In our last lesson, we examined what Jesus taught the Jews on the last day of the feast of booths in John 7. While some believed that He was the Christ, others did not, and some were confused about the whole matter. In John 8 we learned how Jesus went to the temple early in the morning and how the opposing Jews tried to trap Him with an adulterous woman, but this backfired on these Jews and they ended up walking away one by one after Jesus put them in their place.


In this lesson, we will continue to examine what Jesus taught the people that day in the temple area. 


John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."  13 The Pharisees therefore said to Him, "You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true."  14 Jesus answered and said to them, "Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going.  15 "You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.  16 "And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.  17 "It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true.  18 "I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me."  19 Then they said to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also."  20 These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.


This is Jesus’ second “I am” statement in the Book of John in which He claims to be the light of the world. This is interesting because God was considered the light in the Old Testament (Ps. 27:1; Isa. 60:19), and there are several prophecies that teach that God would provide a light for the Gentiles, which would happen through Jesus (Isa. 49:6; 42:6; Mal. 4:2). John calls Jesus the light of the world in (Jn. 1:6-9). Jesus teaches us that we are supposed to be a light for the world as well (Mat. 5:14), but we are only a reflection of the true light found in Jesus.


If we want to have the forgiveness of sins, we must walk in that light (1 Jn. 1:7). The light represents the righteousness of God, while darkness represents the sin of the world. Jesus had just finished shinning light on the sin of the woman who committed adultery, and He exposed the sin of the Scribes and Pharisees. Notice, Jesus said He was the light of the world and not the light of Israel. This means that both Jew and Gentile could follow Him and have the light of life. This statement and the things Jesus said after this confirmed that He is Deity, the Son of God.


These Pharisees talking to Jesus were not the ones who had walked away. They were either there beforehand listening to Jesus teach, or they had just walked up and started listening to Jesus. They accused Him of being a false witness because He was His only witness. This does not mean that a person’s words are untrue, it simply means his truth cannot be established as the Law of Moses requires (Deut. 19:15).

Jesus agreed with this statement earlier when He said, “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true (Jn. 5:31).” However, He gave them six witnesses in that discussion and nothing has changed because Jesus was not His only witness.


However, Jesus was the only one who could be a witness for the true light of God because He came from God in heaven, and He will be going back there after His death. That gives Christ all the credentials He needs to be a true witness, but they did not accept this because all they could do was make a judgment based on appearance. Since all they saw was a Jewish man who was the son of a carpenter from Galilee, they were unwilling to see that He is the light of God.


When Jesus was on the earth, He was not there to condemn people for their sins, but to save them. Jesus said:


“And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him -- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (Jn. 12:47-48).


When the judgment day comes, we will be judged by what Jesus said, and He will be the judge (Acts 17:31). Then Jesus told them that even if He does make a judgment, His judgment will be true because the Father is with Him guiding Him all the way. This means His judgment comes from the Father. Jesus also appeals to the law, they brought up about having two witnesses, and He tells them He is a witness and His Father in heaven is a witness.


Jesus met their requirement, but they would not accept it. So, they asked Him, “Where is Your Father?” They wanted His Father to appear and be His witness, but no one could see the Father except for Jesus. Besides, Jesus had offered many proofs that He was the Son of God through the signs and miracles He did (Act 2:22). Also, God spoke out from heaven and proclaimed that Jesus was His Son (Mt. 3:17; 17:5; Jn. 12:28-30), which is why Jesus told them if they knew Him, they would know His Father because He came from Him.


He said all these things in the treasury, which is also known as the women’s court. The women were not allowed to go beyond this area. This court was around 233 feet square (54, 289 sq feet), and it contained thirteen chests for the Jews to put their money in (Mk. 12:41-44). This was the most public part of the temple because all the Jews would pass through this area. Jesus spoke with boldness and without fear. No one laid a hand on Him because it was not time for Him to face His death on the cross.


John 8:21 Then Jesus said to them again, "I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come."  22 So the Jews said, "Will He kill Himself, because He says, 'Where I go you cannot come'?"  23 And He said to them, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.  24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."


Once again, Jesus is teaching about His death, burial, and resurrection. When He was raised from the dead, He went back to heaven where He was before. This was not the first time Jesus said, “I am going away, and you will seek me… Where I go you cannot come.” He said this in John 7:34 as well. When He said it in John 7:34, they thought He meant He would take His teaching to the Greeks, but in our immediate text, they think He is going to kill Himself. They were wrong on both accounts because Jesus is trying to teach them that if they seek after Him on the earth, they will not find Him because after He gives His life for humanity, He will we be raised from the dead and will ascend into heaven.


