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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - JOHN 8
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    CHAPTER 8

    Joh 8:1-11. THE WOMAN TAKEN IN ADULTERY.

    1, 2. Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives--This should have formed the last verse of the foregoing chapter. "The return of the people to the inert quiet and security of their dwellings (Joh 7:53), at the close of the feast, is designedly contrasted with our Lord's homeless way, so to speak, of spending the short night, who is early in the morning on the scene again. One cannot well see why what is recorded in Lu 21:37, 38 may not even thus early have taken place; it might have been the Lord's ordinary custom from the beginning to leave the brilliant misery of the city every night, that so He might compose His sorrowful and interceding heart, and collect His energies for new labors of love; preferring for His resting-place Bethany, and the Mount of Olives, the scene thus consecrated by many preparatory prayers for His final humiliation and exaltation" [STIER].

    3-6. scribes and Pharisees--foiled in their yesterday's attempt, and hoping to succeed better in this.

    4, 5. woman . . . in adultery . . . Moses . . . commanded . . . should be stoned--simply put to death (De 22:22), but in aggravated cases, at least in later times, this was probably by stoning (Eze 16:40).
    - but what sayest thou--hoping, whatever He might answer, to put Him in the wrong:--if He said, Stone her, that would seem a stepping out of His province; if He forbade it, that would hold Him up as a relaxer of the public morals. But these cunning hypocrites were overmatched.

    6. stooped down--It will be observed He was sitting when they came to Him.
    - with his finger wrote on the ground--The words of our translators in italics ("as though He heard them not") have hardly improved the sense, for it is scarcely probable He could wish that to be thought. Rather He wished to show them His aversion to enter on the subject. But as this did not suit them, they "continue asking Him," pressing for an answer. At last, raising Himself He said.

    7. He that is without sin--not meaning sinless altogether; nor yet, guiltless of a literal breach of the Seventh Commandment; but probably, he whose conscience acquits him of any such sin.
    - cast a stone--"the stone," meaning the first one (De 17:7).

    8. again he stooped down and wrote--The design of this second stooping and writing on the ground was evidently to give her accusers an opportunity to slink away unobserved by Him, and so avoid an exposure to His eye which they could ill have stood. Accordingly it is added.

    9. they . . . convicted . . . went out one by one . . . Jesus was left alone--that is, without one of her accusers remaining; for it is added.
    - the woman in the midst--that is, of the remaining audience. While the trap failed to catch Him for whom it was laid, it caught those who laid it. Stunned by the unexpected home thrust, they immediately made off--which makes the impudence of those impure hypocrites in dragging such a case before the public eye the more disgusting.

    10. Woman, &c.--What inimitable tenderness and grace! Conscious of her own guilt, and till now in the hands of men who had talked of stoning her, wondering at the skill with which her accusers had been dispersed, and the grace of the few words addressed to herself, she would be disposed to listen, with a reverence and teachableness before unknown, to our Lord's admonition. "And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more." He pronounces no pardon upon the woman (such as, "Thy sins are forgiven thee" [compare Lu 5:28; 7:48] --"Go in peace" [compare Mr 5:34; Lu 7:50; 8:48]), much less does He say that she had done nothing condemnable; He simply leaves the matter where it was. He meddles not with the magistrate's office, nor acts the Judge in any sense (Joh 12:47). But in saying, "Go and sin no more," which had been before said to one who undoubtedly believed (Joh 5:14), more is probably implied than expressed. If brought suddenly to conviction of sin, admiration of her Deliverer, and a willingness to be admonished and guided by Him, this call to begin a new life may have carried with it what would ensure and naturally bring about a permanent change. (This whole narrative is wanting in some of the earliest and most valuable manuscripts, and those which have it vary to some extent. The internal evidence in its favor is almost overpowering. It is easy to account for its omission, though genuine; but if not so, it is next to impossible to account for its insertion).

    Joh 8:12-59. FURTHER DISCOURSES OF JESUS--ATTEMPT TO STONE HIM.

    12. I am the light of the world--As the former references to water (Joh 4:13, 14; 7:37-39) and to bread (Joh 6:35) were occasioned by outward occurrences, so this one to light. In "the treasury" where it was spoken (see on Joh 8:20) stood two colossal golden lamp-stands, on which hung a multitude of lamps, lighted after the evening sacrifice (probably every evening during the feast of tabernacles), diffusing their brilliancy, it is said, over all the city. Around these the people danced with great rejoicing. Now, as amidst the festivities of the water from Siloam Jesus cried, saying, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink," so now amidst the blaze and the joyousness of this illumination, He proclaims, "I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD"--plainly in the most absolute sense. For though He gives His disciples the same title, they are only "light in the Lord" (Eph 5:8); and though He calls the Baptist "the burning and shining light" (or "lamp" of his day, Joh 5:35), yet "he was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light: that was THE TRUE LIGHT which, coming into the world, lighteth every man" (Joh 1:8, 9). Under this magnificent title Messiah was promised of old (Isa 42:6; Mal 4:2, &c.).
    - he that followeth me--as one does a light going before him, and as the Israelites did the pillar of bright cloud in the wilderness.
    - but shall have the light of life--the light, as of a new world, a newly awakened spiritual and eternal life.

    13-19. bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true--How does He meet this specious cavil? Not by disputing the wholesome human maxim that "self-praise is no praise," but by affirming that He was an exception to the rule, or rather, that it had no application to Him.

