Either Yeshua is both God with us and the promised King Messiah of Israel, or He is a liar and a heretic. You choose. The truth will not be changed by your decision, but you could be.
John 8:31-59 is thematically similar to Galatians 4, where Rav Shaul illuminates and differentiates between Isaac the son of promise born of faith and Ishmael the illegitimate son born of disbelief. Note that both sons are sons of Avraham. Yeshua is not asserting that Jews are illegitimate sons but that human beings who choose to reject God’s redemptive plan are sons and daughters of Satan until such a time as they repent and receive the King Messiah and His vicarious sacrifice and resurrected life.
Keep in mind that many of those listening were Jewish believers in Yeshua (v.30) and that those who later violently oppose Him are specifically qualified as a group who “want to kill” Yeshua, by definition, a subset of the whole. Note that they do not succeed in stoning Yeshua because He was able to slip away in the crowd. Meaning that a large portion of the crowd of Jewish worshippers gathered in the court of the women were in favor of Yeshua and helped Him elude capture.
31 Therefore, Yeshua[H] (YHVH Saves, Joshua, Jesus) said (yomer[H], lego[G]) to those Judeans, Jews, (Ha-Yehudiym[H]) who had believed, were persuaded by, put their trust (hama’amiyniym[H], pisteuo[G]) in Him, “If you continue, remain, abide (meno[G]) in the word, essence, substance (vid’variy[H], ho logos[G]) of Me, truly, in truth (be’emet[H], alethos[G]) you are disciples (mathetes[G]) of Mine (talmiydiym atem liy[H]); 32 and you will know intimately (viyda’tem[H], ginosko[G]) the truth (et ha-emet[H], ho aletheia[G]), and the truth (ha-emet[H], ho aletheia[G]) will make, engrave, imprint you with freedom, [alt. let you go, set you free] (totziyachem l’cheirut[H], eleutheroo[G]).”
“Therefore” refers to the woman caught in adultery, the proclamation of Yeshua concerning His being the light of the world, and the belief of those mentioned in verse 30.
“Those Jews who believed” were made up of Jews from every tribe and every religious sect of first century Jewry, who had come up to Jerusalem for the festival of Sukkot. Therefore, what Yeshua says next is spoken to thousands of observant Jews, including believing Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, Priests, and common Israelis.
We note that Yeshua was not content with their belief. He had come to set them free from slavery to sin and to give them the tools of discipleship, that is, the means to live an ongoing life of freedom in Him. Seeing their belief and approval of Him and His words, Yeshua did not push His advantage by blowing smoke up their skirts, rather He sought their advantage by challenging the depth of their belief and offering them the means by which they might continue to believe and be truly and eternally set free from sin.
"The truth will set you free" is perhaps the most decontextualized, misapplied, and philosophically misappropriated part verse of the entire New Testament. Those who use this phrase today as a type of all in one "Truth Coach" are in fact proliferating a lie. In order for this phrase to have any true meaning one must first define the truth it’s speaking of. Most modern speakers understand the truth as a collection of facts, or the subjective centre of some religion or philosophy, truth being defined by the individual rather than having its origin outside of the sphere of human intellect and spirituality. In fact the verses in question (John 8:31-32) identify truth as a person, that is, as an attribute of a person, and not just any person, but the King Messiah Yeshua, God with us (Imanu El).
Therefore, in order to understand what is meant by “The Truth” we must read the phrase in context:
“If you continue to remain in My word, essence, substance in truth you are My disciples, followers, students; and you will intimately know the truth, and the truth will imprint you with freedom, set you free.”
Note that there is a prerequisite for the freedom that truth makes possible: “If you continue to remain in My word, essence, substance”. In short, unless one remains in the message and person of Yeshua (the Speaker), one cannot know the truth or the freedom that knowing the truth affords a person.
Note that the second requirement for being set free is to “Intimately know the truth”. In fact, as I’ve said, the Truth is not an it but a Person, and that Person defines truth. Elsewhere Yeshua says, “Aniy Ha-Derekh, v’Ha-Emet, v’Ha-Chayiym, I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Living, no one can come to the Father (God) except through, Me.”(John 14:6). Therefore, truth, like direction (way), and living, is an attribute of the Messiah, Who is God with us (Imanu El) [prophesied by Isaiah (7:10-16) 700 years before the birth of Yeshua].
