abraham, are the inheritors of the covenant promises, which promises are theirs through their attention to the Law, ie., they are spiritually free. Yet, the Law only accentuates sin and so, irrespective of their family ties to Abraham, Jesus makes the point that they remain slaves to sin and thus lost to the covenant promises - no spiritual freedom for them.

oudeni dat. adj. "[never have been slaves] of anyone" - [they gave answer to him. seed of abraham we are and] to no one [have been enslaved ever]. Emphatic by position. Dative of direct object after the verb "to serve as a slave" which takes a dative of persons; "never been enslaved to anyone", ESV. "We have never been anyone's slaves", CEV. Of course, the people of Israel have been enslaved on numerous occasions and are even at this point in time under the subjugation of Rome. So obviously "the Jews" are not referring to political slavery. Given that Jesus' answer is in the terms of the spiritual slavery of sin then we may assume that "the Jews" are also speaking of spiritual slavery. So, they are probably claiming that (although they have over the years been political slaves) they have never, under God, lost the freedom of their inner life, their soul. Yet, many commentators argue that "the Jews" are referring to political freedom, taking the view that "freedom was considered to be the the birthright of every Jew", despite their political situation, Kostenberger. "Even the poorest in Israel are looked upon as free men", Mishnah.

twV "how [can you say]?" - how [do you say]? Interrogative particle; "What do you mean by saying ........?", Brown. Note the "you" is emphatic by use.

oJti "that" - that [you will become free ones]. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Jesus says. Possibly short-talk / elliptical, eg., "How can you say 'The truth will free you''", Peterson.


autoiV dat. pro. "[Jesus replied]" - [jesus answered and said] to them. Dative of indirect object.

amhn amhn legw uJmin "very truly I tell you" - amen amen i say to you. Emphatic; see 5:24. "Jesus answered, and it is true, .....", Barclay / "I am telling you a solemn truth."

oJti "-" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Jesus says.

oJ poiwn (poiew) pres. part. "[everyone] who sins" - [all] the doing [the sin]. If we take the adjective "all" as a substantive, "everyone", then the participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "everyone." Of course, it can also be viewed as a substantive limited by the adjective "all", "all the ones doing sin"; "all those who do sin." "A person who acts in a sinful way is a slave to sin", although Harris stresses "habitually sins."

thV aJmartiaV (a) gen. "[a slave] to sin" - [is a slave] of sin. The genitive "of sin" is not found in all manuscripts, so without it Jesus answers the question "who are slaves?" - the answer being, "those who sin." The sense remains the same, "slave of sin", "slaves of corruption", 2Pet.2:19. The NIV, as with most translations, has taken the genitive as verbal, objective, where the genitive substantive receives the action of the verbal noun "sin"; "anyone who commits sin is enslaved to sin", Cassirer. "Sin" is used here in the sense of "a vicious slavery to moral failure, to rebellion against the God who made us. ........ A shameful self-centredness , an evil and enslaving devotion to created things at the expense of worship of the Creator", Carson. The "bondage to sin is a reality for everyone who sins, including Abraham's children", Beasley-Murray, cf., Rom.6:12.


"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free", Gal.5:1. Verse 35 seems to illustrate a tight argument. "The Jews" claim to be Abraham's children, and as such inheritors of the covenant promises / spiritually free. Yet, are they Abraham's true descendants (cf., v33); are they of Isaac or are they of Ishmael? As slaves to sin they have no right of descent, no permanent place in Abraham's family, and so are spiritually sons of Ishmael. Jesus is the true son of Abraham, a true son of Isaac, and therefore the inheritor of the covenant promises - Israel's true remnant. As God's great I AM Jesus is able to set people free from sin and thus give them a permanent place in Abraham's family; See Barrett. "if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through", Peterson. See Galatians 4:30 for the Ishmael and Isaac imagery, cf., Gen.21:9ff. Schnackenburg best represents those commentators who suggest we not draw too much from the "parable"; "it is simply meant to illustrate the promised state of freedom."

de "Now" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step / development in the argument / dialogue.

