Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 34: John, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
1. But Jesus went to the mountain of Olives. 2. And early in the morning he again came to the temple, and all the people came to him; and sitting down, he taught them 3. And the scribes and Pharisees bring to him a woman caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst, 4. They say to him, Master, this woman was caught in the very act, while she was committing adultery. 5. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such persons; but what sayest thou? 6. Now they said this, trying him, that they might have ground for accusing him. But Jesus, casting down his eyes, 206 wrote with the finger on the ground. 7. And as they persisted in asking him, he lifted up his eyes, 207 and said to them, He who is without sin amongst you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9. And having heard that, and being reproved by their conscience, they went out one by one, beginning at the eldest even to the last; so that Jesus was left alone, and the woman who stood in the midst. 10. And Jesus, lifting up his eyes, having seen nobody but the woman, said to her, Woman, where are thy accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? 11. She said, No man, Lord. Jesus answered her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
3. And the scribes and Pharisees bring to him. It is plain enough that this passage was unknown anciently to the Greek Churches; and some conjecture that it has been brought from some other place and inserted here. But as it has always been received by the Latin Churches, and is found in many old Greek manuscripts, and contains nothing unworthy of an Apostolic Spirit, there is no reason why we should refuse to apply it to our advantage. When the Evangelist says that the scribes brought to him a woman, he means that it was done by an agreement among them, in order to lay traps for Christ. He expressly mentions the Pharisees, because they were the chief persons in the rank of scribes In adopting this pretense for slander, they display enormous wickedness, and even their own lips accuse them; for they do not disguise that they have a plain commandment of the Law, and hence it follows that they act maliciously in putting a question as if it were a doubtful matter. But their intention was, to constrain Christ to depart from his office of preaching grace, that he might appear to be fickle and unsteady. They expressly state that adulteresses are condemned by Moses, (Le 20:10,) that they may hold Christ bound by the sentence already given by the Law, for it was not lawful to acquit those whom the Law condemned; and, on the other hand, if he had consented to the Law, he might be thought to be somewhat unlike himself.
6. And Jesus stooping down. By this attitude he intended to show that he despised them. Those who conjecture that he wrote this or the other thing, in my opinion, do not understand his meaning. Nor do I approve of the ingenuity of Augustine, who thinks that in this manner the distinction between the Law and the Gospel is pointed out, because Christ did not write on tables of stone, (Ex 31:18,) but on man, who is dust and earth. For Christ rather intended, by doing nothing, to show how unworthy they were of being heard; just as if any person, while another was speaking to him, were to draw lines on the wall, or to turn his back, or to show, by any other sign, that he was not attending to what was said. Thus in the present day, when Satan attempts, by various methods, to draw us aside from the right way of teaching, we ought disdainfully to pass by many things which he holds out to us. The Papists teaze us, to the utmost of their power, by many trifling cavils, as if they were throwing clouds into the air. If godly teachers be laboriously employed in examining each of those cavils, they will begin to weave Penelope’s web; 208 and therefore delays of this sort, which do nothing but hinder the progress of the Gospel, are wisely disregarded.
7. He who is without sin among you. He said this according to the custom of the Law; for God commanded that the witnesses should, with their own hands, put malefactors to death, according to the sentence which had been pronounced on them; that greater caution might be used in bearing testimony, (De 17:7.) There are many who proceed rashly to overwhelm their brother by perjury, because they do not think that they inflict a deadly wound by their tongue. And this very argument, had weight with those slanderers, desperate as they were; for no sooner do they obtain a sight of it, than they lay aside those fierce passions with which they were swelled when they came. Yet there is this difference between the injunction of the Law and the words of Christ, that in the Law God merely enjoined that they should not condemn a man with the tongue, unless they were permitted to put him to death with their own hands; but here Christ demands from the witnesses perfect innocence, so that no man ought to accuse another of crime, unless he be pure, and free from every fault. Now what he said, at that time, to a few persons, we ought to view as spoken to all, that whoever accuses another, ought to impose on himself a law of innocence; otherwise, we do not pursue wicked actions, but rather are hostile to the persons of men.
In this way, however, Christ appears to take out of the world all judicial decisions, so that no man shall dare to say that he has a right to punish crimes. For shall a single judge be found, who is not conscious of having something that is wrong? Shall a single witness be produced who is not chargeable with some fault? He appears, therefore, to forbid all witnesses to give public testimony, and all judges to occupy the judgment-seat. I reply: this is not an absolute and unlimited prohibition, by which Christ forbids sinners to do their duty in correcting the sins of others; but by this word he only reproves hypocrites, who mildly flatter themselves and their vices, but are excessively severe, and even act the part of felons, in censuring others. No man, therefore, shall be prevented by his own sins from correcting the sins of others, and even from punishing them, when it may be found necessary, provided that both in himself and in others he hate what ought to be condemned; and in addition to all this, every man ought to begin by interrogating his own conscience, and by acting both as witness and judge against himself, before he come to others. In this manner shall we, without hating men, make war with sins.
9. And being reproved by their conscience. Here we perceive how great is the power of an evil conscience. Though those wicked hypocrites intended to entrap Christ by their cavils, yet as soon as he pierces their consciences by a single word, shame puts them to flight. This is the hammer with which we must break the pride of hypocrites. They must be summoned to the judgment-seat of God. Though it is possible that the shame, with which they were struck before men, had greater influence over them than the fear of God, still it is a great matter that, of their own accord, they acknowledge themselves to be guilty, when they thus fly away as if they were confounded. It is immediately added,
Beginning from the eldest even to the last. Our attention is drawn to this circumstance, that, according as each of them surpassed the others in honorable rank, he was the more quickly moved by his condemnation. And would to God that 209 our scribes, who in the present day sell their labors to the Pope to make war with Christ, had at least as much modesty as those men; but they are so destitute of shame that, while they have rendered themselves infamous by every detestable crime, they glory in the fact that they are permitted to be as abominable as they choose, without being punished. We ought also to observe how widely this conviction of sin, by which the scribes were affected, differs from true repentance. For we ought to be affected by the judgment of God in such a manner, that we shall not seek a place of concealment to avoid the presence of the Judge, but rather shall go direct to Him, in order to implore his forgiveness.
Jesus was left alone. This was brought about by the Spirit of wisdom, that those wicked men, having gained nothing by tempting Christ, went away. Nor is there any reason to doubt that we shall succeed in defeating all the contrivances of our enemies, provided that we permit ourselves to be governed by the same Spirit. But it frequently happens that they gain an advantage over us, because, not attending to their snares, we are not careful to take advice, or rather, trusting to our own wisdom, we do not consider how much we need the government of the Holy Spirit. He says that Christ remained alone; not that the people, whom he was formerly teaching, had left him, but because all the scribes, who had brought the adulteress, gave him no farther annoyance. When it is said that the woman remained with Christ, let us learn by this example that there is nothing better for us than to be brought, as guilty, to his tribunal, provided that we surrender ourselves mildly and submissively to his government.
11. Neither do I condemn thee. We are not told that Christ absolutely acquitted the woman, but that he allowed her to go at liberty. Nor is this wonderful, for he did not wish to undertake any thing that did not belong to his office. He bad been sent by the Father to gather the lost sheep, (Mt 10:6;) and, therefore, mindful of his calling, he exhorts the woman to repentance, and comforts her by a promise of grace. They who infer from this that adultery ought not to be punished with death, must, for the same reason, admit that inheritances ought not to be divided, because Christ refused to arbitrate in that matter between two brothers, (Lu 12:13.) Indeed, there will be no crime whatever that shall not be exempted from the penalties of the law, if adultery be not punished; for then the door will be thrown open for any kind of treachery, and for poisoning, and murder, and robbery. Besides, the adulteress, when she bears an unlawful child, not only robs the name of the family, but violently takes away the right of inheritance from the lawful offspring, and conveys it to strangers. But what is worst of all, the wife not only dishonors the husband to whom she had been united, but prostitutes herself to shameful wickedness, and likewise violates the sacred covenant of God, without which no holiness can continue to exist in the world.
Yet the Popish theology is, that in this passage Christ has brought to us the Law of grace, by which adulterers are freed from punishment. And though they endeavor, by every method, to efface from the minds of men the grace of God, such grace as is every where declared to us by the doctrine of the Gospel, yet in this passage alone they preach aloud the Law of grace. Why is this, but that they may pollute, with unbridled lust, almost every marriage-bed, and may escape unpunished? Truly, this is the fine fruit 210 which we have reaped from the diabolical system of celibacy, that they who are not permitted to marry a lawful wife can commit fornication without restraint. But let us remember that, while Christ forgives the sins of men, he does not overturn political order, or reverse the sentences and punishments appointed by the laws.
Go, and sin no more. Hence we infer what is the design of the grace of Christ. It is, that the sinner, being reconciled to God, may honor the Author of his salvation by a good and holy life. In short, by the same word of God, when forgiveness is offered to us, we are likewise called to repentance. Besides, though this exhortation looks forward to the future, still it humbles sinners by recalling to remembrance their past life.
12. Therefore Jesus spoke again to them, saying, I am the light of the world; he who followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. 13. The Pharisees therefore said to him, Thou testifiest concerning thyself, thy testimony is not true. 211 14. Jesus answered, and said to them, Though I testify concerning myself, my testimony is true: 212 for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but you know not whence I come, and whither I go.
