John 8:31
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him.—Better, to those Jews who had believed Him. The act of faith is mentioned in the previous verse. They are here placed among the believers, with an expression of contrast mixed with, perhaps, something of wonder—Jews and yet believers.

If ye continue in my word.—Or, If ye abide in My word. Comp. Note on John 15:7, where we have the opposite form of the thought, “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you.” See also for this idea of abiding, Notes on John 5:37-38. His word was the expression of the eternal truth of God, and He therefore was the one great Teacher. Every other must sit as a disciple at His feet, and continue in daily learning and in daily living to grasp the truth which, in that word and that word only, was revealed to man.

Here, as very frequently, part of the force of the sentence is expressed in the emphasis of the pronoun, “If ye continue in My word.” “Ye, on your part, ye who now believe, but have not the courage to rank yourselves openly among My disciples.”

Then are ye my disciples indeed.—The insertion of “then” does not improve the rendering—“If ye continue in My word, ye are My disciples indeed.” The words imply that He who reads the heart has no confidence in this momentary conviction, which will not stand the test of true discipleship, and all that this includes. (Comp. Notes on John 2:23-25; John 6:66.)

8:30-36 Such power attended our Lord's words, that many were convinced, and professed to believe in him. He encouraged them to attend his teaching, rely on his promises, and obey his commands, notwithstanding all temptations to evil. Thus doing, they would be his disciples truly; and by the teaching of his word and Spirit, they would learn where their hope and strength lay. Christ spoke of spiritual liberty; but carnal hearts feel no other grievances than those that molest the body, and distress their worldly affairs. Talk to them of their liberty and property, tell them of waste committed upon their lands, or damage done to their houses, and they understand you very well; but speak of the bondage of sin, captivity to Satan, and liberty by Christ; tell of wrong done to their precious souls, and the hazard of their eternal welfare, then you bring strange things to their ears. Jesus plainly reminded them, that the man who practised any sin, was, in fact, a slave to that sin, which was the case with most of them. Christ in the gospel offers us freedom, he has power to do this, and those whom Christ makes free are really so. But often we see persons disputing about liberty of every kind, while they are slaves to some sinful lust.If ye continue in my word - If you continue to obey my commandments and to receive my doctrines.

Then are ye ... - This is the true test of Christian character. John 14:21; "he that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." See John 2:4; John 3:24; 2 John 1:6. In this place Jesus cautions them against too much confidence from their present feelings. They were just converted - converted by a single sermon. They had had no time to test their faith. Jesus assures them that if their faith should abide the test, if it should produce obedience to his commandments and a truly life, it would be proof that their faith was genuine, for the tree is known by its fruit. So we may say to all new converts, Do not repress your love or your joy, but do not be too confident. Your faith has not yet been tried, and if it does not produce a holy life it is vain, James 2:17-26.

31-33. Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, &c.—The impression produced by the last words of our Lord may have become visible by some decisive movement, and here He takes advantage of it to press on them "continuance" in the faith, since then only were they His real disciples (compare Joh 15:3-8), and then should they experimentally "know the truth," and "by the truth be made (spiritually) free." Believed on him, in the sense before expressed. Our Saviour well enough saw their hearts, and in what manner they believed, and what sort of disciples they were, viz. only nominal: they have the name of disciples who come after Christ to hear him; but they are his disciples indeed, who make his doctrine the rule of their lives. He therefore tells them, That not a mere saying to him Lord, Lord, and yielding some light assent to some propositions of truth in the gospel, would make them his disciples in truth and reality, without an abiding and continuance in the words which he taught them. Then said Jesus to those Jews that believed on him,.... For he knew instantly who they were, and when they believed on him; and therefore he immediately turned himself to them, and thus addressed them;

if ye continue in my word; meaning the Gospel, called his, because he was both the author, and preacher, and sum, and substance of it: and to continue in it, is having cordially received it, to abide by it, and hold it fast, and not to be moved from it, by the temptations of Satan; the cunning of those that lie in wait to deceive; nor by the revilings and persecutions, the frowns and flatteries of men: and when men continue thus steadfast in it, and faithful to it, it is an evidence that it has come with power, and has a place in their hearts, and that they are the true followers of Christ:

then are ye my disciples indeed; there are two sorts of disciples of Christ; some are only nominal, and merely in profession such; and these sometimes draw back from him, discontinue in his word, and go out from among his people; which shows that they never were of them, nor are the true disciples of Jesus; for the genuine disciples of Christ continue in his Gospel, hold fast to him, the head, and remain with his people; which to do to the end, is an evidence, of their being disciples indeed.

