John 8 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of John 8)

Verse 6

[6] This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

That they might have to accuse him — Either of usurping the office of a judge, if he condemned her, or of being an enemy to the law, if he acquitted her.

Jesus stooping down, wrote with his finger on the ground — God wrote once in the Old Testament; Christ once in the New: perhaps the words which he afterward spoke, when they continued asking him. By this silent action, he, 1, fixed their wandering, hurrying thoughts, in order to awaken their consciences: and, 2, signified that he was not then come to condemn but to save the world.

Verse 7

[7] So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

He that is without sin — He that is not guilty: his own conscience being the judge) either of the same sin, or of some nearly resembling it; let him - as a witness, cast the first stone at her.

Verse 9

[9] And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

Beginning at the eldest — Or the elders.

Jesus was left alone — By all those scribes and Pharisees who proposed the question. But many others remained, to whom our Lord directed his discourse presently after.

Verse 10

[10] When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

Hath no man condemned thee? — Hath no judicial sentence been passed upon thee?

Verse 11

[11] She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Neither do I condemn thee — Neither do I take upon me to pass any such sentence. Let this deliverance lead thee to repentance.

Verse 12

[12] Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

He that followeth me shall in nowise walk in darkness — In ignorance, wickedness, misery: but shall have the light of life - He that closely, humbly, steadily follows me, shall have the Divine light continually shining upon him, diffusing over his soul knowledge, holiness, joy, till he is guided by it to life everlasting.

Verse 13

[13] The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

Thou testifiest of thyself; thy testimony is not valid — They retort upon our Lord his own words, John 5:31; if I testify of myself, my testimony is not valid. He had then added, There is another who testifieth of me. To the same effect he replies here, John 8:14, Though I testify of myself, yet my testimony is valid; for I am inseparably united to the Father.

I know — And from firm and certain knowledge proceeds the most unexceptionable testimony: whence I came, and whither I go - To these two heads may be referred all the doctrine concerning Christ. The former is treated of John 8:16, etc., the latter John 8:21, etc.

For I know whence I came — That is, For I came from God, both as God and as man. And I know it, though ye do not.

Verse 15

[15] Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.

Ye judge after the flesh — As the flesh, that is, corrupt nature dictates.

I judge no man — Not thus; not now; not at my first coming.

Verse 16

[16] And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

I am not alone — No more in judging, than in testifying: but I and the Father that sent me - His Father is in him, and he is in the Father, John 14:10,11; and so the Father is no more alone without the Son, than the Son is without the Father, Proverbs 8:22,23,30. His Father and he are not one and another God, but one God, (though distinct persons,) and so inseparable from each other. And though the Son came from the Father, to assume human nature, and perform his office as the Messiah upon earth, as God is sometimes said to come from heaven, for particular manifestations of himself; yet Christ did not leave the Father, nor the Father leave him, any more than God leaves heaven when he is said to come down to the earth.

Verse 17

[17] It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.

Deuteronomy 19:15.

Verse 19

[19] Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.

Then said they to him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered - Showing the perverseness of their question; and teaching that they ought first to know the Son, if they would know the Father.

Where the Father is — he shows, John 8:23. Meantime he plainly intimates that the Father and he were distinct persons, as they were two witnesses; and yet one in essence, as the knowledge of him includes the knowledge of the Father.

Verse 23

[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.

Ye are — Again he passes over their interruption, and proves what he advanced, John 8:21.

Of them that are beneath — From the earth.

I am of them that are above — Here he directly shows whence he came, even from heaven, and whither he goes.

Verse 24

[24] I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

If ye believe not that I AM — Here (as in John 8:58) our Lord claims the Divine name, I AM, Exodus 3:14. But the Jews, as if he had stopped short, and not finished the sentence, answered, Who art thou?

Verse 25

[25] Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.

Even what I say to you from the beginning — The same which I say to you, as it were in one discourse, with one even tenor from the time I first spake to you.

Verse 26

[26] I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.

I have many things to say and to judge of you — I have much to say concerning your inexcusable unbelief: but he that sent me is true - Whether ye believe or no.

And I speak the things which I have heard from him — I deliver truly what he hath given me in charge.

Verse 27

[27] They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.

They understood not — That by him that sent him he meant God the Father. Therefore in John 8:28,29 he speaks plainly of the Father, and again claims the Divine name, I AM.

