John 8:48

Jesus’ Claims About Himself

48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”

Read John 8:48 Using Other Translations

Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?
The Jews answered him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?"
The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?”

What does John 8:48 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
John 8:48

Then answered the Jews, and said unto him
Being incensed to the last degree, that he should say they were of their father the devil, and not of God; and that he spoke the truth, and no one could convince him of sin:

say we not well, that thou art a Samaritan?
it seems they had said so before, though it is not recorded; and now they thought themselves justified in it, since he treated them, the true sons of Abraham, in such a manner; and the rather, since he had been lately among the Samaritans, and had in a parable spoken in favour of a Samaritan: they meant by this expression, that he was an irreligious man, and one that had no regard to the law of Moses; or at least played fast and loose with religion and the law, and was for any thing, as times served: the Jews had a very ill opinion of the Samaritans, on these accounts and to call a man a Samaritan, was all one as to call him an heretic, an idolater, or an excommunicated person; for such were the Samaritans with the Jews; they charged them with corrupting the Scriptures, and with worshipping idols, which were hid in Mount Gerizim; and they give us a dreadful account of their being anathematized by Ezra, Zorobabel, and Joshua; who, they say F18,

``gathered the whole congregation into the temple, and brought in three hundred priests, and three hundred children, and three hundred trumpets, and three hundred books of the law, in their hands; they blew the trumpets, and the Levites sung, and they anathematized the Samaritans, by the inexplicable name of God, and by the writing on tables, and with the anathema of the house of judgment, above and below; (saying,) let not any Israelite for ever eat of the fruit, or of the least morsel of a Samaritan; hence they say, whoso eateth the flesh of a Samaritan, it is all one as if he ate swine's flesh; also let not a Samaritan be made a proselyte, nor have a part in the resurrection of the dead; as it is said, "You have nothing to do with to build an house unto our God", ( Ezra 4:3 ) , neither in this world, nor in the world to come: moreover, also let him have no part in Jerusalem; as it is said, "But you have no portion, nor, right, nor memorial in Jerusalem", ( Nehemiah 2:20 ) ; and they sent this anathema to the Israelites that were in Babylon, and they added thereunto, curse upon curse moreover, king Cyrus added an everlasting anathema to it, as it is said, "And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there, destroy", &c. ( Ezra 6:12 ) .''

And hence, because the Samaritans were had in such abhorrence by the Jews, they would not ask a blessing over food in company with them {s}, nor say Amen after they had asked one F20; nor indeed, after the better sort of them had asked, unless the whole blessing was distinctly heard F21, that so they might be sure there was no heresy in it; by all which it appears, how opprobrious this name was, and what a sad character was fixed upon a man that bore it; (See Gill on John 4:9); and as Christ was called by the Jews a Samaritan, they having no name more hateful and reproachful to call him by, so the Christians are still in their writings called Cuthites, or Samaritans; and it is indeed with them a general name for all Gentiles and idolaters, or whom they esteem such:

and hast a devil;
familiarity and converse with one; by which means they imagined he knew their thoughts, and their actions, and by his assistance performed his miracles; or they took him for a lunatic, or a madman; whose lunacy and madness proceeded from the devil, with whom he was possessed: and this rather seems to be the sense, since in ( John 8:52 ) the Jews say they knew he had a devil, which they concluded from his saying, that such that observed his words, and kept them, should never die; which they considered as the words of a man out of his senses, seeing all men, even the best of men die, they not understanding his meaning; whereas they could not gather from hence, that he dealt with familiar spirits; and what still confirms this sense is, that these two are joined together in ( John 10:20 ) , "he hath a devil, and is mad", and such as were demoniacs, men possessed with devils, were either mad, or lunatic, and melancholy; see ( Matthew 8:28 ) ( Mark 5:2-5 ) ( Matthew 17:15 ) , compared with ( Mark 9:17 Mark 9:25 ) . To which may be added, that it was a prevailing notion with the Jews, that madness and melancholy were owing to evil spirits, which had the predominancy over men: and seeing Christ was thought to be besides himself by his friends and relations, ( Mark 3:21 ) , it need not be wondered at, that his enemies should fix such a character on him; nor was this an unusual one to be given to good men; the prophets and spiritual men of the Old Testament were accounted madmen, ( 2 Kings 9:11 ) ( Hosea 9:7 ) . And since our Lord was used in this abusive manner, it need not seem strange, that his followers should be treated in the same way; as the Apostle Paul and his companions in the ministry were, ( Acts 26:24 ) ( 2 Corinthians 5:13 ) ; see ( John 10:20 ) .


FOOTNOTES:

F18 Pirke Eliezer, c. 38.
F19 Bartenora in Misn. Beracot, c. 7. sect. 1.
F20 Elias in Tishbi in voce (twk) .
F21 Misn. Beracot, c. 8. sect. 8. & Maimon. & Bartonera in ib.
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