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#33511 Sat Jul 08, 2006 4:17 PM
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Our sermon last Sunday was based on the text of John 8:30-36.

Here is the passage in question:

Quote
30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him,“We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave [2] to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

You Are of Your Father the Devil

39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing what Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing what your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Here's my question. Verse 30 says that some believed. In verse 31 it says that Jesus is talking to "those Jews who believed in Him." In verse 33 they answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

When he begins to answer in verse 34, is He again speaking to the larger crowd, or is He continuing to speak to "those Jews who believed in Him."? Was He questioning the truth of their belief? What is going on here?


Trust the past to God's mercy, the present to God's love and the future to God's providence." - St. Augustine
Hiraeth
gotribe #33512 Sat Jul 08, 2006 6:46 PM
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During the course of the discourse discussed in the preceding verses, now one, then another became convinced that Jesus was (at least to some extent) what he claimed to be, until those who reacted in this manner formed a considerable group (“many”). Was this conviction genuine faith? Was it merely a mental persuasion or was it also wholehearted personal surrender? This question, which has caused so much discussion and controversy among commentators, becomes even more acute when it is borne in mind that the verses which follow show a swift change from belief to violent hostility. Not only does Jesus encounter verbal opposition (verse 33) but even verbal abuse (verse 48: “You are a Samaritan and have a demon”; cf. 52). At last there is even an attempt to stone him (verse 59).

The various views of commentators may be summarized as follows:

(1) Verse 30 (believed) refers to those who embraced Jesus by genuine faith. Verse 31 (had believed) refers to those who had not made the full surrender of faith. Hence, the transition is between verses 30 and 31.

(2) Verses 30, 31, and 32 refer to genuine believers, those who have experienced a real change of heart and life. The transition is between verses 32 and 33. The objectors in verse 33 (and the verses which follow) are the unbelieving Jews.

(3) Verses 30–36 refer to genuine believers. The transition is between verses 36 and 37.

(4) The entire section is an uninterrupted story: those who in verse 30 are described as having believed in him are the same as those who oppose him vehemently in the verses which follow. There is no transition from one group to another. The people who are described in verses 30 and 31 do not have genuine faith, as the subsequent verses also clearly indicate.

In connection with the first three views the following is clear:

a. All regard the people who are described in verse 30 as being genuine believers.

b. All accept the theory that we are dealing here with two different groups, and that there is a transition (rather abrupt, it would seem) between the genuine believers of verse 30 and the genuine unbelievers who appear on the scene subsequently (whether at verse 31 or verse 33 or verse 37).

But, as to a., there is nothing that compels us to view the men described in verse 30 as being genuine believers. The finite verb believed followed by in him or in his name does not always indicate a change of heart. See on 2:23; 7:31; 12:42. See especially the context of 2:23 and 12:42. What is true is that the present participle in such cases always indicates genuine faith (3:16, 18, 36; 6:35, 40, 47; 7:38; 11:25, 26; 12:44, 46; 14:12; 17:20). See also on 3:16. But the present participle is not used here in 8:30.

Hence, whether the faith here indicated is genuine or not will have to be indicated by the following verses (the context).

As to b., no transition of any kind from one group of men to another sharply contrasted group is apparent to the ordinary reader of the Greek text or of the English translation. Thus, it is very difficult to see why the men indicated by the participle in verse 31 would have to be a completely different group than those to whom reference is made by the finite verb in verse 30. They believed while Jesus was still speaking; some of them perhaps after Jesus had spoken only a few minutes. They continued to believe (note force of the perfect participle) to the very end of the discourse (i.e., until Jesus again addresses them in verse 31).

As to the transition beginning at verse 33 or at verse 37, neither of these verses indicates a transition from one group to another group. Verse 33 begins with the words, “They answered him.” Naturally, the “they” refers to the people addressed in verse 32. Verse 36 reads, “If therefore the Son will make you free, you will be free indeed.” Then verse 37 continues, “I know that you are the seed of Abraham, yet you are seeking to kill me.” The conclusion which one naturally draws in such cases is that the “you” of verse 36 indicates the same group as the “you” of verse 37. Otherwise the entire paragraph becomes unintelligible.

We, accordingly, accept the view of Calvin and most other commentators (number 4 above) as being by far the most natural.

All this does not mean that there is no transition. There is, indeed, a transition; but it is not from one group to a totally different group. The transition is from one attitude to another attitude within the same group of people. That transition is very clear. It is, in fact, a striking change. As soon as Jesus shows these people that mere mental acceptance (as to Jesus being the Messiah of their dreams, for instance) is not enough, but that they must surrender themselves to him as their personal Deliverer from bondage to Satan and to sin, they become furious and no longer believe in him in any sense.

William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, vol. 1-2, New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to John, Accompanying biblical text is author's translation., New Testament Commentary, 2:50-52 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001).


Reformed and Always Reforming,
J_Edwards #33513 Sat Jul 08, 2006 7:38 PM
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Thank you, Joe. It seemed as though the more I tried to figure it out, the harder it seemed for me to understand it at all.

I'm going to print this out and go through it again, slowly, with my Bible open.

I may be back. hehehe


Trust the past to God's mercy, the present to God's love and the future to God's providence." - St. Augustine
Hiraeth
gotribe #33514 Sat Jul 08, 2006 10:42 PM
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Maybe reading Calvin will help.


Reformed and Always Reforming,
J_Edwards #33515 Sun Jul 09, 2006 2:25 PM
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gotribe Offline OP
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Thanks, again, Joe. I printed it out and will read it at my first opportunity.


Trust the past to God's mercy, the present to God's love and the future to God's providence." - St. Augustine
Hiraeth

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