eiV ton aiwna (wn wnoV) "has no permanent place" - [the slave does not abide in the household] into the age, [the son remains] into the age. With eiV here expressing arrival at, the idiomatic sense of this phrase is "forever"; "Slaves do not stay in a house for ever", Rieu.


oun "so" - therefore. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion, "therefore.".

ean + subj. "if" - if [the son sets you free]. "If, as may be the case, the Son frees you, then you will really be free men." Introducing a 3rd. class conditional clause where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true.

ontwV adv. "[free] indeed" - [you will] really [be free]. Modal adverb. The freedom that Jesus offers is true freedom, a substantial spiritual freedom. Freedom / liberation from sin is a gift of God available through Jesus, the Son of God, God's great I AM, cf., Ridderbos.


ii] Paternity is evidenced in behavior, v37-47. "The Jews" do not do what Abraham did; he believed the Lord, Gen.15:6. Jesus bears a messianic testimony from God, but "the Jews" refuse to accept it; they believe a lie rather than the truth and this because they are children of the devil, a liar from the beginning. In v37 Jesus accepts that "the Jews" are descendants of Abraham in a physical sense, but they are not his real heirs - they are more like Ishmael, Gen.21:9-10. Their desire to kill Jesus shows that, unlike Abraham, they are devoid of faith and so reject Jesus' messianic testimony.

oJti "[I know] that" - [I know] that [you are]. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Jesus knows. "I recognize that you have Abraham as your ancestor."

Abraam gen. proper. "Abraham's [descendants]" - [seed] of abraham. The genitive is adjectival, relational.

alla "but" - Strong adversative.

apokteinai (apokteinw) aor. inf. "to kill" - [you seek] to kill [me]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to seek." It would not be unreasonable to say "and yet some of you are looking for a means to have me executed."

oJti "because" - because [the word of me has no place in you]. Here introducing a causal clause explaining why "the Jews" are trying to kill Jesus; "because you are incapable of receiving my message", Barclay.

ou cwrei (cwrew) pres. "[you] have no room for" - does not receive, penetrate. "Nothing I say penetrates into you", NAB; "my teaching makes no headway with you", Moffatt. Better than "has no place in you" since Jesus' teachings have made at least a minor impact (like seed sown in shallow ground), cf., v31.

en "-" - in [you]. Local, space; "among you."


Jesus' messianic testimony derives from the Father; he speaks of what he "has seen", ie., what the Father has revealed to him. "The Jews", on the other hand, "do" / act on what they "have heard" from "their father", ie., what the devil has revealed to them, cf., v44.

egw "I" - As with uJmeiV, "you", later in the verse, the personal pronoun is emphatic by use. The "I" and "you" contrasts the messianic testimony of Jesus and its origin, with the knowledge of the Jews and its origin.

para + dat. "in [the Father's presence]" - [the things i have seen] beside [the father i speak]. Spacial, "beside, alongside, close to, at the side of"; "I proclaim what I have seen when I was at the Father's side", Cassirer.

oun "-" - [and you] therefore [the things you heard]. Here inferential, cf., Schnackenburg; "I act on what I have learnt from my Father, and so I therefore conclude (oun) you also (kai, adjunctive), act on what you have learnt from your father."

para + gen. "from" - from beside. Here the preposition expresses source / origin; "what you learned from your Father", Cassirer.

tou patroV (hr roV) gen. "your Father" - the / your father [you do]. A variant uJmwn, "your", exists, obviously added to dispel the confusion over whose father is in mind. In Greek at this time the article of itself can serve as a possessive pronoun, eg., above, "I speak of what I have seen with my Father", ESV. None-the-less, Brown takes the sense here to mean "the Father", with poieite, "to do", as an imperative; "you should do what you heard from the Father", Brown, so also Barclay - "what the Father has told you" = the Law of Moses. This translation is not widely accepted. It is generally assumed that the father of "the Jews" is not God the Father. "You have another father who dictates your actions", Rieu.


As Ridderbos notes, the response of "the Jews" is one of "irritation rather than reflection." Jesus has again raised the issue of paternity, and so they respond forcefully with "Abraham is our father." Jesus has already concurred with them on physical paternity, v37, but spiritually they are nothing like Abraham, nor are they like him morally - they are seeking to murder Jesus, v40; "conduct is the clue to paternity", Sanders.