12. I am the light of the world. Those who leave out the former narrative, which relates to the adulteress, 213 connect this discourse of Christ with the sermon which he delivered on the last day of the assembly. It is a beautiful commendation of Christ, when he is called the light of the world; for, since we are all blind by nature, a remedy is offered, by which we may be freed and rescued from darkness and made partakers of the true light Nor is it only to one person or to another that this benefit is offered, for Christ declares that he is the light of the whole world; for by this universal statement he intended to remove the distinction, not only between Jews and Gentiles, but between the learned and ignorant, between persons of distinction and the common people.
But we must first ascertain what necessity there is for seeking this light; for men will never present themselves to Christ to be illuminated, until they have known both that this world is darkness, and that they themselves are altogether blind. Let us therefore know that, when the manner of obtaining this light is pointed out to us in Christ, we are all condemned for blindness, and everything else which we consider to be light is compared to darkness, and to a very dark night. For Christ does not speak of it as what belongs to him in common with others, but claims it as being peculiarly his own. Hence it follows, that out of Christ there is not even a spark of true light There may be some appearance of brightness, but it resembles lightning, which only dazzles the eyes. It must also be observed, that the power and office of illuminating is not confined to the personal presence of Christ; for though he is far removed from us with respect to his body, yet he daily sheds his light upon us, by the doctrine of the Gospel, and by the secret power of his Spirit. Yet we have not a full definition of this light, unless we learn that we are illuminated by the Gospel and by the Spirit of Christ, that we may know that the fountain of all knowledge and wisdom is hidden in him.
He who followeth me. To the doctrine he adds an exhortation, which he immediately afterwards confirms by a promise. For when we learn that all who allow themselves to be governed by Christ are out of danger of going astray, we ought to be excited to follow him, and, indeed, by stretching out his hand — as it were — he draws us to him. We ought also to be powerfully affected by so large and magnificent a promise, that they who shall direct their eyes to Christ are certain that, even in the midst of darkness, they will be preserved from going astray; and that not only for a short period, but until they have finished their course. For that is the meaning of the words used in the future tense, he shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life Such is also the import of this latter clause, in which the perpetuity of life is stated in express terms. We ought not to fear, therefore, lest it leave us in the middle of the journey, for it conducts us even to life The genitive of life, in accordance with the Hebrew idiom, is employed, instead of the adjective, to denote the effect; as if he had said, the life-giving light We need not wonder that such gross darkness of errors and superstitions prevails in the world, in which there are so few that have their eyes fixed on Christ.
13. The Pharisees therefore said. They adduce as an objection what is commonly said, that no man ought to be trusted, when speaking in his own cause. For a true testimony is put for “what is lawful and worthy of credit.” In short, they mean that it is of no use for him to speak, unless he bring proof from some other quarter.
14. Though I testify concerning myself. Christ replies, that his testimony possesses sufficient credit and authority, because he is not a private person belonging to the great body of men, but holds a very different station. For when he says, that he knoweth whence he came, and whither he goeth, he thus excludes himself from the ordinary rank of men. The meaning therefore is, that every man is heard with suspicion in his own cause, and it is provided by the laws, that no man shall be believed, when he speaks for his own advantage. But this does not apply to the Son of God, who holds a rank above the whole world; for he is not reckoned as belonging to the rank of men, but has received from his Father this privilege, to reduce all men to obedience to him by a single word.
I know whence I came. By these words he declares that his origin is not from the world, but that he proceeded from God, and therefore that it would be unjust and unreasonable that his doctrine, which is Divine, should be subjected to the laws of men. But as he was at that time clothed with the form of a servant, in consequence of which they despised him on account of the mean condition of the flesh, he sends them away to the future glory of his resurrection, from which his Divinity, formerly hidden and unknown, received a clear demonstration. That intermediate condition, therefore, ought not to have prevented the Jews from submitting to God’s only ambassador, who had been formerly promised to them in the Law.
But you know not whence I came, and whither I go. He means that his glory is not at all diminished by their unbelief. Again, as he has given the same testimony to us, our faith ought to despise all the reports and slanders of wicked men; for it cannot be founded upon God without rising far above the loftiest pride of the world. But in order that we may perceive the majesty of his Gospel, we ought always to direct our eyes to the heavenly glory of the Son of God, 214 and to hear him speaking in the world, so as to remember whence he came, and what authority he now possesses, after having discharged his embassy. For as he humbled himself for a time, so now he is highly exalted 215 at the right hand of the Father, that every knee may bow to him, (Php 2:10.)
15. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no man. 16. And if I judge, my judgment is true; 216 for I am not alone, but I and the Father, who hath sent me. 17. It is even written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. 18. I am one who testify concerning myself, and the Father who hath sent me testifieth concerning me. 19. They said therefore to him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, You neither know me nor my Father. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. 20. These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, teaching in the temple; and no man seized him, because his hour was not yet come.
15. You judge according to the flesh. This may be explained in two ways; either that they judge according to the wicked views of the flesh, or that they judge according to the appearance of the person. For the flesh sometimes denotes the outward appearance of a man; and both meanings agree well with this passage, since wherever either the feelings of the flesh prevail, or a regard to the person regulates the judgment, neither truth nor justice dwells. But I think that the meaning will be more certain, if you contrast the flesh with the Spirit, understanding his meaning to be, that they are not lawful and competent judges, because they have not the Spirit for their guide.
I judge no man. Here, too, commentators differ. Some distinguish it thus, that he does not judge as man. Others refer it to the time, that while he was on earth, he did not undertake the office of a Judge Augustine gives both expositions, but does not decide between them. But the former distinction cannot at all apply. For this sentence contains two clauses, that Christ does not judge, and that if he judge, his judgment is solid and just, because it is divine. As to the former clause, therefore, in which he says that he does not judge, I confine it to what belongs peculiarly to this passage. For in order the more fully to convict his enemies of pride, he employs this comparison, that they unjustly assume the liberty to judge, and yet cannot condemn him, while he merely teaches and abstains from performing the office of a judge.
16. And if I judge, He adds this correction, that he may not appear entirely to surrender his right. If I judge, says he, my judgment is true, that is, it is entitled to authority. Now the authority arises from this consideration, that he does nothing but according to the commandment of the Father.
For I am not alone. This phrase amounts to an affirmative, that he is not one of the ordinary rank of men, but that he must be considered along with the office which was assigned to him by the Father. But why does he not rather make an open assertion of his Divinity, as he might truly and justly have done? The reason is, that as his Divinity was concealed under the veil of the flesh, he brings forward his Father, in whom it was more manifest. Still, the object of the discourse is, to show that all that he does and teaches ought to be accounted Divine.
17. Even in your law it is written. The argument might, at first sight, appear to be weak, because no man is received as a witness in his own cause. But we ought to remember what I have already said, that the Son of God 217 ought to be excluded from the ordinary number of other men, 218 because he neither is a private individual, nor transacts his own private business. As to his distinguishing himself from his Father, by doing so he accommodates himself to the capacity of his hearers, and that on account of his office, because he was at that time a servant of the Father, from whom, therefore, he asserts that all his doctrine has proceeded.
19. Where is thy father? There can be no doubt whatever, that it was in mockery that they inquired about his Father For not only do they, with their wonted pride, treat contemptuously what he had said about the Father, but they likewise ridicule him for talking loftily about his Father, as if he had drawn his birth from heaven. By these words, therefore, they mean that they do not value so highly Christ’s Father, as to ascribe any thing to the Son on his account. And the reason why there are so many in the present day who, with daring presumption, despise Christ, is, that few consider that God has sent him.
You neither know me nor my Father. He does not deign to give them a direct reply, but in a few words reproaches them with the ignorance in which they flattered themselves. They inquired about the Father; and yet when they had the Son before their eyes, seeing, they did not see, (Mt 13:13.) It was therefore a just punishment of their pride and wicked ingratitude, that they who despised the Son of God, who had been familiarly offered to them, never approached to the Father For how shall any mortal man ascend to the height of God, unless he be raised on high by the hand of his Son? God in Christ condescended to the mean condition of men, so as to stretch out his hand; and do not those who reject God, when he thus approaches to them, deserve to be excluded from heaven?
Let us know that the same thing is spoken to us all; for whoever aspires to know God, and does not begin with Christ, must wander — as it were — in a labyrinth; for it is not without good reason that Christ is called the image of the Father, as has been already said. Again, as all who, leaving Christ, attempt to rise to heaven, after the manner of the giants, 219 are destitute of all right knowledge of God, so every man who shall direct his mind and all his senses to Christ, will be led straight to the Father. For on good grounds does God declare that,
by the mirror of the Gospel, we clearly behold God in the person of Christ,
And certainly it is an astonishing reward of the obedience of faith, that whosoever humbles himself before the Lord Jesus, 220 penetrates above all the heavens, even to those mysteries which the angels behold and adore.
20. These words spoke Jesus in the treasury. The treasury was a part of the temple where the sacred offerings were laid up. It was a much frequented place, and hence we infer that this sermon was delivered by Christ amidst a large assembly of men, so that the people had less excuse. The Evangelist likewise holds out to us the astonishing power of God in this respect, that they were constrained to endure Christ openly teaching in the temple, though but lately they sought to seize him, and put him to death. For since they held an undisputed sway in the temple, so that they ruled there with the fierceness of tyrants, they might have banished Christ from it by a single word. And when he ventured to take upon himself the office of a teacher, why do they not instantly lay violent hands on him? We see then that God caused men to hear him, and guarded him by his protection, so that those savage beasts did not touch him, though they had their throats opened to swallow him. 221 The Evangelist again mentions his hour, that we may learn that it is not by the will of men, but by the will of God, that we live and die.
