John 8:23
And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTeedTTBVWSWESTSK
(23) There is indeed a gulf which they cannot pass, but it is not that between souls in Abraham’s bosom and souls in Hades. It is the gulf between heaven and earth. This He brings out in two pairs of antithetic clauses. (Comp. Note on John 1:3.) These clauses interpret each other, and no deeper meaning is to be given to the first pair than is borne by the second. We may arrange them in a pair of affirmatives and a pair of negatives—

“Ye are from beneath;” “ye are of this world.”

“I am from above” (not from beneath); “I am not of this world.”

We have thus the full Hebrew expression of one thought, and this is the thought which John the Baptist, from another point of view, taught his disciples in John 3:31. They are by origin and nature of the earth. He was by origin and nature from heaven. Of the earth, their feelings and thoughts and life were of the earth, and, by devotion to things of the earth, they are destroying the spirit made in the image of God, which is within them, and the link between them and heaven. He is from heaven in origin, and is divine in nature. He has come to reveal the heavenly and the divine to the earthly and the human. In Him, and in Him only, can their spirits find deliverance from sin, and find the true life; for in Him, and in Him only, the divine and the human meet.

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.Ye are from beneath - The expression from bequeath, here, is opposed to the phrase from above. It means, You are of the earth, or are influenced by earthly, sensual, and corrupt passions. You are governed by the lowest and vilest views and feelings, such as are opposed to heaven, and such as have their origin in earth or in hell.

I am from above - From heaven. My views are heavenly, and my words should have been so interpreted.

Ye are of this world - You think and act like the corrupt men of this world.

I am not of this world - My views are above these earthly and corrupt notions. The meaning of the verse is: "Your reference to self-murder shows that you are earthly and corrupt in your views. You are governed by the mad passions of men, and can think only of these." We see here how difficult it is to excite wicked men to the contemplation of heavenly things. They interpret all things in a low and corrupt sense, and suppose all others to be governed as they are themselves.

23. Ye are from beneath; I am from above—contrasting Himself, not as in Joh 3:31, simply with earthborn messengers of God, but with men sprung from and breathing an opposite element from His, which rendered it impossible that He and they should have any present fellowship, or dwell eternally together. (Again see on [1809]Joh 7:33; also see on [1810]Joh 8:44). Ye are not only of an earthly extraction, creatures of the earth, not descended from heaven, as I am; but also of earthly spirits and principles; you savour nothing that is sublime and spiritual, and therefore you do not understand me. I tell you,

I am not of this world; my original is not from it, nor am I to determine my being in it. I shall die, but I shall rise again from the dead, and ascend into heaven, where you cannot come. Still our Saviour asserts his Divine nature; and the stress of all, he saith, lieth there; their unbelief of which was the cause of all their disputings and errors. He had given them the greatest evidence of it imaginable in the works which he had done in their sight, which were not only above the power of nature, but such as God had never authorized, or enabled any creature to do; yet they, being destitute of supernatural grace, did not believe in him. And they were inexcusable, because that grace was denied them for their wilful corruption and wickedness, which they might have avoided by the use of that common grace which was not denied them.

And he said unto them,.... Upon this wicked remark of theirs, and query on his words:

ye are from beneath: not only of the earth, earthy, and so spoke of the earth, and as carnal men; but even of hell, they were the children of the devil; they breathed his Spirit, spoke his language, and did his lusts, as in John 8:44.

I am from above; not with respect to his human body, which he did not bring with him from heaven, that was formed below, in the Virgin's womb; otherwise he would not have been the seed of the woman, the son of Abraham, David, and Mary: but either with regard to his divine nature and person, he was of God, the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, who then lay in his bosom, and was in heaven above at that time; or to his mission, which was from heaven.

Ye are of this world; they were, as they were born into the world, sinful, carnal, and corrupt; they were in it, and belonged to it, had never been chosen, or called out of it; they had their conversation according to the course of it, and conformed to its evil customs and manners; they were under the influence of the God of the world, and were taken with the sinful and sensual lasts thereof; they were men of worldly spirits; they minded earth, and earthly things, and had their portion in this world, and might be truly called the men of it.

