Verse 5. Moses hath commanded us to stone such - If they spoke accurately, this must have been a woman, who, having been betrothed to a husband, had been guilty of this crime before the marriage was completed; for such only Moses commanded to be stoned. He commanded indeed that other adulteresses should be put to death; but the manner of death was not specified. Deut. xxii, 23.
Verse 6. That they might have to accuse him - Either of usurping the office of a judge, if he condemned her, or of being an enemy to the law, if he acquitted her. Jesus stooping down, wrote with his finger on the ground - God wrote once in the Old Testament; Christ once in the New: perhaps the words which he afterward spoke, when they continued asking him. By this silent action, he, 1, fixed their wandering, hurrying thoughts, in order to awaken their consciences: and, 2, signified that he was not then come to condemn but to save the world.
Verse 7. He that is without sin - He that is not guilty: his own conscience being the judge) either of the same sin, or of some nearly resembling it; let him - as a witness, cast the first stone at her.
Verse 9. Beginning at the eldest - Or the elders. Jesus was left alone -By all those scribes and Pharisees who proposed the question. But many others remained, to whom our Lord directed his discourse presently after.
Verse 10. Hath no man condemned thee? - Hath no judicial sentence been passed upon thee?
Verse 11. Neither do I condemn thee - Neither do I take upon me to pass any such sentence. Let this deliverance lead thee to repentance.
Verse 12. He that followeth me shall in nowise walk in darkness - In ignorance, wickedness, misery: but shall have the light of life -He that closely, humbly, steadily follows me, shall have the Divine light continually shining upon him, diffusing over his soul knowledge, holiness, joy, till he is guided by it to life everlasting.
Verse 13. Thou testifiest of thyself; thy testimony is not valid - They retort upon our Lord his own words, chap. v, 31; if I testify of myself, my testimony is not valid. He had then added, There is another who testifieth of me. To the same effect he replies here, verse 14, Though I testify of myself, yet my testimony is valid; for I am inseparably united to the Father. I know - And from firm and certain knowledge proceeds the most unexceptionable testimony: whence I came, and whither I go - To these two heads may be referred all the doctrine concerning Christ. The former is treated of verse 16, &c., the latter ver. 21, &c. For I know whence I came - That is, For I came from God, both as God and as man. And I know it, though ye do not.
Verse 15. Ye judge after the flesh - As the flesh, that is, corrupt nature dictates. I judge no man - Not thus; not now; not at my first coming.
Verse 16. I am not alone - No more in judging, than in testifying: but I and the Father that sent me - His Father is in him, and he is in the Father, chap. xiv, 10, 11; and so the Father is no more alone without the Son, than the Son is without the Father, Prov. viii, 22, 23, 30. His Father and he are not one and another God, but one God, (though distinct persons,) and so inseparable from each other. And though the Son came from the Father, to assume humannature, and perform his office as the Messiah upon earth, as God is sometimes said to come from heaven, for particular manifestations of himself; yet Christ did not leave the Father, nor the Father leave him, any more than God leaves heaven when he is said to come down to the earth.
19. Then said they to him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered
- Showing the perverseness of their question; and teaching that they ought first to know the Son, if they would know the Father. Where the Father is - he shows, ver. 23. Meantime he plainly intimates that the Father and he were distinct persons, as they were two witnesses; and yet one in essence, as the knowledge of him includes the knowledge of the Father.
Verse 23. Ye are - Again he passes over their interruption, and proves what he advanced, ver. 21. Of them that are beneath - From the earth. I am of them that are above - Here he directly shows whence he came, even from heaven, and whither he goes.
Verse 24. If ye believe not that I AM - Here (as in ver. 58) our Lord claims the Divine name, I AM, Exod. iii, 14. But the Jews, as if he had stopped short, and not finished the sentence, answered, Who art thou?
Verse 25. Even what I say to you from the beginning - The same which I say to you, as it were in one discourse, with one even tenor from the time I first spake to you.
Verse 26. I have many things to say and to judge of you - I have much to say concerning your inexcusable unbelief: but he that sent me is true - Whether ye believe or no. And I speak the things which I have heard from him - I deliver truly what he hath given me in charge.