Next, He responds to their suicide question by telling them He is from above, which refers to heaven, and they are from below, which refers to the world. If they refuse to believe that He is the “I am,” then they will die in their sins.


Most Bible versions add the word “he” or some other words after the phrase “I am”, but these words were added by the translators. Most Bible versions italicize the words they add to make the verse more readable. However, in this case, Jesus was saying they must believe that He is the I am, which literally means “to be”. We will see how Jesus was using this phrase to describe His self-existence and Deity later in this chapter. Since a person must believe that Jesus is Deity, the Son of God, proves that a person can only obtain the forgiveness of sin through Jesus, because there is no other way (Jn. 14:6).


John 8:25 Then they said to Him, "Who are You?" And Jesus said to them, "Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning.  26 "I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him."  27 They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father.


After everything Jesus told them, they still wanted to know who He is. Jesus does not come right out and say who He is again. Instead, He tells them He has been telling them the same thing He has told them from the beginning, but they were dull of hearing and they could not grasp the truth. Jesus told them He had many more things to say to them that would expose their sins and the judgment they would receive from the Father. He wanted them to understand that the words He would be speaking would come from the Father in heaven. Once again, they could not understand the simple truth that Jesus was talking about the Father in heaven.


John 8:28 Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.  29 "And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him."  30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.


Jesus was teaching them how He would die on the cruel cross. He lets them know that when this happens, they will know He is the Son of God. Jesus was correct because after His death on the cross, many priests believed He was the Son of God (Acts 6:7). Again, Jesus shows His close connection with the Father by claiming:


  • Everything He said and did was taught to Him by the Father.
  • He was sent by the Father.
  • Everything He did was done to please the Father.
  • The Father is always with Him.


These are characteristics we would expect the Son of God to have. Since the Father was always with Jesus, He could always draw strength from Him, which means He was never really alone. In difficult times like these when the Jewish rulers would break His heart because of their unbelief, He could be comforted knowing the Father was there with Him. God is there for us today as well. We should realize that we are never really alone because God is always there for us, and He is willing to help us if we will simply ask.


After Jesus said these words, many of those standing there believed in Him. However, I do not believe they professed their belief verbally. I believe that Jesus read their hearts and knew that many had. Next, He is going to tell them what they must do to have an obedient faith that will save them.


John 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  32 "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."


Jesus is now speaking to those who believed in Him, and He tells them what they must do to become His disciples and be set free. Notice, their belief alone did not do this, nor would one act of obedience accomplish this. They would have to abide in His words. The word “abide” means to “…remain, not to depart, to continue to be present …” (Strongs). This proves that faith alone will not save a person or make them a disciple of Christ because a person must continue to keep God’s Word and be doers of it (Jas. 1:22-25).


Verse 32 proves that we can know the truth from God’s Word and when we take the time to read it, study it, and abide in it, we can be set free from our sins. This verse is exactly what Jeremiah said would happen under the new covenant that would come through Jesus (Jer. 31:31-34).


John 8:33 They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, 'You will be made free'?"


Their answer was not true because they were currently under bondage to the Roman Empire, and the Jewish nation had been under bondage many times in their history. The Romans had given them the freedom to practice their religion as long as it did not cause problems. Part of their religion was restricted because they could not put anyone to death even if the Law of Moses required it. These Jews had physical or political bondage in mind, but Jesus was talking about being set free from sin.


John 8:34 Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  35 "And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.  36 "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. 


Jesus did not leave them any doubt that He was talking about freedom from sin. Every person is a slave in this world no matter what their social status may be. They are either slaves to sin or slaves of righteousness (Rom. 6:16-18). Every time we engage in sin, it can cause us to become a slave to it, but knowing the truth and abiding in it can set us free from the bondage of sin.


In verse 35, Jesus illustrates the difference between a slave and a son. A slave belongs to his master and he or she is not a permanent member of that household. However, the son is, and he is the heir. If he decides to free his slaves, they will be free. That is exactly what Jesus came to do. He came to set the human race free from their sin and better yet, He would make it possible for them to be adopted as sons and daughters so they could become part of the master’s house (Eph. 1:3-6).


Burt Coffman quotes another possible implication of these verses from Hendriksen:


The old dispensation with its special privileges for Israel has ended. Abraham's true children will remain in his household (the new covenant) and enjoy its privileges permanently; but Abraham's slaves (think of Hagar) will be driven out.  Only a son enjoys freedom.  If therefore the Son of God will make them free, they will be free indeed” (Coffman’s Commentary on John).