21. Jesus therefore spake again to them, I go, and you shall seek me, and you shall die in your sin. Whither I go, you cannot come. 22. The Jews therefore said, Will he kill himself? Because he saith, Whither I go, you cannot come. 23. Then 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 shall die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am, you shall die in your sins.
21. I go. Perceiving that he is doing no good among these obstinate men, he threatens their destruction; and this is the end of all those who reject the Gospel. For it is not thrown uselessly into the air, but must breathe the odour either of life or of death, (2Co 2:16.) The meaning of these words amounts to this. “The wicked will at length feel how great loss they have suffered by rejecting Christ, when he freely offers himself to them. They will feel it, but it will be too late, for there will be no more room for repentance.” And to alarm them still more by showing them that their judgment is near at hand, in the first place, he says that he will soon go away, by which he means that the Gospel is preached to them only for a short time, and that if they allow this opportunity to pass away, the accepted time and the days appointed for salvation (Isa 49:8; 2Co 6:2) will not always last. Thus also, in the present day, when Christ knocks at our door, we ought to go immediately to meet him, lest he be wearied by our slothfulness and withdraw from us. And indeed we have learned, by many experiments in all ages, how greatly this departure of Christ is to be dreaded.
And you shall seek me. We must first ascertain in what manner the persons now spoken of sought Christ; for if they had been truly converted, they would not have sought him in vain; because he has not falsely promised that, as soon as a sinner groans, he will be ready to assist him. Christ does not mean, therefore, that they sought him by the right way of faith, but that they sought him, as men, overwhelmed by the extremity of anguish, look for deliverance on every hand. For unbelievers would desire to have God reconciled to them, but yet they do not cease to fly from him. God calls them; the approach consists in faith and repentance; but they oppose God by hardness of heart, and, overwhelmed with despair, they exclaim against him. In short, they are so far from desiring to enjoy the favor of God, that they do not give him permission to assist them, unless he deny himself, which he will never do.
In this manner, however wicked the scribes were, they would willingly have applied to themselves the redemption which had been promised by the hand of the Messiah, provided that Christ would transform himself, to suit their natural disposition. Wherefore, by these words Christ threatens and denounces to all unbelievers, that, after having despised the doctrine of the Gospel, they will be seized with such anguish, that they shall be constrained to cry to God, but their howling will be of no avail; because, as we have already said, seeking, they do not seek And this is still more plainly expressed in the next clause, when he says, you shall die in your sin; for he shows that the cause of their destruction will be, that they were disobedient and rebellious to the very last. What is the nature of their sin we shall presently see.
22. Will he kill himself? The scribes persevere not only in fearless scorn, but likewise in effrontery; for they ridicule what he had said, that they cannot follow whither he shall go; as if they had said, “If he kill himself, we acknowledge that we cannot accompany him, because we do not choose to do so.” They regarded Christ’s absence as a matter of no moment, and thought that in all respects they would gain a victory over him; and so they bid him begone wherever he pleases. Shocking stupidity! But thus does Satan infatuate the reprobate, that, intoxicated with more than brutal indifference, 222 they may throw themselves into the midst of the flame of the wrath of God. Do we not in the present day behold the same rage in many who, having stupified their consciences, insolently play off their jests and buffoonery on every thing that they hear about the dreadful judgment of God? Yet it is certain that this is an affected or sardonic smile, for they are pierced inwardly with unseen wounds; but all on a sudden, like men bereft of their senses, they burst out into furious laughter.
23. You are from beneath, I am from above. As they did not deserve that he should teach them, he wished only to strike them with reproofs conveyed in few words, as in this passage he declares that they do not receive his doctrine, because they have an utter dislike of the kingdom of God. Under the words, world and beneath, he includes all that men naturally possess, and thus points out the disagreement which exists between his Gospel and the ingenuity and sagacity of the human mind; for the Gospel is heavenly wisdom, but our mind grovels on the earth. No man, therefore, will ever be qualified to become a disciple of Christ, till Christ has formed him by his Spirit. And hence it arises that faith is so seldom found in the world, because all mankind are naturally opposed and averse to Christ, except those whom he elevates by the special grace of his Holy Spirit.
24. You shall die in your sins. Having formerly employed the singular number, in your sin, he now resorts to the plural number, in your sins; but the meaning is the same, except that in the former passage he intended to point out that unbelief is the source and cause of all evils. Not that there are no other sins but unbelief, 223 or that it is unbelief alone which subjects us to the condemnation of eternal death before God, as some men too extravagantly talk; but because it drives us away from Christ, and deprives us of his grace, from which we ought to expect deliverance from all our sins. That the Jews reject the medicine with obstinate malice, is their mortal disease; and hence it arises that the slaves of Satan do not cease to heap up sins on sins, and continually to bring down upon themselves fresh condemnations. And, therefore, he immediately adds, —
If you do not believe that I am. For there is no other way for lost men to recover salvation, but to betake themselves to Christ. The phrase, that I am, is emphatic; for, in order to make the meaning complete, we must supply all that the Scripture ascribes to the Messiah, and all that it bids us expect from him. But the sum and substance is — the restoration of the Church, the commencement of which is the light of faith, from which proceed righteousness and a new life. Some of the ancient writers have deduced from this passage the Divine essence of Christ; but that is a mistake, for he speaks of his office towards us. This statement is worthy of observation; for men never consider sufficiently the evils in which they are plunged; and though they are constrained to acknowledge their destruction, yet they neglect Christ, and look around them, in every direction, for useless remedies. Wherefore we ought to believe that, until the grace of Christ be manifested to deliver us, nothing but a boundless mass of all evils reigns perpetually in us. 224
25. Then they said to him. Who art thou? Jesus said to them, From the beginning, 225 because I also speak to you. 226 26. I have many things to speak and judge of you; but he who hath sent me is true, and I speak to the world those things which I have heard from him. 27. They knew not that he spoke to them of the Father. Jesus therefore said to them, 28. When you shall have exalted the Son of man, then shall you know that I am, and that I do nothing of myself; but as the Father hath taught me, I speak. 29. And he who hath sent me is with me. The Father hath not left me alone, because I always do the things which please him.
25. From the beginning. They who translate the words τὴν ἀρχὴν, as if they had been in the nominative case, I am the beginning, 227 and as if Christ were here asserting his eternal Divinity, are greatly mistaken. There is no ambiguity of this sort in the Greek, but still the Greek commentators also differ as to the meaning. All of them, indeed, are agreed that a preposition must be understood; but many give to it the force of an adverb, as if Christ had said, “This ought first (τὴν ἀρχὴν) to be observed.” Some too — among whom is Chrysostom — render it continuously thus: The beginning, who also speak to you, I have many things to say and judge of you This meaning has been put into verse by Nonnus. 228
28. When you shall have exalted the Son of man. Offended at that stupidity which the Evangelist has described, Christ again declares that they do not deserve that he should open his mouth to speak to them any more. 230 “You now,” says he, “have all your senses — as it were — fascinated, and, therefore, you understand nothing of all that I say; but the time will yet come, when you shall know that a Prophet of God has lived among you, and has spoken to you.” This is the manner in which we ought to deal with wicked men; we ought expressly to summon them to the judgment-seat of God. But this knowledge, which Christ speaks of, comes too late, when the reprobate and unbelievers, 231 dragged to punishment, reluctantly acknowledge that God, to whom they ought mildly to have given honor and reverence, is their Judge. For he does not promise them repentance, but declares that, after they have been struck with new and unexpressed horror at the wrath of God, they will be aroused from that sleep in which they now repose. Thus Adam’s eyes were opened, so that, overwhelmed with shame, he sought in vain for places of concealment, and ultimately was convinced that he was ruined. Yet that knowledge of Adam, which was in itself useless, turned to his advantage through the grace of God; but the reprobate, being overwhelmed with despair, have their eyes opened only for this purpose, that they may perceive their destruction. To this kind of knowledge God conducts them in a variety of ways. Sometimes it happens that, constrained by heavy afflictions, they learn that God is angry with them; sometimes, without any outward punishment, he inwardly torments them; and, at other times, he permits them to sleep until he call them out of the world.
By the term exalt Christ points out his own death. He mentions his death, in order to warn them that, though they destroy him according to the flesh, they will gain nothing by it; as if he had said, “Now you treat me with haughty scorn, while I speak to you; but ere long your wickedness will proceed farther, even so far as to put me to death. Then will you triumph, as if you had gained your wish, but within a short time you shall feel, to your utter ruin, how widely my death differs from destruction.” He employs the word exalt, in order to vex them the more. Their intention was to plunge Christ into the lowest hell. He tells them that they will be completely disappointed, and that the event will be altogether contrary to what they thus expect. He may, indeed, have intended to allude to the outward form of his death, that he was to be lifted up on the cross; but he looked chiefly to the glorious result of it, which soon afterwards followed, contrary to the expectation of all. True, indeed, in the cross itself he gained a splendid triumph over Satan, before God and the angels, by blotting out the hand-writing of sin, and cancelling the condemnation of death, (Col 2:14;) but it was only after that the Gospel had been preached, that this triumph began to be made known to men. The same thing which happened shortly afterwards — that Christ rose out of the grave, and ascended to heaven — is what we ought daily to expect; for, notwithstanding all the contrivances of wicked men to oppress Christ in his Church, not only will he rise in spite of them, but he will turn their wicked efforts into the means of promoting the progress of his kingdom.
That I am. I have already stated that this does not refer to Christ’s Divine essence, but to his office; which appears still more clearly from what follows, when he affirms that he does nothing but by the command of the Father; for this means, that he was sent by God, and that he performs his office faithfully.