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [they answered and said] to him [abraham is the father of us]. Dative of indirect object.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - [jesus says] to them. Dative of indirect object.

ei + ind. "if ..... then ...." - if [you are children of abraham, the works of abraham you would have been doing]. "If, as is the case, for argument sake, ........ then ......." Introducing a conditional clause 3rd. class where the proposed condition is assumed to be true for argument sake. Variant readings exist, but these are mainly reactions to a 1st. class conditional clause where a 2nd. class unreal condition would be expected, but a 1st. class for argument sake is quite acceptable.


If Abraham was truly the father of these Jews then they would do what Abraham did, namely, believe God, Gen.15:6. What they actually do is do what their real father wants them to do, namely, seek to kill / do murder.

nun de "as it is" - but/and now. Transitional, but ommonly translated "as it is", often with an adversative edge, "but as it stands"; "but in fact, at this moment ....", Phillips.

apokteinai (apokteinw) aor. inf. "[you are looking for a way] to kill [me]" - [you are seeking] to kill [me]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to seek." "You are bent on killing me", REB.

uJmin dat. pro. "[has told] you" - [a man who has spoken the truth] to you. Dative of indirect object.

para + gen. "from [God]" - [which i heard] from [god. this abraham did not do]. Expressing source / origin; "from beside."


The first clause logically follows the last clause of v40; "That is not Abraham's way. You (emphatic) obviously have another father who dictates your actions", Rieu, ie., a father who is willing to murder - certainly not a godly father. This implication prompts a strong reaction; "We are not bastards (with the implication that Jesus may be). We have a legitimate father: the one and only God", Peterson. Given God's covenant with Israel, "Jesus' description of his adversaries as children of an alien father would be in their minds the most offensive accusation he could advance against them", Ridderbos.

uJmeiV pers. pro. "You" - you [are doing]. Emphatic by position and use.

tou patroV (hr roV) gen. "[the works] of [your own] father" - [the works] of the father [of you]. The genitive is adjectival, verbal, subjective, limiting "works"; "the works which are performed by your father."

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [they therefore said] to him. Dative of direct object.

hJmeiV pers. pro. "We" - Emphatic by use and position.

ek + gen. "-" - [have not been born] out of, from [fornication]. Expressing source / origin, "out of an act of sexual immorality", leaning toward means, "by means of." "We were not born as the result of any adulterous union", Barclay. Barrett suggests an ad hominem insinuation (to play the person rather than the ball in an argument), namely, that Jesus' birth is illegitimate.

ton qeon (oV) "God himself" - [we have one father] god. Accusative, standing in apposition to the direct object "one father."


Jesus' argument is simple enough: "Jesus is the Son of God; therefore if the Jews were the children of God they would love his Son, their brother", Fenton.

autoiV dat. pro. "to them" - [jesus said] to them. Dative of indirect object.

ei + ind. a]n + imperf. "if" - if [god was father of you, you would have loved me]. "If, as is not the case, ...... then ......" Introducing a conditional clause 2nd class / unreal condition where the proposed condition is not true.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why they would have loved Jesus if God were their father; "for God is the source of my being and from him I come", REB.

egw pers. pro. "I [have come here]" - i [came forth]. Emphatic by use and position.

ek + gen. "from [God]" - from [god and i am present]. Expressing source / origin. The Greek sense "I came out from God's presence and now I am here", Harris, is best condensed as, "I came here from God", Moffatt, as NIV.

gar "-" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus came, namely, because God sent him.

all (alla) "-" - [not from myself i have come,] but [that one sent me]. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ......., but ......" Note that ekeinoV, "that one", is emphatic. "Not that I was the author of my coming - it was He that sent me forth", Rieu.


