The Pharisees and the adulteress. (1-11) Christ's discourse with the Pharisees. (12-59)
Verses 1-11 Christ neither found fault with the law, nor excused the prisoner's guilt; nor did he countenance the pretended zeal of the Pharisees. Those are self-condemned who judge others, and yet do the same thing. All who are any way called to blame the faults of others, are especially concerned to look to themselves, and keep themselves pure. In this matter Christ attended to the great work about which he came into the world, that was, to bring sinners to repentance; not to destroy, but to save. He aimed to bring, not only the accused to repentance, by showing her his mercy, but the prosecutors also, by showing them their sins; they thought to insnare him, he sought to convince and convert them. He declined to meddle with the magistrate's office. Many crimes merit far more severe punishment than they meet with; but we should not leave our own work, to take that upon ourselves to which we are not called. When Christ sent her away, it was with this caution, Go, and sin no more. Those who help to save the life of a criminal, should help to save the soul with the same caution. Those are truly happy, whom Christ does not condemn. Christ's favour to us in the forgiveness of past sins should prevail with us, Go then, and sin no more.
Verses 12-16 Christ is the Light of the world. God is light, and Christ is the image of the invisible God. One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs no more. What a dark dungeon would the world be without the sun! So would it be without Jesus, by whom light came into the world. Those who follow Christ shall not walk in darkness. They shall not be left without the truths which are necessary to keep them from destroying error, and the directions in the way of duty, necessary to keep them from condemning sin.
Verses 17-20 If we knew Christ better, we should know the Father better. Those become vain in their imaginations concerning God, who will not learn of Christ. Those who know not his glory and grace, know not the Father that sent him. The time of our departure out of the world, depends upon God. Our enemies cannot hasten it any sooner, nor can our friends delay it any longer, than the time appointed of the Father. Every true believer can look up and say with pleasure, My times are in thy hand, and better there than in my own. To all God's purposes there is a time.
Verses 21-29 Those that live in unbelief, are for ever undone, if they die in unbelief. The Jews belonged to this present evil world, but Jesus was of a heavenly and Divine nature, so that his doctrine, kingdom, and blessings, would not suit their taste. But the curse of the law is done away to all that submit to the grace of the gospel. Nothing but the doctrine of Christ's grace will be an argument powerful enough, and none but the Spirit of Christ's grace will be an agent powerful enough, to turn us from sin to God; and that Spirit is given, and that doctrine is given, to work upon those only who believe in Christ. Some say, Who is this Jesus? They allow him to have been a Prophet, an excellent Teacher, and even more than a creature; but cannot acknowledge him as over all, God blessed for evermore. Will not this suffice? Jesus here answers the question. Is this to honour him as the Father? Does this admit his being the Light of the world, and the Life of men, one with the Father? All shall know by their conversion, or in their condemnation, that he always spake and did what pleased the Father, even when he claimed the highest honours to himself.
Verses 30-36 Such power attended our Lord's words, that many were convinced, and professed to believe in him. He encouraged them to attend his teaching, rely on his promises, and obey his commands, notwithstanding all temptations to evil. Thus doing, they would be his disciples truly; and by the teaching of his word and Spirit, they would learn where their hope and strength lay. Christ spoke of spiritual liberty; but carnal hearts feel no other grievances than those that molest the body, and distress their worldly affairs. Talk to them of their liberty and property, tell them of waste committed upon their lands, or damage done to their houses, and they understand you very well; but speak of the bondage of sin, captivity to Satan, and liberty by Christ; tell of wrong done to their precious souls, and the hazard of their eternal welfare, then you bring strange things to their ears. Jesus plainly reminded them, that the man who practised any sin, was, in fact, a slave to that sin, which was the case with most of them. Christ in the gospel offers us freedom, he has power to do this, and those whom Christ makes free are really so. But often we see persons disputing about liberty of every kind, while they are slaves to some sinful lust.
Verses 37-40 Our Lord opposed the proud and vain confidence of these Jews, showing that their descent from Abraham could not profit those of a contrary spirit to him. Where the word of God has no place, no good is to be expected; room is left there for all wickedness. A sick person who turns from his physician, and will take neither remedies nor food, is past hope of recovery. The truth both heals and nourishes the hearts of those who receive it. The truth taught by philosophers has not this power and effect, but only the truth of God. Those who claim the privileges of Abraham, must do Abraham's works; must be strangers and sojourners in this world; keep up the worship of God in their families, and always walk before God.
