John 8:25
Then said they to him, Who are you? And Jesus said to them, Even the same that I said to you from the beginning.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(25) Then said they unto him, Who art thou?—They ask the question in the tone of scorn which they have already expressed in John 8:22. The pronoun is the emphatic word: “Thou, who art thou?” and the phrase was in frequent use to express contempt. He had said, “I am;” but they do not understand the words to be a divine name. Long before this time the name formed from these words, and which is now usually, but wrongly, read “Jehovah,” had been regarded as too sacred to be uttered. They appear to take the sentence as though it was incomplete, “I am . . .;” “Well, who art thou?” We have again, as in John 8:19, to note the attempt to draw from Him some definite statement which may be made the ground of a technical charge; but this He again avoids.

And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.—Almost every word of this answer is in the Greek capable of more than one meaning, and the true interpretation of the whole sentence cannot be decided with certainty. To discuss it with any fulness would be to encumber the page with details which would be unintelligible to the general reader; to discuss it with anything but fulness would be unsatisfactory to the student. There is little room for addition to the investigations which are now accessible. The full notes of Meyer and Stier and Tholuck may be read in English; and Dr. Moulton’s addition to his Translation of Winer’s Grammar (eighth edition, 1877, pp. 581-2), gives in a few words nearly all that can be said on the grammatical difficulty. After a careful consideration of the whole matter, it is believed, though not without hesitation, that the rendering, which is least liable to objection on any ground, is that which regards the answer as itself a question—“What I from the beginning am also speaking to you?” “You ask who I am. This has formed the substance of My teaching from the beginning, and is the substance of My teaching still.” (Comp. John 8:58.) “Can it be that you ask this?”

John 8:25-27. Then said they, Who art thou? — This question they ask in derision, and not with any desire to be instructed. And Jesus saith, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning — Namely, of my public ministry, or from the time I first spake to you. Or, as Whitby renders it, I am what I before told you I was; a sense of the expression, την αρχην, (here rendered, from the beginning,) which he justifies by several passages of the Septuagint, particularly Genesis 13:4; Genesis 41:21; Genesis 42:18; Genesis 42:20; that is, I am one sent of God to reveal his will to you. I have many things to say and to judge of you — That is, you say and judge many things of me, which from my words and deeds will appear to be false; but I have many things to say of you, what you are as to your spirit and conduct, and what you will be through the just judgment of God, which, though you will not believe, will be found true; for he that sent me to say them is true, and I speak those things which I have heard of him — I deliver truly what he hath given me in charge, and he will finally verify my words. They understood not — So exceeding stupid were they, and so blinded by the prejudices of their minds; that he spake to them of the Father — Of God, as the person who sent him.8:21-29 Those that live in unbelief, are for ever undone, if they die in unbelief. The Jews belonged to this present evil world, but Jesus was of a heavenly and Divine nature, so that his doctrine, kingdom, and blessings, would not suit their taste. But the curse of the law is done away to all that submit to the grace of the gospel. Nothing but the doctrine of Christ's grace will be an argument powerful enough, and none but the Spirit of Christ's grace will be an agent powerful enough, to turn us from sin to God; and that Spirit is given, and that doctrine is given, to work upon those only who believe in Christ. Some say, Who is this Jesus? They allow him to have been a Prophet, an excellent Teacher, and even more than a creature; but cannot acknowledge him as over all, God blessed for evermore. Will not this suffice? Jesus here answers the question. Is this to honour him as the Father? Does this admit his being the Light of the world, and the Life of men, one with the Father? All shall know by their conversion, or in their condemnation, that he always spake and did what pleased the Father, even when he claimed the highest honours to himself.Who art thou? - As Jesus did not expressly say in the previous verse that he was the Messiah, they professed still not to understand him. In great contempt, therefore, they asked him who he was. As if they had said, "Who art thou that undertakest to threaten us in this manner!" When we remember that they regarded him as a mere pretender from Galilee; that he was poor and without friends; and that he was persecuted by those in authority, we cannot but admire the patience with which all this was borne, and the coolness with which he answered them.

Even the same ... - What he had professed to them was that he was the light of the world; that he was the bread that came down from heaven; that he was sent by his Father, etc. From all this they might easily gather that he claimed to be the Messiah. He assumed no new character; he made no change in his professions; he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and as he had once professed to be the light of the world, so, in the face of contempt, persecution, and death, he adhered to the profession.

The beginning - From his first discourse with them, or uniformly.

