John Eight

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

John 8:1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

John 8:2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

John 8:3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

woman taken in adultery. This striking narrative from John 7:53-8:11 has been deleted from a few very ancient (but error-filled) Greek manuscripts. Accordingly, it has been deleted (or relegated to a footnote or special section) from most modern English translations. However, it is unreasonable to assume that someone would invent such a story and insert it in an accepted copy of John's gospel. Furthermore, these twelve verses do appear in the overwhelming majority of extant Greek texts. There is no good reason not to retain it as is.

John 8:4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

John 8:5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

commanded us. See Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22. Both of these passages, however, indicate that both parties to the adultery were to be put to death. Since the woman was caught “in the very act” (John 8:4), it is obvious that the man was caught also, so the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees is apparent in their double standard. They were concerned with finding an action they could take against Jesus, not with upholding the Mosaic law.

John 8:6 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.

wrote on the ground. The only other recorded instance of God writing “with His finger” is when God wrote the Ten Commandments on two slabs of stone (Exodus 31:18). It would have been profoundly significant, as well as profoundly stirring and convicting, to the woman's accusers, if Jesus also was seen writing out these commandments instead of speaking. The account does not say what He wrote, of course, but this would seem to be the most probable suggestion.

John 8:7 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.

John 8:8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

John 8:9 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. It was the tradition that, in an execution by stoning, the oldest should cast the first stone, and so on. Thus, in this case, the eldest accuser was the first to be convicted—by the divine accusing finger—that he also had broken God's law and thus deserved to die. Only Jesus had the right, therefore, to stone her, but He also had the right to forgive her (Luke 5:23-24), and did so—evidently because He knew she was repentant (John 2:25).

convicted by their own conscience. This is the first of thirty-two occurrences of the word “conscience” in the New Testament. God has given us a conscience to guide our behavior in matters not specifically covered in the Scriptures. But conscience can only be a reliable guide if it is a “good conscience” (Acts 23:1) and a “pure conscience” (1 Timothy 3:9). If not followed as guided by the Scriptures (Acts 24:14, 16), the conscience can become “weak” (1 Corinthians 8:7, 10, 12), “defiled” (Titus 1:15), “seared” (1 Timothy 4:2), or even “evil” (Hebrews 10:22). The conscience is a reliable guide only if constrained by Biblical principles. Note Acts 24:14-16 in reference to how Paul expressed his conscience.

John 8:10 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?

John 8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

John 8:12 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.

I am the light. This is the second of the great “I am” statements of Christ in the gospel of John (see John 6:35), comparing Himself in effect to the sun. Physically speaking, the sun is the life and light of the world (note Genesis 1:14-16, also John 1:4, 9; Revelation 21:23-25; 22:5). Christ did indeed create the sun and even now sustains its life-giving radiations (Hebrews 1:3).

walk in darkness. This is the first New Testament reference to the spiritual “walk” of the believer, and it is important to note that the “walk” is to “follow” the steps of Jesus (compare 1 Peter 2:21), and to be “in Him” (Colossians 2:6). In the Old Testament, the first such reference is when Enoch, then Noah, “walked with God” (Genesis 5:24; 6:9). The believer is further commanded to “walk in the light” (xTerm 1:7), “in wisdom” (Colossians 4:5), “in love” (Ephesians 5:2), “in newness of life” (Romans 6:4), “in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16), “in the truth” (zTerm 4), and “in good works” (Ephesians 2:10). On the other hand, he is not to walk “according to the course of this world” or “as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Ephesians 2:2; 4:17).

light of life. Note the profound prophetic significance of this claim of Christ. It is as strong an assertion of omnipotent deity as one could imagine, but it does not sound conceited or insane, as it would have if it had come from any other man. Rather, it has proved prophetically true for two thousand years. He has been the light of the world—the inspiration for the world's greatest music and art, its most dedicated hospitals and missions, its greatest and most influential nations and governments. Further, millions of individuals who have followed Him have testified that He was indeed the light of their lives as they walked, not in darkness, but in the light of life.

John 8:13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

John 8:14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.

John 8:15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.

John 8:16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

John 8:17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.

John 8:18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.

John 8:19 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.