Verses 41-47 Satan prompts men to excesses by which they murder themselves and others, while what he puts into the mind tends to ruin men's souls. He is the great promoter of falsehood of every kind. He is a liar, all his temptations are carried on by his calling evil good, and good evil, and promising freedom in sin. He is the author of all lies; whom liars resemble and obey, with whom all liars shall have their portion for ever. The special lusts of the devil are spiritual wickedness, the lusts of the mind, and corrupt reasonings, pride and envy, wrath and malice, enmity to good, and enticing others to evil. By the truth, here understand the revealed will of God as to the salvation of men by Jesus Christ, the truth Christ was now preaching, and which the Jews opposed.
Verses 48-53 Observe Christ's disregard of the applause of men. those who are dead to the praises of men can bear their contempt. God will seek the honour of all who do not seek their own. In these verses we have the doctrine of the everlasting happiness of believers. We have the character of a believer; he is one that keeps the sayings of the Lord Jesus. And the privilege of a believer; he shall by no means see death for ever. Though now they cannot avoid seeing death, and tasting it also, yet they shall shortly be where it will be no more forever, ( Exodus 14:13 ) .
Verses 54-59 Christ and all that are his, depend upon God for honour. Men may be able to dispute about God, yet may not know him. Such as know not God, and obey not the gospel of Christ, are put ( 2 Thessalonians. 1:8 ) earnestly desire to know more of him. Those who discern the dawn of the light of the Sun of Righteousness, wish to see his rising. "Before Abraham was, I AM." This speaks Abraham a creature, and our Lord the Creator; well, therefore, might he make himself greater than Abraham. I AM, is the name of God, Ex. 3:14 ; it speaks his self-existence; he is the First and the Last, ever the same, ( Revelation 1:8 ) . Thus he was not only before Abraham, but before all worlds, ( Proverbs 8:23 , John 1:1 ) . As Mediator, he was the appointed Messiah, long before Abraham; the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, ( Revelation 13:8 ) . The Lord Jesus was made of God Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption, to Adam, and Abel, and all that lived and died by faith in him, before Abraham. The Jews were about to stone Jesus for blasphemy, but he withdrew; by his miraculous power he passed through them unhurt. Let us stedfastly profess what we know and believe concerning God; and if heirs of Abraham's faith, we shall rejoice in looking forward to that day when the Saviour shall appear in glory, to the confusion of his enemies, and to complete the salvation of all who believe in him.
John 8:1-11 . THE WOMAN TAKEN IN ADULTERY.
1, 2. Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives--This should have formed the last verse of the foregoing chapter. "The return of the people to the inert quiet and security of their dwellings ( John 7:53 ), at the close of the feast, is designedly contrasted with our Lord's homeless way, so to speak, of spending the short night, who is early in the morning on the scene again. One cannot well see why what is recorded in Luke 21:37 Luke 21:38 may not even thus early have taken place; it might have been the Lord's ordinary custom from the beginning to leave the brilliant misery of the city every night, that so He might compose His sorrowful and interceding heart, and collect His energies for new labors of love; preferring for His resting-place Bethany, and the Mount of Olives, the scene thus consecrated by many preparatory prayers for His final humiliation and exaltation" [STIER].
3-6. scribes and Pharisees--foiled in their yesterday's attempt, and hoping to succeed better in this.
4, 5. woman . . . in adultery . . . Moses . . . commanded . . . should be stoned--simply put to death ( Deuteronomy 22:22 ), but in aggravated cases, at least in later times, this was probably by stoning ( Ezekiel 16:40 ).
but what sayest thou--hoping, whatever He might answer, to put Him in the wrong:--if He said, Stone her, that would seem a stepping out of His province; if He forbade it, that would hold Him up as a relaxer of the public morals. But these cunning hypocrites were overmatched.
6. stooped down--It will be observed He was sitting when they came to Him.
with his finger wrote on the ground--The words of our translators in italics ("as though He heard them not") have hardly improved the sense, for it is scarcely probable He could wish that to be thought. Rather He wished to show them His aversion to enter on the subject. But as this did not suit them, they "continue asking Him," pressing for an answer. At last, raising Himself He said.