25. Who art thou?—hoping thus to extort an explicit answer; but they are disappointed. What good Christian will not learn to contemn the slights and reproaches of sinful men, when he readeth of a company of miscreants thus using their Lord and Master, saying to him,

Who art thou? It is no wonder if the world, which knew him not, doth not know us. The latter part of the verse, as it lies in the Greek, is exceedingly difficult; word for word it is, The beginning, because also I speak unto you. Some think that our Saviour calleth himself

The beginning. Others think the noun is in this place put for an adverb: of which we have many instances in Scripture, though none as to this noun. But I shall leave those who desire satisfaction as to what is said by critics about this verse, to what Mr. Pool hath collected in his Synopsis Criticorum, and only consider it as our interpreters understood it; in which form it seemeth to be a mere slighting of them, as much as if he had said, I have often enough, even from the beginning, told you who I am; I can say no more to you upon that head than I have said. I am the same, and no other, than I at first told you I was. Then said they unto him, who art thou?.... That talks at this rate, and threatens with death, in case of unbelief; this they said with an haughty air, and in a scornful manner:

and Jesus saith unto them, even the same that I said unto you from the beginning; meaning, either of this discourse, as that he was the light of the world, and which he continued to assert; or of his being had before the sanhedrim, when he affirmed that God was his Father, and by many strong arguments proved his divine sonship; or of his ministry, when by miracles, as well as doctrines, he made it to appear that he was he that was to come, the true Messiah; or who spake from the beginning to Moses, saying, I am that I am, hath sent thee, and to the church, and Jewish fathers in the wilderness; and who is that word that was from the beginning with God; and who is called the beginning, the first cause of all things, and of the creation of God; and some think this is intended here.

{9} Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even {f} the same that I said unto you from the beginning.

(9) He will eventually know who Christ is who will diligently hear what Christ says.

(f) That is, I am Christ, and the Saviour, for so I told you from the beginning that I was.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 8:25. The Jews understand the ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι well enough, but refuse to recognise it, and therefore ask pertly and contemptuously: σὺ τίς εἶ; tu quis es? σύ being emphasized for the purpose of expressing disdain; comp. Acts 19:15. Jesus replies with a counter-question of surprise at so great obduracy on their part; but then at once after John 8:26 discontinues any further utterance regarding them, His opponents. His counter-question is: τὴν ἀρχὴν ὅ, τι καὶ λαλῶ ὑμῖν? What I from the very beginning also say to you? namely, do you ask that? Who I am (to wit, the Messiah, John 8:24; John 8:29), that is the very thing which, from the very beginning, since I have been among you, and have spoken to you, has formed the matter of my discourse;[14] and can you still ask about that, as though you had not yet heard it from me? They ought to have known long ago, and to have recognised, what they just now asked with their wicked question σὺ τίς εἶ. This view is not complicated, as Winer objects, but corresponds simply to the words and to the situation. On ἀρχήν as used frequently in an adverbial sense, both among the Greeks and by the LXX., with and without the article, to denote time, ab initio, from the very beginning, see Schweighaüser, Lex. Herod. I. p. 104 f.; Lennep ad Phalar. p. 82 ff. It precedes the relative, because it is the point which makes the obduracy of the Jews so very perceptible; comp. John 4:18; Buttmann, Neut. Gram. p. 333 d. [E. T. p. 389].

, τι] interrogatively, in relation to a question with τίς immediately preceding,—as is frequently the case even in the Classics, so that some such words as thou askest must be supplied in thought. See Kühner, II. § 837, note 1; Bernhardy, p. 443; Krüger, § 51. 17. 3.

καί] also, expresses the corresponding relation (Baeumlein, Partik. p. 152), in this case, of speech to being: what from the very beginning, as I am it, so also, I say it to you.

λαλῶ] speak, not: say. Comp. on John 8:26; John 8:43; and see on Romans 3:19. Nor does He use λελάληκα, because it is a continuous speaking; the sound of it is, in fact, still ringing in their ears from. John 8:23-24.