All the evidence is that Jesus was an amazing preacher, easily understood by those with the heart to understand. "The Jews" are unable to understand Jesus because (oJti) they cannot bear to hear his message, namely that Jesus is sent from God as the long promised messiah and that they, because of their failure to believe, are not the children of Abraham and thus not the inheritors of the covenant promises - they are the slaves of another father.

dia ti "Why" - because why [the speech of me you do not know, understand, recognize]? This causal construction serves to introduce a rhetorical question.

oJti "because" - Probably causal / introducing a causal clause explaining why "the Jews" don't understand Jesus' preaching.

akouein (akouw) pres. inf. "[you are unable] to hear" - [you are not able] to hear. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb "to be able." Brown notes that this verb + acc. usually refers to physical hearing, ie., their ears are closed; "They are unable to lend a ready ear", Zerwick. "They cannot hear because they have no internal organ to receive God's revelation with", Schnackenburg.

ton logon (oV) "what I say" - [the my] the word = [my] word. "Word" is used in the sense of teaching, doctrine = Jesus' messianic testimony.


Jesus clarifies his enigmatic statements about paternity: "Your mate is the devil, and your whole life is set on pleasing him. He has always been a killer; he couldn't tell the truth if his life depended on it."

uJmeiV pers. pro. "You" - Emphatic by position and use.

ek + gen. "belong to" - [are] from [the / your father]. Expressing source / origin.

tou diabolou (oV) gen. "the devil" - Genitive standing in apposition to "father".

poien (poiew) pres. inf. "[you want] to carry out" - [you will, wish] to do. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to will." "You choose to carry out", REB.

tou patroV (hr roV) gen. "your father's [desires]" - [and the desires] of the father [of you]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive / verbal, subjective, limiting the verb "to desire", as NIV. "The hankerings of your father", Berkeley.

ekeinoV pro. "He" - that one [was a murderer]. The distant demonstrative pronoun is emphatic by use and position.

ap (apo) + gen. "from [the beginning]" - Temporal use of the preposition.

en + dat. "to [the truth]" - [and he has not stood] in [the truth]. Possibly expressing goal / object, "he does not take a stand for the truth (ie., he is a liar)", or adverbial, reference / respect, "there is nothing truthful about him", CEV.

oJti "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the devil does not stand for the truth, namely, because he is devoid of truth telling / he is a liar. "

en + dat. "in [him]" - [truth is not] in [him]. Local, expressing space / metaphorical. "Truth does not find any room in his heart", Cassirer.

oJtan + subj. "when [he lies]" - when [he speaks the lie = he lies]. Introducing a temporal clause expressing indefinite future time.

ek + gen. "[he speaks his native language]" - [he speaks] from [the / his own things]. Expressing source / origin. "It is characteristic of him to tell lies", Barclay.

oJti "for" - because [he is a liar]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why it is characteristic for the devil to lie, namely, because he is by nature a liar,

kai "and" - and [the father of it]. Probably consecutive here, "and so consequently", "all falsehood takes its birth from him", Cassirer.


Given that "the Jews" are children of the devil, a liar from the beginning, they are unable to believe Jesus' messianic testimony, and this because he speaks the truth - a liar cannot abide a truth-teller.

de "Yet" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument / dialogue; best left untranslated.

oJti "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why "the Jews" do not believe Jesus' testimony, namely, "because" he speaks the truth - the children of a liar can't abide the truth.

egw pro. "I" - This personal pronoun, nominative subject of the verb "to say", is emphatic by position and use; "as for myself."

moi dat. pro. "me" - [i say the truth you do no believe] me. Dative of direct object after the verb "to believe." The sense may be "the fact that I speak the truth stops you from believing in me", Barclay, but given the context it could be "do not believe what I say" - "give intellectual credence to", Harris; "because I speak the truth you disbelieve me", Berkeley.


The argument on paternity is now summarized in v46-47. The Jews are unlike Abraham who believed God. They are children of another Father and do not belong to God, and this because they do not believe. For this reason they cannot receive the testimony of the sinless one, the one who speaks the truth,

ex (ek) + gen. "[Can] any of [you]" - [who] from [you]. Here the preposition serves as a partitive genitive, as NIV; "who of you."

elegcei (elegcw) pres. "prove" - convict [me]. This verb, "convict, reprove", when followed by a personal pronoun / object, as here, will take the sense "convince, expose, make one acknowledge, show them what they are." Yet, given the context, Carson argues that the sense here is "convict, prove"; "which one of you can prove that I am guilty of sin."