And that I do nothing of myself. That is, I do not put myself forward, to attempt anything rashly. Again, the word speak, refers to the same thing, that is, to the office of teaching; for when Christ wishes to prove that he does nothing but by the commandment of the Father, he says that he speaks as he has been taught by Him. The meaning of the words, therefore, may be summed up thus: In the whole of these proceedings, which you condemn, no part is my own, but I only execute what God has enjoined upon me; the words which you hear from my mouth are his words, and my calling, of which He is the Author, is directed by him alone. Let us remember, however, what I have sometimes mentioned already, that these words are accommodated to the capacity of the hearers. For, since they thought that Christ was only one of the ordinary rank of men, he asserts that whatever in him is Divine is not his own; meaning that it is not of man or by man; because the Father teaches us by him, and appoints him to be the only Teacher of the Church; and for this reason he affirms that he has been taught by the Father
29. And he who hath sent me is with me. He again boasts that God, under whose guidance and authority he does every thing, will assist him, so that he shall not labor in vain and to no purpose, as if he had said, that the power of the Spirit of God accompanies his ministry. All faithful teachers ought to be endued with the same confidence, so as to entertain no doubt that the hand of God will be near them, when, with a pure conscience, they discharge such a ministry as he demands. For God does not furnish them with his word, in order that they may strike the air with an idle and useless sound, but makes his word successful by the secret efficacy of his Spirit, and at the same time guards them by his protection, that, when their enemies shall have been subdued, they may remain invincible against the whole world. And, indeed, if they judge of themselves and their own powers, they must give way every hour; so that the only method of pursuing is, to be convinced that they are supported by the hand of God.
Because I do always the things which please him. We must observe the reason why Christ declares that God is on his side, and that he will never be deprived of his assistance. It is, because he is regulated entirely by his will, and serves him in sincerity. For this is what he means by the word always, that he does not obey God only in part, but is entirely and unreservedly devoted to his service. Wherefore, if we desire to enjoy the same presence of God, our whole reason must be subjected to his authority; for if our senses hold the government in any degree, all our exertions will be fruitless, because the blessing of God will not be on them. And though for a time we may be delighted with the joyful prospect of success, yet the final result will be dismal.
The Father hath not left me alone By these words, he indirectly complains of the treachery of his nation, in which he found scarcely any that gave him their support. Yet he shows that he reckons this alone to be abundantly sufficient, that he has God to protect him. Such is the courage with which we ought to be animated in the present day, that we may not give way on account of the small number of believers; for, though the whole world be opposed to his doctrine, still we are not alone Hence, too, it is evident how foolish is the boasting of the Papists, who, while they neglect God, proudly boast of their vast numbers.
30. While he spoke these things, many believed on him. 31. Jesus therefore said to the Jews who believed on him, If you continue in my word, you shall be truly my disciples. 32. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33. They answered, We are Abraham’s seed, and never were enslaved to any one; how then sayest thou, You shall be free? 34. Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say to you, That every man who committeth sin is the slave of sin. 232 35. And the slave 233 remaineth not always in the house, but the son remaineth always. 36. If the Son then shall make you free, you shall be truly free. 37. I know that you are the seed of Abraham, but you seek to kill me, because my word dwelleth not in you. 234 38. I speak what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.
30. While he spoke these things. Though the Jews, at that time, almost resembled a dry and barren soil, yet God did not permit the seed of his word to be entirely lost. Thus, contrary to all hopes, and amidst so many obstructions, some fruit appears. But the Evangelist inaccurately gives the name of faith to that which was only a sort of preparation for faith For he affirms nothing higher concerning them than that they were disposed to receive the doctrine of Christ, to which also the preceding warning refers.
31. If you continue in my word. Here Christ warns them, in the first place, that it is not enough for any one to have begun well, if their progress to the end do not correspond to it; and for this reason he exhorts to perseverance in the faith those who have tasted of his doctrine. When he says that they who are firmly rooted in his word, so as to continue in him, will truly be his disciples, he means that many profess to be disciples who yet are not so in reality, and have no right to be accounted such. He distinguishes his followers from hypocrites by this mark, that they who falsely boasted of faith give way as soon as they have entered into the course, or at least in the middle of it; but believers persevere constantly to the end. If, therefore, we wish that Christ should reckon us to be his disciples, we must endeavor to persevere.
32. And you shall know the truth. He says, that they who have arrived at some knowledge of it shall know the truth True, those whom Christ addresses were as yet uneducated, and scarcely knew the first elements, and therefore we need not wonder if he promises them a more full understanding of his doctrine. But the statement is general. Wherefore, whatever progress any of us have made in the Gospel, let him know that he needs new additions. This is the reward which Christ bestows on their perseverance, that he admits them to greater familiarity with him; though in this way he does nothing more than add another gift to the former, so that no man ought to think that he is entitled to any reward. For it is he who impresses his word on our hearts by his Spirit, and it is he who daily chases away from our minds the clouds of ignorance which obscure the brightness of the Gospel. In order that the truth may be fully revealed to us, we ought sincerely and earnestly to endeavor to attain it. It is the same unvarying truth which Christ teaches his followers from the beginning to the end, but on those who were at first enlightened by him, as it were with small sparks, he at length pours a full light. Thus believers, until they have been fully confirmed, are in some measure ignorant of what they know; and yet it is not so small or obscure a knowledge of faith as not to be efficacious for salvation.
The truth shall make you free. He commends the knowledge of the Gospel from the fruit which we derive from it, or — which is the same thing — from its effect, namely, that it restores us to freedom This is an invaluable blessing. Hence it follows, that nothing is more excellent or desirable than the knowledge of the Gospel. All men feel and acknowledge that slavery is a very wretched state; and since the Gospel delivers us from it, it follows that we derive from the Gospel the treasure of a blessed life.
We must now ascertain what kind of liberty is here described by Christ, namely, that which sets us free from the tyranny of Satan, sin, and death. And if we obtain it by means of the Gospel, it is evident from this that we are by nature the slaves of sin. Next, we must ascertain what is the method of our deliverance. For so long as we are governed by our sense and by our natural disposition, we are in bondage to sin; but when the Lord regenerates us by his Spirit, he likewise makes us free, so that, loosed from the snares of Satan, we willingly obey righteousness. But regeneration proceeds from faith, and hence it is evident that freedom proceeds from the Gospel.
Let Papists now go and proudly vaunt of their free-will, but let us, who are conscious of our own slavery, glory in none but Christ our Deliverer. For the reason why the Gospel ought to be reckoned to have achieved our deliverance is, that it offers and gives us to Christ to be freed from the yoke of sin. Lastly, we ought to observe, that freedom has its degrees according to the measure of their faith; and therefore Paul, though clearly made free, still groans and longs after perfect freedom, (Ro 7:24.)
33. We are Abraham’s seed. It is uncertain if the Evangelist here introduces the same persons who formerly spoke, 235 or others. My opinion is, that they replied to Christ in a confused manner, as usually happens in a promiscuous crowd; and that this reply was made rather by despisers than by those who believed. It is a mode of expression very customary in Scripture, whenever the body of a people is mentioned, to ascribe generally to all what belongs only to a part.
Those who object that they are Abraham’s seed, and have always been free, easily inferred from the words of Christ that freedom was promised to them as to people who were slaves But they cannot endure to have it said that they, who are a holy and elect people, are reduced to slavery For of what avail was the adoption and the covenant, (Ro 9:4,) by which they were separated from other nations, but because they were accounted the children of God? They think, therefore, that they are insulted, when freedom is exhibited to them as a blessing which they do not yet possess. But it might be thought strange that they should maintain that they never were enslaved, since they had been so frequently oppressed by various tyrants, and at that time were subjected to the Roman yoke, and groaned under the heaviest burden of slavery; and hence it may be easily seen how foolish was their boasting.
Yet they had this plausible excuse, that the unjust sway of their enemies did not hinder them from continuing to be free by right. But they erred, first, in this respect, that they did not consider that the right of adoption was founded on the Mediator alone; for how comes it that Abraham’s seed is free, but because, by the extraordinary grace of the Redeemer, it is exempted from the general bondage of the human race? But there was another error less tolerable than the former, that, though they were altogether degenerate, yet they wished to be reckoned among the children of Abraham, and did not consider that it is nothing else than the regeneration of the Spirit that makes them lawful children of Abraham And indeed, it has been too common a vice in almost all ages, to refer to the origin of the flesh the extraordinary gifts of God, and to ascribe to nature those remedies which Christ bestows for correcting nature. Meanwhile, we see how all who, swelled with false confidence, flatter themselves on their condition drive away from them the grace of Christ. And yet this pride is spread over the whole world, so that there is scarcely one person in a hundred who feels that he needs the grace of God.
34. Every man who committeth sin is the slave of sin. This is an argument drawn from contrary things. They boasted that they were free. He proves that they are the slaves of sin, because, being enslaved by the desires of the flesh, they continually sin. It is astonishing that men are not convinced by their own experience, so that, laying aside their pride, they may learn to be humble. And it is a very frequent occurrence in the present day, that, the greater the load of vices by which a man is weighed down, the more fiercely does he utter unmeaning words in extolling free-will.
Christ appears to say nothing more here than what was formerly said by philosophers, that they who are devoted to their lusts are subject to the most degrading slavery. But there is a deeper and more hidden meaning; for he does not argue what evil men bring on themselves, but what is the condition of human nature. The philosophers thought that any man is a slave by his own choice, and that by the same choice he returns to freedom. But here Christ maintains, that all who are not delivered by him are in a state of slavery, and that all who derive the contagion of sin from corrupted nature are slaves from their birth. We must attend to the comparison between grace and nature, on which Christ here dwells; from which it may be easily seen that men are destitute of freedom, unless they regain it from some other quarter. Yet this slavery is voluntary, so that they who necessarily sin are not compelled to sin.