The passage is also taken interrogatively by Matthaei, Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Lücke. The latter[15] renders: Why, indeed, do I still speak to you at all? With this view, it is true, τὴν ἀρχήν is quite compatible; for it is confessedly often used in the Classics for ab initio, in the sense of omnino (Raphel, Herod. in loc.; Hermann, ad Viger. p. 723; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 237; Breitenbach, ad Xen. Oec. ii. 12), though only in negative propositions, or such whose signification really amounts to a negation,[16] which latter, however, might be the case here (as in Plat. Demod. p. 381 D; Philo, de Abr. p. 366 C); it is also allowable to take , τι in the sense of why (see on Mark 9:11; Buttmann, neut. Gram. p. 218 [E. T. p. 253]). But the thought itself has so little meaning in it, and is so little natural, expressing, besides, a reflection, which is at the bottom so empty, and, at the same time, through τὴν ἀρχήν, so expanded and destitute of feeling, that we should scarcely expect it at the lips of the Johannean Jesus, especially in circumstances so lively and significant as the present. Further thus understood, the saying would have no connection whatever with what follows, and the logical connection assumed by Lücke would require the insertion of some such words as ΠΕΡῚ ἘΜΟῦ. The words would thus likewise stand in no relation to the question ΣῪ ΤΊς ΕἾ, whereas John’s general manner would lead us to expect an answer which had reference in some significant way or other to the question which had been put. The following are non-interrogative views:—(1) “What I have already said to you at the beginning, that am I!” So Tholuck after Castalio, Beza, Vatablus, Maldonatus, Clericus, Heumann, and several others; also B. Crusius. Jesus would thus be announcing that He had already, from the very beginning in His discourses, made known His higher personality. The Praes. λαλῶ, as expressing that which still continues to be in the present, would not be opposed to this view; but it does not harmonize with the arrangement of the words; and logically, at all events, ΚΑΊ ought to stand before ΤῊΝ ἈΡΧΉΝ (comp. Syriac). (2) “From the very first (before all things), I am what I also speak to you.” So De Wette; comp. Luther (“I am your preacher; if you first believe that, you will then learn what I am, and not otherwise”), Melancthon, Aretius, and several; also Maier, who, however, takes τὴν ἀρχὴν incorrectly as thoroughly (nothing else).[17] On this view Jesus, instead of answering directly: “I am the Messiah,” would have said that He was to be known above all things from His discourses.[18] But τὴν ἀρχὴν does not mean “above all things,” not even in Xen. Cyr. i. 2, 3, where we read: τὴν ἀρχὴν μὴ τοιοῦτοι, at the very outset not such, i.e. not such at all, omnino non tales; just as little too in Herod. i. 9, where also, as frequently in Herodotus, it denotes omnino; comp. Wolf, Dem. Lept. p. 278. And how entirely without any reference would be the words ante omnia (surely some sort of posterius would need to be supplied in thought). Brückner has rightly, therefore, rejected the “above all things” in De Wette’s rendering, though regarding it as the only correct one, and keeping to the interpretation “from the very first” in its temporal sense. One cannot, however, see what is really intended by the words “from the very first, I am, etc.,” especially as placed in such an emphatic position at the commencement of the clause. For Jesus had neither occasion nor ground for giving the assurance that He had been from the beginning of His appearance, and still was, such as He had declared Himself to be in His discourses, and therefore had not since become different. (3) “Undoubtedly (nothing else) am I what I also say to you.” So Kuinoel;—a view which assigns an incorrect meaning to τὴν ἀρχήν, and confounds λαλῶ with λέγω; objections which affect also the similar interpretation of Ebrard: “I am altogether that which I also say to you (that I am He).” (4) “At the very outset I declared of myself what I also explain to you, or what I also now say.” So Starck, Not. sel. p. 106; Bretschneider. But the supplying of λελάληκα from the following λαλῶ (comp. Dissen, Dem. de Cor. p. 359) would only be suggested if we read , τι καὶ νῦν λαλῶ ὑμῖν. (5) Fritzsche (Lit. Bl. z. allg. Kirchenz. 1843, p. 513, and de conform. Lachmann, p. 53), whom Hengstenberg follows, takes the view: “Sum a rerum primordiis (John 1:1) ea natura, quam me esse vobis etiam profiteor.” Jesus would thus have designated Himself as the primal Logos. Quite unintelligibly for His hearers, who had no occasion for taking τὴν ἀρχήν in the absolute sense, as though reminded of the angel of the Lord in Malachi 3 and Zechariah 11, nor for understanding , τι κ. λ. ὑμ. as Fritzsche does; at all events, as far as the latter is concerned, λέγω ought to have been used instead of λαλῶ. (6) Some connect τὴν ἀρχήν with πολλὰ ἔχω, etc., John 8:26, and after λαλῶ ὑμῖν place merely a comma. So already Codd., Nonnus, Scaliger, Clarius, Knatchbull, Raphel, Bengel, and, more recently, Olshausen, Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. p. 65, II. p. 178, and Baeumlein. In taking the words thus, , τι is either written ὅτι, because, with Scaliger and Raphel (so also Bengel: “principio, quum etiam loquor vobis [Dativus commodi: ‘ut credatis et salvemini’] multa habeo de vobis loqui, etc.”[19]), or is taken as a pronoun, id quod. In the latter way, Olshausen explains it, following Clarius: “In the first place, as I also plainly say to you, I have much to blame and punish in you; I am therefore your serious admonisher.” Baeumlein, however, renders: “I have undoubtedly—as I also do—much to speak and to judge concerning you.” But on this view of the words Jesus would have given no answer at all to the question σὺ τίς εἶ; according to Olshausen, ΤῊΝ ἈΡΧΉΝ would have to be transformed into ΠΡῶΤΟΝ, in the first place; and the middle clause, according to Olshausen and Baeumlein, would give a quite superfluous sense; while, according to the view of Bengel and Hofmann, it would be forced and unnatural. (7) Exegetically impossible is the interpretation of Augustine: “Principium (the very beginning of all things) me credite, quia (ὅτι) et loquor vobis, i.e. quia humilis propter vos factus ad ista verba descendi;” comp. Gothic, Ambrose, Bede, Ruperti, and several others. Calvin rightly rejects this interpretation, but himself gives one that is impossible. (8) Obscure, and an importation, is Luthardt’s view (ὅτι, that: “from the beginning am I, that I may also speak to you”), that Jesus describes the act of His speaking, the existence of His word, as His presence for the Jews; that from His first appearance onwards, He who was then present as the Word of God on the earth had been always used to give Himself a presence for men in the Word. If, according to this view, as it would seem, τὴν ἀρχὴν ὅτι denotes: “from the beginning it is my manner, that,” this cannot possibly be in the simple εἰμί, which has to be supplied in thought; besides, how much is forced into the mere ΛΑΛῶ ὙΜῖΝ!