peri + gen. "of [sin]" - about, concerning [sin]. Here expressing reference / respect; "with respect to sin." Note that the noun "sin" is singular, possibly indicating some specific sin, eg., blasphemy, breaking Sabbath law, ......, but sin in general may be intended; "The Jews may have accused him of individual sins, such as breaking the Sabbath, but even then they must admit that his general conduct is unassailable", Kostenberger, so also Schnackenburg, ....

ei + ind. "if" - if [i speak truth]. "If, as is the case, .... then ......" Introducing a 3rd. class conditional clause where the proposed condition is assumed to be true.

dia ti "why" - because why. Interrogative causal construction introducing the apodosis of the conditional clause = "Why".

moi dat. pro. "[believe] me" - [you do not believe] me? Dative of direct object after the verb "to believe in." See v46 above; "Why don't you believe what I say?"


oJ wn (eimi) "Whoever" - the one being. The participle serves as a substantive; "He who comes from God", TEV.

ek + gen. "belongs to [God]" - out of, from [god]. Expressing source / origin, but with the particular sense of denoting membership "of a certain class or party or sect or school of thought", Zerwick #134. Usually taken in the sense of "belonging to the divine sphere", Schnackenburg, so Brown, Beasley-Murray, as NIV; "If a person's life has its source in God", Barclay. Possibly simply "he who is a child of God", Cassirer, ie., "born of God." Lindars notes the singular and suggests that the reference is to Jesus; he is the one who hears God. Yet, it seems more likely that a general point is being made, namely that "the fatherhood out of which a person lives determines how that person hears", Ridderbos.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "[hears what] God [says]" - [hears = pays attention to, heeds, the words] of god. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, "God's words", or verbal, subjective, "the words spoken by God", or even ablative, source / origin, "from God." "The child of God hears the thoughts of God", Rieu / "will listen to his message", CEV.

dia touto "the reason" - because of this. This causal construction is usually treated as inferential, "therefore, for this reason."

oJti "is that" - [you do not hear] that [you are not from god]. Here probably epexegetic, specifying touto, "this", as NIV; "for this reason, namely that you are not of God, you do not hear." Yet, a simple causal sense may be intended: "Therefore you refuse to listen because you don't belong to God", CEV.


iii] Jesus the giver of life, v48-52.

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - [the jews answered and said] to him. Dative of indirect object.

ou "[are]n't" - [are we] not. Used in a question expecting an affirmative answer.

kaqwV adv. "right" - [say] well = correctly, rightly. Modal adverb, expressing manner; "do we not say rightly", Berkeley.

oJti "that" - Here introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what "the Jews" say.

su pro. "you [are a Samaritan]" - you [are a samaritan and you have a demon]? The personal pronoun is emphatic by use; "You are yourself of mixed blood, not a pure Jew, and you are under the power of the devil / you are mad as well (a nutter, deranged)." A reference to demon possession can just serve as an expression for insanity. Given that Jesus has just implied that the father of "the Jews" is the devil, it seems likely that they are returning the complement.


Jesus honors God the Father through his obedient service, but "the Jews" dishonor Jesus when they impugn his origins and paternity.

egw pro. "I" - The personal pronoun is emphatic by use and position.

alla "but" - [have not a demon] but [i honor the father of me]. Strong adversative used in a counter point construction; "not ....... but ....."

uJmeiV pro. "you [dishonor me]" - [and] you [dishonor me]. The personal pronoun is emphatic by position and use; "and all you lot can do is insult me."


Jesus does not seek human approbation. There is, of course, one whose approval is worth having, and he will either withhold it, or bestow it.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, probably as a qualification best treated as concessive, "although, however, yet"; "Mind you, I'm not seeking the approbation (thn doxan, "the glory" = the good opinion) of others."

egw pro. "I" - i [do not seek the glory]. The personal pronoun is emphatic by position and use.

mou gen. pro. "for myself" - of me. The genitive is adjectival, verbal, objective, as NIV, but possibly possessive, "my own glory", ESV.

zhtwn (zhtew) pres. part. "[there is] one who seeks" - [there is] the one seeking [and judging]. As with "the one judging", the participle serves as a substantive. The statement is somewhat elliptical; "there is one who wants me to be honored, and he is also the one who judges ("in my favor", TEV)", CEV. Numerous variants are possible, eg., "there is one who gives his approval (seeks to give his approval) and he will determine whether to bestow it."


