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John 8:59

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Then took they up stones, etc. - It appears that the Jews understood him as asserting his Godhead; and, supposing him to be a blasphemer, they proceeded to stone him, according to the law. Leviticus 24:16.

But Jesus hid himself - In all probability he rendered himself invisible - though some will have it that he conveyed himself away from those Jews who were his enemies, by mixing himself with the many who believed on him, ( John 8:30, John 8:31;), and who, we may suppose, favored his escape. Pearce.

But where did they find the stones, Christ and they being in the temple? It is answered:

    1st. It is probable, as the buildings of the temple had not been yet completed, there might have been many stones near the place; or,

2dly. They might have gone out so the outer courts for them; and, before their return, our Lord had escaped. See Lightfoot and Calmet.

Going through the midst of them, and so passed by - These words are wanting in the Codex Bezae, and in several editions and versions. Erasmus, Grotius, Beza, Pearce, and Griesbach, think them not genuine. The latter has left them out of the test. But, notwithstanding what these critics have said, the words seem necessary to explain the manner of our Lord's escape.

1st. He hid himself, by becoming invisible; and then,

2dly. He passed through the midst of them, and thus got clear away from the place.

See a similar escape mentioned, Luke 4:30, and the note there.

The subjects of this chapter are both uncommon and of vast importance.

  1. The case of the woman taken in adultery, when properly and candidly considered, is both intelligible and edifying. It is likely that the accusation was well founded; and that the scribes and Pharisees endeavored maliciously to serve themselves of the fact, to embroil our Lord with the civil power, or ruin his moral reputation. Our Lord was no magistrate, and therefore could not, with any propriety, give judgment in the case; had he done it, it must have been considered an invasion of the rights and office of the civil magistrate, and would have afforded them ground for a process against him. On the other hand, had he acquitted the woman, he might have been considered, not only as setting aside the law of Moses, but as being indulgent to a crime of great moral turpitude, and the report of this must have ruined his moral character. He disappointed this malice by refusing to enter into the case; and overwhelmed his adversaries with confusion, by unmasking their hearts, and pointing out their private abominations. It is generally supposed that our Lord acquitted the woman: this is incorrect; he neither acquitted nor condemned her: he did not enter at all juridically into the business. His saying, Neither do I condemn thee, was no more than a simple declaration that he would not concern himself with the matter - that being the office of the chief magistrate; but, as a preacher of righteousness, he exhorted her to abandon her evil practices, lest the punishment, which she was now likely to escape, should be inflicted on her for a repetition of her transgression.
  • In several places in this chapter, our Lord shows his intimate union with the Father, both in will, doctrine, and deed; and though he never speaks so as to confound the persons, yet he evidently shows that such was the indivisible unity, subsisting between the Father and the Son, that what the one witnessed, the other witnessed; what the one did, the other did; and that he who saw the one necessarily saw the other.
  • The original state of Satan is here pointed out - he abode not in the truth, John 8:44. Therefore he was once in the truth, in righteousness and true holiness - and he fell from that truth into sin and falsehood, so that he became the father of lies and the first murderer. Our Lord confirms here the Mosaic account of the fall of man, and shows that this fall was brought about by his lies, and that these lies issued in the murder or destruction both of the body and soul of man.
  • The patience and meekness exercised by our Lord, towards his most fell and unrelenting enemies, are worthy the especial regard of all those who are persecuted for righteousness. - When he was reviled, he reviled not again. As the searcher of hearts, he simply declared their state, John 8:44, in order to their conviction and conversion: not to have done so, would have been to betray their souls. In this part of his conduct we find two grand virtues united, which are rarely associated in man, Meekness and Fidelity - patience to bear all insults and personal injuries; and boldness, is the face of persecution and death, to declare the truth. The meek man generally leaves the sinner unreproved: the bold and zealous man often betrays a want of due self-management, and reproves sin in a spirit which prevents the reproof from reaching the heart. In this respect also, our blessed Lord has left us an example, that we should follow his steps. Let him that readeth understand.
  • Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    Then took they up stones - It seems they understood him as blaspheming, and proceeded, even without a form of trial, to stone him as such, because this was the punishment prescribed in the law for blasphemy, Leviticus 24:16. See John 10:31. The fact that the Jews understood him in this sense is strong proof that his words naturally conveyed the idea that he was divine. This was in the temple. Herod the Great had not yet completed its repairs, and Dr. Lightfoot has remarked that stones would be lying around the temple in repairing it, which the people could easily use in their indignation.