Verse 27. They understood not - That by him that sent him he meant God the Father. Therefore in ver. 28, 29 he speaks plainly of the Father, and again claims the Divine name, I AM.
Verse 28. When ye shall have lifted up - On the cross, ye shall know - And so many of them did, that I AM - Godover all; and that I do nothing of myself - Being one with the Father.
Verse 29. The Father hath not left me alone - Never from the moment I came into the world.
Verse 32. The truth - Written in your hearts by the Spirit of God, shall make you free - From guilt, sin, misery, Satan.
Verse 33. They - The other Jews that were by, (not those that believed,) as appears by the whole tenor of the conversation. We were never enslaved to any man - A bold, notorious untruth. At that very time they were enslaved to the Romans.
Verse 34. Jesus answered - Each branch of their objection, first concerning freedom, then concerning their being Abraham's offspring, ver. 37, &c. He that committeth sin, is, in fact, the slave of sin.
Verse 35. And the slave abideth not in the house - All sinners shall be cast out of God's house, as the slave was out of Abraham's: but I, the Son, abide therein for ever.
Verse 36. If I therefore make you free, ye - shall partake of the same privilege: being made free from all guilt and sin, ye shall abide in the house of God for ever.
Verse 37. I know that ye are Abraham's offspring - As to the other branch of your objection, I know that, ye are Abraham's offspring, after the flesh; but not in a spiritual sense. Ye are not followers of the faith of Abraham: my word hath no place in your hearts.
Verse 41. Ye do the deeds of your father - He is not named yet. But when they presumed to call God their Father, then he is expressly called the devil, ver. 44.
Verse 42. I proceeded forth - As God, and come - As Christ.
Verse 43. Ye cannot - Such is your stubbornness and pride, hear - Receive, obey my word. Not being desirous to do my will, ye cannot understand my doctrine, chap. vii, 17.
Verse 44. He was a murderer - In inclination, from the beginning - Of his becoming a devil; and abode not in the truth - Commencing murderer and liar at the same time. And certainly he was a killer of men (as the Greek word properly signifies) from the beginning of the world: for from the very creation he designed and contrived the ruin of men. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own - For he is the proper parent, and, as it were, creator of it. See the origin not only of lies, but of evil in general!
Verse 45. Because I speak the truth - Which liars hate.
Verse 46. Which of you convicteth me of sin? - And is not my life as unreprovable as my doctrine? Does not my whole behaviour confirm the truth of what I teach?
Verse 47. He that is of God - That either loves or fears him, heareth - With joy and reverence, God's words - Which I preach.
Verse 48. Say we not well - Have we not just cause to say, Thou art, a Samaritan - An enemy to our Church and nation; and hast a devil? -Art possessed by a proud and lying spirit?
Verse 49. I honour my Father - I seek his honour only.
Verse 50. I seek not my own glory - That is, as I am the Messiah, I consult not my own glory. I need not. For my Father consulteth it, and will pass sentence on you accordingly.
Verse 51. If a man keep my word - So will my Father consult my glory. We keep his doctrine by believing, his promises by hoping, his command by obeying. He shall never see death - That is, death eternal. He shall live for ever. Hereby he proves that he was no Samaritan; for the Samaritans in general were Sadducees.
Verse 54. If I honour myself - Referring to their words, Whom makest thou thyself?
Verse 56. He saw it - By faith in types, figures, and promises; as particularly in Melchisedec; in the appearance of Jehovah to him in the plains of Mamre, Gen. xviii, 1; and in the promise that in his seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Possibly he had likewise a peculiar Revelation either of Christ's first or second coming.
Verse 57. Thou art not yet fifty years old - At the most. Perhaps the gravity of our Lord's countenance, together with his afflictions and labours, might make him appear older than he really was. Hast thou seen Abraham - Which they justly supposed must have been, if Abraham had seen him.
Verse 58. Before Abraham was I AM - Even from everlasting to everlasting. This is a direct answer to the objection of the Jews, and shows how much greater he was than Abraham.
Verse 59. Then they took up stones - To stone him as a blasphemer; but Jesus concealed himself - Probably by becoming invisible; and so passed on - With the same ease as if none had been there.