John 8:37 " I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.  38 "I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father."  39 They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham.  40 "But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this.  41 "You do the deeds of your father." Then they said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father -- God."


Jesus did not deny they were physical descendants of Abraham, but He was pointing out that they needed to be like Abraham. Abraham was a friend of God (Jas. 2:23) and would never try to kill a messenger from God, but these Jews were willing to do it. According to Paul, Jesus was the singular seed in which all the promises of Abraham would be realized (Gal. 3:16).


So, in order to become a spiritual seed of Abraham, a person has to be found in Christ, which only happens by obeying the gospel plan of salvation. After a person believes (Jn. 3:16), repents (Lk. 13:3), and confesses Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9-10), God’s Word teaches that a person must be baptized to be put into Christ and to become the spiritual seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3). 


In verse 38, Jesus compared the origin of their thoughts to His. He said His words and thoughts came from the Father in heaven, but their words and thoughts came from the devil. He does not say the devil specifically here, but this is what He is referring to as we will see in verse 44.


In response to this, they immediately claim that Abraham is their father. Again, it is true that they were physical descendants of him, but they were nothing like him because the works he did came from an obedient faith (Heb. 11:8-10). These Jews were willing to kill the messenger of God. Jesus is trying to teach them that being a physical descendent is not enough because a person has to be part of the spiritual seed. Romans 8 and 9 explain the difference between a physical and a spiritual descendant of Abraham, and these two chapters teach that a person must be a spiritual descendent of Abraham to be pleasing to God. 


After Jesus accused them of doing the deeds of their father the devil, they responded by saying that their true father is the Father in heaven, and they were not born of fornication. What did they mean by not being born of fornication? J.W. McGarvey explains:


Perceiving that he spoke of spiritual parentage, and recognizing the fact that he had shattered their claim of spiritual derivation from Abraham, they fell back upon the citadel of Jewish confidence and pride -- spiritually they were begotten of God; they were not begotten of an idolatrous but of a godly stock.  Fornication is here used as the common symbol for idolatry -- Exo. 34:15,16; Hos. 1:2; 2:4 (McGarvey and Pendleton).


They wanted the record to be straight that they were pure descendants of Abraham and the Father in heaven was their spiritual Father. Also, their bloodline had not been corrupted with those outside the children of Israel.


John 8:42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.  43 "Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.  44 "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.  45 "But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.  46 "Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?  47 "He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God."


Jesus was a master teacher and debater. Since they claimed the heavenly Father as being their father, Jesus tells them they should love Him because He came from the Father by the direction of the Father. These verses teach that it takes more than just believing in Jesus because a person must have love, because mere belief will not motivate someone to do the right thing. They must be motivated by love, which is why Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments (Jn. 14:15).”


In verse 43, Jesus asked a question and then answered it Himself. He wants to know why they cannot understand His speech. He has been teaching them clearly about whom He is and about their spiritual condition. Since their minds are on carnal things, and they are blinded because of their pride and arrogance, they cannot listen as they should.


Then Jesus strikes a hard blow when He tells them that their father is the devil. The devil was a murder from the beginning of human history, and he is the father of lies. Satan told two lies to Eve, which led to the death of Adam and Eve. He lied about what God said, and the reason He did not want them to eat from that tree (Gen. 3:4-5). The devil was the father of these Jews, and they were his disciples. Since the devil cannot stand the truth, they could not stand it either, which is why they would not believe Jesus even though His message was from God the Father.


Jesus challenged them to offer proof that He had sin in His life. If they could have done this, they would have something to work with and a reason not to believe in Him, but they could not produce any evidence that would convict Jesus of sin. So, they should have believed Him, but they did not.


In verse 47, Jesus told them that they are not of God because they refuse to hear God’s Word. There are many religious institutions in the world today who fall into this category because they claim to be followers of God and even claim that Jesus is the Son of God, but they refuse to hear God’s Word when it comes to issues that teach against their false doctrine. Remember, Jesus said that we must abide in His doctrine to be set free. So, when religious groups do things their way and stray away from God’s truth, they make themselves slaves of sin and they make the devil their father. Those are strong words, but just as it was true for these Jews of Jesus’ day, it is true for those who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ (2 Jn. 1:9).


John 8:48 Then the Jews answered and said to Him, "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?"  49 Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.  50 "And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges.


