Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he said, Where I go, you cannot come.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself?—They see the deeper meaning of His words, and yet cannot see how that meaning is to be fulfilled. “He is going away, and He clearly refers to His death. But the issues of life are in the darkness of the future. Who can know the hour of His own departure? There is only one class of persons who can speak with certainty of thus going away, and these are persons who by their own act fix the limit of their own lives.”
Because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.—Comp. Note on John 7:35. Then they had asked in scorn if He would go to the Dispersion and teach the heathen? If so, they certainly could not follow Him. Here there is the same scorn. If He intends to go to Hades, He will indeed be beyond their reach. They expect to go to Abraham’s bosom: between Him and them there will be the great gulf which no one can pass. (Comp. Notes on Luke 16:22-26.) Many expositors have seen here a reference to the deeper darkness which, in current Jewish belief, fell on the souls of those who had by their own act passed to the other world. This is supported by the speech of Josephus at Jotapata (Wars, iii. 8, § 5). Their words may imply, “If He is going to that depth, well may He say ‘Whither I go, ye cannot come.’” But if this meaning were expressed in their words, we should have expected some reference to it in the answer of our Lord; and if it be expressed at all it is in their words. It has no sanction in thought or word from Him.John 8:22-24. Then said the Jews — Showing at once the great perverseness of their disposition, and their contempt of his declaration; will he kill himself? &c. — Thus they made a jest of his threatening, and instead of trembling at his word, turned it into ridicule. He said, Ye are from beneath — The slaves of earth, and the heirs of hell; I am from above — I am from heaven, and shall quickly return thither; ye are of this world — And your treasure and hearts are here; I am not of this world — My thoughts and affections are set upon that celestial state and place from whence I came, and I incessantly labour to conduct men thither. But, as to you, I labour in vain. I said, therefore, that ye shall die in your sins —
And it is really a great and awful truth, and deserves another kind of regard than you give it; for if ye believe not that I am he — Greek, οτι εγω ειμι, that I am, that is, the person whom I have represented myself to be, namely, the bread of life, the heavenly manna, the light of the world, the Messiah. For there is evidently an ellipsis in the words, to be supplied by comparing them with John 8:12. See John 13:19; Mark 13:6; Acts 13:25, where exactly the same phrase occurs. Ye shall die in your sins — And therefore will be, in effect, the murderers of your own souls. What follows shows this to have been our Lord’s meaning; though he did not express himself fully, having handled these matters before at great length, in this and other discourses. It is justly observed by Dr. Doddridge here, that “the repetition of the threatening from John 8:21 is a very awful rebuke to the folly of their answer, John 8:22 : as if our Lord had said, It very ill becomes you to trifle and amuse yourselves with such silly and spiteful turns, when your life, even the life of your souls, is at stake; and to talk of my killing myself, when, by your unbelief and impenitency, you are plunging yourselves into eternal death! Thus do those passages in our Lord’s discourses, which to a careless reader might seem flat tautologies, appear, on an attentive review, to be animated with the most penetrating spirit, and to be full of divine dignity.”John 7:35. Now they fancy that he would kill himself; or else speak this in mockery. Matthew 4:6, under whose influence they now apparently were, and hoped that he would, which would at once extricate them out of their difficulties on his account:
because he sayeth, whither I go ye cannot come: this is no reason at all; for had Christ's meaning been, as they blasphemously intimate, they might have destroyed themselves too, and have gone after him.Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 8:22. It did not escape the notice of the Jews that in using ὑπάγω He meant a voluntary departure. But that they should not be able to come whither He goeth away, excites in them, not fear and concern on His account (Ewald), but impious mockery; and they ask: Surely he will not kill himself, in that he saith, etc.? In this case, indeed, we shall not be able to reach him! The emphasis rests on ἀποκτενεῖ, as the mode in which they scornfully conceive the ὑπάγειν to take place.
Gehenna being the ὅπου which would follow on such a departure (Joseph. Bell. iii. 8. 5, and see Wetstein and Ewald, Alterth. p. 232). The scorn (which Hengstenberg also groundlessly denies) is similar to that in John 7:35, only much more malicious.John 8:22. As before, so now, the Jews fail to understand Him, and ask: Μήτι … ἐλθεῖν; “Will He kill Himself, etc.?” They gathered from the ὑπάγω that the departure He spoke of was His own action, and thought that perhaps He meant to put Himself by death beyond their reach. Many interpreters, even Westcott and Holtzmann, suppose that the hell of suicides is meant by the place where they could not come. This is refuted by Edersheim (ii. 170, note); and, besides, the meaning obviously is, that as they had no intention of dying, His supposed death would put Him beyond their reach.22. Will he kill himself?] They see that He speaks of a voluntary departure, and perhaps they suspect that He alludes to His death. So with sarcasm still more bitter than the sneer in John 7:35 they exclaim ‘Surely He does not mean to commit suicide? We certainly shall not be able to follow Him if He takes refuge in that!’John 8:22. Μήτι ἀποκτενεῖ ἑαυτόν, whether will He kill Himself?) A most wicked thought: nay, rather, the Jews were about to kill Him. What they mean to say is, that they can find Him anywhere.Verse 22. - The Jews therefore said (were saying one to the other), Will he kill himself, that (because) he saith, Whither I go, thither ye cannot come? This query was one of harsh mockery, and can hardly be exaggerated in malign intent. The suicide was supposed to have his place in Gehenna, According to Josephus ('Bell. Jud.,' 3:08. 5), "the darkest regions of Hades would receive the souls of such." The Jews then scoff at his departure as a spontaneous resort to a fate towards which they did rot care or mean to follow him. Edersheim declares this passage of Josephus not to be sustained by rabbinical authority, and he doubts this aspect of their scorn. He limits it to the Jewish guess that Jesus must be contemplating self. murder, and as putting deliberately such a distance between them and him that they could not traverse it. The very fact that they had it in their hearts to destroy him makes it probable that they were looking beyond the act of suicide, either to the hell of popular belief or the hatred of contemporaries. They obviously thought that none but a suicide can determine the time of his departure. Christ proceeded to show them that the reason why his death would separate them from him was a fundamental difference of nature.
The mockery in these words is alike subtle and bitter. The interrogative particle, μήτι, signifies surely He will not by any chance kill Himself; and the sense of the whole clause is, He will not surely go where we cannot reach Him, unless perchance He should kill Himself; and as that would insure His going to Gehenna, of course we could not go to Him there. The remark displays alike the scorn and the self-righteousness of the speakers.
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