7. He that is without sin--not meaning sinless altogether; nor yet, guiltless of a literal breach of the Seventh Commandment; but probably, he whose conscience acquits him of any such sin.
cast a stone--"the stone," meaning the first one ( Deuteronomy 17:7 ).
8. again he stooped down and wrote--The design of this second stooping and writing on the ground was evidently to give her accusers an opportunity to slink away unobserved by Him, and so avoid an exposure to His eye which they could ill have stood. Accordingly it is added.
9. they . . . convicted . . . went out one by one . . . Jesus was left alone--that is, without one of her accusers remaining; for it is added.
the woman in the midst--that is, of the remaining audience. While the trap failed to catch Him for whom it was laid, it caught those who laid it. Stunned by the unexpected home thrust, they immediately made off--which makes the impudence of those impure hypocrites in dragging such a case before the public eye the more disgusting.
10. Woman, &c.--What inimitable tenderness and grace! Conscious of her own guilt, and till now in the hands of men who had talked of stoning her, wondering at the skill with which her accusers had been dispersed, and the grace of the few words addressed to herself, she would be disposed to listen, with a reverence and teachableness before unknown, to our Lord's admonition. "And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more." He pronounces no pardon upon the woman (such as, "Thy sins are forgiven thee" [compare Luke 5:28 , 7:48 ]--"Go in peace" [compare 5:34 , Luke 7:50 , 8:48 ]), much less does He say that she had done nothing condemnable; He simply leaves the matter where it was. He meddles not with the magistrate's office, nor acts the Judge in any sense ( John 12:47 ). But in saying, "Go and sin no more," which had been before said to one who undoubtedly believed ( John 5:14 ), more is probably implied than expressed. If brought suddenly to conviction of sin, admiration of her Deliverer, and a willingness to be admonished and guided by Him, this call to begin a new life may have carried with it what would ensure and naturally bring about a permanent change. (This whole narrative is wanting in some of the earliest and most valuable manuscripts, and those which have it vary to some extent. The internal evidence in its favor is almost overpowering. It is easy to account for its omission, though genuine; but if not so, it is next to impossible to account for its insertion).
John 8:12-59 . FURTHER DISCOURSES OF JESUS--ATTEMPT TO STONE HIM.
12. I am the light of the world--As the former references to water ( John 4:13 John 4:14 , 7:37-39 ) and to bread ( John 6:35 ) were occasioned by outward occurrences, so this one to light. In "the treasury" where lamp-stands, on which hung a multitude of lamps, lighted after the evening sacrifice (probably every evening during the feast of tabernacles), diffusing their brilliancy, it is said, over all the city. Around these the people danced with great rejoicing. Now, as amidst the festivities of the water from Siloam Jesus cried, saying, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink," so now amidst the blaze and the joyousness of this illumination, He proclaims, "I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD"--plainly in the most absolute sense. For though He gives His disciples the same title, they are only "light in the Lord" ( Ephesians 5:8 ); and though He calls the Baptist "the burning and shining light" (or "lamp" of his day, John 5:35 ), yet "he was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light: that was THE TRUE LIGHT which, coming into the world, lighteth every man" ( John 1:8 John 1:9 ). Under this magnificent title Messiah was promised of old ( Isaiah 42:6 , Malachi 4:2 , &c.).
he that followeth me--as one does a light going before him, and as the Israelites did the pillar of bright cloud in the wilderness.
but shall have the light of life--the light, as of a new world, a newly awakened spiritual and eternal life.
13-19. bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true--How does He meet this specious cavil? Not by disputing the wholesome human maxim that "self-praise is no praise," but by affirming that He was an exception to the rule, or rather, that it had no application to Him.
14. for I know whence I came, and whither I go,
15. Ye judge after the flesh--with no spiritual apprehension.
I judge no man.
16. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true, &c.--Ye not only form your carnal and warped judgments of Me, but are bent on carrying them into effect; I, though I form and utter My judgment of you, am not here to carry this into execution--that is reserved to a future day; yet the judgment I now pronounce and the witness I now bear is not Mine only as ye suppose, but His also that sent Me. And these are the two witnesses to any fact which your law requires.
