Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent, , at sacred-texts.com
The light of the world (τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου)
Not λύχνος, a lamp, as John the Baptist (Joh 8:35). Light is another of John's characteristic terms and ideas, playing a most important part in his writings, as related to the manifestation of Jesus and His work upon men. He comes from God, who is light (Jo1 1:5). "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" (Joh 1:4). The Word was among men as light before the incarnation (Joh 1:9; Joh 9:5), and light came with the incarnation (Joh 3:19-21; Joh 8:12; Joh 12:46). Christ is light through the illuminating energy of the Spirit (Joh 14:21, Joh 14:26; Joh 16:13; Jo1 2:20, Jo1 2:27), which is received through love (Joh 14:22, Joh 14:23). The object of Christ's work is to make men sons of light (Joh 12:36, Joh 12:46), and to endow them with the light of life (Joh 8:12).
In Joh 8:20, we are told that Jesus spake these words in the Treasury. This was in the Court of the Women, the most public part of the temple. Four golden candelabra stood there, each with four golden bowls, each one filled from a pitcher of oil by a youth of priestly descent. These were lighted on the first night of the Feast of Tabernacles. It is not unlikely that they may have suggested our Lord's figure, but the figure itself was familiar both from prophecy and from tradition. According to tradition, Light was one of the names of the Messiah. See Isa 9:1; Isa 42:6; Isa 49:6; Isa 60:1-3; Mal 4:2; Luk 2:32.
Walk in darkness (περιπετήσει ἐν τῇ σκοτία)
This phrase is peculiar to the Gospel and First Epistle.
Shall have (ἕξει)
Not only shall see it, but shall possess it. Hence Christ's disciples are the light of the world (Mat 5:14). Compare lights, or, properly, luminaries (φωστῆρες) a name, applied to believers in Phi 2:15.
Thou barest record of thyself
Rev., witness. A technical objection, evading the real purport of Jesus' declaration. The Rabbinical writings declared that no man could give witness for himself.
Literally, even if.
I know (οἷδα)
With a clear inward consciousness. See on Joh 2:24.
Whence I came and whither I go
Two essential facts of testimony, viz., origin and destiny. "The question was one about His own personal consciousness, of which only Himself could bear witness" (Lange). "If the sun or the day could speak, and should say: 'I am the sun!' and it were replied, 'No, thou mayest be the night, for thou bearest witness of thyself!' how would that sound? Argue it away if thou canst" ("Berlenburg Bible," cited by Stier, "Words of the Lord Jesus").
And whither I go
The best texts read, ἢ, or.
The best texts, however, read ἀληθινή, true to the perfect ideal of judgment.
In your law (ἐν τῷ νόμῳ τῷ ὑμετέρῳ)
Literally, in the law, that which is yours. Yours has an emphatic force: of which you claim a monopoly. See Joh 7:49.
It is written (γέγραπται)
The perfect tense: it has been written, and stands written. The common form of citation elsewhere, but used by John of the Old Testament scriptures only here. His usual form is γεγραμμένον ἐστίν, the participle with the finite verb, literally, it is having been written.
The witness of two men
See Deu 19:15.
The Father - beareth witness of me
Thus there are two witnesses, and the letter of the law is fulfilled.
The testimony of an unseen and unheard witness would not satisfy them.
The Treasury (γαζοφυλακίῳ)
From γάζα, treasure, a Persian word, occurring only once in the New Testament (Act 8:27), and φυλακή, guard. Used by John only here. The Treasury was in the Court of the Women, so called, not because it was appropriated to the worship of women exclusively, but because they were not allowed to proceed further, except for sacrificial purposes. The court covered a space upwards of two hundred feet square, and was surrounded by a colonnade, within which, and against the wall, were the thirteen trumpet-shaped chests, called "trumpets" from their shape, for charitable contributions. This court was the most public part of the temple.
