Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


John 8:39

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

If ye were Abraham's children - Griesbach reads εϚε, ye are, instead of ητε, ye were, on the authority of BDL, Vulgate, four copies of the Itala; Origen and Augustin.

Ye would do the works of Abraham - As the son has the nature of his father in him, and naturally imitates him, so, if ye were the children of Abraham, ye would imitate him in his faith, obedience, and uprightness; but this ye do not, for ye seek to kill me - ye are watching for an opportunity to destroy me, merely because I tell you the truth: Abraham never did any thing like this; therefore, you have no spiritual relationship to him.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Abraham is our father - We are descended from Abraham. Of this the Jews boasted much, as being descended from such an illustrious man. See the notes at Matthew 3:9. As Jesus did not expressly say who he meant John 8:38 when he said they did the works of their father, they obstinately persisted in pretending not to understand him, as if they had said, “We acknowledge no other father but Abraham, and to charge us with being the offspring of another is slander and calumny.”

If ye were Abraham‘s children - The words “sons” and “children” are often used to denote those who imitate another or who have his spirit. See the notes at Matthew 1:1. Here it means, “if you were worthy to be called the children of Abraham, or if you had his spirit.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Our Lord opposed the proud and vain confidence of these Jews, showing that their descent from Abraham could not profit those of a contrary spirit to him. Where the word of God has no place, no good is to be expected; room is left there for all wickedness. A sick person who turns from his physician, and will take neither remedies nor food, is past hope of recovery. The truth both heals and nourishes the hearts of those who receive it. The truth taught by philosophers has not this power and effect, but only the truth of God. Those who claim the privileges of Abraham, must do Abraham's works; must be strangers and sojourners in this world; keep up the worship of God in their families, and always walk before God.
Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 70.3

Men whom God had created, and who were dependent upon Him for every moment of their lives, who claimed to be the children of Abraham, worked out the wrath of Satan upon the innocent Son of the infinite God. While Christ was bearing the heavy guilt incurred by transgression of the law, while in the very act of bearing our sins, of carrying our sorrows, He was mocked ... by the chief priests and rulers.... It was there that mercy and truth met together, righteousness and peace embraced each other. Here is a theme which all need to understand. Here are lengths and breadths, depths and heights, that pass any computation.... TMK 70.3

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 154

Through type and promise God “preached before the gospel unto Abraham.” Galatians 3:8. And the patriarch's faith was fixed upon the Redeemer to come. Said Christ to the Jews. “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he should see My day; and he saw it, and was glad.” John 8:56, R.V., margin. The ram offered in the place of Isaac represented the Son of God, who was to be sacrificed in our stead. When man was doomed to death by transgression of the law of God, the Father, looking upon His Son, said to the sinner, “Live: I have found a ransom.” PP 154.1

It was to impress Abraham's mind with the reality of the gospel, as well as to test his faith, that God commanded him to slay his son. The agony which he endured during the dark days of that fearful trial was permitted that he might understand from his own experience something of the greatness of the sacrifice made by the infinite God for man's redemption. No other test could have caused Abraham such torture of soul as did the offering of his son. God gave His Son to a death of agony and shame. The angels who witnessed the humiliation and soul anguish of the Son of God were not permitted to interpose, as in the case of Isaac. There was no voice to cry, “It is enough.” To save the fallen race, the King of glory yielded up His life. What stronger proof can be given of the infinite compassion and love of God? “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32. PP 154.2

The sacrifice required of Abraham was not alone for his own good, nor solely for the benefit of succeeding generations; but it was also for the instruction of the sinless intelligences of heaven and of other worlds. The field of the controversy between Christ and Satan—the field on which the plan of redemption is wrought out—is the lesson book of the universe. Because Abraham had shown a lack of faith in God's promises, Satan had accused him before the angels and before God of having failed to comply with the conditions of the covenant, and as unworthy of its blessings. God desired to prove the loyalty of His servant before all heaven, to demonstrate that nothing less than perfect obedience can be accepted, and to open more fully before them the plan of salvation. PP 154.3

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 9.3

Do not dishonor Jesus by doubting His precious promises. He wants us to believe in Him with unwavering faith. There is a class who say, “I believe, I believe,” and claim all the promises which are given on condition of obedience. While they claim everything in the promises of God, they do not the works of Christ. God is not honored by any such faith, it is a spurious faith. Then we see a people trying to keep all of God's commandments, but there are many of these who do not come up to their exalted privileges and claim nothing. God's promises are to those who keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.... TDG 9.3

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 466-7

Among His hearers many were drawn to Him in faith, and to them He said, “If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” DA 466.1

These words offended the Pharisees. The nation's long subjection to a foreign yoke, they disregarded, and angrily exclaimed, “We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest Thou, Ye shall be made free?” Jesus looked upon these men, the slaves of malice, whose thoughts were bent upon revenge, and sadly answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” They were in the worst kind of bondage,—ruled by the spirit of evil. DA 466.2

Every soul that refuses to give himself to God is under the control of another power. He is not his own. He may talk of freedom, but he is in the most abject slavery. He is not allowed to see the beauty of truth, for his mind is under the control of Satan. While he flatters himself that he is following the dictates of his own judgment, he obeys the will of the prince of darkness. Christ came to break the shackles of sin-slavery from the soul. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” sets us “free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2. DA 466.3

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