The Jews despised the Samaritans more than they did the Gentiles, and they accused Jesus of being one and having a demon. This was their way of saying, “We are not sons of the devil you are.” Jesus told them He did not have a demon and that He was only honoring His Father in heaven, but they were dishonoring Him. This truth could be proven by looking at Jesus’ life and how the words He spoke were always true. Jesus only came to this earth to glorify God and not Himself. He did not allow their comment to enrage Him, and He pointed out that God is the one who sees and judges.


John 8:51 "Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death."  52 Then the Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.'  53 "Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Whom do You make Yourself out to be?"


They cannot get their minds off the physical because they think Jesus is talking about physical death when He is talking about spiritual death. Those who faithfully follow the Word of God will never have to face spiritual separation from God, which means they will not have to go to the horrible place called hell. Instead, Jesus will give them eternal life in heaven where there will be no more death or pain (Rev. 21:4).


Since these Jews were thinking physically, they were convinced that Jesus had a demon in Him because not even Abraham or any of the prophets before Him were able to remain alive. So, if these prophets could not physically live forever who were faithful servants of God, how could Jesus make such a claim?


This is why they proceeded to ask Him if He was greater than Abraham and all the other prophets that are dead and gone. Even though Jesus proved to them over and over that He is the Son of God, they still asked, “Whom do You make Yourself out to be?”


John 8:54 Jesus answered, "If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God.  55 "Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, 'I do not know Him,' I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word.  56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."


Jesus is trying to get through their thick skulls that He did not come to the earth to honor Himself, He came to honor the Father and the Father honors Him (Mt.3:16-17; Jn. 12:27-28). Once again, Jesus claimed He is the Son of God, and He tells them they do not know the Father, but He does. If Jesus said otherwise, He would be a liar like them. Notice, He calls them liars. What does it mean to know God? John teaches us that we know God if we keep His commandments, otherwise we are liars (1 Jn. 2:3-4). If these Jews would have studied the Scriptures and opened their hearts to what it said, they would have realized that Jesus was greater than Abraham.


In verse 56, we learn that Abraham rejoiced because He was able to see through the prophetic promise that all nations would be blessed through His seed, which would happen through Jesus (Gal. 3:8, 16-18).


John 8:57 Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?"  58 Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."  59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.


These Jews knew that Jesus was not old enough to have seen Abraham, but they did not understand His nature. He was the “I AM”, which means that He has always existed and was alive before Abraham was born (Jn. 1:1-2). We can see Jesus at work in the Old Testament time as well. When we examine the Old Testament and what it has to say about the Angel of the Lord or Angel of God, we will discover that the Angel of the Lord has characteristics of Deity. The best person of the Godhead that fits the Angel of the Lord or Angel of God is Jesus.


 Just as Jesus was claiming to be the “I AM,” this is the same thing we see the Angel of the Lord saying from the burning bush that Moses was talking to (Ex. 3:2-6). Also, we learn that the same statement made in Exodus 3:6 was made by the Angel of the Lord to Jacob (Compare Gen. 28:13-14 to 31:11-13). The Angel of the Lord had three encounters with Abraham, but the most revealing was when Abraham took his son to sacrifice him at the request of God (Gen. 22). Even though Genesis 22:1-2 tells us that God requested that Abraham do this, notice what the following verses reveal:


Genesis 22:11 “But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" So he said, "Here I am."  12 And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”


It was the Angel of the Lord who made this request, which was God. Notice what else He said:


Genesis 22:15 Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven,  16 and said: "By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son --   17 "blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.  18 "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."


Here we see the Angel of the Lord swearing by Himself because He had no one higher to swear by.


Hebrews 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,  14 saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you."


These facts make a strong case that the Angel of the Lord is Deity, and He said the reason Abraham was receiving this blessing was because he obeyed His voice. Again, only Deity could make such a promise and as I stated earlier, Jesus is the best choice of being the Angel of the Lord. So, this teaches us that Jesus did see Abraham, and He even spoke with him.


When Jesus claimed to be the “I AM”, these Jews had no problem understanding that He was claiming to be the Son of God, which is why they picked up stones to kill him. Since it was not His time to die, He slipped through their midst as He left the temple, which may of have been a miraculous escape, but we are not told either way.


Out of the seven “I am” statements most people list in the book of John, verse 58 is not included because Jesus simply says “I AM.” However, this is a significant statement because it proves His Deity and self-existence. In this chapter alone, Jesus has claimed that He is Deity, the Son of God around a dozen times. Even though these Jews wanted Him dead and were not listening, Jesus never backed down from the truth. We must learn from His example and never compromise God’s truth just because people do not like it.