And no man laid hands on Him (καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐπίασεν αὐτὸν)
Notice the connection with the previous sentence by the simple and, where another writer would have said and yet: the sense being that though Jesus was teaching where He might easily have been apprehended, yet no one attempted to arrest Him. See on Joh 1:10. Laid hands on is better rendered, as elsewhere, took (compare Joh 7:30). The inconsistency of the A.V. in the renderings of the same word, of which this is only one of many instances, is noteworthy here from the fact that in the only two passages in which John uses the phrase laid hands on (Joh 7:30; Joh 7:44), he employs the common formula, ἐπιβάλλειν τὰς χεῖρας, or τὴν χεῖρα, and in both these passages the word πιάσαι is rendered take. The use of this latter word is confined almost exclusively to John, as it is found only three times elsewhere (Act 3:7; Act 12:4; Co2 11:32).
Properly, therefore, connecting the fact of Jesus' continuing to speak with His freedom from arrest.
Omit Jesus, and read, He said therefore.
Go away (ὑπάγω)
Withdraw myself from you; this sense being emphasized by the succeeding words, ye shall seek me. In expressing one's departure from men or from surrounding objects, we may emphasize merely the fact of removal, in which case ἀπέρχομαι, to go away, would be appropriate; or we may emphasize the removal as affecting some relation of the person to that from which he removes, as in Joh 6:67, where Jesus says to the disciples, "will ye also go away, or withdraw from me," in which case ὑπάγω is the proper word.
In your sin (ἐν τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ ὑμῶν)
See on Mat 1:21. Note the singular, sin, not sins. It is used collectively to express the whole condition of estrangement from God.
Will He kill Himself (μήτι ἀποκτενεῖ ἑαυτὸν)?
The mockery in these words is alike subtle and bitter. The interrogative particle, μήτι, signifies surely He will not by any chance kill Himself; and the sense of the whole clause is, He will not surely go where we cannot reach Him, unless perchance He should kill Himself; and as that would insure His going to Gehenna, of course we could not go to Him there. The remark displays alike the scorn and the self-righteousness of the speakers.
Ye are from beneath (ἐκ τῶν κάτω ἐστὲ)
A phrase peculiar to John and to his Gospel. Jesus states the radical antagonism between His opposers and Himself, as based upon difference of origin and nature. They spring from the lower, sensual, earthly economy; He from the heavenly. Compare Jam 3:15 sqq.
From above (ἐκ τῶν ἄνω)
Also peculiar to John's Gospel. Compare Col 3:1. On the phrase to be of (εἶναι ἐκ) see on Joh 1:46.
Ye are of this world (ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου ἐστὲ)
Peculiar to John, and occurring in the First Epistle. On κόσμου, world, see on Joh 1:9. Ye are of this earthly order or economy.
I am he (ἐγώ εἰμι)
He is inserted in the versions and is not in the text. By retaining it, we read, I am the Messiah. But the words are rather the solemn expression of His absolute divine being, as in Joh 8:58 : "If ye believe not that I am." See Deu 32:39; Isa 43:10; and compare Joh 8:28, Joh 8:58 of this chapter, and Joh 13:19.
Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning (τὴν ἀρχὴν ὅ τι καὶ λαλῶ ὑμῖν)
A very difficult passage, on which the commentators are almost hopelessly divided. There are two main classes of interpretations, according to one of which it is to be read interrogatively, and according to the other, affirmatively. The two principal representatives of the former class are Meyer, who renders "Do you ask that which all along (τὴν ἀρχὴν) I am even saying to you?" and Westcott, "How is it that I even speak to you at all (τὴν ἀρχὴν)"? So also Milligan and Moulton. This latter rendering requires the change of ὅ τι, the relative, that which, into the conjunction ὅτι, that.
The second class of interpreters, who construe the passage affirmatively, vary in their explanations of τὴν ἄρχην, which they render severally, altogether, essentially, first of all, in the beginning. There is also a third class, who take τὴν ἄρχην as a noun, and explain according to Rev 21:6, "I am the beginning, that which I am even saying unto you." This view is represented mostly by the older commentators, Augustine, Bede, Lampe, and later by Wordsworth.