There is one way to escape the withdrawal of God's approval and that is to believe in Jesus. Such a person receives the gift of eternal life.

amhn amhn legw uJmin "Very truly I tell you" - amen amen i say to you. See 5:24. "I tell you in all truth", Rieu.

ean tiV + subj. "whoever" - if anyone. "If anyone, as the case may be, keeps my word, then they will never ever die." Introducing a relative conditional clause 3rd. class where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true.

thrhsh/ (threw) aor. subj. "obeys [my word]" - keeps / guards [my word]. "Keep" in the sense of hold firm to Jesus' messianic testimony. This virtually means "believe". "Keep" in the sense of "observe, obey", "obey my words", CEV, is technically correct (although logon, "word", is singular), but a word like "obey" will often prompt the reader to think in moral terms. The "word" we are to "keep / obey" is the call to believe in Jesus.

ou mh + subj. "[will] not not [see death]" - [he will] not not = never [see death]. Subjunctive of emphatic negation. Given the context, the sense is "will never be condemned" = "will possess eternal life." ; "he shall never, to all eternity, look upon death", Cassirer. "See, observe" death is a variation on "taste death", v52; "He shall never know what it is to die", NEB.

eiV + acc. "-" - into [the age]. Adverbial use of the preposition, temporal / idiomatic phrase meaning "forever"; "he will never see death at all", Phillips.


It's hard to believe that "the Jews" misunderstand Jesus, as if they think he is speaking about physical death. Lindars characterizes their reaction as one of a "scornful rejection of Jesus' words." As to the answer of "the Jews'" rhetorical question, it is "Yes".

oun "at this" - therefore [the jews said to him]. Variant reading. Inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so, consequently, accordingly."

nun adv. "Now" - Here more an exclamation, even emphatic; "Now really

oJti "that" - [we have known] that [you have a demon ("you are possessed / mad"). Abraham died and ("along with", Harris) the prophets]. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what "the Jews" know. Note the use of the perfect of the verb "to know" to express a past action with ongoing consequences. The more that Jesus has to say the more "the Jews" are confirmed in their original assessment of Jesus, namely that he is mad / possessed.

kai "yet" - and. Here somewhat adversative, "and yet you say ...."; Zerwick #455a.

ean tiV "[you say that] whoever ......" - As verse 51.

ou mh + subj. "[will] never" - [will] not not. Subjunctive of emphatic negation, as NIV.

qanatou (oV) gen. "[taste] death" - [taste] of death [into the age]. The genitive is adjectival, partitive; "To experience death", Bruce. A Semitic descriptor "of the hard and painful reality of dying", J. Behm.


iv] Jesus is God's timeless I AM, v53-59. "The Jews" again react, given that Jesus is setting himself up as someone greater than Abraham. The ground for a proper assessment of Jesus' messianic claims is summarized before Jesus again states clearly that he is God's great I AM.

mh "-" - not. This negation is used in a question expecting a negative answer; "Do you really think that you are greater than our father Abraham?"

tou patroV (hr roV) gen. "[greater than our] father" - [are you greater] of the father [of us, abraham]. The genitive is ablative, of comparison, as NIV. "Abraham" stands in apposition to "the father."

oJstiV pro. "he [died]" - who [died]. Here the relative pronoun seems to serve as an adjective, qualifying / limiting "father"; "who was such that he died", Zerwick. Possibly it is simply replacing oJV, "who died, as did the prophets", BDF #293. Variant causal oJti, "because he died and the prophets died."

kai "and so [did the prophets]" - and [the prophets died]. Adjunctive, "also"; "just as also the prophets died." We may have expected "prophets" to be a genitive of comparison as "father", "and greater than the prophets", but John has moved to the issue of Abraham's death, something also experienced by the prophets.

tina pro. "Who" - who [do you make yourself]? Interrogative pronoun; "Who do you make yourself out to be", Cassirer.


