John 8:57

57 So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?"[a]

John 8:57 Meaning and Commentary

John 8:57

Then said the Jews unto him, thou art not yet fifty years
One copy reads forty, but he was not that; no, not much more than thirty; not above two or three and thirty years old: the reason of their fixing on this age of fifty might be, because Christ might look like such an one, being a man of sorrows and acquainted with griefs, as well as of great gravity; or they might be free in allowing him as many years, as could be thought he should be of, and gain their point; for what were fifty years, when Abraham had been dead above two thousand? and therefore he could never see Abraham, nor Abraham see him; moreover, this age of fifty, is often spoken of by the Jews, and much observed; at the age of fifty, a man is fit to give counsel, they say F1; hence the Levites were dismissed from service at that age, it being more proper for them then to give advice, than to bear burdens; a Methurgeman, or an interpreter in a congregation, was not chosen under fifty years of age F2; and if a man died before he was fifty, this was called the death of cutting off F3; a violent death, a death inflicted by God, as a punishment; Christ lived not to that age, he was now many years short of it:

and hast thou seen Abraham?
if he had not, Abraham had seen him, in the sense before given, and in which Christ asserted it, and it is to be understood.


F1 Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 21.
F2 T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 14. 1. Juchasin, fol. 44. 2.
F3 T. Hieros. Biccurim, fol. 64. 3. T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 28. 1. Macsecheth Semachot, c. 3. sect. 9. Kimchi in Isa. xxxviii. 10.

John 8:57 In-Context

55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad."
57 So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?"
58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."
59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Some manuscripts has Abraham seen you?
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.