[14] According to John, at His very first appearance in the temple, John 2:19.

[15] So, without doubt, Chrysostom also, who gives as the meaning: τοῦ ὅλως ἀκούειν τῶν λόγων τῶν παρʼ ἐμοῦ ἀνάξιοί ἐστε, μήτι γε καὶ μαθεῖν ὅστις ἐγώ εἰμι. Comp. Cyril and Theophylact, also Euth. Zigabenus. Matthaei explains the words in exact accordance with Lücke: “Cur vero omnino vobiscum loquor? cur frustra vobiscum disputo?” See ed. min. I. p. 575. With this also is in substantial agreement the view of Ewald, who, however, regards the words rather as the expression of righteous indignation than as a question: “That I should, indeed, speak to you at all!” It would be more correct to say: “That I should at all even (still) speak to you!” But how greatly is the at all thus in the way! “Οτι, too, would then need a supplement, which is not furnished by the text. Besides, the following words, especially if introduced without an ἀλλά or μέντει (indicating that Jesus had collected Himself again, and suppressed His indignation), would not be appropriate. In the Theol. QuartalsChr. 1855, p. 592 ff., Nirschl renders: “To what purpose shall I speak further to you of the origin, i.e. of God, and my own derivation from Him?” But on this view Christ ought, at the very least, to have said τὴν ἀρχήν μου.

[16] See especially Lennep, l.c. and p. 94; Brückner on the passage.

[17] Comp. Winer, p. 432 [E. T. p. 581], who gives as the meaning: “I am entirely that which I represent myself as being in my discourses.” So also Godet: “Absolument ce que je vous dis; ni plus ni moins que ce que renferme ma parole.” But τ. ἀρχήν is used in the sense of completely, entirely, only in connection with negations (usually, too, without the article): not at all, not in the least; “cum negatione praefracte negando servit,” Ellendt, Lex. Soph. l.c.

[18]
Under this head belongs also the view taken by Grotius (which is substantially adopted by Lange): “Primum (in the first instance) hoc sum, quod et dico vobis, hoc ipsum quod me hoc ipso tempore esse dixi, i.e. lux mundi.” As though we read: πρῶτον μὲν ὅ, τι καὶ λέγω ὑμῖν. In the same way as Grotius, has Calov. also explained it, taking, however, τὴν ἀρχήν in the sense of omnino, plane (consequently like Winer).

