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John 8:46, 47 says,
46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.
Note that the reason the religious leaders (and others) could not hear or believe the words of God was because God was not their Father. To have God as one’s Father requires an act of God, where the Holy Spirit begets a son within a man or woman by means of holy seed. Faith is the attitude of submitting to the will of the Father and of accepting this holy seed.
Further, it requires that person to transfer his or her identity to that newly-begotten creature. It is that New Creation Man within that recognizes truth, because truth resonates with his nature. Of course, while that new creature is young, even an embryo, he must still learn while he grows to maturity.
It may take time even for a new creature in Christ to fully comprehend the word of truth. In my experience, I have found that the sons of God are open to truth and have a willingness to see the truth. For this reason, they progress steadily toward the light that is given to them and are thus responsible only to hear what is actually revealed. Truth is revealed progressively from age to age, as well as individually in one’s lifetime.
The religious leaders could not comprehend these spiritual things. John 8:48 says,
48 The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”
To a child of the devil, truth is often absurd, especially when it upends a man’s confidence in his own fleshly identity.
John 8:49-51 gives Jesus’ response:
49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges.”
Jesus did not bother answering the intended insult that He was a Samaritan. He knew that they were not speaking literally. In fact, they were revealing their hearts toward the Father Himself, for he who dishonors the Son dishonors also the Father. The Father seeks to be honored and judges righteously all who dishonor Him.
John 8:51 (NASB) reads:
51 “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, he will never see death.”
This verse is rendered more accurately in The Emphatic Diaglott:
51 Indeed, I assure you, if anyone keep my word, he will by no means see death to the age [eis ton aiona].
Young’s Literal Translation reads,
51 Verily, verily, I say to you, If any one may keep my word, death he may not see—to the age.
Rotherham’s The Emphasized Bible reads,
51 Verily, verily I say to you: If anyone shall keep my word, death shall he not see unto times age-abiding.
The Concordant Version reads,
51 Verily, verily, I am saying to you, If ever anyone should be keeping My word, he should under no circumstances be beholding death for the eon.
When the NASB (and KJV) use the term “never,” the translators insert their own bias into the verse according to their own understanding. It ought to be rendered “not,” or as with the CV, “no.” The NASB says, “he will never see death,” ignoring the phrase eis ton aiona, which means “to the age,” or “unto times age-abiding,” or “for the eon.”
By ignoring the actual wording of the Greek text, they would have us believe that if we “keep” Christ’s word, we will never die. But the text actually tells us that if we “keep” His word, we will not “see” death or be affected by it “for the eon,” that is, during The Age. This is one of many references to the Messianic Age to come, the great Sabbath millennium.
The rabbis often talked about “The Age,” but many New Testament translators do not acknowledge this. They hide the teaching of “The Age” by translating aionian as “everlasting” instead of “age-abiding.” They hide it also by using the phrase “never see death,” instead of “not see death for the age.”
John 8:52, 53 gives the Jews’ response,
52 The Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never [not] taste of death.’ 53 Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?”
They thought that Jesus was saying that people would become immediately immortal if they believed Jesus’ word. And yet Abraham had died, and the prophets had all died. Was Jesus greater than them?
John 8:54-56 continues the discussion,
54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; 55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I shall be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
Jesus was under oath (“verily, verily”) to speak the truth. If He were to concede that He did not know God as His Father, He would have been lying under oath in violation of the Ninth Commandment, “Do not bear false witness.” By not answering their objection directly, Jesus actually agreed with their accusation that He was greater than Abraham and the prophets.
Abraham knew that the Messiah would come someday, and he “rejoiced” in that hope. In other words, Abraham’s attitude toward the Messiah was vastly different from that of the religious leaders who chafed at His coming. Abraham’s faith is seen when God revealed to him that Sarah would have the promised son (Isaac). After receiving this revelation, Abraham rejoiced. Gen. 17:17 says,
17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”
Many assume that Abraham was weak in faith and laughed at this word out of a heart of disbelief, but Paul tells us in Rom. 4:19-21,
19 Without becoming weak in faith, he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform.
In other words, Abraham laughed, not to mock God. but to rejoice, and for this reason, his son was named Isaac, “laughter.” In other words, Abraham rejoiced at the prospect of begetting a son, even though he was old. And in doing so, he was also rejoicing in the coming of Christ, the greater Promised Son.
John 8:57, 58 continues,
57 The Jews therefore said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
The pre-existent “only-begotten God” (John 1:18) did indeed see Abraham and interacted with Him directly. In Gen. 18:2 we read that “three men” visited Abraham. One of them was called Yahweh (translated “the Lord” in Gen. 18:17, 20, 22). The other two were “angels” (Gen. 19:1), who actually went to Sodom to investigate its corruption.
The question, however, is whether or not Abraham actually “saw” God, for John 1:18 and 1 John 4:12 tell us that “No man has seen God at any time.” How is it, then, that Abraham saw Yahweh, fed Him, and spoke to Him?
The contradiction is resolved in the latter part of John 1:18, where we read that “the only-begotten God… has explained Him,” i.e., revealed Him. In other words, it was Jesus in His pre-existent state that appeared to Abraham to reveal His Father, Yahweh.
As the Agent of the Father, Jesus was called Yahweh, as if it were actually Yahweh Himself. But because no one sees the Father directly, He is revealed through the agency of the Son.
Yahweh identified Himself as “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). The assertion that “I AM,” normally requires further qualification to identify who He actually is. In this case, however, there can be no further qualifier other than that He is self-existent and timeless. In fact, this is also the meaning of Yahweh, which is often translated as the “Self-existent One.”
In the case of Jesus, we saw earlier in John 8:24 that “I am” was followed by the word “He,” that is, the Messiah, the light of the world. On the other hand, in John 8:58 the “I am” is stated in the context of the One who was seen by Abraham. This is a clear statement about His pre-existence when He spoke to Abraham as the visible image of Yahweh.
Jesus did not claim to be “I AM WHO I AM.” That designation is reserved for Yahweh Himself, or the Father. But the fact that He appeared to Abraham as the pre-existent divine Agent offended the religious leaders. John 8:59 gives us their adverse reaction,
59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.
Perhaps Jesus’ detractors had to go out of the courtyard to find stones large enough to fulfill their evil intent. Whatever the case, Jesus “hid Himself” and thus escaped, finally returning to Galilee.
This is the end of John’s commentary on the fifth sign that Jesus did to manifest the glory of God in the earth. This sign prophesies of His second coming, the resurrection of the overcomers, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and how the overcomers will judge with righteous judgment. It also prophesies the opposition that Christ and the overcomers will face.
The main difference is that in His first coming, it was God’s purpose to send Him to the cross and to allow His disciples to be persecuted and killed. The second coming, however, is not a death work but a living work, and so the enemies of God will not be able to kill them. (The second dove and the second goat in the law are not killed.)
Nonetheless, it appears that the opposition will continue. Even though the Kingdom of light will grow over a period of time into a great mountain range (Dan. 2:35), there will still be areas of “outer darkness,” which are kingdoms not yet subject to the rule of Christ.
At the end of a thousand years, these nations in outer darkness will rise up and attempt to overthrow Christ and His Kingdom (Rev. 20:7, 8). Their attempt will fail, and Christ will use this situation to take possession of the rest of the earth.