    Jesus hid himself - See Luke 4:30. That is, he either by a miracle rendered himself invisible, or he so mixed with the multitude that he was concealed from them and escaped. Which is the meaning cannot be determined.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Christ and all that are his, depend upon God for honour. Men may be able to dispute about God, yet may not know him. Such as know not God, and obey not the gospel of Christ, are put together, 2Th 1:8. All who rightly know anything of Christ, earnestly desire to know more of him. Those who discern the dawn of the light of the Sun of Righteousness, wish to see his rising. "Before Abraham was, I AM." This speaks Abraham a creature, and our Lord the Creator; well, therefore, might he make himself greater than Abraham. I AM, is the name of God, Ex 3:14; it speaks his self-existence; he is the First and the Last, ever the same, Re 1:8. Thus he was not only before Abraham, but before all worlds, Pr 8:23; Joh 1:1. As Mediator, he was the appointed Messiah, long before Abraham; the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Re 13:8. The Lord Jesus was made of God Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption, to Adam, and Abel, and all that lived and died by faith in him, before Abraham. The Jews were about to stone Jesus for blasphemy, but he withdrew; by his miraculous power he passed through them unhurt. Let us stedfastly profess what we know and believe concerning God; and if heirs of Abraham's faith, we shall rejoice in looking forward to that day when the Saviour shall appear in glory, to the confusion of his enemies, and to complete the salvation of all who believe in him.
    Ellen G. White
    Christ's Object Lessons, 381

    The Samaritan had fulfilled the command, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” thus showing that he was more righteous than those by whom he was denounced. Risking his own life, he had treated the wounded man as his brother. This Samaritan represents Christ. Our Saviour manifested for us a love that the love of man can never equal. When we were bruised and dying, He had pity upon us. He did not pass us by on the other side, and leave us, helpless and hopeless, to perish. He did not remain in His holy, happy home, where He was beloved by all the heavenly host. He beheld our sore need, He undertook our case, and identified His interests with those of humanity. He died to save His enemies. He prayed for His murderers. Pointing to His own example, He says to His followers, “These things I command you, that ye love one another”; “as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 15:17; 13:34. COL 381.1

    The priest and the Levite had been for worship to the temple whose service was appointed by God Himself. To participate in that service was a great and exalted privilege, and the priest and Levite felt that having been thus honored, it was beneath them to minister to an unknown sufferer by the wayside. Thus they neglected the special opportunity which God had offered them as His agents to bless a fellow being. COL 382.1

    Many today are making a similar mistake. They separate their duties into two distinct classes. The one class is made up of great things, to be regulated by the law of God; the other class is made up of so-called little things, in which the command, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” is ignored. This sphere of work is left to caprice, subject to inclination or impulse. Thus the character is marred, and the religion of Christ misrepresented. COL 382.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Early Writings, 159

    I was shown that Satan and his angels were very busy during Christ's ministry, inspiring men with unbelief, hate, and scorn. Often when Jesus uttered some cutting truth, reproving their sins, the people would become enraged. Satan and his angels urged them on to take the life of the Son of God. More than once they took up stones to cast at Him, but angels guarded Him and bore Him away from the angry multitude to a place of safety. Again, as the plain truth dropped from His holy lips, the multitude laid hold of Him and led Him to the brow of a hill, intending to cast Him down. A contention arose among themselves as to what they should do with Him, when the angels again hid Him from the sight of the multitude, and He, passing through the midst of them, went His way. EW 159.1

    Satan still hoped that the great plan of salvation would fail. He exerted all his power to make the hearts of the people hard and their feelings bitter against Jesus. He hoped that so few would receive Him as the Son of God that He would consider His sufferings and sacrifice too great to make for so small a company. But I saw that if there had been but two who would have accepted Jesus as the Son of God and believed on Him to the saving of their souls, He would have carried out the plan. EW 159.2

    Jesus began His work by breaking Satan's power over the suffering. He restored the sick to health, gave sight to the blind, and healed the lame, causing them to leap for joy and to glorify God. He restored to health those who had been infirm and bound by Satan's cruel power many years. With gracious words He comforted the weak, the trembling, and the desponding. The feeble, suffering ones whom Satan held in triumph, Jesus wrenched from his grasp, bringing to them soundness of body and great joy and happiness. He raised the dead to life, and they glorified God for the mighty display of His power. He wrought mightily for all who believed on Him. EW 159.3

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    Ellen G. White
    The Desire of Ages, 463-70

    This chapter is based on John 8:12-59; John 9.

    “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” DA 463.1

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