They answered - That is, the other Jews who had not believed - the carping, cavilling Pharisees already mentioned; for the words cannot be spoken of the simple people who had already believed. See John 8:30.
Were never in bondage to any man - This assertion was not only false, but it was ridiculous in the extreme; seeing their whole history, sacred and profane, is full of recitals of their servitude in Egypt, in Chaldea, under the Persians, under the Macedonians, and under the Romans. But those who are not under the influence of the truth of God will speak and act according to the influence of the spirit of falsehood and error. If the words are to be restrained to themselves alone, they may be understood thus: We are Abraham's seed: and we were never in bondage. Both these propositions had a faint shadow of truth.
They answered him - Not those who believed on him, but some who stood by and heard him.
We be Abraham‘s seed - We are the children or descendants of Abraham. Abraham was not a slave, and they pretended that they were his real descendants, inheriting his freedom as well as his spirit. They meant that they were the direct descendants of Abraham by Isaac, his heir. Ishmael, also Abraham‘s son, was the son of a bondwoman Galatians 4:21-23, but they were descended in a direct line from the acknowledged heir of Abraham.
Were never in bondage to any, man - This is a most remarkable declaration, and one evidently false. Their fathers had been slaves in Egypt; their nation had been enslaved in Babylon; it had repeatedly been subject to the Assyrians; it was enslaved by Herod the Great; and was, at the very time they spoke, groaning under the grievous and insupportable bondage of the Romans. But we see here:
1.That Jesus was right when he said John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil; he is a liar, and the father of it.”
2.People will say anything, however false or ridiculous, to avoid and oppose the truth.
3.People groaning under the most oppressive bondage are often unwilling to acknowledge it in any manner, and are indignant at being charged with it. This is the case with all sinners.
4.Sin, and the bondage to sin, produces passion, irritation, and a troubled soul; and a person under the influence of passion regards little what he says, and is often a liar.
5.There is need of the gospel. That only can make people free, calm, collected, meek, and lovers of truth; and since every person is by nature the servant of sin, he should without delay seek an interest in that gospel which can alone make him free.
16. Rescued From Error—“Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” My words are in perfect harmony with the Old Testament Scriptures, and with the law spoken from Sinai. I am not preaching a new doctrine. I am presenting old truths rescued from the framework of error, and placed in a new setting (Manuscript 33, 1911). 5BC 1136.2
41, 50-52. Priests and Rulers Deceived—[John 7:51 quoted.] The lesson that Christ had given to Nicodemus had not been in vain. Conviction had fastened upon his mind, and in his heart he had accepted Jesus. Since his interview with the Saviour, he had earnestly searched the Old Testament Scriptures, and he had seen truth placed in the true setting of the gospel. 5BC 1136.3Read in context »
The Jewish people might have repented, if they would, but they were clothed with the garments of their own self-righteousness. They claimed to be the descendants of Abraham, and looked upon every promise made to Israel as theirs. But the Israel of God are those who are converted, not those who are the lineal descendants of Abraham. “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:1, 2). “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (chap. 2:28, 29).—Manuscript 31a, March 7, 1898, “His Own Received Him Not.” UL 80.4Read in context »
Christ longed to let light shine into the darkened minds of the Jewish people. He said to them, “If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill Me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God. This did not Abraham.” John 8:39, 40. COL 268.1
Christ recognized no virtue in lineage. He taught that spiritual connection supersedes all natural connection. The Jews claimed to have descended from Abraham; but by failing to do the works of Abraham, they proved that they were not his true children. Only those who prove themselves to be spiritually in harmony with Abraham by obeying the voice of God, are reckoned as of true descent. Although the beggar belonged to the class looked upon by men as inferior, Christ recognized him as one whom Abraham would take into the very closest friendship. COL 268.2
The rich man though surrounded with all the luxuries of life was so ignorant that he put Abraham where God should have been. If he had appreciated his exalted privileges and had allowed God's Spirit to mold his mind and heart, he would have had an altogether different position. So with the nation he represented. If they had responded to the divine call, their future would have been wholly different. They would have shown true spiritual discernment. They had means which God would have increased, making it sufficient to bless and enlighten the whole world. But they had so far separated from the Lord's arrangement that their whole life was perverted. They failed to use their gifts as God's stewards in accordance with truth and righteousness. Eternity was not brought into their reckoning, and the result of their unfaithfulness was ruin to the whole nation. COL 269.1Read in context »