The Fourfold Gospel
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton (1914)

(Jerusalem. October, A. D. 29.)
dJOHN VIII. 12-59.

      d12 Again therefore Jesus spake unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life. [The metaphor of light was common, and signified knowledge and life; darkness is opposed to light, being the symbol of ignorance and death.]   13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest witness of thyself; thy witness is not true. [They perhaps recalled the words of Jesus at John v. 31.]   14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Even if I bear witness of myself, my witness is true; for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye know not whence I come, and whither I go. [No man can bear testimony of his own nature, for he knows neither its origin nor its end. The Jews could not judge as to Christ's nature--that he was the source of light and life, because of their ignorance as to him. But Jesus, having complete knowledge as to his eternal existence, was qualified to testify. These are truths about Deity to which Deity alone can testify, and as to the truth of which [453] Deity alone is fully competent to judge.]   15 Ye judge after the flesh [i. e., carnally, superficially, according to appearances. Carnal tests are not suited to spiritual truth]; I judge no man.   16 Yea and if I judge, my judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. [He contrasts his spirit with theirs. They came upon him eager to condemn, but he had come not to condemn, but to save (John iii. 17). As an exception to his general course he might at intervals condemn a sinner; but should be do so the sentence would be just, for it would be the judgment of the Father, and hence devoid of any personal resentment or other biasing, perverting influence; the Father being lifted above and removed from the heats of argument in which the Son engaged.]   17 Yea and in your law it is written, that the witness of two men is true.   18 I am he that beareth witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. [Jesus here returns to the point raised in verse 13. He cites the law as to two witnesses, found at Deut. xix. 15, and calls the law their law because they had arrogantly claimed possession of it (John vii. 49). The Father had borne witness to the Son by the prophets, including John the Baptist, by his voice at the baptism and transfiguration, by the works wrought by Jesus, and by the very nature of the life manifested by our Lord throughout his entire ministry. If the witness of two men establishes truth, much more the witness of the two divine voices--that of the Father and of the Son.]   19 They said therefore unto him, Where is thy Father? [They evidently thought that Jesus referred to the testimony of some earthly parent (see verse 27), and appeal to him to produce this absent, unseen witness. It was according to their carnal or fleshly judgment to thus think.] Jesus answered, Ye know neither me, nor my Father: if ye knew me, ye would know my Father also. [If they had really known the Son they would have recognized in him the Father, and vice versa--John xiv. 6, 8.]   20 These words spake he in the treasury, as [454] he taught in the temple and no man took him; because his hour was not yet come. [The treasury, or place where the chests for offerings were placed, was in the court of the women, the most public part of the Jewish temple. It was near the hall Gazith, where the Sanhedrin met. Though he taught in a place so suited to his arrest, he was not taken. There is evidently a pause after verse 20, but probably not a very long one.]   21 He said therefore Jesus again unto them, I go away, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sin: whither I go, ye cannot come. [See comment on page 447. Seeking their Messiah as an earthly and not as a spiritual deliverer, they would not find him, and hence would die unforgiven, and therefore could not come to the land whither Jesus went, since the unforgiven cannot enter there.]   22 The Jews therefore said, Will he kill himself, that he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come?   23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.   24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for except ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. [Jesus had made their sins the ground of separation between him and them, but they assumed that they could go wherever he went, unless he went some place for self-murder. Thus they adroitly attempt to make his sin the cause of the separation. To this Jesus replies that they are even now separated from him by their origin and nature, and that theirs is the sinful nature, and that they shall die in it unless delivered from it through faith in him.]   25 They said therefore unto him, Who art thou? Jesus said unto them, Even that which I have also spoken unto you from the beginning. [His bold call to them to believe in him leads them to make a counter demand that he confess himself to them, but Jesus had all along confessed himself to them as the Son of the Father, the bread and water of life, the light of the world, etc., and had no new confession to make.]   26 I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you: howbeit he [455] that sent me is true; and the things which I heard from him, these speak I unto the world. [Up to this point Jesus had sought to reveal himself; from this point on he would reveal his enemies also, and though the revelation would be displeasing, it was from the Father, and hence would be spoken.]   27 They perceived not that he spake to them of the Father.   