John 8:32
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
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(32) And ye shall know the truth.—In the great Intercessory Prayer of John 17, Jesus prays for His disciples: “Sanctify them in the truth: Thy word is truth” (John 8:17). In the answer to the question of Thomas in John 14, He declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 8:6). It is this thought that is present in the connection between continuance in His word and knowledge of the truth here. These Jews professed to know the truth, and to be the official expounders of it. They had yet to learn that truth was not only a system, but also a power; not only something to be written or spoken, but also something to be felt and lived. If they abide in His word they will indeed be His disciples; living the life of truth, they will gain perception of truth. “Being true,” they will “in love grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

And the truth shall make you free.—Here, as in John 17:17, truth and holiness are spoken of as correlative. The light of truth dispels the darkness in which lies the stronghold of evil. Sin is the bondage of the powers of the soul, and this bondage is willed because the soul does not see its fearful evil. When it perceives the truth, there comes to it a power which rouses it from its stupor, and strengthens it to break the fetters by which it has been bound. Freedom from the Roman rule was one of the national hopes bound up with Messiah’s Advent. There is indeed a freedom from a more crushing foe than the legions of Rome. (Comp. Mark 5:9; Luke 8:30.)

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.Shall know the truth - See the notes at John 7:17.

The truth shall make you free - The truth here means the Christian religion. Compare Galatians 3:1; Colossians 1:6. The doctrines of the true religion shall make you free - that is, it will free you from the slavery of evil passions, corrupt propensities, and grovelling views. The condition of a sinner is that of a captive or a slave to sin. He is one who serves and obeys the dictates of an evil heart and the promptings of an evil nature, Romans 6:16-17; "Ye were the servants of sin;" - Romans 6:19; "Ye have yielded your members servants unto iniquity;" - Romans 6:20; Romans 7:6, Romans 7:8,Romans 7:11; Romans 8:21; Acts 8:23; "Thou art in the - bond of iniquity;" Galatians 4:3, Galatians 4:9. The effect of the gospel is to break this hard bondage to sin and to set the sinner free. We learn from this that religion is not slavery or oppression. It is true freedom.

"He is the freeman whom the truth makes free,

And all are slaves beside." - Cowper.

The service of God is freedom from degrading vices and carnal propensities; from the slavery of passion and inordinate desires. It is a cheerful and delightful surrender of ourselves to Him whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.

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." And ye shall know the truth; that is, you shall more fully and clearly know the truth; by which may be either understood Christ, who styles himself, The way, the truth, and the life; or those propositions of truth which Christ hath revealed. There must be some knowledge of truth in a soul before it can believe; for how shall they believe (saith the apostle) in him of whom they have not heard? but a fuller and clearer knowledge of the truth is got by degrees, by those who studiously seek after it, and walk close with God.

And the truth shall make you free: it appears by John 8:36, that by the truth he means himself; there he saith, If the Son make you free: and indeed, though the knowledge of the proposition of truth gives men some liberty from the bondage of ignorance and some lusts, yet it is only the saving knowledge of Christ which brings men into a perfect liberty from the law, the rigour, curse, and terror of it, and from the dominion of sin and corruption.

And ye shall know the truth,.... Either the truth of the Gospel, the truth as it is in Jesus; meaning, that they should have a larger knowledge of it, while others are ever learning, and never come to the knowledge of the truth; but the spirit of truth should lead them into all truth, and cause them to grow and increase in Gospel light and knowledge; or Jesus himself, who is the way, the truth, and the life; and the sense is, that they should know more of him, of the dignity of his person, of the nature and usefulness of his offices; of the efficacy of his blood, the excellency of his righteousness, and the fulness of his grace, and that for themselves:

and the truth shall make you free; from ignorance and error, and the prejudices of education, under which the whole nation laboured, and from the thraldom of the law.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall {g} make you free.

(g) From the slavery of sin.

John 8:32. καὶ γνώσεσθεὑμᾶς. By abiding in Christ’s word, making it the rule of their life and accepting Him as their Guide and Teacher, they would come to that knowledge of the truth which only experimental testing of it can bring; and the truth regarding their relation to Him and to God would turn all service and all life into liberty. Freedom, a condition of absolute liberty from all outward constraint, is only attained when man attains fellowship with God (who is absolutely free) in the truth: when that prompts man to action which prompts God. [Cf. the striking parallel in Epictetus, iv. 7. εἰς ἐμὲ οὐδεὶς ἐξουσίαν ἔχει· ἠλευθέρωμαι ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ, ἔγνωκα αὐτοῦ τὰς ἐντολὰς, οὐκέτι οὐδεὶς δουλαγωγῆσαί με δύναται.]

32. the truth] Both Divine doctrine (John 17:17) and Christ Himself (John 14:6) ‘whose service is perfect freedom.’ See on John 18:37.

shall make you free] Free from the moral slavery of sin. Comp. the Stoics’ dictum—‘The wise man alone is free.’

John 8:32. Τὴν ἀλήθειαν) the truth, concerning Me, as sent by the Father; concerning yourselves, as being My disciples indeed.—ἡ ἀλήθεια) The truth, being known, concerning Me; and I Myself. For the Son makes free, John 8:36. Comp. ch. John 1:12, “To them gave He power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on His name:” and He is the truth, ch. John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth,” etc.—ἐλευθερώσει shall make free) We ought not to wonder, that Jesus suddenly threw in the mention of this, which the Jews were sure to contradict. For always, in accordance with His own infinite wisdom, He spake especially that which would assail the prejudices of men, and be most beneficial to men; although men would take from thence occasions of disputing with Him. The Freedom is the exemption of the sons of God from all adverse control [namely, from sin, and its slavery; John 8:34, “Whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin:” and from death; John 8:51, “If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death.”—V. g.]

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