I adopt the view of Alford, who renders essentially, explaining by generally, or traced up to its principle (ἀρχὴ). Shading off from this are Godet, absolutely; Winer, throughout; Thayer, wholly or precisely. I render, I am essentially that which I even speak to you. If we accept the explanation of I am, in Joh 8:24, as a declaration of Jesus' absolute divine being, that thought prepares the way for this interpretation of His answer to the question, Who art thou? His words are the revelation of Himself. "He appeals to His own testimony as the adequate expression of His nature. They have only to fathom the series of statements He has made concerning Himself, and they will find therein a complete analysis of His mission and essence" (Godet).
I have many things, etc.
The connection of thought seems to be as follows: "I being such as my words show me to be, I must declare the whole message of Him by virtue of my essential union with whom I speak. Many things I have to declare and judge, and you may turn a deaf ear to them; nevertheless, I must speak the whole truth, the things which I have heard from Him who sent me and who is true."
I speak to the world (λέγω εἰς τὸν κοσμὸν)
The best texts read λαλῶ, which emphasizes not what Christ says (which would be λέγω), but the fact that He speaks. See on Mat 28:18. The use of the preposition εἰς here is peculiar. Literally, "I speak into the world;" so that my words may reach and spread through the world. See for a similar construction Th1 2:9; Th1 4:8; Heb 2:3. So Sophocles, where Electra says, κήρυσσέ μ' εἰς ἅπαντας proclaim me to all: so that the report of me may reach all ears ("Electra," 606).
They understood (ἔγνωσαν)
Perceived, as Rev.
Imperfect. Was speaking would be much better.
See on Joh 3:14.
Ye shall know (γνώσεσθε)
Render, perceive, here as in Joh 8:27.
I am He
As in Joh 8:24, on which see note.
Of myself (ἀπ' ἐμαυτοῦ)
Properly, from myself, as Rev., at Joh 7:17, but not here. See on Joh 7:17.
Hath taught (ἐδίδαξεν)
Rev., more correctly, taught. The aorist tense, regarding the teaching as a single act. Compare ἤκουσα, I heard, Joh 3:32.
I speak these things (παῦτα λαλῶ)
Not equivalent to so I speak (i.e., as the Father taught me), but an absolute declaration with reference to these present revelations.
The best texts omit.
See Joh 8:16.
Those things that please Him (τὰ ἀρεστὰ αὐτῷ)
Literally, as Rev., the things that are pleasing to Him. Always (πάντοτε) closing the sentence, is emphatic. Jesus' holy activity is habitual and continuous. See Joh 4:34.
Believed on (ἐπιστευκότας αὐτῷ)
See on Joh 1:12, and compare believed Him, Joh 8:31.
Believed on Him (πεπιστευκότας αὐτῷ)
Note the different phrase, distinguishing the Jews from the mixed company in Joh 8:30. Rev., rightly, believed Him.
If ye continue (ἐὰν ὑμεῖς μείνητε)
The emphasis is on the ye, addressed to those whose faith was rudimentary; who believed Him, but did not yet believe on Him. Rev., abide.
In my word (ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῷ ἐμῷ)
Literally, in the word which is mine: peculiarly mine, characteristic of me. The expression is intentionally stronger than my word. Compare my love (Joh 15:9).
Literally, truly; as Rev. As those who believe on me, not as those who are moved by temporary excitement to admit my claims.
Were never in bondage (δεδουλεύκαμεν πώποτε)
Rev., better, have never yet been in bondage; thus giving the force of the perfect tense, never up to this time, and of the πώ, yet. In the light of the promises given to Abraham, Gen 17:16; Gen 22:17, Gen 22:18, the Jews claimed not only freedom, but dominion over the nations. In their reply to Jesus they ignore alike the Egyptian, Babylonian, and Syrian bondage, through which the nation had successively passed, as well as their present subjection to Rome, treating these merely as bondage which, though a fact, was not bondage by right, or bondage to which they had ever willingly submitted, and, therefore, not bondage in any real sense. Beside the fact that their words were the utterance of strong passion, it is to be remembered that the Romans, from motives of policy, had left them the semblance of political independence. As in so many other cases, they overlook the higher significance of Jesus' words, and base their reply on a technicality. These are the very Jews who believed Him (Joh 8:31). Stier remarks: "These poor believers soon come to the end of their faith." The hint of the possible inconstancy of their faith, conveyed in the Lord's words if ye abide in my word, is thus justified.