35. Now the slave remaineth not in the house always. He adds a comparison, taken from the laws and from political law, to the effect that a slave, though he may have power for a time, yet is not the heir of the house; from which he infers that there is no perfect and durable freedom, but what is obtained through the Son In this manner he accuses the Jews of vanity, because they hold but a mask instead of the reality; for, as to their being Abraham’s offspring, they were nothing but a mask. They held a place in the Church of God, but such a place as Ishmael, a slave, rising up against his freeborn brother, usurped for a short time, (Ga 4:29.) The conclusion is, that all who boast of being Abraham’s children have nothing but an empty and deceitful pretense.
36. If then the Son shall make you free. By these words he means that the right of freedom belongs to himself alone, and that all others, being born slaves, cannot be delivered but by his grace. For what he possesses as his own by nature he imparts to us by adoption, when we are ingrafted by faith into his body, and become his members. Thus we ought to remember what I said formerly, that the Gospel is the instrument by which we obtain our freedom So then our freedom is a benefit conferred by Christ, but we obtain it by faith, in consequence of which also Christ regenerates us by his Spirit. When he says that they shall be truly free, there is an emphasis on the word truly; for we must supply the contrast with the foolish persuasion by which the Jews were swelled with pride, in like manner as the greater part of the world imagine that they possess a kingdom, while they are in the most wretched bondage.
37. I know that you are Abraham’s seed. I explain this as said by way of concession. Yet at the same time he ridicules their folly in glorying in so absurd a title, as if he had said: “Granting that on which you flatter yourselves so much, still what avails it that those men are called the children of Abraham, who are enraged against God and his ministers, and who are actuated by such wicked and detestable hatred of the truth, that they rush headlong to shed innocent blood?” Hence it follows that nothing is farther from their true character than what they wished to be called, because they have no resemblance to Abraham
You seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you. He means that they are not merely murderers, but are driven to such rage by hatred of God and his truth, which is far more heinous; for such an enormity does not merely extend to men, but likewise dishonors God. He says, that they cannot receive his words, because through malice they keep their minds shut, so that they cannot admit anything wholesome.
38. I speak what I have seen with my Father. He had already made frequent mention of his Father; and now, by an argument drawn from contrary things, he infers that they are enemies to God, and are the children of the devil, because they oppose his doctrine. “For my part,” says he, “I bring nothing forward, but what I have learned from my Father. How comes it then that the word of God excites you to such fury, but because you have an opposite father?” He says that he speaks, and they do, because he discharged the office of a teacher, while they labored strenuously to extinguish his doctrine. At the same time, he protects the Gospel against contempt, by showing that it is not wonderful if it be opposed by the children of the devil Instead of you do, some render it, Do you what you have seen with your father; as if Christ had said, “Come, show that you are the children of the devil, by opposing me; for I speak nothing but what God has commanded.”
39. They answered, and said to him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith 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 have spoken to you the truth which I have heard from God: Abraham did not this. 41. You do the works of your father. They said therefore to him, We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, who is God. 42. Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded and came from God, for I did not proceed from myself, but he sent me.
39. Abraham is our father. This altercation shows plainly enough how haughtily and fiercely they despised all Christ’s reproofs. What they continually claim and vaunt of is, that they are Abraham’s children; by which they do not simply mean that they are the lineal descendants of Abraham, but that they are a holy race, the heritage of God, and the children of God. And yet they rely on nothing but the confidence of the flesh. But carnal descent, without faith, is nothing more than a false pretense. We now understand what it was that so greatly blinded them, so that they treated Christ with disdain, though armed with deadly thunder. Thus the word of God, which might move stones, is ridiculed in the present day by Papists, as if it were a fable, and fiercely persecuted by fire and sword; and for no other reason but that they rely on their false title of “the Church,” and hope that they will be able to deceive both God and man. In short, as soon as hypocrites have procured some plausible covering, they oppose God with hardened obstinacy, as if he could not penetrate into their hearts.
If you were the children of Abraham, you would do the works of Abraham. Christ now distinguishes more plainly between the bastard and degenerate children of Abraham, and the true and lawful children; 236 for he refuses to give the very name to all who do not resemble Abraham True, it frequently happens that children do not resemble, in their conduct, the parents from whom they are sprung; but here Christ does not argue about carnal descent, but only affirms that they who do not retain by faith the grace of adoption are not reckoned among the children of Abraham before God. For since God promised to the seed of Abraham that he would be their God, saying,
I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee,
all unbelievers, by rejecting this promise, excluded themselves from the family of Abraham.
The state of the question therefore is this: Ought they to be accounted Abraham’s children who reject the blessing offered to them in the word, so that, notwithstanding of this, they shall be a holy nation, the heritage of God, and a royal priesthood? (Ex 19:6; Joe 3:2.) Christ denies this, and justly; for they who are the children of the promise must be born again by the Spirit, and all who desire to obtain a place in the kingdom of God ought to be new creatures. Carnal descent from Abraham was not indeed useless, and of no value, provided that the truth were added to it. For election dwells in the seed of Abraham, but it is free, so that all whom God sanctifies by his Spirit are accounted heirs of life.
40. But now you seek to kill me. He proves from the effect, that they are not the children of God, as they boasted, because they oppose God. And, indeed, is there any thing in Abraham that is more highly commended than the obedience of faith? 237 This then is the mark of distinction, whenever we are required to distinguish between his children and strangers; for empty titles, whatever estimation they may procure before the world, are of no account with God. Christ therefore concludes again, that they are the children of the devil, because they hate with deadly hatred 238 true and sound doctrine.
41. We were not born of fornication. They claim no more for themselves than they did formerly, for it was the same thing with them to be Abraham’s children and to be God’s children. But they erred grievously in this respect, that they imagined that God was bound to the whole seed of Abraham. For they reason thus: “God adopted for himself the family of Abraham; therefore, since we are Abraham’s descendants, we must be the children of God.” We now see how they thought that they had holiness from the womb, because they were sprung from a holy root. In short, they maintain that they are the family of God, because they are descended from the holy fathers. In like manner, the Papists in the present day are exceedingly vain of an uninterrupted succession from the fathers. By sorceries of this description Satan deceives them, so that they separate God from his word, the Church from faith, and the kingdom of heaven from the Spirit.
Let us know, therefore, that they who have corrupted the seed of life are at the farthest remove from being the children of God, though, according to the flesh, they are not bastards, but pretend a right to the plausible title of the Church. For let them go about the bush as much as they please, still they will never avoid the discovery that the only ground of their arrogant boasting is, “We have succeeded the holy fathers; therefore, we are the Church.” And if the reply of Christ was sufficient for confuting the Jews, it is not less sufficient now for reproving the Papists. Never indeed will hypocrites cease to employ the name of God falsely, with most wicked effrontery; but those false grounds of boasting, on which they plume themselves, will never cease to appear ridiculous in the eyes of all who shall abide by the decision of Christ.
42. If God were your Father, you would love me. Christ’s argument is this: “Whoever is a child of God will acknowledge his first-born Son; but you hate me, and therefore you have no reason to boast, that you are God’s children.” We ought carefully to observe this passage, that there is no piety and no fear of God where Christ is rejected. Hypocritical religion, indeed, presumptuously shelters itself under the name of God; but how can they agree with the Father who disagree with his only Son? What kind of knowledge of God is that in which his lively image is rejected? And this is what Christ means, when he testifies that he came from the Father.
For I proceeded and came from God. He means that all that he has is divine; and therefore it is most inconsistent that the true worshippers of God should fly from his truth and righteousness. “I did not come,” says he, “of myself. You cannot show that anything about me is contrary to God. In short, you will find nothing that is either earthly or human in my doctrine, or in the whole of my ministry.” For he does not speak of his essence, but of his office.
43. Why do you not understand my language, that you cannot hear my word? 44. You are of your father the devil, and you wish to execute the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he did not remain in the truth, because there is no truth in him. 45. And because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
43. Why do you not understand my language? In this passage, he reproaches the Jews with their obstinacy, which was so great, that they could not even endure to hear him speak Hence he infers, that they are actuated and hurried away by diabolical rage. Some make a distinction here between language and speech, as if speech had a more extensive meaning; but I do not see it; 239 and besides, it would not be appropriate that the word which means less should be placed first. Many point this verse in such a manner as to make the question close with the word language; 240 as if the question consisted only of these words, Why do you not understand my language? So that the reason is immediately assigned, Because you cannot hear my word. But I think that it ought rather to be read in immediate connection, as if he had said, “What is the reason why my speech appears to you barbarous and unknown, so that I gain nothing by speaking to you, and so that you do not even deign to open your ears to receive what I say?” In the former clause, therefore, he reproves their stupidity; in the latter, he reproves their obstinate and ungovernable hatred of his doctrine; and he afterwards assigns a reason for both, when he says, that they are sprung from the devil For by putting the question, he intended to take out of their hands what was the subject of their continual boasting, that they are led by reason and judgment to oppose him.
44. You are of your father the devil. What he had twice said more obscurely, he now expresses more fully, that they are the devil’s children But we must supply the contrast, that they could not cherish such intense hatred to the Son of God, were it not that they had for their father the perpetual enemy of God. He calls them children of the devil, not only because they imitate him, but because they are led by his instigation to fight against Christ. For as we are called the children of God, not only because we resemble him, but because he governs us by his Spirit, because Christ lives and is vigorous in us, so as to conform us to the image of his Father; so, on the other hand, the devil is said to be the father or those whose understandings he blinds, whose hearts he moves to commit all unrighteousness, and on whom, in short, he acts powerfully and exercises his tyranny; as in 2Co 4:4; Eph 2:2, and in other passages.