Verse 28

[28] Then said Jesus unto them, 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 my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

When ye shall have lifted up — On the cross, ye shall know - And so many of them did, that I AM - God over all; and that I do nothing of myself - Being one with the Father.

Verse 29

[29] And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

The Father hath not left me alone — Never from the moment I came into the world.

Verse 32

[32] And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

The truth — Written in your hearts by the Spirit of God, shall make you free - From guilt, sin, misery, Satan.

Verse 33

[33] They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

They — The other Jews that were by, (not those that believed,) as appears by the whole tenor of the conversation.

We were never enslaved to any man — A bold, notorious untruth. At that very time they were enslaved to the Romans.

Verse 34

[34] Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

Jesus answered — Each branch of their objection, first concerning freedom, then concerning their being Abraham's offspring, John 8:37, etc. He that committeth sin, is, in fact, the slave of sin.

Verse 35

[35] And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.

And the slave abideth not in the house — All sinners shall be cast out of God's house, as the slave was out of Abraham's: but I, the Son, abide therein for ever.

Verse 36

[36] If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

If I therefore make you free, ye — shall partake of the same privilege: being made free from all guilt and sin, ye shall abide in the house of God for ever.

Verse 37

[37] I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

I know that ye are Abraham's offspring — As to the other branch of your objection, I know that, ye are Abraham's offspring, after the flesh; but not in a spiritual sense. Ye are not followers of the faith of Abraham: my word hath no place in your hearts.

Verse 41

[41] Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

Ye do the deeds of your father — He is not named yet. But when they presumed to call God their Father, then he is expressly called the devil, John 8:44.

Verse 42

[42] Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

I proceeded forth — As God, and come - As Christ.

Verse 43

[43] Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

Ye cannot — Such is your stubbornness and pride, hear - Receive, obey my word. Not being desirous to do my will, ye cannot understand my doctrine, John 7:17.

Verse 44

[44] Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode 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 of it.

He was a murderer — In inclination, from the beginning - Of his becoming a devil; and abode not in the truth - Commencing murderer and liar at the same time. And certainly he was a killer of men (as the Greek word properly signifies) from the beginning of the world: for from the very creation he designed and contrived the ruin of men.

When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own — For he is the proper parent, and, as it were, creator of it. See the origin not only of lies, but of evil in general!

Verse 45

[45] And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

Because I speak the truth — Which liars hate.

Verse 46

[46] Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

Which of you convicteth me of sin? — And is not my life as unreprovable as my doctrine? Does not my whole behaviour confirm the truth of what I teach?

Verse 47

[47] He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

He that is of God — That either loves or fears him, heareth - With joy and reverence, God's words - Which I preach.

Verse 48

[48] Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?

Say we not well — Have we not just cause to say, Thou art, a Samaritan - An enemy to our Church and nation; and hast a devil? - Art possessed by a proud and lying spirit?

Verse 49

[49] Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.

I honour my Father — I seek his honour only.

Verse 50

[50] And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.

I seek not my own glory — That is, as I am the Messiah, I consult not my own glory. I need not. For my Father consulteth it, and will pass sentence on you accordingly.

Verse 51

[51] Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

If a man keep my word — So will my Father consult my glory. We keep his doctrine by believing, his promises by hoping, his command by obeying.

He shall never see death — That is, death eternal. He shall live for ever. Hereby he proves that he was no Samaritan; for the Samaritans in general were Sadducees.

Verse 54

[54] Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:

If I honour myself — Referring to their words, Whom makest thou thyself?

Verse 56

[56] Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

He saw it — By faith in types, figures, and promises; as particularly in Melchisedec; in the appearance of Jehovah to him in the plains of Mamre, Genesis 18:1; and in the promise that in his seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Possibly he had likewise a peculiar revelation either of Christ's first or second coming.

Verse 57

[57] Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

Thou art not yet fifty years old — At the most. Perhaps the gravity of our Lord's countenance, together with his afflictions and labours, might make him appear older than he really was.

Hast thou seen Abraham — Which they justly supposed must have been, if Abraham had seen him.

Verse 58

[58] Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

Before Abraham was I AM — Even from everlasting to everlasting. This is a direct answer to the objection of the Jews, and shows how much greater he was than Abraham.

Verse 59

[59] Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Then they took up stones — To stone him as a blasphemer; but Jesus concealed himself - Probably by becoming invisible; and so passed on - With the same ease as if none had been there.

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