John Chapters 5 to 8, Part 10
by Karl Kemp
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We finish this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 5-8 here in Part 10, starting with John 8:45.
(45) But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. [[The children of the father of lies/liars are not interested in the truth, but God's sheep respond to the truth (cf., e.g., John 7:17; 10:3, 4, 14, 16, 26, 27). I'll quote 1 John 4:5, 6, "They [the Gnostic heretics] are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. (6) We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." Those who are not of God are of the "spirit of error"; they demonstrate what kingdom they are of in that they listen to the heretics who are of the world and do not listen to those who speak the truth of God, like the apostle John. And I'll quote John 18:37, "Therefore Pilate said to Him, 'So You are a king?' Jesus answered, 'You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."]] (46) Which one of you convicts Me of sin? [[Compare 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 1 Pet. 1:19; 2:22; and 1 John 3:5. Jesus' opponents charged Him with a lot of sin, even the sin of blasphemy, but they could not convict Him of sin before the ultimate Judge, because none of their charges were valid. Subsequent events, including His glorification, proved Jesus' righteousness (cf., e.g., John 16:10; Acts 3:13-16).]] If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? [Jesus has already answered this question for His opponents (see verses 41-45; also see verse 47; John 3:19-21). The children of the father of lies are oriented and motivated to believe the lie, not the truth (which includes God's righteousness and holiness [cf. Eph. 4:24]).] (47) He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them because you are not of God.' [See under verses 41-46; cf. 1 John 4:6.] (48) The Jews answered and said to Him, 'Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan [cf. Matt. 10:5; Luke 9:51-56; 10:33; 17:16; John 4:3-42; and Acts 8:4-25] and have a demon [see John 7:20; 8:52; 10:20; and Matt. 11:18; cf. Matt. 9:34; Mark 3:22; and Luke 11:15]?' [To call Jesus a Samaritan was intended as a serious insult. To say He had a demon was a greater insult. Jesus' opponents were convinced that He was evil.] (49) Jesus answered, 'I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. [[As we have seen, the primary problem was that His opponents didn't really know, love, or honor the Father (though they thought they did). They proved that by rejecting and dishonoring the One He had sent, His unique Son, the God-man, the One like Him, the Messiah, the only One who could save them from their sin(s).]] (50) But I do not seek My glory [cf. John 5:41, 44; 7:18; and 8:54]; there is One who seeks and judges. [[Jesus, unlike His Jewish opponents, sought only the glory that came from the Father, not the "glory" that comes from men. The words "there is One who seeks" refers to God the Father - He seeks the glory of His Unique Son (see verse 54). The translation of the NIV seems to communicate the right idea for the second half of this verse: "there is one who seeks it [seeks for Jesus Christ to be glorified], and he is the judge."]] (51) Truly [Amen], truly [amen], I say to you, if anyone keeps My word [cf. John 14:15, 21, 23, 24; 15:7, 10, 14; 17:6; and 1 John 2:5] he will never see death [that is, he will never die; "he will never taste of death" (John 8:52)].' [[See verse 52; cf. Luke 2:26; John 5:24; 6:47, 50; and 11:26. Those who submit to Christ Jesus and His word (in faith) are born again and maintain a life-flowing relationship with Him by grace through faith (faith includes obedience to Him and His word) will never die spiritually. If they die physically they go to heaven (a place permeated with the life of God) in a preliminary sense (before the resurrection of the body), and at that the end of this age they will be resurrected (with a glorified body) and born into the fullness of eternal life.]] (52) The Jews said to Him, 'Now we know that You have a demon [cf. John 8:48]. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, "If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death [that is, he will never die; "he will never see death" (John 8:51); cf. Matt. 16:28; Heb. 2:9]." [[See under verse 51. As it so often happened, the Jews thought that Jesus was speaking in a literal sense (of not dying physically), but He was speaking in a spiritual sense. The reason born-again believers will never taste of spiritual death is because Jesus took our place (bearing our sins as the Lamb of God); He bore our sins with the guilt and the penalties. He died (physically) as the Lamb of God. In His atoning death. He also bore the penalty of spiritual death for us, so we could be saved from that awesome penalty. ((I had a footnote: I didn't say that Jesus (the eternal Son of God, who became the God-man) died spiritually. It's a serious error to say that He died spiritually, or that His nature changed, or that He needed to born again like we do. He never sinned, and He never ceased being deity with the Father. He was separated in some ways from God the Father by our sins in His atoning