The Manicheans foolishly and ineffectually abused this passage to prove their absurd tenets. For since, when Scripture calls us the children of God, this does not refer to the transmission or origin of the substance, but to the grace of the Spirit, which regenerates us to newness of life; so this swing of Christ does not relate to the transmission of substance, but to the corruption of nature, of which man’s revolt was the cause and origin. When men, therefore, are born children of the devil, it must not be imputed to creation, but to the blame of sin. Now Christ proves this from the effect, because they willingly, and of their own accord, are disposed to follow the devil.
He was a murderer from the beginning. He explains what are those desires, and mentions two instances, cruelty and falsehood; in which the Jews too much resembled Satan. When he says that the devil was a murderer, he means that he contrived the destruction of man; for as soon as man was created, Satan, impelled by a wicked desire of doing injury, bent his strength to destroy him. Christ does not mean the beginning of the creation, as if God implanted in him the disposition to do injury; but he condemns in Satan the corruption of nature, which he brought upon himself. This appears more clearly from the second clause, in which he says,
He did not remain in the truth. For though those who imagine that the devil was wicked by nature, endeavor to make evasions, yet these words plainly state that there was a change for the worse, and that the reason why Satan was a liar was, that he revolted from the truth That he is a liar, arises not from his nature having been always contrary to truth, but because he fell from it by a voluntary fall. This description of Satan is highly useful to us, that every person for himself may endeavor to beware of his snares, and, at the same time, to repel his violence and fury; for
he goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,
and has a thousand stratagems at his command for deceiving. So much the more ought believers to be supplied with spiritual arms for fighting, and so much the more earnestly ought they to keep watch with vigilance and sobriety. Now, if Satan cannot lay aside this disposition, we ought not to be alarmed at it, as if it were a new and uncommon occurrence, when errors exceedingly numerous and varied spring up; for Satan stirs up his followers like bellows, to deceive the world by their impostures. And we need not wonder that Satan puts forth such strenuous efforts to extinguish the light of truth; for it is the only life of the soul. So, then, the most important and most deadly wound for killing the soul is falsehood. As all who have eyes to see perceive, in the present day, such a picture of Satan in Popery, they ought, first, to consider with what enemy they carry on war, and, next, to betake themselves to the protection of Christ their Captain, under whose banner they fight.
Because the truth is not in him. This statement, which immediately follows the other, is a confirmation a posteriori, as the phrase is; that is, it is drawn from the effect. For Satan hates the truth, and therefore cannot endure it, but, on the contrary, is entirely covered with falsehoods. Hence Christ infers, that he is entirely fallen from the truth, and entirely turned away from it. Let us not wonder, therefore, if he daily exhibits the fruits of his apostacy.
When he speaketh falsehood. These words are generally explained as if Christ affirmed that the blame of falsehood does not belong to God, who is the Author of nature, but, on the contrary, proceeds from corruption. But I explain it more simply, that it is customary with the devil to speak falsehood, and that he knows nothing but to contrive corruptions, frauds, and delusions. And yet we justly infer from these words, that the devil has this vice from himself, and that, while it is peculiar to him, it may likewise be said to be accidental; for, while Christ makes the devil to be the contriver of lying, he evidently separates him from God, and even declares him to be contrary to God. For he is a liar, and the father of it The word father has the same object as the preceding statement; for the reason why Satan is said to be the father of falsehood is, because he is estranged from God, in whom alone truth dwells, and from whom it flows as from the only fountain.
45. But because I speak the truth. He confirms the preceding statement; for, since they have no other reason for opposing, but because truth is hateful and intolerable to them, they show plainly that they are the children of Satan.
46. Which of you convicteth me of sin? And if I speak truth, why do you not believe me? 47. He who is of God heareth the words of God; you hear them not, because you are not of God. 48. The Jews therefore answered, and said to him, Do we not say well, that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49. Jesus answered, I have not a devil, but I honor my Father, and you have dishonored me. 50. But I seek not my own glory; there is one who seeketh it, and judgeth of it. 241
46. Which of you? This question proceeds from perfect confidence; for, knowing that they could not justly bring any reproach against him, he glories over his enemies, as having obtained a victory. And yet he does not say that he is free from their slanders; for, though they had no reason for reproaching, still they did not cease to pour out slanders on Christ; but he means that no crime dwells in him. And such is the import of the Greek word ἐλέγχειν, as the Latins use coarguere, (to convict,) when a person is held convicted of the fact. Which of you Convicteth me of sin? Yet those who think that Christ here asserts his complete innocence, because he alone surpassed all men, so far as he was the Son of God, are mistaken. For this defense must be restricted to what belongs to the passage, as if he had asserted that nothing could be brought forward to show that he was not a faithful servant of God. In like manner Paul also glories that he is not conscious of any crime (1Co 4:4;) for that does not extend to the whole life, but is only a defense of his doctrine and apostleship. It is away from the subject, therefore, to speculate, as some do, about the perfection of righteousness which belongs to the Son of God alone; since the only object which he has in view is, to give authority to his ministry, as appears more clearly from what follows; for he again adds immediately afterwards, If I speak truth, why do you not believe me? From which we infer that Christ is rather defending his doctrine than his person.
47. He who is of God. As he has a full right to take this for granted, that he is the ambassador of the heavenly Father, and that he discharges faithfully the office which has been committed to him, he kindles into greater indignation against them; for their impiety was no longer concealed, since they were so obstinate in rejecting the word of God. He had showed that they could not bring forward any thing which he had not taught as from the mouth of God. He concludes, therefore, that they have nothing in common with God, for they do not hear the words of God; 242 and, without saying any thing about himself, he charges them with being at war with God. Besides, we are taught by this passage, that there is not a more evident sign of a reprobate mind, than when one cannot endure the doctrine of Christ, even though, in other respects, it shone with angelic sanctity; as, on the contrary, if we embrace that doctrine cheerfully, we have what may be called a visible seal of our election. For he who has the word enjoys God himself; but he who rejects it excludes himself from righteousness and life. Wherefore, there is nothing which we ought to fear so much as to fall under that dreadful sentence.
48. Do we not say well? They show more and more how greatly they are stupified by Satan; for, though they are fully convicted, still they are enraged, and are not ashamed to show that they are utterly desperate. 243 Besides, though they bring a double reproach against Christ, still they wish to do nothing more than to say in a few words, that he is a detestable man, and that he is actuated by a wicked spirit. The Jews reckoned the Samaritans to be apostates and corrupters of the Law; and therefore, whenever they wished to stamp a man with infamy, they called him a Samaritan. Having no crime more heinous, therefore, to reproach Christ with, they seize at random, and without judgment, this vulgar taunt. To express it in a few words, we see that with effrontery they curse him, as men are wont to do when, infuriated like enraged dogs, they cannot find any thing to say.
49. I have not a devil. He passes by the first charge, and clears himself only of the second. Some think that he did so, because he disregarded the insult offered to his person, and undertook only the defense of the doctrine. But they are mistaken, in my opinion; for it is not probable that the Jews were so ingenious in distinguishing between the life and the doctrine of the Lord Jesus. 244 Besides, the dislike of this name arose, as we have said, from this circumstance, that the Samaritans, being perverse and degenerate observers of the Law, had debased it by many superstitions and corruptions, and had polluted the whole worship of God by foreign inventions. Augustine flies to allegory, and says that Christ did not refuse to be called a Samaritan, because he is a true guardian of his flock. But Christ’s intention appears to me to have been different; for since the two reproaches cast upon him had the same object, by refuting the one, he refutes the other; and, indeed, if the matter be duly considered, they insulted him more grievously by calling him a Samaritan than by calling him a demoniac But, as I have already said, Christ satisfies himself with a simple refutation, which he draws from what is contrary, when he asserts that he labors to promote the honor of his Father; for he who duly and sincerely honors him must be guided by the Spirit of God, and must be a faithful servant of God.
You have dishonored me. This clause may be explained, as if it were a complaint of Christ, that he does not receive the honor due to him on account of his promoting the glory of God. But I think that he looks much higher, and connects the glory of the Father with his own, in this manner. “I claim nothing for myself which does not tend to the glory of God; for his majesty shines in me, his power and authority dwells in me; and therefore, when you treat me so disdainfully, you pour contempt on God himself.” He immediately adds, therefore, that God will revenge this insult. For they might have alleged that he was ambitious, if he had not testified that it was not from any personal feelings of a carnal nature that he cared about the honor or contempt showed to himself, but so far as the honor or contempt of God is concerned. Besides, though we are at a great distance from Christ, let every man be fully convinced that, if he be sincerely desirous to promote the glory of God, he will find that God has secured for him abundant commendation; for we shall always find that saying to be true,
Those who honor me, I will render honorable,
If men not only despise, but even load him with reproaches, let him calmly wait till the day of the Lord come.
51. Verily, verily, I say to you, If any man keep my word, he shall never see death. 52. The Jews said therefore to him, Now we know that thou hast the devil, 245 Abraham is dead, and the Prophets, and thou sayest, If any man keep my word, he shall never taste of death. 53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? The Prophets also are dead. Whom makest thou thyself? 54. Jesus answered, If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing; it is my Father who glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God. 55. And you know him not, but I know him; and if I say that I do not know him, I shall be a liar like you; but I know him, and keep his word.