{12} Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

(12) The true disciples of Christ continue in his doctrine, that profiting more and more in the knowledge of the truth they may be delivered from the most grievous burden of sin, into the true liberty of righteousness and life.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 8:31-59. Discussion between Jesus and the Jews regarding their paternity.31. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him] Better, Jesus said, therefore, to the Jews who had believed Him. There is a change in the expression respecting their belief. In John 8:30 S. John uses the strong phrase ‘believed on Him;’ here he uses the much weaker ‘believed Him’ (see on John 1:12), as if to prepare us for the collapse of their faith.

If ye continue, &c.] Or, If ye abide in My word (see on John 1:33), ye are truly My disciples. Both ‘ye’ and ‘My’ are emphatic: ‘you on your part’—‘the word that is Mine.’ “The new converts, who come forward with a profession of faith, receive a word of encouragement as well as of warning. They were not to mistake a momentary impulse for a deliberate conviction.” S. p. 155. ‘If ye abide in My word, so that it becomes the permanent condition of your life, then are ye My disciples in truth, and not merely in appearance after being carried away for the moment.’John 8:31. Ὑμεῖς, ye) who have begun to believe, although the rest believe not.—μείνητε, ye will continue) Acts 13:43, “Many proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas; who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.”—ἀληθῶς, indeed) It is not enough to have begun. So ὄντως, in deed; John 8:36, “Ye shall be free indeed.”—ἐστέ) ye are so already: only see that you continue so.Verses 31-59 describe a further conversation, not with the same audience. The words record a vivid conflict between the Lord and the Jews who believed him, who accepted the Messianic claims, but persisted in interpreting them, not by his word, but by their own ideas of the theocratic kingdom, by their privileges as children of Abraham, by their national animosity to their nearest neighbours the Samaritans, by their inability to press behind the veil of his humanity to his Divine nature. Their faith was of the most imperfect kind; but such as it was, it was made manifest to the observation of the apostle, and this throws light upon the fact that, among the many who believed on him, or rather alongside of these, there was a certain section of "the Jews," of the chief rulers and rabbis, who made a definite movement towards him. This doubtless excited the intense enthusiasm of the disciples, who might at once hope and almost expect that Jesus would with open arms accept their homage. But he at once puts this faith of theirs - perhaps ignorantly expressed - to a proof absolutely necessary for the salvation of his hearers. Verses 31, 32. -

(4) The test Christ supplied to those who admitted his testimony - true discipleship and freedom. Jesus therefore said to the Jews who had believed him - or, had become believing, and were now waiting for some special sign that their belief of his words was to be immediately rewarded by some closer conformity between his next step and their own prepossessions - If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples. Short of making the word of Jesus the resting place for both heart and intellect, full discipleship would be impossible. The true disciple receives and continues in the word of his Master. The expression expands and illustrates the difference between believing Christ to speak the truth, and believing in him. Many ancient Jews and modern Christians believe so much of Christ's word as is verified by their moral consciousness, and dispute or dispose of the rest as Aberglaube. The genuine disciple continues, abides, in the word of him who is the incarnate Word, yielding to it entire acquiescence, as the absolute reality of things, as the truth about God and man. He adds, And ye shall come fully to know the truth; i.e. to realize in the very depths of your being the trustworthy character of my word. "The Truth" (see John 14:6) is one of the distinguishing names which Jesus takes to himself. He is the Truth, and "full of grace and truth." So far this statement corresponds with John 7:16, 17. The "Jews" who had believed him would not feel the fiery ordeal and touch of flame applied to the sensitive skin of their pride and self-importance; but when he added, And the truth shall emancipate you, the case was altered. Truth only can set the mind free from its bondage under ignorance and prejudice and evil habit. If the Light of the world shines into the dark places of the heart, the chains erewhile misunderstood will not only become visible, but will be broken. Godet beautifully says that "the empire of sin in a human heart is based upon an illusion, a fascination. Let truth shine, and the spell is broken, the will is disgusted with that which seduced it - 'the bird escapes from the net of the fowler.'" But this proffer of freedom to his disciples by continuing in his word was too startling a suggestion for their nascent and imperfect faith. He had told them that without faith in him they would die in their sins (ver. 24); now he assures them that, unless they abide steadfastly in his word, they will not escape from a bondage manifest enough to his eye, if not to theirs. This brings from them an angry response. Believed on Him (πεπιστευκότας αὐτῷ)

Note the different phrase, distinguishing the Jews from the mixed company in John 8:30. Rev., rightly, believed Him.

If ye continue (ἐὰν ὑμεῖς μείνητε)

The emphasis is on the ye, addressed to those whose faith was rudimentary; who believed Him, but did not yet believe on Him. Rev., abide.

In my word (ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῷ ἐμῷ)

Literally, in the word which is mine: peculiarly mine, characteristic of me. The expression is intentionally stronger than my word. Compare my love (John 15:9).

Indeed (ἀληθῶς)

Literally, truly; as Rev. As those who believe on me, not as those who are moved by temporary excitement to admit my claims.

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