Whosoever committeth (πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν)
Rev., more correctly, every one that committeth.
Sin (τὴν ἁμαρτίαν)
The definite article, the sin, shows that Jesus does not mean merely a simple act, but a life of sin. Compare Jo1 3:4-8, and doeth the truth (Joh 3:21); doeth the righteousness (Jo1 2:29).
The servant (δοῦλος)
Or, a servant. Properly, a bond-servant or slave. See on Mat 20:26.
A few authorities omit, and read whosoever committeth sin is a bond-servant. Compare Rom 6:17, Rom 6:20.
Abideth not in the house forever
A slave has no permanent place in the house. He may be sold, exchanged, or cast out. Compare Gen 21:10; Gal 4:30. House. See Heb 3:6; Joh 14:2. The elder son in the parable of the prodigal (Luk 15:29), denies his sonship by the words, "These many years do I serve thee (δουλεύω)."
Used by John only here. It means essentially.
Hath no place (οὐ χωρεῖ)
Rev., hath not free course, or maketh no way. This rendering is in harmony with Joh 8:30, Joh 8:31, concerning those who believed, but did not believe on Him, and who showed by their angry answer, in Joh 8:33, that the word of Jesus had made no advance in them. The rendering of the A.V. is not supported by usage, though Field ("Otium Norvicense") cites an undoubted instance of that sense from the Epistles of Alciphron, a post-Christian writer, who relates the story of a parasite returning gorged from a banquet and applying to a physician, who administered an emetic. The parasite, describing the effect of the medicine, says that the doctor wondered where such a mess had place (ἐχώρησε). For the rendering of the Rev., compare Aristophanes: πῶς οὖν οὐ χωρεῖ τοὔργον; "How is it that the work makes no progress?" ("Peace," 472). Plutarch, ἐχώρει διὰ τῆς πόλεως ὁ λόγος, "the word: (or report) spread (or advanced) through the city ("Caesar," 712).
Ye have seen
The best texts read ἠκούσατε, ye heard.
See on Joh 1:12.
A man (ἄνθρωπον)
Used only here by the Lord of Himself. To this corresponds His calling the Devil a manslayer at Joh 8:44. Perhaps, too, as Westcott remarks, it may suggest the idea of the human sympathy which, as a man, He was entitled to claim from them.
This did not Abraham
In the oriental traditions Abraham is spoken of as "full of loving-kindness."
Or, are doing.
From πέρνημι, to sell.
I proceeded forth - from God (ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐξῆλθον)
Rev., came forth. The phrase occurs only here and in Joh 16:28. Ἑξελθεῖν is found in Joh 13:3; Joh 16:30, and emphasizes the idea of separation; a going from God to whom He was to return (and goeth unto God). Ἑξελθεῖν παρά (Joh 16:27; Joh 17:8), is going from beside, implying personal fellowship with God. Ἑξελθεῖν ἐκ, here, emphasizes the idea of essential, community of being: "I came forth out of."
And am come (ἥκω)
As much as to say, and here I am.
Of myself (ἀπ' ἐμαυτοῦ)
Of my own self-determination, independently, but my being is divinely derived. See on Joh 7:17.
Speech - word (λαλιὰν - λόγον)
The former word refers to the form, the latter to the substance of discourse. So Mat 26:73, of Peter, "thy speech (λαλιά) bewrayeth thee;" thy mode of speaking. If they had understood the substance, they would have understood the form.
See on Joh 7:7.
Emphatic, in contrast with ἡμεῖς, we, of Joh 8:41.