death (cf. Psalm 22:1; Matt. 27:46; and Mark 15:34), but He never ceased being deity with the Father. He couldn't be deity and be spiritually dead. See my paper "Did Jesus Die Spiritually?" on my internet site.)) Bondage to sin comes with spiritual death (cf., e.g., Rom. 5:21; Eph. 2:1-5), but "if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36; see John 8:31-36).]] (53) Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham [[Compare John 4:12; 8:33, 37, 39. The Gospel of John (and the entire New Testament) makes it very clear that, Yes!, the Lord Jesus Christ was far above (much greater than) Abraham, or any other man, or the cherubim, archangels, etc. They were all created (along with every other being or thing that was ever created) by, through, and for God the Son (cf., e.g., John 1:1-4; Col. 1:16; and Heb. 1:1-3).]], who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?' [[Jesus had just said (in verse 51) that those who (submit to Him in faith and) keep His word will never see death (never die). But surely the fact that Abraham and the prophets died proves that He is wrong? Not at all! Jesus was speaking of born-again new-covenant believers not dying spiritually. One primary problem that Jesus' opponents had was that they totally rejected what He said when He told them who He was. We see that fact repeatedly demonstrated throughout the Gospel of John, and in other parts of the New Testament. When He told them who He was, they accused Him of blasphemy, having a demon, etc.]] (54) Jesus answered, 'If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing [[See John 8:50. God the Father must glorify Him, and, as Jesus went on to say later in verse 54, the Father did glorify Him: He glorified Him by the works He gave Him to do; He glorified Him by speaking audibly from heaven on several occasions, etc., but most of that glorifying takes place after His atoning death (cf. John 7:39; 13:31, 32; 16:14; 17:1, 5), and most of the public manifestation of that glory is reserved for the end of this age, and afterwards (cf., e.g., Matt. 16:27; 25:31; 26:64; Phil. 2:9-11; Rev. 21:22, 23; and 22:1, 3).]]; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, "He is our God"; (55) and you have not come to know Him [cf. John 7:28; 8:19; 15:21; and 16:3], but I know Him [cf. Matt. 11:27; John 1:18; 7:29; and 17:25]; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you [cf. John 8:43-45; they were not speaking the truth, for one thing, when they claimed that they were the people of God (they said, "He is our God" (verse 54).], but I do know Him and keep His word [cf., e.g., John 15:10]. (56) Your father Abraham [cf. John 8:33, 37, 39] rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.' [[I'll quote Heb. 11:13, "All these [referring to Abraham, Sarah and the others who were mentioned in the preceding verses of Hebrews chapter 11 (and many others not mentioned there)] died in faith, without receiving the promises [They had received the promises, but the things promised (including new-covenant salvation and eternal glory) were not yet available when they died; they could not receive these things until after Christ Jesus had conquered sin, Satan, and death (see Heb. 11:39, 40 [These verses are discussed on pages 166, 167 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin"]), but having seen them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth." They knew that this wasn't their real home. They were looking forward to their eternal home in glory (cf., e.g., Heb. 11:10, 13-16).
The words "Abraham rejoiced to see My day" apparently refer to his rejoicing when God revealed to him something of His glorious plans regarding the Lord Jesus Christ and His works. As the rest of the verse says, when Abraham saw it (apparently referring to his seeing it by revelation when he still lived on the earth) he was glad. (I had a footnote: The last words of verse 56, which is four words in the Greek, could be translated, "he both saw it and he was glad." The Greek has "kai...kai," which is sometimes translated "both...and.") Jesus' Jewish opponents, in stark contrast with the rejoicing/gladness of Abraham, the one they claimed as their father (he was their father after the flesh), did everything but rejoice/be glad when they saw the Lord Jesus Christ in Person (not in a vision/by revelation) and heard His words and saw something of His works. They rejected Him! They hated Him! They wanted to kill Him! ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: I'll quote part of what R. V. G. Tasker says under this verse ("Gospel According to St. John" [Eerdmans, 1960], page 122). "The Greek does not mean 'rejoiced in the hope of seeing My day' when it actually came [Quite a few commentators understand these words that way; the NIV translates "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day..."; in the margin the NASB has "Lit., in order that he might see."], and when Abraham would be in the abode of the blessed; but 'rejoiced in that he actually saw' it [by revelation] while he was still on earth. There was a rabbinic tradition that when God established His covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15:9ff), the latter received a vision of the messianic age."