20. These words spake Jesus in the treasury--a division, so called, of the fore court of the temple, part of the court of the women [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 19.6.2, &c.], which may confirm the genuineness of John 8:2-11 , as the place where the woman was brought.
no man laid hands on him, dialogue that follows, the conflict waxes sharper on both sides, till rising to its climax, they take up stones to stone him.
21-25. Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way,
22. Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself?--seeing something more in His words than before ( John 7:35 ), but their question more malignant and scornful.
23. Ye are from beneath; I am from above--contrasting Himself, not as in John 3:31 , simply with earthborn messengers of God, but with men sprung from and breathing an opposite element from His, which rendered it impossible that He and they should have any present fellowship, or dwell eternally together.
24. if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins--They knew well enough what He meant ( Mark 13:6 , Greek; compare Matthew 24:5 ). But He would not, by speaking it out, give them the materials for a charge for which they were watching. At the same time, one is irresistibly reminded by such language, so far transcending what is becoming in men, of those ancient declarations of the God of Israel, "I AM HE" ( Deuteronomy 32:39 , Isaiah 43:10 Isaiah 43:13 , 46:4 , 48:12 ).
25. Who art thou?--hoping thus to extort an explicit answer; but they are disappointed.
26, 27. I have many things to say and to judge of you; but he that sent me is true, &c.--that is, I could, and at the fitting time, will say and judge many things of you (referring perhaps to the work of the Spirit which is for judgment as well as salvation, John 16:8 ), but what I do say is just the message My Father hath given Me to deliver.
28-30. When ye have lifted up the Son of man--The plainest intimation He had yet given in public of the manner and the authors of His death.
then shall ye know that I am he, &c.--that is, find out, or have sufficient evidence, how true was all He said, though they would be far from owning it.
29. the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him, &c.--that is, To you, who gnash upon Me with your teeth, and frown down all open appearance for Me, I seem to stand uncountenanced and alone; but I have a sympathy and support transcending all human applause; I came hither to do My Father's will, and in the doing of it have not ceased to please Him; therefore is He ever by Me with His approving smile, His cheering words, His supporting arm.
30. As he spake these words, many believed on him--Instead of wondering at this, the wonder would be if words of such unearthly, surpassing grandeur could be uttered without captivating some that heard them. And just as "all that sat in the council" to try Stephen "saw his face"--though expecting nothing but death--"as it had been the face of an angel" ( Acts 6:15 ), so may we suppose that, full of the sweet supporting sense of His Father's presence, amidst the rage and scorn of the rulers, a divine benignity beamed from His countenance, irradiated the words that fell from Him, and won over the candid "many" of His audience.
31-33. Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, &c.--The impression produced by the last words of our Lord may have become visible by some decisive movement, and here He takes advantage of it to press on them "continuance" in the faith, since then only were they His real disciples (compare John 15:3-8 ), and then should they experimentally "know the truth," and "by the truth be made (spiritually) free."
33. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man, &c.--Who said this? Not surely the very class just spoken of as won over by His divine words, and exhorted to continue in them. Most interpreters seem to think so; but it is hard to ascribe such a petulant speech to the newly gained disciples, even in the lowest sense, much less persons so gained as they were. It came, probably, from persons mixed up with them in the same part of the crowd, but of a very different spirit. The pride of the Jewish nation, even now after centuries of humiliation, is the most striking feature of their character. "Talk of freedom to us? Pray when or to whom were we ever in bondage?" This bluster sounds almost ludicrous from such a nation. Had they forgotten their long and bitter bondage in Egypt? their dreary captivity in Babylon? their present bondage to the Roman yoke, and their restless eagerness to throw it off? But probably they saw that our Lord pointed to something else--freedom, perhaps, from the leaders of sects or parties--and were not willing to allow their subjection even to these. Our Lord, therefore, though He knew what slaves they were in this sense, drives the ploughshare somewhat deeper than this, to a bondage they little dreamt of.
34, 35. Whosoever committeth sin--that is, liveth in the commission of it--(Compare 1 John 3:8 , Matthew 7:23 ).
is the servant of sin--that is, the bond-servant, or slave of it; for the question is not about free service, but who are in bondage. (Compare 2 Peter 2:19 , Revelation 6:16 ). The great truth here expressed was not unknown to heathen moralists; but it was applied only to vice, for they were total strangers to what in revealed religion is called sin. The thought of slaves and freemen in the house suggests to our Lord a wider idea.
35. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the Son abideth ever--that is, "And if your connection with the family of God be that of BOND-SERVANTS, ye have no natural tie to the house; your tie is essentially uncertain and precarious. But the SON'S relationship to the FATHER is a natural and essential one; it is an indefeasible tie; His abode in it is perpetual and of right: That is My relationship, My tie: If, then, ye would have your connection with God's family made real, rightful, permanent, ye must by the Son be manumitted and adopted as sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty." In this sublime statement there is no doubt a subordinate allusion to Genesis 21:10 , "Cast out this bondwoman and her son, for the son of this bond-woman shall not be heir with my son, with Isaac." (Compare Galatians 4:22-30 ).
37-41. ye seek to kill me--He had said this to their face before: He now repeats it, and they do not deny it; yet are they held back, as by some marvellous spell--it was the awe which His combined dignity, courage, and benignity struck into them.
because my word hath no place in you--When did ever human prophet so speak of His words? They tell us of "the word of the Lord" coming to them. But here is One who holds up "His word" as that which ought to find entrance and abiding room for itself in the souls of all who hear it.
38. my Father . . . your
39. If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham--He had just said He "knew they were Abraham's children," that is, according to the flesh; but the children of his faith and holiness they were not, but the reverse.
40. this did not Abraham--In so doing ye act in direct opposition to him.
41. We be not born of fornication . . . we have one Father, God--meaning, as is generally allowed, that they were not an illegitimate race in point of religion, pretending only to be God's people, but were descended from His own chosen Abraham.
42, 43. If God were your Father, ye would love me--"If ye had anything of His moral image, as children have their father's likeness, ye would love Me, for I am immediately of Him and directly from Him." But "My speech" (meaning His peculiar style of expressing Himself on these subjects) is unintelligible to you because ye cannot take in the truth which it conveys.
44. Ye are of your father the devil--"This is one of the most decisive testimonies to the objective (outward) personality of the devil. It is quite impossible to suppose an accommodation to Jewish views, or a metaphorical form of speech, in so solemn an assertion as this" [ALFORD].
the lusts of your father--his impure, malignant, ungodly propensities, inclinations, desires.
ye will do--are willing to do; not of any blind necessity of nature, but of pure natural inclination.
He was a murderer from the beginning--The reference is not to Cain (as LOCKE, DE WETTE, ALFORD, &c.), but to Adam [GROTIUS, CALVIN, MEYER, LUTHARDT, &c.]. The death of the human race, in its widest sense, is ascribed to the murderous seducer of our race.
and abode not in the truth--As, strictly speaking, the word means "abideth," it has been denied that the fall of Satan from a former holy state is here expressed [LOCKE, &c.], and some superior interpreters think it only implied [OLSHAUSEN, &c.]. But though the form of the thought is present--not past--this is to express the important idea, that his whole character and activity are just a continual aberration from his own original truth or rectitude; and thus his fall is not only the implied basis of the thought, but part of the statement itself, properly interpreted and brought out.
no truth in him--void of all that holy, transparent rectitude which, as His creature, he originally possessed.
When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own--perhaps his own resources, treasures ( Matthew 12:35 ) [ALFORD]. (The word is plural). It means that he has no temptation to it from without; it is purely self-begotten, springing from a nature which is nothing but obliquity.
the father of it--that is, of lying: all the falsehood in the world owes its existence to him. What a verse is this! It holds up the devil (1) as the murderer of the human race; but as this is meant here in the more profound sense of spiritual death, it holds him up, (2) as the spiritual parent of this fallen human family, communicating to his offspring his own evil passions and universal obliquity, and stimulating these into active exercise. But as there is "a stronger than he," who comes upon him and overcomes him ( Luke 11:21 Luke 11:22 ), it is only such as "love the darkness," who are addressed as children of the devil ( Matthew 13:38 , 1 John 3:8-10 ).
45-47. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not--not although, but just because He did so, for the reason given in the former verse. Had He been less true they would have hailed Him more readily.
