Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


John 8:44

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Ye are of your father the devil - That is, you have the temper, disposition, or spirit of the devil. You are influenced by him, you imitate him, and ought therefore to be called his children. See also 1 John 3:8-10; Acts 13:10; “Thou child of the devil.”

The devil - See the notes at Matthew 4:1.

The lusts - The desires or the wishes. You do what pleases him.

Ye will do - The word “will,” here, is not an auxiliary verb. It does not simply express futurity, or that such a thing will take place, but it implies an act of volitions. This you will or choose to do. The same mode of speech occurs in John 5:40. In what respects they showed that they were the children of the devil he proceeds to state: their murderous disposition; rejecting the truth; being favorable to falsehood and error.

He was a murderer from the beginning - That is, from the beginning of the world, or in the first records of him he is thus represented. This refers to the seduction of Adam and Eve. Death was denounced against sin, Genesis 2:17. The devil deceived our first parents, and they became subject to death, Romans 5:12, and Revelation 12:9; “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world.” Besides, Satan has in all ages deceived men, and been the cause of their spiritual and eternal death. His work has been to destroy, and in the worst sense of the word he may be said to have been a murderer. It was by his instigation, also, that Cain killed his brother, 1 John 3:12; “Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother.” As the Jews endeavored to kill the Saviour, so they showed that they had the spirit of the devil.

Abode not in the truth - He departed from the truth, or was false and a liar.

No truth in him - That is, he is a liar. It is his nature and his work to deceive.

He speaketh of his own - The word “own” is in the plural number, and means of the things that are appropriate to him, or that belong to his nature. His speaking falsehood is originated by his own propensities or disposition; he utters the expressions of his genuine character.

He is a liar - As when he deceived Adam, and in his deceiving, as far as possible, the world, and dragging man down to perdition.

The father of it - The father or originator of falsehood. The word “it” refers to lie or falsehood understood. From him falsehood first proceeded, and all liars possess his spirit and are under his influence. As the Jews refused to hear the truth which Jesus spoke, so they showed that they were the children of the father of lies.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Satan prompts men to excesses by which they murder themselves and others, while what he puts into the mind tends to ruin men's souls. He is the great promoter of falsehood of every kind. He is a liar, all his temptations are carried on by his calling evil good, and good evil, and promising freedom in sin. He is the author of all lies; whom liars resemble and obey, with whom all liars shall have their portion for ever. The special lusts of the devil are spiritual wickedness, the lusts of the mind, and corrupt reasonings, pride and envy, wrath and malice, enmity to good, and enticing others to evil. By the truth, here understand the revealed will of God as to the salvation of men by Jesus Christ, the truth Christ was now preaching, and which the Jews opposed.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Ye are of your father the devil - Ye are the seed of the old serpent. See on John 8:37; (note).

The lusts of your father - Like father like son. What Satan desires, ye desire; because ye are filled with his nature. Awful state of unregenerate men! They have the nearest alliance to Satan; they partake of his nature and have in them the same principles and propensities which characterize the very nature and essence of the devil! Reader, canst thou rest in this state? Apply to God, through Christ, that thou mayest be born again.

He was a murderer from the beginning - It was through him that Adam transgressed; in consequence of which death entered into the world, and slew him and all his posterity. This was the sentiment of the Jews themselves. In Sohar Kadash, the wicked are called, "The children of the old serpent, who slew Adam and all his descendants." See Schoettgen.

Abode not in the truth - He stood not in the truth - was once in a state of glorious felicity, but fell from it; and, being deprived of all good himself, he could not endure that others should enjoy any; therefore by his lies he deceived Eve, and brought her, her husband, and, through them, their posterity, into his own condemnation.

He speaketh of his own - Εκ των ιδιων λαλει, He speaketh of his own offspring, or, from his own disposition, for he is the father and fountain of all error and falsity; and all who are deceived by him, and partake of his disposition, falsity and cruelty, are his offspring, for he is a liar, and the father of it - και ὁ πατηρ αυτου - literally, his father also. There is considerable difficulty in this verse. The Cainites, and the Archontites, mentioned by Epiphanius, read it thus: "Ye are the children of your father the devil, because he is a liar, and his father was a liar. He was a man-slayer, and he did not remain in the truth. When he speaketh, he speaketh a lie of his own, (progenitors understood), because his father also was a liar." The consequences which the above heretics drew from this verse were the following. They said that the father of the Jews was a demon; that he also had a demon for his father; and that he had a demon for his father, etc. The Archontites maintained that Cain had a demon for his father, the spirit which our Lord speaks of here; and that the Jews proceeded from the race of Cain.

Grotius, supposing that the devil who tempted Eve was not the prince of devils, but rather a subordinate one, seems to think he may be understood here, he is a liar, and his father also, which is the literal translation of the latter clause of the text, ὡς και ὁ πατηρ αυτου, as it has been read by many of the primitive fathers.

Mr. Wakefield, by changing το, before ψευδος, into τις, gives the text the following translation: - "The devil is your father, and ye willingly perform the lusts of your father. He was a man-slayer from the first, and continued not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When Any One speaketh a lie, he speaketh according to his own kindred: for his father also is a liar." Our own translation, that refers πατηρ αυτου to ψευδος, a lie, and not to ψευϚης, a liar, is probably the most correct.

Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 502

Now the guilt of Satan stood forth without excuse. He had revealed his true character as a liar and a murderer. It was seen that the very same spirit with which he ruled the children of men, who were under his power, he would have manifested had he been permitted to control the inhabitants of heaven. He had claimed that the transgression of God's law would bring liberty and exaltation; but it was seen to result in bondage and degradation. GC 502.1

Satan's lying charges against the divine character and government appeared in their true light. He had accused God of seeking merely the exaltation of Himself in requiring submission and obedience from His creatures, and had declared that, while the Creator exacted self-denial from all others, He Himself practiced no self-denial and made no sacrifice. Now it was seen that for the salvation of a fallen and sinful race, the Ruler of the universe had made the greatest sacrifice which love could make; for “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:19. It was seen, also, that while Lucifer had opened the door for the entrance of sin by his desire for honor and supremacy, Christ had, in order to destroy sin, humbled Himself and become obedient unto death. GC 502.2

God had manifested His abhorrence of the principles of rebellion. All heaven saw His justice revealed, both in the condemnation of Satan and in the redemption of man. Lucifer had declared that if the law of God was changeless, and its penalty could not be remitted, every transgressor must be forever debarred from the Creator's favor. He had claimed that the sinful race were placed beyond redemption and were therefore his rightful prey. But the death of Christ was an argument in man's behalf that could not be overthrown. The penalty of the law fell upon Him who was equal with God, and man was free to accept the righteousness of Christ and by a life of penitence and humiliation to triumph, as the Son of God had triumphed, over the power of Satan. Thus God is just and yet the justifier of all who believe in Jesus. GC 502.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1119

But unless we are constantly on guard, we shall be overcome by the enemy. Although a solemn revelation of God's will concerning us has been revealed to all, yet a knowledge of His will does not set aside the necessity of offering earnest supplications to Him for help, and of diligently seeking to cooperate with Him in answering the prayers offered. He accomplishes His purposes through human instrumentalities (Manuscript 95, 1903). 6BC 1119.1

11. Complete Armor Essential—God wants every one to stand with the whole armor on, ready for the great review (Manuscript 63, 1908). 6BC 1119.2

11-17. The Breastplate of Righteousness—We must put on every piece of the armor, and then stand firm. The Lord has honored us by choosing us as His soldiers. Let us fight bravely for Him, maintaining the right in every transaction. Rectitude in all things is essential to the welfare of the soul. As you strive for the victory over your own inclinations, He will help you by His Holy Spirit to be circumspect in every action, that you may give no occasion for the enemy to speak evil of the truth. Put on as your breastplate that divinely protected righteousness which it is the privilege of all to wear. This will protect your spiritual life (The Youth's Instructor, September 12, 1901). 6BC 1119.3

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 337

Satan's enmity against God's law had impelled him to war against every precept of the Decalogue. To the great principle of love and loyalty to God, the Father of all, the principle of filial love and obedience is closely related. Contempt for parental authority will soon lead to contempt for the authority of God. Hence Satan's efforts to lessen the obligation of the fifth commandment. Among heathen peoples the principle enjoined in this precept was little heeded. In many nations parents were abandoned or put to death as soon as age had rendered them incapable of providing for themselves. In the family the mother was treated with little respect, and upon the death of her husband she was required to submit to the authority of her eldest son. Filial obedience was enjoined by Moses; but as the Israelites departed from the Lord, the fifth commandment, with others, came to be disregarded. PP 337.1

Satan was “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44); and as soon as he had obtained power over the human race, he not only prompted them to hate and slay one another, but, the more boldly to defy the authority of God, he made the violation of the sixth commandment a part of their religion. PP 337.2

By perverted conceptions of divine attributes, heathen nations were led to believe human sacrifices necessary to secure the favor of their deities; and the most horrible cruelties have been perpetrated under the various forms of idolatry. Among these was the practice of causing their children to pass through the fire before their idols. When one of them came through this ordeal unharmed, the people believed that their offerings were accepted; the one thus delivered was regarded as specially favored by the gods, was loaded with benefits, and ever afterward held in high esteem; and however aggravated his crimes, he was never punished. But should one be burned in passing through the fire, his fate was sealed; it was believed that the anger of the gods could be appeased only by taking the life of the victim, and he was accordingly offered as a sacrifice. In times of great apostasy these abominations prevailed, to some extent, among the Israelites. PP 337.3

The violation of the seventh commandment also was early practiced in the name of religion. The most licentious and abominable rites were made a part of the heathen worship. The gods themselves were represented as impure, and their worshipers gave the rein to the baser passions. Unnatural vices prevailed and the religious festivals were characterized by universal and open impurity. PP 337.4

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 623

Satan, that archdeceiver, transforms himself into an angel of light and comes to the youth with his specious temptations and succeeds in winning them, step by step, from the path of duty. He is described as an accuser, a deceiver, a liar, a tormentor, and a murderer. “He that committeth sin is of the devil.” Every transgression brings the soul into condemnation and provokes the divine displeasure. The thoughts of the heart are discerned of God. When impure thoughts are cherished, they need not be expressed by word or act to consummate the sin and bring the soul into condemnation. Its purity is defiled, and the tempter has triumphed. 4T 623.1

Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed. He is turned away from the course of virtue and real good by following his own inclinations. If the youth possessed moral integrity, the strongest temptations might be presented in vain. It is Satan's act to tempt you, but your own act to yield. It is not in the power of all the host of Satan to force the tempted to transgress. There is no excuse for sin. 4T 623.2

While some of the youth are wasting their powers in vanity and folly, others are disciplining their minds, storing up knowledge, girding on the armor to engage in life's warfare, determined to make it a success. But they cannot make life a success, however high they may attempt to climb, unless they center their affections upon God. If they will turn to the Lord with all the heart, rejecting the flatteries of those who would in the slightest degree weaken their purpose to do right, they will have strength and confidence in God. 4T 623.3

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