Of your father (ἐκ)
Very suggestive, implying community of nature, as in Joh 8:42. Compare Jo1 3:8, Jo1 3:10.
See on Mat 4:1. John uses Satan only once in the Gospel (Joh 13:27), frequently in Revelation, and nowhere in the Epistles. A few critics have adopted the very singular rendering, which the Greek will bear, ye are of the father of the devil. This is explained by charging John with Gnosticism, and making him refer to the Demiurge, a mysterious and inferior being descended from God, by whom God, according to the Gnostics, created the universe, and who had rebelled against God, and was the father of Satan. It is only necessary to remark with Meyer that such a view is both unbiblical and un-Johannine.
See on Mar 4:19.
Ye will do (θέλετε ποιεῖν)
Wrong. Properly, ye will to do. Rev., it is your will to do. See on Joh 7:17.
Only here and Jo1 3:15. Literally, a manslayer; from ἄνθρωπος, man, and κτείνω, to kill. The epithet is applied to Satan, not with reference to the murder of Abel, but to the fact of his being the author of death to the race. Compare Rom 7:8, Rom 7:11; Heb 2:14.
From the beginning
Of the human race.
Stood not (οὐκ ἕστηκεν)
This may be explained in two ways. The verb may be taken as the perfect tense of ἵστημι, which is the form for the English present tense, I stand. In that case it would describe Satan's present standing in the element of falsehood: he standeth not in the truth. Or it may be taken as the imperfect tense of στήκω, I keep my standing, or simply, I stand, in which case the form will be ἔστηκεν, and it will mean that even before his fall he was not true, or that he did not remain true to God, but fell. Meyer, who takes it in the former sense, observes: "Truth is the domain in which he has not his footing; to him it is a foreign, heterogeneous sphere of life.... The lie is the sphere in which he holds his place." So Mephistopheles in Goethe's "Faust":
"I am the spirit that denies!
And justly so; for all things from the void
Called forth, deserve to be destroyed;
'Twere better, then, were naught created.
Thus, all which you as sin have rated, -
Destruction, - aught with evil blent, -
That is my proper element."
When he speaketh a lie (ὅταν λαλῇ τὸ ψεῦδος)
More strictly, whenever - the lie, as opposed to the truth, regarded as a whole. Two interpretations are given. According to one, the Devil is the subject of speaketh: according to the other, the subject is indefinite; "when one speaketh;" stating a general proposition.
Of his own (ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων)
Literally, out of the things which are his own. "That which is most peculiarly his ethical nature" (Meyer).
For he is a liar, and the father of it (ὅτι ψεύστης ἐστὶ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ)
Three interpretations are given. 1. That of the A.V. and Rev. "He is a liar, and the father of the lie." 2. "He is a liar, and the father of the liar (since of it may also be rendered of him)." 3. Making ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ, his father, the subject of the sentence, and referring his to one, the indefinite subject of speaketh ("when one speaketh a lie"). Thus the rendering will be, Because his father is a liar.As to Jesus' course of thought - if we accept either of the first two renderings, it turns on the character of Satan. After stating that the Jews are children of the Devil, He goes on to describe the Devil as a murderer and a liar, and enlarges on the latter characteristic by saying that falsehood is his natural and peculiar element. Whenever he lies he speaks out of his own false nature, for he is a liar, and the father of the lie or of the liar. If we accept the third rendering, the thought turns rather on the character of the Jews as children of Satan. He utters first, the general charge, ye are the children of the Devil, and as such will do his works. Hence you will be both murderers and liars. He was a murderer, and ye are seeking to kill me. He stood not in the truth, neither do ye; for, when one speaketh a lie, he speaketh out of his own false nature, by a birthright of falsehood, since his father also is a liar.
And because I (ἐγὼ δὲ ὅτι)
Render but, instead of and. You would believe falsehood if I should speak it, but because I tell you the truth, you do not believe. The I is emphatic. I, because I tell you, etc.
See on Joh 3:20. Rev., convicteth.
Not fault or error, but sin in general, as everywhere in the New Testament.