Do you want to intimately know the Truth and be truly set free from all that keeps you in bondage? Then remain in the Word and Substance of Yeshua (Jesus), becoming His devout follower, and you will come to know the Truth Himself, and He will set you free.
Notice that this second half of chapter 8 begins with the theme of freedom from bondage. A theme that is ingrained in the Jewish soul from Egypt and up to the Roman occupation and beyond. Yeshua speaks of a freedom that transcends temporal life, to a people who are at the time tacitly enslaved by the Roman Empire.
Yeshua’s challenge to those listening, both believers and unbelievers, is intended to thresh the wheat and sift out the chaff. By the end of this dialogue the belief of some will be strengthened, while the belief of others will grow cold. Yeshua came to make disciples, not converts. We should be careful to emulate Him.
33 They answered Him, “We are Avraham’s (Father of many tribes) descendants and no one has enslaved us (douleuo[G]) at any time (popote[G]); how is it that You say, ‘You will become freeborn (eleutheros[G])’?”
“They answered Him” The nearest subjects are the thousands of observant Jews, including believing Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, Priests, and common Israelis, who were in the court of woman in the Temple complex. A mixed crowd of those who now believed in Him and those who did not.
בני חורין, (noblemen), that are fallen from their substance, because they are the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;'' -Mishnah. Bava Kama, c. 8. sect. 6. & Talmud Bavliy Bava Kama, fol. 86. 1. & 91. 1.
“We are Avraham’s descendants (Gen.12; Deut.14:1) and no one has enslaved us at any time…” They did not mean that the Jewish people had never been physically enslaved. After all, freedom from slavery in Egypt is part of our journey as a people, not to mention our time in Babylon and subsequent freedom. What they meant was that those Jewish people who were true worshippers of God had never been made spiritual slaves to other gods (Jer.2:10-14), nor were they, the generation to whom Yeshua spoke, slaves to the Romans.
The Jews of the land of Israel in the first century were under occupation but were not living lives of slavery as they had done in Egypt. The Roman Empire had a history of gleaning slaves from its conquests, thus the reality of one being born into slavery was a concern to all of those living in the Empire. However, those debating with Yeshua were freeborn people, meaning that they were not born into households already bound to indentured servitude or slavery. This is why they are incredulous and ask Yeshua, “How is it that You say, ‘You will become freeborn?”
“Freeborn” (eleutheros[G]) Is an important distinction. Ultimately Yeshua is saying that even the freeborn (eleutheros[G]) of the Roman Empire need to be set free (eleutheroo[G]), and become spiritually freeborn (eleutheros[G]).
34 Yeshua[H] answered them, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, everyone who commits sin (misses the mark set by God) is the slave (doulos[G]) of sin (hamartia[G]).
“Everyone who commits sin (misses the mark set by God) is the slave of sin.” Yeshua makes it clear that He is talking about spiritual bondage, slavery to sin.
Rav Shaul the Shaliach (Paul the Apostle), writes an exposition on this idea:
“14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that to whatever you yield yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves to what you obey—whether to sin resulting in death, or to obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching under which you were placed; 18 and after you were set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you yielded your body parts as slaves to uncleanness and lawlessness, leading to more lawlessness, so now yield your body parts as slaves to righteousness, resulting in holiness. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness. 21 So then, what outcome did you have that you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now, having been set free from sin and having become enslaved to God, you have your fruit resulting in holiness. And the outcome is eternal life. 23 For sin’s payment[a] is death, but God’s gracious gift is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.” -Romans 6:14-23 TLV
35 Moreover, the slave, bondservant (doulos[G]) does not remain in the house (babayit[H], ho oikia[G]) forever; the son (ha-bein[H], uihos[G]) does remain forever.
This phrasing is qualified by the proceeding verse. Those listening were born into the slavery of sin affected humanity and therefore, in their present state, cannot remain in the house of life. Whereas, the Last Adam (Yeshua) [1 Cor. 15:22-45], the Son of God and therefore Son of the house of creation, being the perfect sinless example of humanity (God with us), is able to set free those who have been enslaved and offer them life everlasting as heirs with Him, sons and daughters of the renewed house of creation ordered by the Creator (YHVH).
