New Defender's Study Bible Notes
8:3 woman taken in adultery. This striking narrative from John 7:53–8:11 has been deleted from a few very ancient (but error-filled) Greek manuscripts. Accordingly, it has been deleted (or relegated to a footnote or special section) from most modern English translations. However, it is unreasonable to assume that someone would invent such a story and insert it in an accepted copy of John’s gospel. Furthermore, these twelve verses do appear in the overwhelming majority of extant Greek texts. There is no good reason not to retain it as is.
8:5 commanded us. See Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22. Both of these passages, however, indicate that both parties to the adultery were to be put to death. Since the woman was caught “in the very act” (John 8:4), it is obvious that the man was caught also, so the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees is apparent in their double standard. They were concerned with finding an action they could take against Jesus, not with upholding the Mosaic law.
8:6 wrote on the ground. The only other recorded instance of God writing “with His finger” is when God wrote the ten commandments on two slabs of stone (Exodus 31:18). It would have been profoundly significant, as well as profoundly stirring and convicting, to the woman’s accusers, if Jesus also was seen writing out these commandments instead of speaking. The account does not say what He wrote, of course, but this would seem to be the most probable suggestion.
8:9 beginning at the eldest. It was the tradition that, in an execution by stoning, the oldest should cast the first stone, and so on. Thus, in this case, the eldest accuser was the first to be convicted—by the divine accusing finger—that he also had broken God’s law and thus deserved to die. Only Jesus had the right, therefore, to stone her, but He also had the right to forgive her (Luke 5:23-24), and did so—evidently because He knew she was repentant (John 2:25).
8:9 convicted by their own conscience. This is the first of thirty-two occurrences of the word “conscience” in the New Testament. God has given us a conscience to guide our behavior in matters not specifically covered in the Scriptures. But conscience can only be a reliable guide if it is a “good conscience” (Acts 23:1) and a “pure conscience” (I Timothy 3:9). If not followed as guided by the Scriptures (Acts 24:14,16), the conscience can become “weak” (I Corinthians 8:7,10,12), “defiled” (Titus 1:15), “seared” (I Timothy 4:2), or even “evil” (Hebrews 10:22). The conscience is a reliable guide only if constrained by Biblical principles. Note Acts 24:14-16 in reference to how Paul expressed his conscience.
8:12 I am the light. This is the second of the great “I am” statements of Christ in the gospel of John (see John 6:35), comparing Himself in effect to the sun. Physically speaking, the sun is the life and light of the world (note Genesis 1:14-16, also John 1:4,9; Revelation 21:23-25; 22:5). Christ did indeed create the sun and even now sustains its life-giving radiations (Hebrews 1:3).
8:12 walk in darkness. This is the first New Testament reference to the spiritual “walk” of the believer, and it is important to note that the “walk” is to “follow” the steps of Jesus (compare I Peter 2:21), and to be “in Him” (Colossians 2:6). In the Old Testament, the first such reference is when Enoch, then Noah, “walked with God” (Genesis 5:24; 6:9). The believer is further commanded to “walk in the light” (I John 1:7), “in wisdom” (Colossians 4:5), “in love” (Ephesians 5:2), “in newness of life” (Romans 6:4), “in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16), “in the truth” (III John 4), and “in good works” (Ephesians 2:10). On the other hand, he is not to walk “according to the course of this world” or “as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Ephesians 2:2; 4:17).
8:12 light of life. Note the profound prophetic significance of this claim of Christ. It is as strong an assertion of omnipotent deity as one could imagine, but it does not sound conceited or insane, as it would have if it had come from any other man. Rather, it has proved prophetically true for two thousand years. He has been the light of the world—the inspiration for the world’s greatest music and art, its most dedicated hospitals and missions, its greatest and most influential nations and governments. Further, millions of individuals who have followed Him have testified that He was indeed the light of their lives as they walked, not in darkness, but in the light of life.
8:20 his hour was not yet come. This is the last of seven occurrences in the Gospel of John of the phrase “not yet” in reference to the time for Christ’s death. See John 2:4; 7:6,8,30,39,39; 8:20. Finally, however, the time did come, as He prayed the night He was arrested (John 17:1). On the cross the next day, He finished the work He had come into the world to do (John 17:4; 19:30).
8:24 I am he. The word “he” is italicized in the Authorized Version, for Jesus actually said, simply, “I am,” thus again claiming to be none other than Jehovah (note John 8:58, referring to Exodus 3:14). Thus, belief that Jesus is God is essential to salvation.
8:29 always. The Lord Jesus thus claims here to be sinless, always doing fully the will of God. This sounds real and right coming from Him but would be arrogant and insane on the lips of anyone else. Contrast Romans 3:11.
8:31 continue in my word. Thus, true dedication to following Christ (i.e., discipleship) is measured by ongoing obedient belief in His Word (i.e., the Scriptures).
8:32 know the truth. This could be read, literally, “come to know.” True freedom results from continued study of the Scriptures and obedience to them.
8:44 your father the devil. Just as those who receive Christ become children of God (John 1:12), those who do the will of the devil are called “children of the wicked one” (e.g., Matthew 13:38). The age-long conflict between the spiritual seed of the serpent and the spiritual seed of the woman was first prophesied in Eden right after the fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15).
8:44 murderer from the beginning. Evidently, the first child of Satan was Cain, who slew his brother Abel, no doubt at the instigation of Satan (I John 3:8-12). Since that first murder, the devil has been seeking to slay men and women before they can become children of God through faith in Christ, using his own children whenever he can to accomplish it.
8:44 father of it. As the father of lies, the devil deceived our first parents with the lie that they would become “as gods” through obeying his word rather than God’s Word (Genesis 3:1-5). This lie of “humanism”—that men and women, as the apex of the evolutionary process, are the true gods of the world—has been deceiving and drawing people away from the true God of creation ever since. It has assumed various forms in different times and places, but it is always essentially the same old lie of Satan, “which deceiveth the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). Thus, he is author of the great lie of evolution, seeking to understand and control the world without its Creator. He has thereby deceived himself first of all, convincing himself that both he and God had evolved out of the primeval chaos (as in all the ancient mythical cosmogonies which he must have taught his own earliest human children).
8:46 convinceth me of sin? Jesus could challenge His enemies to find any sin in Him, because He was, uniquely of all men, without sin. He, as man, has demonstrated to all men what God intended man to be.
8:56 he saw it. Abraham evidently saw the “my day” of Christ when “the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision” (Genesis 15:1). On that occasion, the Lord had said, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward,” and this was the very first of the great “I am’s” of the Bible. This vision of the Word of the Lord was Christ, of course, in a pre-incarnate theophany.
8:59 Jesus hid himself. Because they thought Jesus was a blasphemer, the Jews immediately sought to carry out the legal judgment of stoning (Leviticus 24:16). As He had done on several occasions before, however, Jesus merely passed through the midst of them (e.g., Luke 4:30; John 7:30), because “His hour was not yet come.” This verse says that Jesus “hid Himself,” but does not elaborate as to how this was done. Angels were always with Him (e.g., Mark 1:13; Luke 22:43), so they may well have been involved.