[19] Comp. Hofmann: “At first, namely for the present, because this is the time, when He speaks to them, He has much to speak and to judge about them in words.” Τὴν ἀρχήν is alleged, to be used in opposition to a τὸ τέλος, i.e. to a time when that which He now speaks will be proved by deeds, ver. 28. In this way meaning and connection are imported into the passage, and yet the καί (with an appeal to Hartung, Partik. I. p. 129) is completely neglected, or rather transferred from the relative to the principal clause. How the passages adduced by Hartung may be explained without any transference, see in Klotz, ad Devar. p. 635 ff. In particular, there is no ground for supposing the existence of a trajection of the καί in the N. T. Hofmann explains, as though John had written: τὴν ἀρχήν, ὅτι νῦν λαλῶ ὑμῖν, καὶ πολλὰ ἔχω, etc.John 8:25. This only adds bewilderment to their mind, and they, not “pertly and contemptuously” (Meyer, Weiss, Holtzmann), but with some shade of impatience, ask: Σὺ τίς εἶ; “Who art Thou?” To this Jesus replies: τὴν ἀρχὴν ὅ τι καὶ λαλῶ ὑμῖν. These words are rendered in A.V[65] “Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning”; and in R.V[66] “Even that which I have also spoken unto you from the beginning”. The Greek Fathers understood τὴν ἀρχὴν as equivalent to ὅλως, a meaning it frequently bears; and they interpret the clause as an exclamation, “That I should even speak to you at all!” [ὅλως, ὅτι καὶ λαλῶ ὑμῖν, περιττόν ἐστιν. ἀνάξιοι γάρ ἐστε παντὸς λόγου, ὡς πειρασταί, Euthymius.] With this Field compares Achilles Tatius, vi. 20, οὐκ ἀγαπᾷς ὅτι σοι καὶ λαλῶ; Art thou not content that I even condescend to speak to thee? In support of this rendering Holtzmann quotes from Clem., Hom. vi. 11, εἰ μὴ παρακολουθεῖς οἷς λέγω, τί καὶ τὴν ἀρχὴν διαλέγομαι; He even supposes that this is an echo of John, so that we have here an indication of the earliest interpretation of the words. This meaning does no violence to the words, but it is slightly at discord with the spirit of the next clause and of Jesus generally (although cf. Mark 9:19). Another rendering, advocated at great length by Raphel (Annot., i. 637), puts a comma after τὴν ἀρχὴν and another after ὑμῖν, and connects τὴν ἀρχὴν with πολλὰ ἔχω; “omnino, quia et loquor vobis, multa habeo de vobis loqui”. Raphel’s note is chiefly valuable for the collection of instances of the use of τὴν ἀρχήν. A third interpretation is that suggested by the A.V[67], and which finds a remarkable analogue in Plautus, Captivi, III. iv. 91, “Quis igitur ille est? Quem dudum dixi a principio tibi” (Elsner). But this would require λέγω, not λαλῶ. There remains a fourth possible interpretation, that of Melanchthon, who renders “plane illud ipsum verbum sum quod loquor vobiscum”. So Luther (see Meyer); and Winer translates “(I am) altogether that which in my words I represent myself as being”. To this Meyer and Moulton (see his note on Winer) object that τὴν ἀρχὴν only means “omnino” “prorsus” when the sentence is negative. Elsner, however, admitting that the use is rare, gives several examples where it is used “sine addita negativa”. The words, then, may be taken as meaning “I am nothing else than what I am saying to you: I am a Voice; my Person is my teaching”.

[65] Authorised Version.

[66] Revised Version.

[67] Authorised Version.25. Then said they] They said therefore.

Who art thou?] It is incredible that the Jews can have failed to understand. Christ had just declared that He was from above, and not of this world. Even if the words ‘I am’ were ambiguous in themselves, in this context they are plain enough. As in John 8:19, they pretend not to understand, and contemptuously ask, Thou, who art Thou? The pronoun is scornfully emphatic. Comp. Acts 19:15. Possibly both in John 8:19 and here they wish to draw from Him something more definite, more capable of being stated in a formal charge against Him.

Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning] This is a passage of well-known difficulty, and the meaning will probably always remain uncertain. (1) It is doubtful whether it is a question or not. (2) Of the six or seven Greek words all excepting the word meaning ‘unto you’ can have more than one meaning. (3) There is a doubt whether we have six or seven Greek words. To discuss all the possible renderings would go beyond the scope of this volume. What I from the beginning am also speaking to you of is perhaps as likely as any translation to be right. And it matters little whether it be made interrogative or not. Either, ‘Do you ask that of which I have been speaking to you from the first?’, in which case it is not unlike Christ’s reply to Philip (John 14:9); or, ‘I am that of which I have been speaking to you all along.’John 8:25, etc. Σὺ τὶς εἶ; who art Thou?) They are referring to that expression of His, ἐγώ εἰμι, I am He [John 8:24]. They ask the question, but in such a perverse frame of mind, that they have no real intention to believe on Him, when He tells them.—εἶπεν, He said) It is not said, He replied. The Lord addresses Himself less directly to meet the Jews’ interrogatory; but He addresses Himself to the fact itself plainly, and in such a way as to make a further progress in His own discourse. A similar question and reply occur at ch. John 10:24, etc., “If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered—I told you, and ye believed not; the works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.”—τὴν ἀρχὴν, ὅτι καὶ λαλῶ ὑμῖν, πολλὰ ἔχω περὶ ὑμῶν λαλεῖν καὶ κρίνειν· ἀλλʼ ὁ πέμψας με ἀληθής ἐστι, κἀγὼ ἃ ἤκουσα παρʼ αὐτοῦ, ταῦτα λέγω εἰς τὸν κόσμον) All these words form one complete paragraph, of which both the Protasis and the Apodosis are each double-membered, so as that they most aptly correspond with one another, in this way:

In the beginning, since I also speak to you, [inasmuch as I am even speaking to, or, for you],

I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you: But He, who sent Me, is true;

and what things I have heard from Him, these I speak to the world.