With regard to Torah the exception to this idea applies to the slave who willing chooses to become a member of the family and an indentured servant for life (Exodus 21:6). This does not however negate the right of the son of the household to set that slave free. Although, in this case the slave is usually treated as a member of the family.
Our rabbis agree that irrespective of the “forever” clause in Exodus 21:6, that freedom is eventually mandatory according to the Torah law of Jubilee (Lev.25:10).
"one that is bored (through the ear) is obtained by boring (through the ear), and he possesses himself (becomes free) by the year of jubilee, and by the death of his master.''- Yarchi, Iben Ezra, & ben Gershom in Exod. xxi. 6.
"he that has served six years, and will not go out, lo, this is bored, and he serves until the year of jubilee, or until his master dies; and although he leaves a son, he that is bored does not serve the son; which may be learned from the letter of the words, "he shall serve him", not his son, "for ever", until the jubilee: from whence it appears, that he that is bored does not possess himself (or is free) but by the jubilee, and by the death of his master.'' – Maimonides Hilchot Abadim, c. 3. sect. 6, 7.
36 Therefore, if the Son (ha-bein[H], ho uihos[G]) makes you free (eleutheroo[G]), you will in reality, as a point of fact, be truly (be’emet[H], ontos[G]) freeborn (eleutheros[G]).
The Son of God, Yeshua, sets those enslaved to sin free (eleutheroo[G]) by causing them to be born from above (John 3:3-7). Thus, through Him they are freeborn (eleutheros[G]). Not freeborn in the Roman Empire, or at any point in human history within the sin affected world, but transcendently freeborn of God and children of God’s Kingdom, no longer subject to the temporal kingdoms of the sin affected world.
The use of Greek language as it pertains to the idea of freedom is exceptional. The writer of this Gospel shows in the language used that Yeshua is placing the concept of being freeborn (eleutheros) as superior to simply being freed from indentured servitude (doulos). If one is freed (eleuthero) by Yeshua, that one will be truly freeborn (eleutheros).
37 I know (yadatiy[H]) that you are Avraham’s (Father of many tribes) descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word, essence, substance (devariy[H], logos[G]) has not been given space, room, place, occupation, yield (choreo[G]) in you (each individually).
NB: From here on to the end of the chapter Yeshua is specifically speaking to those who “seek to kill” Him, and not to those who have believed (v.30).
Keep in mind that Yeshua is also a descendant of Avraham and the substance of the Creator Who placed faith within Avraham. Therefore, as is the case with His saying “Your Torah”(John 8:17), He is not distancing Himself from Avraham, rather He is exposing the misuse of Avraham’s identity by those who claim connection to Avraham through pride of bloodline rather than through adherence to true faith. This does not discount the value of ethnic bloodline, which remains, given Yeshua’s zeal for the ethnic, religious, chosen people of Israel (Matt. 15:24). Rather, Yeshua is seeking to cleanse and sanctify the people, so that both their bloodline and spirituality might be unified in the freedom of Messiah.
“Yet you seek to kill Me” Cannot refer to those who have believed in Him (v.30), nor to the crowd in general, many of whom were undecided on the Person of Yeshua. Therefore, it is clear that He is now speaking directly to a subgroup of those who do not believe in Him and are seeking a way to put Him to death.
“because My word, essence, substance has not been given space, room, place, occupation, yield in you…” There are those in the crowd who have not believed and therefore have not allowed room within themselves for the Word essence of Yeshua to reside in them. In short, they seek to kill Him because they have refused to listen to Him. It is in our nature as human beings to ignore the contrary opinions of others while devising a rebuttal to their words. Our opponent may be speaking but we are not listening. Thus, we fail to hear another person in the throes of debate making us unable to properly entertain their point of view and measure it to determine its value.
Notice that one of the meanings of the Greek choreo is “yield”. Belief that is born of true faith will yield fruit but disbelief or false belief, even surface approval, does not allow sufficient depth of spiritual soil for the fruit of practical faith to be produced. Another meaning of the Greek choreo is “occupation”. Meaning in this context, “You have not allowed belief to perpetually occupy your life”. Therefore, belief of this sort alone is not sufficient for salvation.
