|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:17-20 If we knew Christ better, we should know the Father better. Those become vain in their imaginations concerning God, who will not learn of Christ. Those who know not his glory and grace, know not the Father that sent him. The time of our departure out of the world, depends upon God. Our enemies cannot hasten it any sooner, nor can our friends delay it any longer, than the time appointed of the Father. Every true believer can look up and say with pleasure, My times are in thy hand, and better there than in my own. To all God's purposes there is a time.
Verse 17. - Having laid down the principle on which he was justified in maintaining the truthfulness of the assumption which the Pharisees impugned, he proceeded to vindicate, for these Jewish legalists, its agreement with the very letter of the Law. He adopted here the identical ground which was taken by him when first of all he claimed this fellowship with the Father. Yea, and in your Law it has been written, that the witness of two men is true. Many have said that here Jesus puts himself on one side as in hostility to the Law; Baur and some others plead, from the very phrase "your Law," that Jesus could not have used such an expression, and that John could not have recorded it; and Reuss urges that this expression agrees with the "standpoint of the gospel,which aims at lowering and degrading the old dispensation." Nothing could be less in harmony with the facts (see Introduction, § VII. 2). Even Meyer says, "The words are anti-Judaic... though not antinomian." Surely our Lord was simply appealing to his bitter enemies to recognize the application of the principle found in their own Law, of which they were continually making a proud boast. He simply goes to common ground of argument, and is ready to show that even the letter of the Law sustains his claim for the sufficient reason that he is not alone, but the Father is manifestly with him. Just as he never said "our Father" when addressing his disciples, but either "my Father" or "your Father" (John 20:17), because God is not the Father of men in the full sense in which he was Father to the only begotten Son; so he could not say "our Law" or "Moses gave us the Law" without derogating from the unique relation he sustained to the Law (compare Paul's language, Romans 2:17, 21, 23). The quotation from Deuteronomy is not verbally exact; it even carries the statement of Scripture to a broader generalization, and is so worded that it applies to the case in point, by carrying the position to a legitimate consequence - "the witness of two men is true." By using the word "men," Christ suggests the contrast between two men on one side and the God-Man and the Father on the other. Lightfoot ('Horae Hebraicae') quotes 'Rosh-Shanah,' 1:2, 3, "that two persons well known must testify to the supreme court that they had seen the new moon! If these were unknown persons, they must bring proof that they were credible witnesses." Upon these common principles of jurisprudence the Lord was willing, in purely Jewish fashion, to rest his claim.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
It is also written in your law,.... The law of Moses, which was given unto them, and they boasted of; the passage referred to is in Deuteronomy 19:15; see also Deuteronomy 17:6; where though what follows is not to be found in so many words, yet the sense is there expressed:
that the testimony of two men is true: concerning which the Jewish writers say (y),
"they used not to determine any judiciary matter by the mouth of one witness, neither pecuniary causes, nor causes of life and death, as it is said, Deuteronomy 17:6. It is asked (z) in their oral law, if the testimony of two men stand, why does the Scripture particularly mention three? (for no other reason) but to compare or equal three with two, that as three convict two of a falsehood, two may also convict three.''
On which one of their commentators (a) has this observation, taking notice of Deuteronomy 19:18, which speaks of a single witness;
"Mar (a doctor) says, wherever it is said a "witness", it is to be understood of two, unless the Scripture particularly specifies one.''
In the case of a wife suspected of adultery, and in the business of striking off the neck of the heifer in case of murder, they admitted of one witness (b).
(y) Maimon. Hilchot Eduth. c. 5. sect. 1.((z) Misn. Maccot. c. 1. sect. 7. (a) Bartenora in ib. (b) Maimon. Hilchot Eduth, ib. sect. 2.
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