The truth (ἀλήθειαν)
Without the article, and therefore not the whole truth, but that which is true as to any part of divine revelation.
He that is of (ὁ ὣν ἐκ)
The familiar construction. See on Joh 1:46.
Say we not well
Indicating a current reproach. Well (καλῶς) is literally, finely, beautifully. Sometimes ironical, as Mar 7:6.
Thou art a Samaritan (Σαμαρείτης εἶ σὺ)
Literally, a Samaritan art thou: the σὺ, thou, terminating the sentence with a bitter emphasis: thou who professest such reverence for God and His law, art only a Samaritan, hostile to the true law and kingdom of God.
I have not a devil
He ignores the charge of being a Samaritan, refusing to recognize the national distinction. For devil read demon.
There is one that seeketh
That seeks my honor and judges between me and my opposers.
See on Pe1 1:4.
Better, word, as Rev. See on Joh 8:43.
He shall not see death (θάνατον οὐ μὴ θεωρήσῃ)
The phrase θεωρεῖν θάνατον, to see death, occurs only here in the New Testament. The double negative signifies in nowise, by no means. Θεωρήσῃ see, denoting steady, protracted vision, is purposely used, because the promise contemplates the entire course of the believer's life in Christ. It is not, shall not die forever, but shall live eternally. Upon this life, which is essentially the negation and contradiction of death, the believer enters from the moment of his union with Christ, and moves along its entire course, in time no less than in eternity, seeing only life, and with his back turned on death. The reverse of this truth, in connection with the same verb, is painfully suggestive. The question is pertinent why the Revisers have retained see, and have not substituted behold, as in so many instances.
Looking back to Joh 8:48. If we were too hasty then in saying that you have a demon, your words now fully justify us. They understood Him to be speaking of natural death.
Is dead (ἀπέθανε)
Better, died: referring to the historical fact.
Taste of death
They change the form of Jesus' statement. The Lord himself tasted of death. See Heb 2:9. The phrase taste of death does not occur in the Old Testament, but is common in Rabbinic writings. "The angel of death," say the Rabbis, "holdeth his sword in his hand at the bed's head, having on the end thereof three drops of gall. The sick man, spying this deadly angel, openeth his mouth with fear; and then those drops fall in, of which one killeth him, the second maketh him pale, the third rotteth."
Art thou (μὴ σὺ)
Thou, emphatic, and the negative interrogative particle implying a negative answer, thou art not surely greater.
Which is dead (ὅστις)
The compound pronoun ὅστις, which, is used explicatively, according to a familiar New Testament usage, instead of the simple relative. The sense is, seeing that he is dead. The compound relative properly indicates the class or kind to which an object belongs. Art thou greater than Abraham, who is himself one of the dead? So Col 3:5. "Mortify covetousness, seeing it is (ἥτις ἐστὶν) idolatry." See on Mat 13:52; see on Mat 21:41; see on Mar 12:18; see on Luk 12:1; see on Act 7:53; see on Act 10:41; see on Pe1 2:11.
Properly, word, as Joh 8:51. So Rev.
With exultant joy. See on Pe1 1:6.
To see (ἵνα ἴδῃ)
The Greek construction is peculiar. Literally, that he should see; i.e., in the knowledge or anticipation that he should see.
The exact meaning of the expression is altogether uncertain.
Thou art not yet fifty years old (πεντήκοντα ἔτη οὔπω ἔχεις)
Literally, thou hast not yet fifty years. The age of completed manhood.
Hast thou seen
Again misquoting the Lord's words.
Was, I am (γενέσθαι, ἐγώ εἰμι)
It is important to observe the distinction between the two verbs. Abraham's life was under the conditions of time, and therefore had a temporal beginning. Hence, Abraham came into being, or was born (γενέσθαι). Jesus' life was from and to eternity. Hence the formula for absolute, timeless existence, I am (ἐγώ εἰμι). See on Joh 1:3; see on Joh 7:34.
Going through the midst of them, and so passed by
The best texts omit.