“You believe that God is One. Excellent! Even the false deities, demons, evil spirits believe that—and are terrified.” -Yaakov (James) 2:19 Author’s translation
38 I speak the things which I have seen (horao[G]) from, beside, with, near (para[G]) The (My) Father (Aviy[H], ho Pater[G]); and you also do the things which you heard (akouo[G]) from, beside, with, near (para[G]) the father (ho Pater[G]) you acquired (poieo[G]) [Alt. Heb. Aviychem your (plural) father].”
NB: It’s important to remember that this is not being spoken to all present but specifically to those who are seeking to kill Him (v.37).
Yeshua explains that both He and His opponents are directed by their respective father’s. Yeshua “speaks” of what He has “seen” from being in, with and near the Father God. Whereas His opponents “do” the things which they have “heard” from the father they have acquired. That is to say, they have chosen a father other than God. In this context “speak” refers to the truth of God’s word made manifest based on literal “sight”, an actual true experience of the Person of God, and “do” is a reference to human effort based on hearsay “hearing” from a second-hand source (Satan).
39 They answered and said to Him, “Avraham is our father.” Yeshua[H] replied to them, “If you are Avraham’s children, accomplish the occupation (ho ergon Abraam poieo[G]) of Avraham. [Alt. in the business of Abraham work, make, fashion etc.]
“They” Those who are seeking to kill Yeshua (v.37) while claiming a connection to Avraham as their qualification, are in fact contradicting the faith practice of Avraham. Thus, Yeshua calls them on it. If you’re going to claim the tzadik (righteous) one Avraham as your father, then act righteously as he did. Believe God (accept His Messiah), and it will be credited to you as righteousness.
The rabbis of the Talmud agree with Yeshua’s assertion:
“whoever is merciful to the creature (man), it is evident that he is of the seed of Abraham, our father; but whoever has not mercy on the creature, it is a clear case that he is not of the seed of Abraham our father.'' - Talmud Bavliy Betza, fol. 82. 2.
40 But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the objective truth of the matter (ha-emet[H], aletheia[G]), which I heard from the God (ha Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]); a thing Avraham could not do.
Yeshua heard the truth in the unveiled presence of God the Father as one with the Father and has imparted that same truth to His hearers, fellow descendants of Avraham. Though Avraham heard from God, he was not one with God, nor did he see and hear from God in the fullness of God’s glory. Therefore, Avraham could not reveal the fullness of God’s redemptive plan to his descendants in the way that Yeshua has. Avraham has relationship with God through Yeshua, as one who has had the truth revealed to him, whereas Yeshua being one with the Father, reveals the truth.
“which I heard from the God” Yeshua’s hearing, unlike that of His opponents, is unaffected by disbelief.
41 You are doing, fashioning, accomplishing (poieo[G]) the business, occupation (ergon[G]) of your father (av[H], pater[G]).” They said to Him, “We were not born of illicit sexual intercourse (fig. we are not idolaters); we have one Father (Av[H], Pater[G]): the God (ha-Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]).”
Yeshua’s opponents (not all present but those who are specifically seeking to kill Him), understand that by making a distinction between God as father, Avraham as a father and yet another father, the father they are obeying, Yeshua is inferring that their claim on Avraham and his faith is a false one and that they are acting on the faith of a false father. Therefore, as one might expect, they take offense and proclaim, “We are not the children of whores (idolaters), we have one Father, Elohiym!” In short, “You’re no better than us, we are sons and daughters of God!” Some may even have been inferring that Yeshua was of illegitimate origin, while they were not.
42 Yeshua[H] said to them, “If the God (ha Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]) were your Father (Av[H], Pater[G]), you would love (ahavtem[H], agapao[G]) Me dearly, for I come out of the God (ha Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]) and go forth, not for the purpose of separating (apo[G]) Myself, but that of He Who sent Me (shelachaniy[H], apostello[G]).
Yeshua’s message is simple, “If you were truly sons and daughters of God you would recognise the present manifestation of God standing in front of you and would love Him.”