The Father testifies to the messianic status of the Son and by so doing honors him, v54. The Son, in turn, honors the Father by serving as his obedient Son, v55. "The Jews" do not "know" the Father, and so they do not "know" the Son, unlike the Son who "knows" the Father well.

ean + subj. "If [I glorify myself]" - [jesus answered] if [i glorify myself]. "If, as may be the case, ...... then ......." Introducing a conditional clause 3rd. class where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true. "Glorify" in the sense of "honor"; "If I honor myself, my honor is a thing of naught ("amounts to nothing", Harris)", Rieu.

mou gen. pro. "my [glory]" - [the glory] of me [is nothing]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, identifying a derivative characteristic. Novakovic suggests it it verbal, plenary / full, ie., both subjective and objective in that "Jesus is both the glorifier and the glorified." Such a classification depends on whether the author perceived the noun doxa, "glory", as verbal.

o}n acc. pro. "whom [you claim]" - whom [you say]. The accusative is adverbial, reference / respect; "with respect to whom you say."

oJti "-" - that [he is god of us]. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what "the Jews" say. May be handled as direct speech "he of whom you say, 'He is our God'", REB.

oJ dexazwn (doxazw) pres. part. "the one who glorifies" - [the father of me is] the one glorifying, extolling, venerating [me]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting / qualifying "Father"; "it is my Father who glorifies me", ESV. Again "glorifies" in the sense of "bestows honor upon"; "My Father is the one who honors me", CEV.


kai "though" - and [you have not known him]. The NIV has opted for a concessive sense, "and yet", Harris. This is better than the ESVs adversative "But you have not known him."

de "-" - but/and [i have known him]. Transitional; introducing a counter point; "Although you don't know him, I certainly know him." Note the use of the perfect "to know" = "you have not / I have known", past, present and future.

kan "if" - and if. "If, as may be the case, I say that I have not known him, then I would be a liar like you." Introducing a conditional clause 3rd., class where the condition has the possibility of coming true. The use of kan, "even if", implies that the condition is for argument sake.

oJti "-" - [i say] that [i have not known him]. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Jesus, for argument sake, may have said.

uJmin dat. pro. "[like] you" - [i would be a liar like] you. The adjective "like, similar" takes a dative complement.

alla "but [I do know him]" - but [i know him and the word of him i keep]. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ...... but ...."; "If I, for the sake of argument, said I didn't have a relationship with God, then I would be as much a liar as you are. But I do have an ongoing relationship with him and I'm doing what he says." Note that John uses two verbs for "to know", but this is just stylistic; there is no difference in meaning. The word ginwskw, or oida, "to know", is used of the intimate relationship a husband has with his wife. Jesus knows God the Father, but the Jews do not "know" him, "that is, they are remote from him and have no association with him", Schnackenburg.


It is not at all clear how Abraham is able to rejoice at Jesus "day", ie., the day of his coming as Israel's messiah; See iJna below.

uJmwn gen. pro. "Your [father]" - [abraham the father] of you. The genitive is adjectival, relational. Barrett suggests the statement is ad hominem; it is certainly ironic, given everything Jesus has said to "the Jews" up to this point.

iJna + subj. "at the thought of [seeing]" - [rejoiced, exalted] that [he may see]. Here introducing an object clause functioning as an epexegetic infinitive specifying Abraham's joy, ie., explaining the ground for the rejoicing, so Barrett; "rejoiced to see my day." Novakovic classifies it as complementary, such that "that he may see my day" completes the sense of the verb "to rejoice." There are two exegetical approaches to this verse:

The NIV takes this joy as prospective; "rejoiced at the prospect of seeing my day", Zerwick - the prospect being the realization of the covenant promise: a land, descendants = a kingdom by which the world is blessed - such culminates in the birth of Jesus. Jesus has drawn into the present ("my day" = the messianic eschatological coming of Christ) what God promised Abraham in his descendants, so Ridderbos. The second clause, "he saw it and was glad", would then express the realization of that joyful hope. It is possible that Abraham, alive in paradise, views Jesus' day and rejoices, so Sanders, contra Brown, cf., Lk.16:19-31. Yet, it seems more likely that the second clause alludes to the birth of Isaac (his name means "laughter") - Abraham's covenant hope is realized in the birth of Isaac, and it fills him with joy, Gen.17:17.