Every word in this passage both ought and can be taken in its own proper signification. I. Τὴν ἀρχήν is not here equivalent in meaning to ὅλως, altogether, but in the strict sense, in the beginning. I have shown it to be so at Chrysost. de Sacerdot, p. 425, etc.: also at 1 Corinthians 5:1. Also the Herodotea Raphelii, p. 293, etc., deserve to be well weighed. Nonnus, when he might have retained τὴν ἀρχήν (saith Joach. Camerarius), as the numbers of his verse were no obstacle, yet has changed the words into Ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὅττι περ ὑμμῖν Ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὀάριζον. II. Ὅτι is because, since, inasmuch as; so John 8:45, but because, ὅτι, I speak the truth, ye do not believe Me. Let the force of the same particle be weighed at John 8:22; John 8:43; John 2:18, “What sign showest Thou, seeing that Thou doest these things?” John 11:47, “What do we? for—inasmuch as—this Man doeth many miracles;” John 8:56, “What think ye, that He will not come to the feast?” etc. III. Καὶ about the beginning, and not the very beginning of a clause, has the force of even, also; and in this passage it intensifies the force of the present tense and indicative mood in the verb λαλῶ; Comp. with it καί, even, 1 Corinthians 15:29, “What shall they do, that are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then [Engl. Vers. καί; rather, even] baptized for the dead?” Php 3:8, “Yea doubtless, and I [Engl. Vers. καί; rather, I even] count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.” IV. Λαλῶ, I am speaking, not merely I have to speak, not merely I have spoken, but even yet I am speaking [I speak]. V. Ὑμῖν, to you [for you], is the dative of the advantage, i.e. I speak concerning Myself, who I am, in order that ye may believe and be saved. Hardly any point has caused more difficulty to expositors than the stopping after this ὑμῖν. The Codices MSS. quoted in the Apparatus Crit. p. 589, defend the comma; and so also, in addition to Chrysostom, Nonnus, and Scaliger, who are mentioned in the same place, Knatchbull, Raphelius, also James Faber, Corn. Jansenius, and Franc. Lucas. [Engl. Vers. “Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. I have many things to say,” etc. Vulg. “Principium quia (or, as other copies, qui) et loquor vobis;” [223] [224], ‘quod;’ [225], ‘quoniam;’ , τι in Rec. Text. So Lachmann, reading the sentence with an interrogation, making , τι = διὰ τι, resembling the εἰ interrogative. So Mark 9:11, “They asked, saying, , τι λέγουσιν οἱ γραμματεῖς, , τι Ἡλίαν δεῖ ἐλθεῖν. Alford translates ἀρχήν, etc., I am essentially that same which I SPEAK unto you. Appropriate to Him, as the λόγος revealed. Just as to Moses I am that I am was appropriate of One as yet unrevealed.] VI. Πολλὰ περὶ ὑμῶν, much [multa] concerning you, on account of your much [multam] incredulity. This was the chief point of Jesus Christ’s complaint concerning the Jews everywhere, and especially here, where He begins to make mention as to His departure. VII. Ἔχω λαλεῖν καὶ κρίνειν, I have to speak and to judge. To this appertains the τὴν ἀρχήν, and it has thus somewhat more force than πρῶτον. Now for the first time there was given by the Jews to the Lord by far the greatest reason for His speaking and judging concerning themselves, after that they had heard so many testimonies, and yet had not believed. Similarly νο͂ν, now, is employed, Luke 11:39, in an argument, for which a great handle had been given, “Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup,” etc. Comp. the ἤρξατο, began, Matthew 11:20, “Then began He to upbraid the cities,” etc. Here the Protasis ceases, in the whole of which the same thing is said, as at ch. John 6:36, I said to you that ye both [also, Engl. Vers.] have seen Me, and do not believe; and at ch. John 10:25, etc., where to the same question the same reply is repeated, only in other words. VIII. There follows the Apodosis, beginning with ἀλλʼ, in which He plainly enough intimates, who He is. IX. Ὁ πέμψας με ἀληθής ἐστι· i.e. although you to such a degree refuse to believe, that your incredulity furnishes the strongest reason why I might have judged you; yet He, who hath sent Me into the world, is true. Your unbelief does not set aside His own faithfulness. X. Κἀγὼ, ἃ ἤκουσα παρʼ αὐτοῦ, ταῦτα λέγω· i.e. These things I speak, which He that is true hath committed to Me, for the purpose of saving you, not for the purpose of judging you; the sum and substance of which is, that I have been sent by Him: I speak these things, and these alone, not other things, which would appertain to the judging of you; ch. John 3:17, “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved;” ch. John 5:45, “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father;” ch. John 12:47, “If any man hear My words and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” XI. Εἰς τὸν κόσμον. An abbreviated form of expression, i.e. These things, which were before unknown to the world, I have brought into the world, and I speak in the world, in order that they may be distributed by My witnesses throughout the whole world, now a stranger to [alien from] the faith, but, whether you will believe or not, hereafter about to believe. I do not pay any regard to your obstinacy. Out of the four members of this portion, as marked out at the beginning of this note, the first and fourth, the second and third, cohere together in a most suitable χιασμός. In the Protasis, both the first clause, I even speak to you, and the second, I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, and the connection of both, ought to be regarded. For the words in antithesis are, I even speak, and the expression, to you: corresponding respectively to, I have to speak and to judge, and the expression, concerning you. The Apodosis is easy to perceive, when regarded by itself; but how it stands in relation to the Protasis, they who look less to the sense than to the words, are not likely forthwith to perceive. These will observe, that the unbelief of the Jews is marked in the Protasis; but, that the unshaken perseverance of Jesus in setting forth the truth unto salvation is rather made manifest in the Apodosis, and at the same time the truth itself concerning Jesus, who He is, is summarily brought in by implication. Comp. by all means the whole of John 8:28, “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things.I might justly make the beginning of My speech, saith He, now even more than heretofore, by a judgment pronounced on your unbelief before that I bring forth the other subjects: but I perseveringly speak not so much severe things of you, as saving things of Myself [tidings of salvation to you in Myself]. Very many take separately these words, τὴν ἀρχὴν ὅ, τι καὶ λαλῶ ὑμῖν: and indeed H. B. Starkius has thus explained the words, In the beginning, to wit, I said, what even still I say to you: which had been previously the explanation of Nic. Hemmingius, from whom John Brentius in his Homilies does not much differ. Others generally in this way: ὃν τινα εἶναί με τὴν ἀρχὴν ἔλεγον, εἰμί, i.e. I am He, whom in the beginning I said to you I was; an interpretation which, however easy a sense it introduces, yet will be found to make many departures from the words of the text, if you compare them together.