Note the progression. First they claim Avraham, and Yeshua refutes their claim. Then they claim God, and Yeshua exposes their inadequacy.
“I come out of the God and go forth, not for the purpose of separating Myself, but that of He Who sent Me.” Note the familiar use of the counter separation phrasing. Yeshua is very clear in saying “Neither I nor my purpose is in any way separate from God Who sent Me.” This becomes the pre-emptive counterpoint to the separation of the accuser Satan, who is separated from the beginning (v.44).
43 Why do you not understand (ginosko[G]) what I am saying? Because you are unable (dunamai[G]) to hear, perceive, comprehend (lishmo[H]) My word, essence, substance (et devariy[H], logos[G]).
They neither properly hear nor do they understand because they have wilfully resisted Yeshua and His message and are therefore incapable of comprehending His word, substance, essence. Again, “they” are specifically those who were “seeking to kill Him” (v.37, 40), and not all present (v.30)
44 You are of your father (aviychem[H], ho pater[G]) the Devil (ha-Satan[H], ho Diabolos[G]), and you have in mind (ethelo[G]) to do the lusts (epithumia[G]) of your father (aviychem[H], pater[G]). He was a murderer, human slayer (anthropoktonos[G]) separated (apo[G]) from the beginning (arche[G]), and in the absolute truth (emet[H], aletheia[G]) he does not stand because there is no truth (emet[G]) in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father (ha-av[H], ho pater[G]) of lies.
Note that while Yeshua speaks often of the fact that He has not come as one separate from the will of the Father, here, Satan is described as one who has been separate from the truth of God from the beginning of creation. Therefore, the battle between truth and lie is one of great imbalance. The Creator from Whom Truth comes, created a being that decided to reject the love of God, and His absolute Truth and seek to poison creation. Therefore, the liar is subject to the Truth, in fact his very existence relies on the truth.
We note that lying and murder are intrinsically linked. The enemy of our souls is by nature a liar and a murderer, the father of lies.
The Genesis account explains that Satan deceived Adam and Eve with a lie (Gen. 3:4; 2:17) and that as a result sin and death entered the world. Subsequently the first murder followed when Abel was murdered by Cain. Therefore, the father of lies is also the father of sin, and those that are bound by sin serve him.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” -Genesis 3:15 (ESV)
Thus, Yeshua’s opponents prove themselves children of Satan by their accusations aimed at Yeshua and their denial of the Truth in Him. A liar will always call the truth a lie.
45 But because I speak (dab’riy[H]) absolute truth (ha-emet[H], aletheia[G]), you do not believe, trust (ta’amiynu[H], pisteuo[G]) Me. 46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak with absolute truth (emet[H], aletheia[G]), why do you not believe, trust (pisteuo[G]) Me?
Yeshua’s opponents had been trying and failing to trap Him in a sin from the moment they first began to hate Him. The phrase “why do you not believe Me…” further emphasises the fact that He is speaking specifically to that subgroup who have not believed, and want to kill Him.
47 He who is of the God (ha-Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]) hears that which is spoken of the God (ha-Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]); for this reason you do not hear, because you are not of the God (ha-Elohiym[H], ho Theos[G]).”
Here, He is clearly speaking to those who do not believe, and not to all present, many of whom have already believed.
48 The Judean Religious leaders (Ha-Yehudiym[H], Ioudaios[G]]) answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Shomroniy[H] (Samaritan) and have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity (sheid[H], daimonion[G])?” 49 Yeshua answered, “I do not have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity (sheid[H], daimonion[G]); but I honour, esteem, revere (kabeid[H], timao[G]) My Father (Aviy[H]), and you dishonour, insult (atimazo[G]) Me.
I have translated Ioudaios as Judean Religious leaders here because the context shows clearly that only those who opposed Yeshua are speaking.
“Do we not say rightly that You are a Shomroniy[H] (Samaritan) and have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity?” This accusation explicitly vocalizes the tacit accusation of illegitimacy inferred in verse 41.
“Yeshua answered, “I do not have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity; but I honour, esteem, revere My Father, and you dishonour, insult Me.” Put simply, “By dishonouring Me you dishonour the God Whom you claim as your Father.”