Some commentators take the view that the second clause, "he saw it and was glad", simply restate the first. The Rabbis, working on Gen.24:1, took the sense of "entered into the days" as a moment when Abraham foresaw Israel's history. So, the idea that Abraham, during his lifetime, foresaw the messianic age, the day when God's Christ comes, would not be a shock to "the Jews." They would be shocked by the notion that the day of messiah's coming is Jesus' day ("my day"), but as is typical, they miss the point altogether and think that Jesus is claiming to be a contemporary of Abraham. "Your father Abraham was really glad to see me", CEV.

thn hJmeran thn emhn "my day" - the day the my [and he saw and rejoiced]. The phrase could refer to Jesus' birth in alignment with the birth of Isaac, but it is far more likely a big-picture idea, John's day of the Son of Man, the messianic day / age / era realized in the coming of Jesus, the Christ, messiah - his life, death, resurrection, ascension, enthronement.


"The Jews" think that Jesus is claiming to be a contemporary of Abraham. Of course, at John's hand the question is ironic; the answer is "Yes"!

oun "-" - therefore [the jews said to him]. Probably transitional, as NIV, or possibly inferential, establishing a logical connection, "So the Jews said to him", ESV.

penthkonta adj. "fifty years" - [you have not yet] fifty years [and you have seen abraham]? The adverb oupw, "not yet", indicates less than fifty years old, although was Jesus in his forties when he was crucified? By Luke's counting Jesus is in his thirties, cf., Lk.3:23. Note the variant reading of "forty", although obviously an intentional adjustment. Irenaeus suggested that this indicates that Jesus' ministry is longer than the synoptic gospels make out. Ridderbos suggests that it is a generous estimate. Barrett suggests it is a round number used to compare Jesus' age with that of Abraham. Morris observes that it was the age when Levites retired, the age when a person moves into old age, an age that Jesus had not yet reached; "You're only a young bloke, and you claim you've met Abraham! Come on, pull the other one and it'll play Jingle Bells".


In the clearest of terms Jesus claims that he is God's great I AM.

amhn amhn legw uJmin "Very truly I tell you" - amen amen i say to you. See 5:24.

autoiV dat. pro. "[Jesus answered]" - [jesus said] to them. Dative of indirect object.

prin "before" - before [abraham came into being]. Obviously a temporal use of the subordinating conjunction serving to introduce a temporal clause. The verb "to come into being" / "was", probably takes the sense "born", as NIV.

egw eimi "I am" - i am. See 8:24. Unlike v24, the predicate "he" is not implied, this puts "all the emphasis on the timeless condition of eternal existence, cf., Ps.90:2", Lindars. John presents Jesus to us as God's great I AM, the messianic Son of God who has eternally existed outside the confines of time - unlike Abraham who came into existence within the confines of time. "I AM the revelation of God. I am the place of the divine presence and revelation in history", Blank.


Jesus' claim to be God's great I AM is a spectacular messianic claim which "the Jews" regard as blasphemous; they respond by attempting to stone Jesus, but he slips quietly away - it is not yet the time for his glorification.

oun "At this" - therefore [they took up stones]. Transitional, "then", as NIV, but possibly inferential, establishing a logical connection, "So they picked up stones", ESV.

iJna + subj. "to [stone him]" - that [they might throw upon him]. Here adverbial, introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "in order to throw at him."

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, usually expressed as an adversative, as NIV.

ekrubh (kruptw) aor. pas. "hid himself" - [jesus] was hidden. Barrett opts for a divine / theological passive arguing for a "supernatural disappearance" - Jesus was hid by God. The middle / reflexive sense of the NIV is more likely; "Jesus went out of the temple and hid himself", Cassirer. "Jesus went out of the temple unobserved", Rieu.

ek + gen. "[slipping away] from" - [and went out] from [the temple]. Expressing separation, "away from." We have here the usual repetition of a verb's prepositional prefix, exhlqen ek. Barrett suggest that John is alluding to the departure of the divine from his usual place of residence in the temple. "He who is the true temple of God's presence among mankind (1:14, 2:21) deserts the sanctuary in which God had promised to dwell for the good of his people - for they do not know their God!", Pfitzner.


John Introduction

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