51. Verily, verily, I say to you. Christ unquestionably knew that some persons in that multitude were curable, and that others of them were not opposed to his doctrine. For this reason, he intended to terrify the wicked whose malice was desperate, but to do so in such a manner as to leave ground of consolation for the good, or to draw to him those who were not yet ruined. Whatever dislike of the word of God, therefore, may be entertained by the greatest part of men, yet the faithful teacher ought not to be wholly employed in reproving the wicked, but ought also to impart the doctrine of salvation to the children of God, and endeavor to bring them to sound views, if there be any of them who are not perfectly incurable. In this passage, therefore, Christ promises eternal life to his disciples, but demands disciples who shall not only prick up their ears, like asses, or profess with the mouth that they approve of his doctrine, but who shall keep his doctrine as a precious treasure. He says that they shall never see death; for, when faith quickens the soul of a man, death already has its sting extracted and its venom removed, and so cannot inflict a deadly wound.
52. Now we know. The reprobate persist in their stupidity, and are not moved by promises any more than by threatenings; so that they can neither be led nor drawn to Christ. Some think that they slanderously torture his words, by using the expression, taste of death, which Christ had not used; but this appears to me to be groundless. I rather think that both of the phrases, to taste of death and to see death, were used by the Hebrews in the same sense; namely, to die But they are false interpreters in this respect, that they apply the spiritual doctrine of Christ to the body. No believer shall see death, because believers, having been born again of incorruptible seed, (1Pe 1:23,) live even when they die; because, united to Christ their Head, they cannot be extinguished by death; because death is to them a passage into the heavenly kingdom; because
the Spirit, dwelling in them, is life on account of righteousness,
until he swallow up all that remains of death. But those men, being carnal, cannot perceive any deliverance from death, unless it appear manifestly in the body. And it is a disease too common in the world, that the greatest part of men care almost nothing about the grace of Christ, because they judge of it only by their carnal perception. That the same thing may not happen to us, we must arouse our minds, that they may discern spiritual life in the midst of death.
53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham? This is another offense, that they endeavor to obscure the glory of Christ by the splendor of Abraham and of the saints. But as all the stars are thrown into the shade by the brightness of the sun, so all the glory that is to be found in all the saints must fade away before the incomparable brightness of Christ. They act unjustly and absurdly, therefore, in contrasting the servants with the Lord; and they even act improperly towards Abraham and the Prophets, by abusing their name in opposition to Christ. But this wickedness has prevailed in almost every age, and prevails even in the present day, that wicked men, by mangling the works of God, make him appear to be contrary to himself. God glorified himself by the Apostles and Martyrs; the Papists frame idols for themselves out of the Apostles and Martyrs, that they may occupy the place of God; and do they not, in this manner, manufacture engines out of the very favors of God, to destroy his power? For how little remains for God or for Christ, if the saints have all that the Papists so lavishly bestow upon them! Wherefore, we ought to know that the whole order of the Kingdom of God is destroyed, unless Prophets, Apostles, and all that can be called Saints, be placed far below Christ, that he alone may hold the highest rank. And, indeed, we cannot speak of the Saints more respectfully than when we place them below Christ. But the Papists, though they may deceive the ignorant by boasting that they are faithful admirers of the Saints, offer an insult both to God and to them, because, by assigning to them a lofty station, they reduce Christ to a level with them. And, indeed, they are doubly in the wrong, because they prefer the Saints to Christ in doctrine; and because, by clothing themselves with the spoils of Christ, they deprive him of almost all his power.
54. If I glorify myself. Before replying to that unjust comparison, he begins by saying that he does not seek his own glory, and thus meets their slander. If it be objected, that Christ also glorified himself, the answer is easy, that he did so, not as man, but by the direction and authority of God. For here, as in many other passages, he distinguishes between himself and God, by way of concession. In short, he declares that he desires no glory whatever but what has been given him by the Father. We are taught by these words that, when God glorifies his Son, he will not permit the world to hate or despise him 246 with impunity.
Meanwhile, those voices sounding from heaven, Kiss the Son, (Ps 2:12,) Let all the angels worship him, (Heb 1:6,) Let every knee bow to him, (Php 2:10,) Hear ye him, (Mt 17:5,) Let the Gentiles seek him, (Ro 15:11,) and Let all flesh be humbled, ought greatly to encourage believers to render honor and reverence to Christ. We are also reminded by these words, that all the honor which men procure for themselves is trivial and worthless. How blind then is ambition, when we labor so earnestly about nothing! Let, us continually keep before our eyes that saying of Paul,
Not he who commendeth himself is approved, but whom God commendeth,
Besides, as we are destitute of the glory of God, let us learn to glory in Christ alone, so far as by his grace he makes us partakers of his glory.
Of whom you say that he is your God. He pulls off from them the false mask of the name of God which they were accustomed to employ. “I know,” he says, “how presumptuously you boast that you are the people of God; but it is a false title, for you know not God.” Hence also we learn what is the true and lawful 247 profession of faith. It is that which proceeds from true knowledge. And whence comes that knowledge, but from the word? Consequently, all who boast of the name of God without the word of God are mere liars. Yet to their audacity Christ opposes the assurance of his conscience; and thus all the servants of God ought to be prepared in their hearts to be satisfied with this alone, that God is on their side, though the whole world should rise against him. Thus anciently the Prophets and Apostles had invincible courage and magnanimity, which stood firm against the dreadful attacks of the whole world, because they knew by whom they were sent. But when solid knowledge of God is wanting, there is nothing to support us.
And if I shall say that I know him. By this clause, Christ testifies that the necessity of his office constrains him to speak, because silence would be a treacherous denim of the truth. This is a remarkable statement, that God reveals himself to us for this purpose, that we may confess before men the faith which we have in our hearts, when it is needful. For it ought powerfully to strike terror into our minds, that they who act hypocritically to please men, and either deny the truth of God or disfigure it by wicked glosses, not only are gently reproved, but are sent back to the children of the devil.
56. Your father Abraham exulted to see my day; and he saw it and rejoiced. 57. The Jews then said to him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58. Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am. 59. Then they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus concealed himself, and went out of the temple.
56. Your father Abraham. He grants to them, in words only, what he formerly took from them, that Abraham is their father But he shows how idle is the objection drawn from the name of Abraham “He had no other object,” says he, “during his whole life, than to see my kingdom flourish. He longed for me when I was absent, you despise me when I am present.” What Christ here asserts concerning Abraham alone, applies to all the saints. But this doctrine has greater weight in the person of Abraham, because he is the father of the whole Church. Whoever then desires to be reckoned in the number of the godly, let him rejoice, as he ought to do, in the presence of Christ, for which Abraham ardently longed.
Exulted to see my day. The word exult expresses a vehement zeal 248 and ardent affection. We must now supply the contrast. Though the knowledge of Christ was still so obscure, Abraham was inflamed by so strong a desire, that he preferred the enjoyment of it to everything that was reckoned desirable. How base then is the ingratitude of those who despise and reject him, when he is plainly offered to them? The word day does not, in this passage, denote eternity, (as Augustine thought,) but the time of Christ’s kingdom, when he appeared in the world clothed with flesh, to fulfill the office of Redeemer.
But a question now arises, How did Abraham behold, even with the eyes of faith, the manifestation of Christ? For this appears not to agree with another statement of Christ,
Many kings and prophets desired to see the things which you see,
and yet did not see them,
I reply, faith has its degrees in beholding Christ. Thus the ancient prophets beheld Christ at a distance, as he had been promised to them, and yet were not permitted to behold him present, as he made himself familiarly and completely visible, when he came down from heaven to men.
Again, we are taught by these words that, as God did not disappoint the desire of Abraham, so he will not now permit any one to breathe after Christ, without obtaining some good fruit which shall correspond to his holy desire. The reason why he does not grant the enjoyment of himself to many is — the wickedness of men; for few desire him. Abraham’s joy testifies that he regarded the knowledge of the kingdom of Christ as an incomparable treasure; and the reason why we are told that he rejoiced to see the day of Christ is, that we may know that there was nothing which he valued more highly. But all believers receive this fruit from their faith, that, being satisfied with Christ alone, in whom they are fully and completely happy and blessed, their consciences are calm and cheerful. And indeed no man knows Christ aright, unless he gives him this honor of relying entirely upon him.
Others explain it to mean, that Abraham, being already dead, enjoyed the presence of Christ, when he appeared to the world; and so they make the time of desiring and the time of seeing to be different. And indeed it is true, that the coming of Christ was manifested to holy spirits after death, of which coming they were held in expectation during the whole of their life; but I do not know if so refined an exposition agrees with Christ’s words.
57. Thou art not yet fifty years old. They endeavor to refute Christ’s saying, by showing that he had asserted what was impossible, when he who was not yet fifty years of age makes himself equal to Abraham, who died many centuries before. Though Christ was not yet thirty-four years of age, yet they allow him to be somewhat older, that they may not appear to be too rigid and exact in dealing with him; as if they had said, “Thou certainly wilt not make thyself so old, though thou wert to boast that thou art already fifty years of age.” Consequently, those who conjecture that he looked older than he actually was, or that the years mentioned in this passage are not solar years, in either case labor to no purpose. The notion of Papias, who says that Christ lived more than forty years, cannot at all be admitted.