Elsewhere when accused of having an evil spirit Yeshua warns His accusers that if they determine to continue to believe this of Yeshua that they will have no hope of salvation (Mark 3:23; Luke 12:10).
50 But I do not seek (zeteo[G]) My glory, judgement, view, opinion (kevodiy[H], doxa[G]); there is One who seeks and separates, selects, chooses (krino[G]).
We note that again a correlation can be made between glory and judgement. Yeshua submits His glory and judgement to the One to Whom it belongs, God the Father.
51 “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, speech, essence, substance (devariy[H], logos[G]) that one will never see, attend to, remain in (tereo[G]) the death of the body (mavet[H], thanatos[G]).”
Further illuminating the practical outworking of the freedom He has previously spoken of, Yeshua explains that through intimacy with God in Him a person can be free from slavery to sin and death and instead will not remain or abide in death. Elsewhere Yeshua explains this in another way saying:
“‘I am the resurrection and the living. The one who believes in Me will live, even though that one dies;” -Yochanan (John) 11:25
“And as it is appointed unto human beings once to die, and then the judgment:” -Hebrews 9:27
The key here is that the one who keeps the message of Messiah Yeshua will not “remain” in the death that results from temporal life in the sin affected world.
52 The Judean Religious leaders (Ha-Yehudiym[H], Ioudaios[G]) said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon, evil spirit, false divinity (sheid[H], daimonion[G]). Avraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, speech, essence, substance (logos[G]), that one will not taste (geuomai[G]) of the death of the body (meit[H], thanatos[G]) into the unbroken age (aion[G]).’
This is the ancient equivalent of “You’re a total psycho, Abraham and the prophets died years ago, which proves that what you’re saying about your words having the ability to give a person life over death is a lot of garbage!”
53 Not in the least are You greater (ha’gadol[H]) than our father Avraham, who died? The prophets (han’viyiym[H]) died too; who are You making Yourself out to be?”
Yeshua’s opponents accuse Him of delusions of grandeur. The height of irony. Added to this is the interesting fact that the Samaritan woman asked something similar when she challenged Yeshua’s authority with the rhetorical question “Are you greater than our father Jacob?” (John 4:12).
It’s clear to we Messiah following Jews that those who challenged Him with these words did not represent the whole. One of our ancient commentators writes:
""Behold my servant shall deal prudently", this is the King Messiah; "he shall be exalted" above Abraham, as it is written, (Gen.14:22) "and extolled" above Moses, as it is written, (Num.11:12) and he shall be higher than the ministering angels, as it is written, (Eze.1:26) for he shall be גדול מן אבות, "greater than the fathers".'' - Tachuma apud Huls. p. 321
54 Yeshua answered, “If I glorify, extol, honour, prefer (chabeid[H], doxazo) Myself, My glory, judgement, view, opinion (k’vodiy[H], doxa[G]) is nothing; it is My Father (Aviy[H], Pater[G]) Who glorifies, extols, honours, prefers (chabeid[H], doxazo[G]) Me, of Whom you say, ‘He is our God (Eloheiynu[H], Theos[G])’;
Yeshua responds, “I’m not making Myself out to be anything, to the contrary, it’s My Father, Who honours Me, the same Father Whom you claim as your God.”
“For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” -2 Corinthians 10:18 (ESV)
55 and you have not come to know (y’datem[H], ginosko[G]) Him, but I see, perceive (eido[G]) Him; and if I say that I do not see, perceive (eido[G]) Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do see, perceive (eido[G]) Him and keep, guard, carefully attend to (tereo[G]) His word (d’varo[H], logos[G]).
The Greek text here is important. Yeshua explains that His opponents have not come to know (ginsoko) Him, and that Yeshua sees (eido) God. Note the present continuous tense of the text, not that Yeshua has seen God but that He continues to exist in and see God. Therefore, even if He wanted to acquiesce to the incredulity of His opponents He could not because being the very definition of Truth He is unable to lie and say that He is someone else.
Notice that Yeshua “guards carefully and attends to God’s word (davar[H], logos[G]). Yeshua is the Word (John 1). Therefore, He is instructing those who believe to follow His example (v. 31-32).