28 Jesus therefore said, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as the Father hath taught me, I speak these things.   29 And he that sent me is with me; he hath not left me alone; for I do always the things that are pleasing to him. [The words which he was about to speak would seem to them to be prompted by personal malevolence. Misconstruing his words as spoken in this spirit, the Jews would crucify him; but when their rage had accomplished his death and spent itself, they would look back upon his life--especially the closing scenes of it--and see that his soul contained no bitterness toward them, that what he had said was true, and was spoken at the dictation of his Father. At the day of Pentecost and the season which followed it, the repentance of the Jews amply fulfilled this prophecy.]   30 As he spake these things, many believed on him. [The tender manner in which Jesus spoke these words convinced many that he was filled with the spirit of loving good will, and they believed him. Among these converts were some of the Jewish hierarchy, which had been but even now opposing him. The succeeding verses shows how Jesus tried to correct their false views of his Messiahship, and to raise their faith to a higher level, and how their faith utterly broke down under the test.]   31 Jesus therefore said to those Jews [those of the hierarchy] that had believed him [the words indicate a less faith than the "believed on him" of the previous verse], If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples [Discipleship is an abiding condition--a life, not an act. The prejudices and preconceived notions of these Jews would prevent them from believing on him];  32 and ye shall [456] know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. [Freedom consists in conformity to that which, in the realm of intellect, is called truth, and in the realm of morality, law. The only way in which we know truth is to obey it, and God's truth gives freedom from sin and death.]   33 They answered unto him, We are Abraham's seed, and have never yet been in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?   34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Every one that committeth sin is the bondservant of sin. [Jesus here shows that the freedom of which he spoke was spiritual--a relief from the distress mentioned in verses 21, 24.]   35 And the bondservant abideth not in the house for ever: the son abideth for ever.   36 If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. [For light on this passage read Gal. iv. 19-21. Slaves have no permanent relationship to a house, and may be changed at will. God was about to dismiss the Jews as unfaithful slaves (Luke xx. 16-19). Sons, on the contrary, have a permanent relationship to the house, and if a son take one into fraternal adoption, he communicates to such a one his own perpetuity--Rom. viii. 2.]   37 I know that ye are Abraham's seed; yet ye seek to kill me, because my word hath not free course in you. [Outwardly and carnally ye are Abraham's seed, but ye are not so inwardly and spiritually, for he was the friend of God (Jas. ii. 23), but ye are the enemies of God's Son, even seeking to kill him because ye are so corrupt that his words are distasteful to you, and ye resist them.]   38 I speak the things which I have seen with my Father: and ye also do the things which ye heard from your father. [An introductory statement leading up to verse 44. In the discourse which follows, Jesus discloses two households, two sets of children, and two styles of language or thought--one divine, the other diabolic.]   39 They answered and said unto him, Our father is Abraham. [Seeing that he was distinguishing between his parentage and their parentage, they reassert for themselves [457] the fatherhood of Abraham, leaving him to find a better one if he could.] Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.   40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I heard from God: this did not Abraham. [Jesus here asserts that true descent is spiritual--a common nature manifesting itself in a similarity of works. According to this standard, the works of the Jews disproved their claim to be derived from Abraham.]   41 Ye do the works of your father. [This refers back to verse 38, and shows that in distinguishing between his and their parentage Jesus had not allotted them the parentage of Abraham which they so gliby claimed.] They said unto him, We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. [Perceiving that he spoke of spiritual parentage, and recognizing the fact that he had shattered their claim of spiritual derivation from Abraham, they fell back upon the citadel of Jewish confidence and pride--spiritually they were begotten of God; they were not begotten of an idolatrous but of a godly stock. Fornication is here used as the common symbol for idolatry--Ex. xxxiv. 15, 16; Hos. i. 2; ii. 4.]   42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I came forth and came from God; for neither have I come of myself, but he sent me. [If ye were God's children, ye would recognize me as of the same household, and love me accordingly, for I am both God-derived and God-sent. Thus their hatred destroyed this claim also.]   43 Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word. [By "speech" here Jesus means the outward form or expression of an idea; by "word" he means the inner thought or substance--the idea itself. Throughout this whole dialogue the Jews had failed to understand the verbiage of Jesus, because his thoughts were so utterly unfamiliar that no words could make them plain. Minds filled with ideas of the devil find it difficult to comprehend the thoughts of God, no matter how plainly expressed.]   