|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:41-47 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.
Verse 41. - Instead of doing the works of Abraham, you are doing the works of your father. That is, you have a father with whom you are, nevertheless, in living, ethical relation. If you persist in boasting of your father, who is neither "the Father" nor Abraham, I must soon tell you who that father is. Loud interruption followed. Abrupt and startling was the retort: We are [were] not born of fornication; we have one Father, God. Many expositors think that these Jews began to babble against the possibility of their being bastard children of Sarah, or to protest that they were not Ishmaelites or any collateral branch of the seed of Abraham, like the Idumaeans or the sons of Keturah. This is far away from the context, and unworthy of the controversy. The idea is sufficiently explained by the second clause. The covenant relation between Jehovah and Israel is so constantly referred to in the Old Testament (Hosea 1:2; Hosea 2:4; Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 2:20) under the image of marriage and the unfaithfulness of particular generations to Jehovah; and their false worship and idolatry are so often regarded as "fornication" and "adultery" from God, the Husband of the dedicated spouse, so that nothing is more probable, when Jesus charged them with doing the works of their father, that they should have exclaimed, "Surely we have no idolatrous sympathies. None but Jehovah is our God. Thou must not charge us with any compromise with the accursed thing." The wild rage which the Jews had shown to Pilate in the matter of the shields, their abhorrence of the defilement of idols in the matter of food, their avoidance even of the supreme court of Roman justice under fear of idolatrous contamination, explain the outflash of this indignant rejoinder. This view is, in the main, advocated by De Wette, Lampe, Lucke, Lange, and Hengstenberg; but opposed by Meyer, Westcott: "We do not owe our position to idolatrous desertion of Jehovah. We are the offspring of the union of God with his chosen people. Our spiritual descent is as pure as our historical descent." Godet modifies it: "We have no idolatrous blood in our veins; we are Hebrews of the Hebrews." They claim to be the children of God, as well as children of Abraham (Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 63:16; Malachi 2:10).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Ye do the deeds of your father,.... Not Abraham, but the devil.
Then said they unto him, we be not born of fornication: meaning either literally, that they were not a brood of bastards, children of whoredom, illegitimately begotten in unlawful copulation, or wedlock; or figuratively, that they were not the children of idolaters, idolatry being called fornication in Scripture; but that they were the holy seed of Israel, and children of the prophets, who had retained the pure word, and the true worship of God, though in all this they might have been contradicted and refuted; to which they add,
we have one Father, even God; Israel being called by God his Son, and firstborn to them belonged the adoption, in a national sense, and of this they boasted; though few of them were the children of God by special adoption, or God their Father by regenerating grace.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
41. We be not born of fornication … we have one Father, God—meaning, as is generally allowed, that they were not an illegitimate race in point of religion, pretending only to be God's people, but were descended from His own chosen Abraham.
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