I am not of this world; he was in it, but not of it; he was come into it to save the chief of sinners, but he did not belong to it, nor did he conform to it; for though he conversed with sinners, ate with them, and received them, being called to repentance by him; yet he was separate from them, and did not as they did: nor did he pursue the pleasures, honours, and riches of this world, being all his days a man of sorrows, and despised of men; and though Lord of all, had not where to lay his head.

And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
John 8:23-24. Without further noticing their venomous scorn, Jesus simply holds up before them, with more firm and elevated calmness, their own low nature, which made them capable of thus mocking Him, because they did not understand Him, the heavenly One.

ἐκ τῶν κάτω] from the lower regions, i.e. ἐκ τῆς γῆς (comp. Acts 2:19), the opposite of τὰ ἄνω, the heavenly regions; ἄνω being used of heavenly relations in solemn discourse (Colossians 3:1-2; Galatians 4:26; Php 3:14); comp. on ἄνωθεν, John 3:31. ʼΕκ designates derivation; you spring from the earth, I from the heaven. To understand κάτω as denoting the lower world (Origen, Nonnus, Lange), a meaning which Godet also considers as included in it, would correspond, indeed, to the current classical usage, but is opposed by the parallel of the second half of the verse.

οὐκ εἰμὶ ἐκ τ. κόσμου τούτου] I do not spring from this (pre-Messianic, comp. αἰὼν οὗτος) world; negative expression of His supramundane, heavenly derivation.[13] Comp. John 18:36. Both halves of the verse contain the same thought; and the clauses ἐκ τῶν κάτω ἐστέ and ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου ἐστέ imply, in their full signification, that those men are also of such a character and disposition as correspond to their low extraction, without higher wisdom and divine life. Comp. John 3:31. Therefore had Jesus said to them

He refers them again to His words in John 8:24—they would die in their sins; and now He adds the reason: ἐὰν γὰρ, etc.; for only faith can help those to the higher divine ζωή in time and eternity (John 1:12, John 3:15 f., John 6:40 ff., John 17:3, al.), who are ἐκ τῶν κάτω and ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, and consequently, as such, are born flesh of flesh.

Notice, that in this repetition of the minatory words the emphasis, which in John 8:20 rested on ἐν τ. ἁμ. ὑμ., is laid on ἀποθαν.; and that thus prominence is given to the perishing itself, which could only be averted by conversion to faith.

ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι] namely, the Messiah, the great name which every one understood without explanation, which concentrated in itself the highest hopes of all Israel on the basis of the old prophecies, and which was the most present thought both to Jesus and the Jews, especially in all their discussions—to Jesus, in the form, “I am the Messiah;” to the Jews, in the form of either, “Is He the Messiah?” or, “This is not the Messiah, but another, who is yet to come.” Comp. John 8:28; John 13:19. In opposition to the notion of there being another, Jesus uses the emphatic ἐγώ. The non-mention of the name, which was taken for granted (it had been mentioned in John 4:25-26), confers on it a quiet majesty that makes an irresistible impression on the minds of the hearers whilst Christ gives utterance to the brief words, ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι. As God comprehended the sum of the Old Testament faith in אֲנִי הוּא (Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 41:13; Isaiah 43:10), so Christ that of the New Testament in ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι. Comp. Hofmann, Schrifbew. I. p. 63 f. The definite confession of this faith is given in John 16:3, John 6:68-69; 1 John 4:2.

[13] Not merely of the heavenly direction of His spirit (Weizsäcker), which must be taken for granted in the Christ who springs from above (comp. John 3:31). Wherever Christ speaks of His heavenly descent, He speaks in the consciousness of having had a pre-human, supra-mundane existence (in the consciousness of the Logos), John 17:5, and lays claim to a transcendent relation of His essential nature. (Comp. Weiss, Lehrbegr. p. 215 f. Nonnus: ξεῖνος ἔφυν κόσμοιο.

