John 8 Study Notes


8:12 Jesus as the light of the world (see note at 6:35,48) develops further the affirmation in the prologue that Jesus was “the light of men” and that “that light shines in the darkness” (1:4-5). On this basis, Jesus exhorted his hearers to put their trust in the light while they had him with them, so they might become “children of light” (12:35-36). Jesus’s concluding testimony is that he came into the world as light so that no one who believes in him should remain in darkness (12:46). Yet, according to the Evangelist, the verdict is this: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil (3:19-21).

8:13-14 The Pharisees’ challenge and Jesus’s response continue the acrimony of 5:31-47. Again, Mosaic stipulations were in view (Dt 17:6; 19:15).

8:14,18 On Jesus’s testimony about himself, see note at 5:31-47.

8:15-16 Jesus’s statement may echo 1Sm 16:7. People rejected Jesus because he did not come with regal fanfare, but appearances can be deceiving (Is 53:2-3).

8:17-18 On the testimony of two witnesses, see notes at Dt 17:6-7; 19:15.

8:19 Their question shows that they neither know who Jesus is nor do they know God.

8:20 On the timing of Jesus’s hour, see note at 2:4.

8:21-23 You will look for me may mean that the Jews would continue looking for the Messiah after Jesus’s death and ascension (D. A. Carson).

8:24,28 These statements hint at Jesus’s deity (see notes at 6:35,48).

8:25-27 The question, Who are you? was not a request for information but a challenge, as in, Who do you think you are?

8:28 On the lifting up of Jesus, see note at 3:14-15.

8:29 This speaks of Jesus’s sinlessness.


Greek pronunciation [FOHSS]
CSB translation light
Uses in John’s Gospel 23
Uses in the NT 73
Focus passage John 8:12

The word phos is seldom used in the literal sense in the NT. Most often it is a metaphor referring to holiness, purity, or godliness. Jesus used the term in the Sermon on the Mount to describe his disciples and the holy standard of conduct that he expected them to model to the world (Mt 5:14-16; 6:23). In John’s Gospel, however, Jesus himself is “the light,” as stated in the prologue (1:4-5) and in Jesus’s own words (8:12; 9:5). In this case, the light is revelatory and reflects God’s character or holiness. In other words, the light refers to God’s revelation or disclosure of himself to the world in the incarnation (1:4-9). Incredibly, those in darkness prefer the darkness, at least until they accept the truth of God’s revelation in his Son and believe in the light (3:19-21; 8:12; 12:46).

8:30-32 A disciple proves his genuineness by continuing to follow Jesus. Therefore, there is such a thing as a false disciple. To know the truth is to know Christ.

8:33 The OT extols the blessings of being descendants of Abraham (Ps 105:6; Is 41:8).

8:34-35 The contrast between son and slave may allude to Abraham’s sons through Sarah and Hagar (Gn 21:1-21; see Ex 21:2).

8:36 On Jesus as the life-giving Son, see note at 3:16-18.

8:37-38 Even in the OT, physical descent from Abraham was insufficient to establish one’s lineage (Jr 9:25-26; cp. Rm 2:28-29; 9:7; Gl 4:21-31).

8:39-58 On children of God, see note at 3:3-8.

8:40 Jesus had surreptitiously called them children of the devil, to which they replied that they were children of Abraham. Here Jesus argues that that cannot be the case.

8:41 Though the OT calls the Israelites God’s children (Ex 4:22; Dt 14:1-2; 32:6; Is 63:16; 64:8; Jr 31:9; Mal 2:10), John said only those born of God (through faith) are God’s children (Jn 1:12-13; 3:3-8).

8:42-43 The Jews had further declared that they were children of God; Jesus proceeded to prove that they were not.

8:44 The devil is a murderer from the beginning. He incited Cain to kill Abel (1Jn 3:15). He does not stand in the truth is a possible reference to Satan’s fall (Is 14:12). At the fall of Adam and Eve, he blatantly contradicted God’s word (Gn 3:3-4; cp. Gn 2:17).

8:45-46 Jesus always did what pleases God (v. 29; Is 53:9).

8:47 Jesus spoke boldly and plainly to the Jews, telling them, you are not from God.

8:48,52 On the accusation that Jesus had a demon, see note at 7:20.

8:49-53 Jesus countered the charge that he was demon-possessed by declaring that he honored his Father. Then he boldly said that keeping his word is the way to avoid death. This sounded insane to the Jews because all the great men of the faith had died. They responded, Who do you claim to be?

8:54-55 Jesus replied that he didn’t have to glorify himself because God was doing it.

8:56 Jesus’s statement refers to Abraham’s joyful anticipation of the coming of the Messiah. See the later affirmation in 12:41 that Isaiah saw Jesus’s glory.

8:57-58 On Jesus’s I am statements, see note at 6:35,48.

8:59 Stoning was the prescribed punishment for blasphemy (Lv 24:16; cp. Dt 13:6-11; Jn 10:31-33; 11:8). However, this was never to be enacted by mob violence (Dt 17:2-7). In the OT, righteous men like Moses (Ex 17:4), Joshua and Caleb (Nm 14:10), and David (1Sm 30:6) were nearly stoned. As on previous occasions, Jesus evaded arrest (Jn 7:30,44; 8:20; see note at 2:4). His withdrawal from the Jews strikes a note of judgment similar to the removal of God’s favor from King Saul (1Sm 15:23).