46. Which of you convinceth me of sin--"Convicteth," bringeth home a charge of sin. Glorious dilemma! "Convict Me of sin, and reject Me: If not, why stand ye out against My claims?" Of course, they could only be supposed to impeach His life; but in One who had already passed through unparalleled complications, and had continually to deal with friends and foes of every sort and degree, such a challenge thrown wide among His bitterest enemies, can amount to nothing short of a claim to absolute sinlessness.
48-51. Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?--What intense and virulent scorn! (See Hebrews 12:3 ). The "say we not well" refers to John 7:20 . "A Samaritan" means more than "no Israelite at all"; it means one who pretended, but had no manner of claim to the title--retorting perhaps, this denial of their true descent from Abraham.
49. Jesus answered, I have not a devil--What calm dignity is here! Verily, "when reviled, He reviled not again" ( 1 Peter 2:23 ). Compare Paul ( Acts 26:25 ), "I am not mad," &c. He adds not, "Nor am I a Samaritan," that He might not even seem to partake of their contempt for a race that had already welcomed Him as the Christ, and began to be blessed by Him.
I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me--the language of wounded feeling. But the interior of His soul at such moments is only to be seen in such prophetic utterances as these, "For thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face; I am become a stranger unto my brethren, an alien unto my mother's children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up, and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me" ( Psalms 69:7-9 ).
50. I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh--that is, evidently, "that seeketh My glory"; requiring "all men to honor the Son even as they honor the Father"; judicially treating him "who honoreth not the Son as honoring not the Father that hath sent Him" ( John 5:23 ; and compare Matthew 17:5 ); but giving to Him ( John 6:37 ) such as will yet cast their crowns before His throne, in whom He "shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied" ( Isaiah 53:11 ).
51. If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death--Partly thus vindicating His lofty claims as Lord of the kingdom of life everlasting, and, at the same time, holding out even to His revilers the scepter of grace. The word "keep" is in harmony with John 8:31 , "If ye continue in My word," expressing the permanency, as a living and paramount principle, of that faith to which He referred: "never see death," though virtually uttered before ( John 5:24 , John 6:40 John 6:47 John 6:51 ), is the strongest and most naked statement of a very glorious truth yet given. (In John 11:26 it is repeated in nearly identical terms).
52, 53. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil, &c.--"Thou art now self-convicted; only a demoniac could speak so; the most illustrious of our fathers are dead, and Thou promisest exemption from death to anyone who will keep Thy saying! pray, who art Thou?"
54-56. If I honour myself, my honour is nothing,
55. I shall be a liar like unto you--now rising to the summit of holy, naked severity, thereby to draw this long dialogue to a head.
56. Abraham rejoiced to see my day, &c.--exulted, or exceedingly rejoiced that he should see, he exulted to see it, that is, by anticipation. Nay,
he saw it, and was glad--he actually beheld it, to his joy. If this mean no more than that he had a prophetic foresight of the gospel-day--the second clause just repeating the first--how could the Jews understand our Lord to mean that He "had seen Abraham?" And if it mean that Abraham was then beholding, in his disembodied spirit, the incarnate Messiah [STIER, ALFORD, &c.], the words seem very unsuitable to express it. It expresses something past--"he saw My day, and was glad," that is, surely while he lived. He seems to refer to the familiar intercourse which Abraham had with God, who is once and again in the history called "the Angel of the Lord," and whom Christ here identifies with Himself. On those occasions, Abraham "saw ME" (OLSHAUSEN, though he thinks the reference is to some unrecorded scene). If this be the meaning, all that follows is quite natural.
57-59. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old--"No inference can be drawn from this as to the age of our Lord at the time as man. Fifty years was with the Jews the completion of manhood" [ALFORD].
and hast thou seen Abraham?--He had said Abraham saw Him, as being his peculiar privilege. They give the opposite turn to it--"Hast Thou seen Abraham?" as an honor too great for Him to pretend to.
58. Before Abraham was, I am--The words rendered "was" and "am" are quite different. The one clause means, "Abraham was brought into being"; the other, "I exist." The statement therefore is not that Christ came into existence before Abraham did (as Arians affirm is the meaning), but that He never came into being at all, but existed before Abraham had a being; in other words, existed before creation, or eternally (as John 1:1 ). In that sense the Jews plainly understood Him, since "then took they up stones to cast at Him," just as they had before done when they saw that He made Himself equal with God ( John 5:18 ).