[223] Vercellensis of the old ‘Itala,’ or Latin Version before Jerome’s, probably made in Africa, in the second century: the Gospels.

[224] Colbertinus, do.

[225] Cantabrigiensis, do.: the Gospels, Acts , , 3 d Ep. John.Verse 25. - Then said they to him - the hostile Jerusalem party - in scornful mockery, Σὺ τίς εϊ; Who art thou? "Define thyself more closely; make thy claims clear and categorical. Give now a direct answer to a plain question." It is very remarkable that the Lord often refuses to respond in the precise form in which his interlocutors demand an answer. He sees the multitudinous sides of every truth, and frequently gives to his questioners the means of answering their question from the ground of deep spiritual conviction, rather than furnishes them with a formula which might easily be abused. Who art thou? How profoundly pathetic! How confirmatory of his own words, "Ye have not known me, nor my Father"! The reply which our Lord gave to the question has occasioned greater variety of interpretation than, perhaps, any other sentence in the Gospel: Τὴν ἀρχὴν ὅτι (or ὅτι,) καὶ λαλῶὑμῖν. The meaning of the words taken separately is disputable; the relation to the context has been very variously understood.

(1) The sentence may be taken interrogatively: τὴν ἀρχὴν regarded adverbially in the sense of "at all," and ὅτι in the sense of "why?" which is perhaps justified by Mark 9:11, 28. So that it might mean, Why do I even speak with you at all? This is the interpretation of the ancient Greek Fathers, Cyril and Chrysostom; is preferred by Lucke ('Comm.,' 2:301-313); and with slight modifications is adopted by Ewald (who gives it more the form of an exclamation, "How is it that I should have to speak to you at all!" [this rendering is put in the margin of R.T.], Westcott and Moulton (see note to Winer, 'Grammar of New Testament,' pp. 581, 582), Matthai, and others. Meyer has differed somewhat in successive editions, but (4th edit.) translates, "What I from the beginning am also speaking to you (do ye ask)?" Can you still be asking concerning that which I have been from the beginning saying to you, viz. "Who I am"? This interpretation is singularly obscure. It turns on the fact that, except in some virtually negative sentences, ἀρχὴν cannot have the force of "at all," and falls back on the conclusion that it must, when used adverbially, have the force of "from the first." Lucke devotes great space to the proof from classical Greek that ἀρχὴν never means ὅλως, or omnino, except in association with a negative sentence, and he discusses the four exceptions to this supposed rule which some grammarians have discovered in secular Greek (Lennep. 'Ap. Phalarid.,' pp. 82, 55, and 92), and thereupon, in a different way from Meyer, endeavours to supply the negative conception. In reply to Meyer, it is fair to say that Christ had not been constantly announcing in categorical terms who he was and is; and further, that the rendering practically introduces a clause, "do ye ask," which is not in the text; moreover, its rendering transforms λαλῶ into λελαλήκα.