44 Ye are of your father the devil, [458] and the lusts [wishes, desires] of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof. [By your hatred of the truth and your desire to commit murder, which are notable lusts of the devil, you show that you are spiritually derived from him. He was a murderer in the very beginning, for he brought sin into the world, which caused death (Rom. v. 12). He shrinks from the truth as you do, because it meets no response in his heart. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own offspring, for he is a liar and the father of lying.]   45 And because I tell [you] the truth, ye believe me not. [As children of Satan they were used to his flattering speech; hence they rejected the word of Jesus because it was the bitter truth, and convicted them of sin.]   46 Which of you convicteth me of sin? If I say truth, why do ye not believe me? [If you can not convict me of sin, then what I say must be true. Why, then, do you not believe me?]   47 He that is of God heareth the words of God: for this cause ye hear them not, because ye are not of God. [The word "hear" is used in the sense of receive. Children of God love the honesty of God, but children of the devil prefer to be deceived. The saying is akin to John iii. 20, 21.]   48 The Jews [the same mentioned in verse 31] answered and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a demon? [They present this piece of scorn as though it were a current saying; but it was probably suggested by the distinction in parentage which Jesus had just made. See verse 38. He had shown they were no true sons of either Abraham or God, and they retaliate by calling him a Samaritan, swayed by diabolical influences. Jesus had visited Samaria (John iv.), and had just come through Samaria to this feast; these things, coupled with his bitter charges against the sons of Abraham, were sufficient to suggest the slanderous accusation.]   49 Jesus answered, I have not a demon; but [459] I honor my Father, and ye dishonor me. [He did not deny the charge of being a Samaritan, not choosing to recognize the difference which they attached to race--John iv. 39-42; Luke x. 33; xvii. 16.]   50 But I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. [I do not mind your abuse, for I do not seek my own glory. My Father seeks it, and judges those in whom he finds it not--John v. 23.]   51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my word, he shall never see death. [Jesus here re-states the thought in verses 31, 32. "To keep" here means to cherish and obey. Sin is bondage, and its wages is death. The fleshly body of the Christian dies, but the spirit within him does not. His eternal life begins in this world--John v. 24.]   52 The Jews said unto him, Now we know that thou hast a demon. [They thus construed his words as a confirmation of their former accusation.] Abraham died, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my word, he shall never taste of death.   53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who died? and the prophets died: whom makest thou thyself? [The argument is this: God's word spoken to Abraham and the prophets had not preserved their lives, yet you claim power of life for your words greater than God's, yet surely you will not claim even to be as great as Abraham. Such wild talk is mere raving. They expected Jesus to disclaim the high position to which he seemed to have exalted himself.]   54 Jesus answered, If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing [he prefaces his answer by showing that his words are not spoken in a spirit of self-exaltation, but in accordance to the will of his Father]: it is my Father that glorifieth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God;   55 and ye have not known him: but I know him; and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be like unto you, a liar [referring back to verse 44]: but I know him, and keep his word. [Jesus here makes plain as sunlight his entire discourse by showing that he has used the word Father where they would have used the word God. [460] There is a distinction, too, between the "known" and the "know" used by Jesus. The first represents knowledge which is acquired. The Jews had not acquired a knowledge of God from their Scriptures. The second, "know," indicates that which is grasped intuitively, by direct personal cognition.]   56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad. ["My day" means the mediatorial manifestation of Messiah. Abraham saw it by faith in the promised seed.]   57 The Jews therefore said unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? [They continue to persist in a literal interpretation, and even wrest the words of Jesus; for Abraham might well have seen him as the seed of promise, without his fleshly eyes ever seeing Abraham. Fifty years indicated the prime of life. It had been two thousand years since the time of Abraham, and Jesus was not yet a mature man as estimated by years.]   58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was born, I am. ["I was" would simply have expressed priority, but "I am" marks timeless existence. It draws the contrast between the created and the uncreated, the temporal and the eternal. Compare Ex. iii. 14.]   59 They took up stones therefore to cast at him. [judging him to be a blasphemer]: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple. [He doubtless drew back into the crowd and was concealed by his friends.]

[FFG 453-461]

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