they take refuge in another. They are no idolaters and "sinners of the Gentiles," but the favoured race, the chosen people, the children of God, to whom He had proclaimed Himself the common Father.1 From this refuge however the Lord drives them as from the other. The reasoning is the same in both the cases. Can they be the spiritual children of Abraham who are so averse from the spirit of Abraham? Can they be true sons of God who are so rebellious against God? Can Abraham be their father who hate one whom he reverenced? Can God be their father who reject Him whom He sent ? 2 The Lord after once more declaring His identity of will with the Father, and appealing to His Divine mission, again glances at the gross prejudice which prevented the reception of His doctrine. For they affected to despise His teaching, and were casting contempt upon it as unintelligible, mystical, mad.3 How can any arguments convince a man of that concerning which he has made up his mind never to be convinced? However excellent His speech, they had already decided in their own minds against the cause He had undertaken to plead. They had prejudged the case. If God were their Father, they would recognize and reverence His Son; but they fail to hear the voice of the messenger, because their minds are made up against the message He brings. They are so prepossessed and preoccupied with their own idea that they cannot even hear His argument. How common is this mental unfairness! Their minds are already filled full with fancies of their own, so that anything counter to them cannot even enter. It is as in a packed assembly, where one cannot even obtain a hearing. One speaks as to deaf men. It is to show a thing to the blind. They have ears and hear not. They have eyes and see not.

1 Mal. ii. 10.


2 The "I proceeded forth," refers to His Godhead; the "I am come" to His arrival among men. St. John xvi. 28; 1 St. John v. 20.

3 vv. 48, 49 below; ch. vii. 20; x. 20, 21.

4 St. Luke xx. 13.

5 v. 47 below; ch. x. 3-5.




St. John viii. 44-47.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.


Our Lord having, in passing, reproved the manifest unfairness of the Jews, proceeds with His argument. And whereas before He had simply said, "Ye do the deeds of your father," leaving it to their consciences to supply who alone this could be,-now He completes His sentence and openly declares who that father is. You boast to be the children of God. Can God inspire murder and hatred of the truth? Prove ye not rather that ye are the children of the evil one, by willingly doing the same things. And this is no reckless charge, no passionate exclamation, like theirs against Him, but the deliberate and solemn charge of the Truth Himself. And He proceeds to prove His words. He appeals to facts. By their plotting against Him who came into the world to bear witness unto the truth,2 they proved themselves the progeny of him who was a murderer from the beginning, who stood 3 not in the truth, but fell into utter falsehood. Here is the portrait of the father of lies from the hand of Him who is the Truth itself. He slew our first parents with his fatal falsehood. And "the same devil

1 See the original, v. 44. Compare ch. vii. 17. "Your will is to do.' It indicates . . . the freedom of the human will as the foundation of the

condemnation of the sinner."-Alf.
2 St. John xviii. 37.
3 See the original.

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that set enmity betwixt man and God, sets enmity betwixt man and man.' The first man that died in the world died a violent death. "Ye shall not surely die," said the archdeceiver; but what must have been the feelings of the general mother when she beheld her Abel slain by a brother's hand? 2 So was the same evil spirit inspiring now these Jews to slay Jesus. He utters falsehood not as a thing alien to his nature, as one whose heart is not yet altogether hardened, whose conscience is not seared; but as a thing proper to his nature, glorying in his shame, saying "Evil, be thou my good."3 Such is Satan, the father of lies, the liar's father. If men only realized what the devil is, would there not be an end for ever to all profane jesting about him? But the deceits of the devil were pleasant to their soul. Had our Lord flattered them with falsehoods, they would have welcomed Him. Because He told them the wholesome, unpalatable truth, they rejected Him. But how holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, must that life have been which could make this challenge to those who would have been too ready, had they been able, to confute it! The conclusion, though not expressed, is plain. They could find no fault in Him. And the consequence is, they should admit that He spake the truth. And this is implied in His unanswerable question. If they could not but admit that He spake the truth, what reason could they give for still refusing to believe? And finally, reverting to their claim to be of God, He shows the emptiness of their boast. He that is of God heareth God's words: they heard them not: therefore they were not of God."


1 Bp. Hall, Contemp. bk. i.
21 St. John iii. 8, 10, 12.
3 Paradise Lost, bk. iv.

The "of it" or " of him," may be referred either to the "lie" or "liar" preceding. Alford explains that, whereas we should rather have expected the plural "of them," "the pronoun is attracted into the singular also." We might indeed supply the noun, rendering the passage, "He is a liar, and the father of the liar," i.e.


of every liar.

Jer. v. 31; St. John v. 43; Gal. iv. 16.

"How differently they came out of the trial, themselves being judges, when the like question was proposed to them! vv. 7, 9 above.

7 Dan. vi. 5.

St. John ix. 16, 24, 25, 31-33. 9 1 St. John iv. 6, where the words are cited.

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St. John viii. 48-55.

Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.


The Jews, unable to disprove what the Lord had said, have recourse to what it appears was a current reproach.' To the former part of their reckless charge the Good Samaritan makes no reply. When it suited their purpose, the same men who now call Him a Samaritan had pronounced Him to be of Galilee. So inconsistent is passionate prejudice with itself. But to the latter part of their question, blasphemous as it was, He calmly answers. How can one who honours God be possessed of the devil? How can the Son of God be the servant of Satan? I honour Him as much as ye do dishonour me. He was not careful to vindicate Himself from their cruel aspersions, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously. And He proceeds calmly with the discourse which they had so rudely

The occurrence related in St. John, ch. iv., may have helped to fix this stigma on Him. 2 St. John vii. 41.

interrupted. He utters another of His solemn sayings,' full of mercy, which should have arrested their rebellion. But it has no such effect upon these hardened men. They interrupt Him again, and are even more outrageous than before. He was speaking after an heavenly and spiritual manner. It was the doctrine of the immortal happiness of believers. "The death of the body is not reckoned as death, any more than the life of the body is life, in our Lord's discourses... Both words have a deeper meaning." But the Jews, according as they were wont, thought only of the earthly significance of His words; and as Abraham and the Prophets had not obtained an exemption from the common lot of all men,3 they pronounce Him more than mad who could promise immortality to men confessedly inferior to these. From their vain confidence in their descent from Abraham, the Lord had been endeavouring to dislodge them; but now they seem to be returning to their former ground. They had asked two passionate questions. The Lord answers as before,5 by appealing to such proofs as showed that He was indeed greater than Abraham, that He was no less than the very Son of God. He has not put Himself forward as any pretender might. God Himself takes care to glorify Him." They professed to know God, but in works they denied Him. But the Lord in a special sense claimed to know Him, even as a son with his father. And if, in deference to their clamour, He were to waive His just claim, He would be but lowering himself to their level. The Lord repeats His claim to know the Father in a sense He only can. this claim He is only carrying out His instructions.

1 Compare St. John iii. 36; v. 24, 25; xi. 25, 26.

2 Alf.

The Jews quote the Lord's saying with a slight variation. The terms however are almost synonymous. He employs a metaphor taken from one of the senses, that of sight. They employ the same sort of metaphor, only taken from another of the senses, taste. As Drusius remarks,

species for genus.


And in

Compare St. John iv. 11, 12. 5 Compare St. John v. 31, 32, 36,

It is a different word in v. 54 to that in v. 49, though in the E. V. each is rendered by the same. 7 St. John i. 18.

The order of the original is the reverse of that in the E. V. "like unto you, a liar."

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