John 8:23. But disregarding the interruption, and wishing more clearly to show why they could not follow Him, and what constituted the real separation in destiny between Him and them, He says: Ὑμεῖςτούτου, “You belong to the things below, I to the things above: you are of this world, I am not of this world”. The two clauses balance and interpret one another: “things below” being equivalent to “this world”. It was because this gulf naturally separated them from Him and His destiny and because their destiny was that of the world that He had warned them.

23. Ye are from beneath] At first sight it might seem as if this meant ‘ye are from hell.’ Christ uses strong language later on (John 8:44), and this interpretation would make good sense with what precedes. ‘Ye suggest that I am going to hell by self-destruction: it is ye who come from thence.’ But what follows forbids this. The two halves of the verse are manifestly equivalent, and ‘ye are from beneath’ = ‘ye are of this world.’ The pronouns throughout are emphatically opposed. The whole verse is a good instance of ‘the spirit of parallelism, the informing power of Hebrew poetry,’ which runs more or less through the whole Gospel. Comp. John 14:27.

John 8:23. Ὑμεῖς, ye) Again Jesus passes by their interrogatory; and proves what He said, John 8:21, “Ye shall die in your sins; whither I go ye cannot come;” comp. ch. John 3:13, “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven.”—ἐκ τῶν κάτω, from those things which are below) from the earth.—ἐγώ, I) He shows whence He is, and hath come, and whither He is about to go; from the world to the Father.—τούτου, of this) By this being added, it is shown that there is also another world: ch. John 9:39, “For judgment I am come into this world.”

Verse 23. - Yet this essential divergence is not based on fatalistic grounds, but on moral ones. The argument of the twenty-fourth verse explains the description of ver. 23. The ground of this utter alienation is the lack of belief, which will leave them in their sins to die. He said to them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above. You spring from the lower as opposed to the higher world; you are influenced by considerations drawn from the earthly, sensual, superficial, and transitory. It is not necessary to suppose that our Lord is clenching the Jews' harsh speech about the underworld with a tu-quoque, as though they verily belonged to the Gehenna to which they were consigning him; for the next pair of clauses are in parallel apposition with the former. In the words, Ye are of this world; I am not of this world, "This world" corresponds with the τῶν κάτω of the previous clause, and the "not of this world" corresponds with the τὰ ἄνω, the heavenly regions from which he has continually declared, in many varieties of phrase, that he had come, or descended, or been sent. Certainly and broadly speaking, this is true, as a contrast between Christ and all other men before their regeneration. Our Lord especially charges home upon these earth-bound souls, on these purely human, selfish, unspiritual, unrenewed, unbelieving men, this antagonism to himself, this refusal to walk in his light or receive his life. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6). They are flesh. He does not exclude them forever from such participation in his own heavenly life as would reverse the descriptive and characteristic features of their being. The reason why they have not seen the kingdom or the King is that they are not born of the Spirit. John 8:23Ye are from beneath (ἐκ τῶν κάτω ἐστὲ)

A phrase peculiar to John and to his Gospel. Jesus states the radical antagonism between His opposers and Himself, as based upon difference of origin and nature. They spring from the lower, sensual, earthly economy; He from the heavenly. Compare James 3:15 sqq.

From above (ἐκ τῶν ἄνω)

Also peculiar to John's Gospel. Compare Colossians 3:1. On the phrase to be of (εἶναι ἐκ) see on John 1:46.

Ye are of this world (ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου ἐστὲ)

Peculiar to John, and occurring in the First Epistle. On κόσμου, world, see on John 1:9. Ye are of this earthly order or economy.

John 8:23 Interlinear
John 8:23 Parallel Texts

John 8:23 NIV
John 8:23 NLT
John 8:23 ESV
John 8:23 NASB
John 8:23 KJV

John 8:23 Bible Apps
John 8:23 Parallel
John 8:23 Biblia Paralela
John 8:23 Chinese Bible
John 8:23 French Bible
John 8:23 German Bible

Bible Hub

John 8:22
Top of Page
Top of Page