I'll quote two sentences from what Raymond E. Brown says regarding the meaning of the words "...he saw it" ("Gospel According to John I-XII" [Doubleday, 1966], page 359). "Up to the time of Maldonatus (16th century) exegetes were almost unanimous in assuming that this referred to a vision that took place during Abraham's life. More recently, however, the interpretation has gained ground that John means that after Abraham died, he saw Jesus' day." I believe the idea that Abraham saw Jesus' day after he (Abraham) died is reasonable (cf., e.g., Matt. 17:3; 22:31, 32; and Luke 16:22-31), but I don't believe that was what Jesus was speaking of here in John 8:56.))
It was a big deal that Abraham saw Jesus' day. If Jesus' Jewish opponents would have accepted that one fact as true they would have repented and submitted to Him as Messiah. His opponents wouldn't have objected to the idea that Abraham had received a revelation regarding the Messiah and his work, but they were not about ready to accept the idea that Abraham had seen Jesus as the Messiah.]] (57) So the Jews said to Him, 'You are not yet fifty years old [Jesus would have been about thirty-five when He was crucified (cf. Luke 3:23); He was probably crucified in AD 30.], and have You seen Abraham?' [[Abraham lived some two thousand years before Jesus Christ was born. For the record, Jesus didn't say (in verse 56) that He had seen Abraham, but that Abraham had rejoiced to see His day. But HE - THROUGH WHOM ALL PERSONS AND THINGS HAD BEEN CREATED - HAD SEEN ABRAHAM (cf., e.g., what Jesus said in verse 58).]] (58) Jesus said to them, 'Truly [Amen], truly [amen] [[I'll quote a sentence from what Gary M. Burge says here, "Truly, truly [Greek Amen, amen] I say to you, a phrase Jesus uses some twenty times in the Gospel (see comment on 1:51)." ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: "John" (Zondervan, 2000), page 263. I'll quote Burge's comment on John 1:51 (pages 78, 79). "John 1:51 introduces Jesus' first use of the 'amen, amen' formula (obscured in the NIV's 'I tell you the truth'). Literally Jesus says, 'Truly [amen], truly [amen] I say to you....' In the Synoptic Gospels [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] amen [the "e" is a long e in the Greek, an eta] occurs only once when the expression is used [that is, in the Synoptic Gospels the word amen is not doubled], but it is characteristically doubled [amen, amen] throughout the fourth Gospel (used twenty-five times). The word is a Hebrew or Aramaic idiom that implies certainty or confirmation and generally was appended to corporate prayers (1 Cor. 14:16; cf. Psalm 41:13). Jesus uses it to introduce sayings that for him are solemn or significant; no genuine parallels from Judaism have been found. This is Jesus' unique Aramaic teaching style, embedded in the Greek Gospel story."
I'll also quote part of what G. B. Funderburk says in the article on "amen" in the "Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible," Vol. 1 (1975), page 127." 'Amen' in both Greek and English is a transliteration from the Hebrew, while the same spelling is also retained in Latin and German. In fact, it is probably the most universal of all words, with only 'ma' for mother a close second. The Hebrew means 'to make firm,' to 'found, to prop up, to build'; hence 'support,' 'confirm, so be it.' In addition, the Greek usage may more clearly be defined as truly, verily, indeed, 'so be it,' or 'may it be fulfilled.' ...."]], I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.' [In that God the Son was deity with God the Father (and God the Spirit) (cf., e.g., John 1:1-4), He always existed. On the significant words "I am," which undoubtedly build on the divine name of Ex. 3:14, see under John 8:24.] (59) Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him [[See John 10:31; 11:8; cf., e.g., John 5:18; 7:1, 19, 25; 8:37, 40. Jesus' Jewish opponents were sure that He was claiming far too much for Himself; they were sure He was blaspheming (cf., e.g., John 5:18; 10:33; and 19:7). They did not believe Jesus was the Messiah (cf., e.g., John 7:47-52; 9:16, 22), and the Jews in general did not (and they still do not today) understand that the Messiah was to be deity/God the Son.]], but Jesus hid Himself [cf., e.g., Luke 4:30; John 5:13; and 10:39; Jesus' hiding Himself could have had a supernatural component; it was necessary for Him to be crucified (not stoned), and at the right time, at Passover.] and went out of the temple."
May God's will be fully accomplished through this paper and His people be edified!
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