John 8:20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.

his hour was not yet come. This is the last of seven occurrences in the Gospel of John of the phrase “not yet” in reference to the time for Christ's death. See John 2:4; 7:6, 8, 30, 39, 39; 8:20. Finally, however, the time did come, as He prayed the night He was arrested (John 17:1). On the cross the next day, He finished the work He had come into the world to do (John 17:4; 19:30).

John 8:21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.

John 8:22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.

John 8:23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 8:24 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.

I am he. The word “he” is italicized in the Authorized Version, for Jesus actually said, simply, “I am,” thus again claiming to be none other than Jehovah (note John 8:58, referring to Exodus 3:14). Thus, belief that Jesus is God is essential to salvation.

John 8:25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.

John 8:26 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.

John 8:27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.

John 8:28 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.

John 8:29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

always. The Lord Jesus thus claims here to be sinless, always doing fully the will of God. This sounds real and right coming from Him but would be arrogant and insane on the lips of anyone else. Contrast Romans 3:11.

John 8:30 As he spake these words, many believed on him.

John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

continue in my word. Thus, true dedication to following Christ (i.e., discipleship) is measured by ongoing obedient belief in His Word (i.e., the Scriptures).

John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

know the truth. This could be read, literally, “come to know.” True freedom results from continued study of the Scriptures and obedience to them.

John 8:33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

John 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

John 8:35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.

John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

John 8:37 I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

John 8:38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.

John 8:39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

John 8:40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.

John 8:41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

John 8:42 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.

John 8:43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

John 8:44 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.

your father the devil. Just as those who receive Christ become children of God (John 1:12), those who do the will of the devil are called “children of the wicked one” (e.g., Matthew 13:38). The age-long conflict between the spiritual seed of the serpent and the spiritual seed of the woman was first prophesied in Eden right after the fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15).

murderer from the beginning. Evidently, the first child of Satan was Cain, who slew his brother Abel, no doubt at the instigation of Satan (xTerm 3:8-12). Since that first murder, the devil has been seeking to slay men and women before they can become children of God through faith in Christ, using his own children whenever he can to accomplish it.

father of it. As the father of lies, the devil deceived our first parents with the lie that they would become “as gods” through obeying his word rather than God's Word (Genesis 3:1-5). This lie of “humanism”—that men and women, as the apex of the evolutionary process, are the true gods of the world—has been deceiving and drawing people away from the true God of creation ever since. It has assumed various forms in different times and places, but it is always essentially the same old lie of Satan, “which deceiveth the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). Thus, he is author of the great lie of evolution, seeking to understand and control the world without its Creator. He has thereby deceived himself first of all, convincing himself that both he and God had evolved out of the primeval chaos (as in all the ancient mythical cosmogonies which he must have taught his own earliest human children).

John 8:45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

John 8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

convinceth me of sin? Jesus could challenge His enemies to find any sin in Him, because He was, uniquely of all men, without sin. He, as man, has demonstrated to all men what God intended man to be.

John 8:47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

John 8:48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?

John 8:49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.

John 8:50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.

John 8:51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

John 8:52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.

John 8:53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?

John 8:54 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:

John 8:55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.

John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

he saw it. Abraham evidently saw the “my day” of Christ when “the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision” (Genesis 15:1). On that occasion, the Lord had said, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward,” and this was the very first of the great “I am's” of the Bible. This vision of the Word of the Lord was Christ, of course, in a pre-incarnate theophany.

John 8:57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

I am. This is probably the most unmistakable claim of deity yet made by Christ, and the Jewish leaders clearly understood what He was saying. He not only was referring them back to Abraham's vision (see note on John 8:56), but also to Exodus 3:14, when Moses asked God His name, and received the reply: “I AM THAT I AM.” That is, God told Moses (and Jesus told the Jews) that He was the eternally existent One, the Creator and Sustainer of all things. “Before Abraham was [i.e., ‘was born'], I am.”

John 8:59 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.

Jesus hid himself. Because they thought Jesus was a blasphemer, the Jews immediately sought to carry out the legal judgment of stoning (Leviticus 24:16). As He had done on several occasions before, however, Jesus merely passed through the midst of them (e.g., Luke 4:30; John 7:30), because “His hour was not yet come.” This verse says that Jesus “hid Himself,” but does not elaborate as to how this was done. Angels were always with Him (e.g., Mark 1:13; Luke 22:43), so they may well have been involved.