(2) Many have advocated an affirmative rendering. Augustine (with Lampe and Fritzsche) takes τὴν ἀρχὴν as the Ἀρχή of the universe, the principium (as Revelation 21:6), and translates," Believe that I am the Principium (the Logos), because I am also speaking with you (because, humbled on your account, I have descended to such words as these)." Chrysostom and Nonnus (who turned the Gospel into Greek hexameters) associate the sentence with what follows; thus: "I, the Ἀρχή, who also speak to you, have many things to say and judge of you." The accusative form is thus set at nought. Calvin takes τὴν ἀρχὴν as equal to ἐξ ἀρχῆς, "from the beginning" (so that the meaning would be, "I did not arise suddenly, but as I was formerly promised, so now I come forth publicly"), "because I also speak with you." In other words, "What I now speak is in accordance with the conditions made in all ages 'from the beginning.' So Delitzsch, Hebrew version of New Testament. Luthardt seems to approach this view, which he makes more difficult by insisting that τὴν ἀρχὴν does not mean "from" but "at the beginning." The view of Winer, Grimm, Alford, Stier, Godet, Thoma, and Plummer, is substantially the same, giving to τὴν ἀρχὴν the sense of omnino. Essentially, wholly, altogether (I am) that which even I am saying to you. The grammatical objection that this use of τὴν ἀρχὴν demands a negative sentence in classic Greek, is not conclusive. This is the only place in the New Testament where the word is used adverbially, and it is in reply to a mocking question which has much virtual negative in it. Green ('Critical Notes') urges that the sense of "altogether" (omnino) was preserved in all kinds of sentences without distinction. He does not prove it, but it is entirely probable that it might have this force in New Testament Greek. The great advantage of the rendering is that it brings the answer into relation with the entire previous discourse, in which Christ's testimony to himself had been disputed because (in the opinion of those who were debating with him) that testimony had not been adequately supported. "I am the Revelation of the Father, the Messenger from heaven, the Bread of God, the Light of the world - essentially that which I am saying to you." Believe my own testimony thus far, and that will answer the query, "Who art thou?" There is no great distinction between this view and that of De Wette: "Von vorne herein (vor allen Dingen) bin ich was ich auch zu euch rede," as Bruckner put it - "From the beginning, from the first, (I am) what I am also saying to you." Winer's view seems to me the best. Grimm thus translates: "Omnino, hoc est sine ulla exceptione sum, quod etiam vobis eloquor, non solum sum, sed etiam vobis, praedico id quod sum." Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning (τὴν ἀρχὴν ὅ τι καὶ λαλῶ ὑμῖν)

A very difficult passage, on which the commentators are almost hopelessly divided. There are two main classes of interpretations, according to one of which it is to be read interrogatively, and according to the other, affirmatively. The two principal representatives of the former class are Meyer, who renders "Do you ask that which all along (τὴν ἀρχὴν) I am even saying to you?" and Westcott, "How is it that I even speak to you at all (τὴν ἀρχὴν)"? So also Milligan and Moulton. This latter rendering requires the change of ὅ τι, the relative, that which, into the conjunction ὅτι, that.

The second class of interpreters, who construe the passage affirmatively, vary in their explanations of τὴν ἄρχην, which they render severally, altogether, essentially, first of all, in the beginning. There is also a third class, who take τὴν ἄρχην as a noun, and explain according to Revelation 21:6, "I am the beginning, that which I am even saying unto you." This view is represented mostly by the older commentators, Augustine, Bede, Lampe, and later by Wordsworth.

I adopt the view of Alford, who renders essentially, explaining by generally, or traced up to its principle (ἀρχὴ). Shading off from this are Godet, absolutely; Winer, throughout; Thayer, wholly or precisely. I render, I am essentially that which I even speak to you. If we accept the explanation of I am, in John 8:24, as a declaration of Jesus' absolute divine being, that thought prepares the way for this interpretation of His answer to the question, Who art thou? His words are the revelation of Himself. "He appeals to His own testimony as the adequate expression of His nature. They have only to fathom the series of statements He has made concerning Himself, and they will find therein a complete analysis of His mission and essence" (Godet).

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