56 Your father Avraham rejoiced exceedingly (sas[H], agalliao[G]) to see perceive (eido[G]) My day (yomiy[H]), and he saw (eido[G]) it and was glad, hailed it, thrived in it (yis’mach[H], chairo[G]).”
In the order (Seder) of Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah) it is written:
“Abraham rejoiced with the rejoicing of the law, he that cometh shall come, the branch with the joy of the law; Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, rejoiced with the joy of the law; he that cometh shall come, the branch with the joy of the law.'' -Seder Tephillot, fol. 309. 1. Ed. Basil.
Yeshua is quite literally saying that Avraham saw Yeshua and His day (time) [past tense]. Moses also knew the Messiah, which is the reason for his giving up life in Pharaoh’s palace in order to live among his Jewish people (Heb. 11:26).
NB: First century Jewish tradition (Testament of Abraham) records a story of Avraham being taken by the Arch Angel Michael on a tour of the heavens and the inhabited world, the idea being that on this tour he saw the coming judgement and the mercy and grace of God made manifest. However, it does not specify the revelation of the Messiah and is therefore unlikely to apply to the present text in any meaningful way.
57 Therefore, the Judean Religious leaders (Ha-Yehudiym[H], Ioudaios[G]) said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Avraham?”
They focused on the wrong subject. They were still fixated on how Yeshua measured up against Avraham when they should have considered how Yeshua might have been revealed in the faith of Avraham. It was not that Yeshua had seen Avraham that was important, rather it was that Avraham had seen Yeshua. God is the focus of our prayer, not the vehicle for our desires. Clear sight begets right conclusions and right conclusions beget clear sight.
The reference to the age of fifty years has significance in ancient Judaism. Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 21. Says that at the age of fifty a Jewish man becomes fit to give counsel (as an elder of the community). This is said to be why the Levites were dismissed from service at that age.
A Jewish man could not be chosen as a Meturgeman (interpreter) in a kehilah (congregation), until he reached fifty years of age. (Talmud Bavliy Chagigah, fol. 14. 1. Yuchasin, fol. 44. 2.)
If a Jewish man died before fifty years of age it was considered a death of “cutting off”, inferring a curse for a sinful life of disobedience to the Torah. (T. Hieros. Biccurim, fol. 64. 3. Talmud Bavliy Moed Katon, fol. 28. 1. Macsecheth Semachot, c. 3. sect. 9.)
58 Yeshua[H] said to them, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, before Avraham was born, I am, exist (Aniy[H], ego eimi[G]).”
Any fool who says that Yeshua never claimed to be God (with us) need look no further than this verse to see that Yeshua claimed to pre-exist Abraham as the great I AM. This is quite literally the meaning of verse 58.
“And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.” -Exodus 3:14 KJV
59 Therefore they picked up stones to drop on Him, but Yeshua[H] hid Himself and went out of the temple (hieron[G], hamikdash[H]).
Believing Yeshua to have committed the gravest of blasphemies his opponents (not the majority of the crowd but the few who were already seeking a reason to kill Him) picked up heavy stones to drop on Him. They did this contrary to the sanctity of the Temple precinct in the court of the women, and contrary to the Torah instruction concerning the Sabbaths of God (although one commentator claims that the Torah allows for stoning on the Sabbath under exceptional circumstances. T. Hieros. Yom Tob, fol. 63. 2. ). But, Yeshua’s time had not come and Yeshua hid Himself in the crowd and made His way safely out of the Temple complex. It is highly likely that the crowd aided His escape, given that many believed and that those who were unsure did not consider Him worthy of stoning.
At this juncture the reader of the New Testament is faced once more with a major decision. Is Yeshua Who He says He is, that being God with us, or is He a blasphemer and heretic to be completely rejected? These are the only two choices. You may not call Him both a good teacher and a heretic, that is a contradiction. You may not call Him a devout Jew and a blasphemer, that would be a contradiction. According to the prophet Isaiah you may not call Him the Messiah and at the same time say that He is not God with us (Imanu El), that would be a contradiction. Either Yeshua is both God with us and the promised King Messiah of Israel, or He is a liar and a heretic. You choose. The truth will not be changed by your decision, but you could be.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.