58. Before Abraham was. As unbelievers judge only from the appearance of the flesh, Christ reminds them that he has something greater and higher than human appearance, which is hidden from the senses of the flesh, and is perceived only by the eyes of faith; and that, in this respect, he might be seen by the holy fathers, before he was manifested in the flesh. But he uses different verbs. Before Abraham was, 249 or, Before Abraham was born, 250 I am. 251 But by these words he excludes himself from the ordinary rank of men, and claims for himself a power more than human, 252 a power heavenly and divine, the perception of which reached from the beginning of the world through all ages.
Yet these words may be explained in two ways. Some think that this applies simply to the eternal Divinity of Christ, and compare it with that passage in the writings of Moses, I am what I am, (Ex 3:14.) But I extend it much farther, because the power and grace of Christ, so far as he is the Redeemer of the world, was common to all ages. It agrees therefore with that saying of the apostle, Christ yesterday, and to-day, and for ever, (Heb 13:8.) For the context appears to demand this interpretation. He had formerly said that Abraham longed for his day with vehement desire; and as this seemed incredible to the Jews, he adds, that he himself also existed at that time. The reason assigned will not appear sufficiently strong, if we do not understand that he was even then acknowledged to be the Mediator, by whom God was to be appeased. And yet the efficacy which belonged, in all ages, to the grace of the Mediator depended on his eternal Divinity; so that this saying of Christ contains a remarkable testimony of his Divine essence.
We ought also to observe the solemn form of an oath, Verily, verily. Nor do I disapprove of the opinion of Chrysostom, that the present tense of the verb is emphatic; for he does not say, I was, but I am; by which he denotes a condition uniformly the same from the beginning to the end. And he does not say, Before Abraham was, but, Before Abraham was made; which implies that Abraham had a beginning.
59. Then they took up stones. There is reason to believe that they did this, as if Christ ought to be stoned according to the injunction of the Law, (Le 24:16.) Hence we infer how great is the madness of inconsiderate zeal; for they have no ears to know the cause, but they have hands ready to commit murder. I have no doubt that Christ rescued himself by his secret power, but yet under the appearance of a low condition; for he did not intend to make a clear display of his Divinity without leaving something for human infirmity. Some copies have the words, And so Jesus passed through the midst of them; which Erasmus justly considers to have been borrowed from the Gospel by Lu 4:30. It deserves notice also, that the wicked priests and scribes, after having banished Christ,
in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead,
retain possession of the outward temple; but they are greatly deceived, when they think that they have a temple in which God does not dwell. Such is the course now pursued by the Pope and his followers. After having banished Christ, and in this manner profaned the Church, they foolishly glory in the false disguise of a Church.
“S’enclinant en bas.” — “Stooping down.”
“Il se dressa.”
“Ce sera toujours a recommencer;” — “they will always have to begin anew.” Dropping the classical allusion, our Author has thus conveyed the meaning to his countrymen in plain terms. All who have read Homer’s Odyssey will remember Penelope, the wife of Ulysses, and especially that part of her history to which Calvin refers, that what she wove during the day she unravelled during the night, and thus accomplished her resolution that she should be daily employed in weaving, and yet that her web should not be finished till after her husband’s return. Penelopes telam texere, to weave Penelope’s web, was a proverbial expression, which the Romans borrowed from the Greeks. — Ed.
“Pleust a Dieu que.”
“Voyla la beau fruict.”
“Ton tesmoignage n’est pas vrai; c’est a dire, n’est point digne de foy.” — “Thy testimony is not true; that is, is not worthy of credit.”
“Mon tesmoignage est vray; c’est a dire, digne de foy.” — “My testimony is true; that is, worthy of credit.
“De la femme adultere.”
“Du Fils de Dieu.”
“Aussi maintenant est-il haut eleve.”
“Mon jugement est vray; c’est a dire, digne de foy.” — “My judgment is true; that is, worthy of credit.”
“Le Fils de Dieu.”
“Du nombre commun des autres hommes.”
See page 223, n. 1.
“Quiconque s’humilie devant le Seigneur Jesus.”
“Combien qu’ils eussent leurs gueules ouvertes pour l’engloutir.”
“Enyvrez d’une stupidite plus que brutale.”
“Non pas qu’il n’y a point d’autres pechez que l’incredulite.”
“Il n’y a qu’un amas infini de tous maux qui regne continuellement en nous.”
“Ou, ce dont je vous parle des le commencement;” — “or, what I tell you from the beginning.”
“Ou, comme aussi je vous en parle;” — “or, as also I speak of it to you.”
Ceux qui traduisent, “Je suis le commencement.”
He refers to Nonnus, a Greek writer, who rendered into hexameter verse the Gospel by John. The passage stands thus:
Ti>v su< pe>leiv kai< Cristo<v ajni>acen, oa xiv.v-p11}Who art thou? and Christ cried aloud, What (I say) to you from the beginning, having an innumerable multitude of things to say and judge So far as relates to τὴν ἀρχὴν, Nonnus appears to agree with Calvin; for he renders it ἐξ ἀρχη̈ς, from the beginning. — Ed} But a different reading is more generally adopted, and appears to be the true one. I interpret τὴν ἀρχὴν, from the beginning; so that the meaning, in my opinion, is this: “I did not arise suddenly, but as I was formerly promised, so now I come forth publicly.” He adds,
Because I also speak to you; by which he means that he testifies plainly enough who he is, provided that they had ears. This word, ὄτι because, is not employed merely to assign a reason, as if Christ intended to prove that he was from the beginning, because he now speaks; but he asserts that there is such an agreement between his doctrine and the eternity which he has spoken of, that it ought to be reckoned an undoubted confirmation of it. It may be explained thus: “According to the beginning, that is, what I have formerly said, I now, as it were, confirm anew;” or, “And truly what I now also speak, is in accordance with the conditions made in all ages, so as to be a strong confirmation of it.”
In short, this reply consists of two clauses; for, under the word beginning, he includes an uninterrupted succession of ages, during which God had made a covenant with their fathers. When he says that he also speaks, he joins his doctrine with the ancient predictions, and shows that it depends on them. Hence it follows that the Jews had no other reason for their ignorance, than that they did not believe either the Prophets or the Gospel; for it is the same Christ that is exhibited in all of them. They pretended to be disciples of the Prophets, and to look to the eternal covenant of God; but still they rejected Christ, who had been promised from the beginning, and presented himself before them.
26. I have many things to say and judge of you. Perceiving that he is in the position of one who sings to the deaf, he pursues his discourse no farther, but only declares that God will defend that doctrine, which they despise, because he is the Author of it. “If I wished to accuse you,” says he, “your malice and wickedness supply me with ample materials; but I leave you for the present. But my Father, who committed to me the office of a teacher, will not fail to fulfill his promise; for he will always vindicate his word against the wicked and sacrilegious contempt of men.” This saying of Christ is of the same import with that of Paul,
If we deny him, he remaineth faithful, he cannot deny himself,
In short, he threatens the judgment of God against unbelievers, who refuse to give credit to his word; and he does so on this ground, that God must inevitably defend his truth. Now this is the true firmness of faith, when we believe that God is alone sufficient to establish the authority of his doctrine, though the world should reject it. All who, relying on this doctrine, serve Christ faithfully, may fearlessly accuse the whole world of falsehood.
And I speak to the world those things which I have heard from him. He says that he utters nothing which he has not received from the Father; and this is the only confirmation of a doctrine, when the minister shows that what he speaks has proceeded from the Father. Now we know that Christ sustained, at that time, the office of a minister; and, therefore, we need not wonder, if he demands that men listen to him, because he brings to them the commandments of God. Besides, by his example he lays down a general law for the whole Church, that no man ought to be heard, unless he speak from the mouth of God. But while he lays low the wicked arrogance of those men who take upon themselves to speak without the word of God, faithful teachers, who know well the nature of their calling, are fortified and armed by him with unshaken firmness, that, under the guidance of God, they may boldly bid defiance to all mortals.
27. They did not know that he spoke to them about the Father. Hence we see how stupid those men are whose understandings are possessed by Satan. Nothing could be more plain than that they were summoned to the judgment-seat of God. But what then? They are altogether blind. This happens daily to other enemies of the Gospel; and such blindness ought to instruct us to walk with fear. 229
“A cheminer en crainte.”
“Qu’il ouvre plus sa bouche pour leur dire rein.”
“Les reprouvez et infideles.”
“Il est serf de peche.”
“Pource que ma parole n’a point de lieu en vous;” — “because my word hath no place in you.”
“Ceux-la mesmes parlans, qui parloyent auparavant.”
“Entre les enfans d’Abraham qui sont bastars et forlignans, et le vrais et legitimes.”
“Et de faict, y a-il chose qu’on puisse plustost louer en Abraham?”
“Ils haissent de haine mortelle.”
“Aucuns font ici difference entre Langage et Parole, pource que la parole emporte plus, mais je n’y en voy point.”
“En ce mot Langage.”
“Il y a qui la cherche, et qui en juge.”
“Ils n’oyent point les paroles de Dieu.”
“Neantmoins, ils sont enragez, et n’ont pointe honte de se monstrer du tout desesperez.”
“Du Seigneur Jesus.”
“Que tu as le diable.”
“En haine et mespris.”
“La vraye et legitimo profession.”
“Un vehement zele.”
“Avant qu’Abraham fust.”
“Priusquam Abraham nasceretur.”
πρὶν Αβραὰμ γενέσθαι, ἐγώ εἰμι. Our Author’s idea, to which he merely alludes, appears to be that, instead of saying, ἐγὼ ἐγενόμνη, or, ἐγὼ γίνομαι, Christ purposely said, ἐγώ εἰμι, because the verb εἰμῖ, standing contrasted with γενέσθαι, would convey the idea of underived existence. — Ed
“Une vertu plus qu’humaine.”