    14. for I know whence I came, and whither I go, &c.--(See on Joh 7:28).

    15. Ye judge after the flesh--with no spiritual apprehension.
    - I judge no man.

    16. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true, &c.--Ye not only form your carnal and warped judgments of Me, but are bent on carrying them into effect; I, though I form and utter My judgment of you, am not here to carry this into execution--that is reserved to a future day; yet the judgment I now pronounce and the witness I now bear is not Mine only as ye suppose, but His also that sent Me. (See on Joh 5:31, 32). And these are the two witnesses to any fact which your law requires.

    20. These words spake Jesus in the treasury--a division, so called, of the fore court of the temple, part of the court of the women [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 19.6.2, &c.], which may confirm the genuineness of Joh 8:2-11, as the place where the woman was brought.
    - no man laid hands on him, &c.--(See on Joh 7:30). In the dialogue that follows, the conflict waxes sharper on both sides, till rising to its climax, they take up stones to stone him.

    21-25. Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, &c.--(See on Joh 7:33).

    22. Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself?--seeing something more in His words than before (Joh 7:35), but their question more malignant and scornful.

    23. Ye are from beneath; I am from above--contrasting Himself, not as in Joh 3:31, simply with earthborn messengers of God, but with men sprung from and breathing an opposite element from His, which rendered it impossible that He and they should have any present fellowship, or dwell eternally together. (Again see on Joh 7:33; also see on Joh 8:44).

    24. if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins--They knew well enough what He meant (Mr 13:6, Greek; compare Mt 24:5). But He would not, by speaking it out, give them the materials for a charge for which they were watching. At the same time, one is irresistibly reminded by such language, so far transcending what is becoming in men, of those ancient declarations of the God of Israel, "I AM HE" (De 32:39; Isa 43:10, 13; 46:4; 48:12). See on Joh 6:20.

    25. Who art thou?--hoping thus to extort an explicit answer; but they are disappointed.

    26, 27. I have many things to say and to judge of you; but he that sent me is true, &c.--that is, I could, and at the fitting time, will say and judge many things of you (referring perhaps to the work of the Spirit which is for judgment as well as salvation, Joh 16:8), but what I do say is just the message My Father hath given Me to deliver.

    28-30. When ye have lifted up the Son of man--The plainest intimation He had yet given in public of the manner and the authors of His death.
    - then shall ye know that I am he, &c.--that is, find out, or have sufficient evidence, how true was all He said, though they would be far from owning it.

    29. the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him, &c.--that is, To you, who gnash upon Me with your teeth, and frown down all open appearance for Me, I seem to stand uncountenanced and alone; but I have a sympathy and support transcending all human applause; I came hither to do My Father's will, and in the doing of it have not ceased to please Him; therefore is He ever by Me with His approving smile, His cheering words, His supporting arm.

    30. As he spake these words, many believed on him--Instead of wondering at this, the wonder would be if words of such unearthly, surpassing grandeur could be uttered without captivating some that heard them. And just as "all that sat in the council" to try Stephen "saw his face"--though expecting nothing but death--"as it had been the face of an angel" (Ac 6:15), so may we suppose that, full of the sweet supporting sense of His Father's presence, amidst the rage and scorn of the rulers, a divine benignity beamed from His countenance, irradiated the words that fell from Him, and won over the candid "many" of His audience.

    31-33. Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, &c.--The impression produced by the last words of our Lord may have become visible by some decisive movement, and here He takes advantage of it to press on them "continuance" in the faith, since then only were they His real disciples (compare Joh 15:3-8), and then should they experimentally "know the truth," and "by the truth be made (spiritually) free."

    33. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man, &c.--Who said this? Not surely the very class just spoken of as won over by His divine words, and exhorted to continue in them. Most interpreters seem to think so; but it is hard to ascribe such a petulant speech to the newly gained disciples, even in the lowest sense, much less persons so gained as they were. It came, probably, from persons mixed up with them in the same part of the crowd, but of a very different spirit. The pride of the Jewish nation, even now after centuries of humiliation, is the most striking feature of their character. "Talk of freedom to us? Pray when or to whom were we ever in bondage?" This bluster sounds almost ludicrous from such a nation. Had they forgotten their long and bitter bondage in Egypt? their dreary captivity in Babylon? their present bondage to the Roman yoke, and their restless eagerness to throw it off? But probably they saw that our Lord pointed to something else--freedom, perhaps, from the leaders of sects or parties--and were not willing to allow their subjection even to these. Our Lord, therefore, though He knew what slaves they were in this sense, drives the ploughshare somewhat deeper than this, to a bondage they little dreamt of.

    34, 35. Whosoever committeth sin--that is, liveth in the commission of it--(Compare 1Jo 3:8; Mt 7:23).
    - is the servant of sin--that is, the bond-servant, or slave of it; for the question is not about free service, but who are in bondage. (Compare 2Pe 2:19; Re 6:16). The great truth here expressed was not unknown to heathen moralists; but it was applied only to vice, for they were total strangers to what in revealed religion is called sin. The thought of slaves and freemen in the house suggests to our Lord a wider idea.

    35. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the Son abideth ever--that is, "And if your connection with the family of God be that of BOND-SERVANTS, ye have no natural tie to the h

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