Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.—The Cambridge MS. and some of the Fathers omit the words “of sin”; but this is clearly to avoid the difficulty of the connection of thought, and they must be regarded as an integral part of the text.
Committeth sin.—The Greek word is a present participle, expressing the continuance of the deeds of sin. It means, not simply the committing individual sins, from which no man is free, but the state of the life which is sinful; the state which is opposed to doing the will of the Father, and is expressed in other words as “working iniquity” (Matthew 7:21; Matthew 7:23.) The truth is taught in the generality of a well-known maxim, but it has for them a special application. They claimed to be Abraham’s seed, and therefore free. Let their lives decide the question of their freedom. He could appeal (John 8:28-29) to a perfect harmony with the divine will, and therefore had a perfect freedom. For many of them the voice of conscience must have spoken in terrible words, and must have revealed the chain which had bound them, hand and foot, in the slavery of sin.
Is the servant of sin.—The word means bondservant, or slave. It has been rendered by “bondman,” and this brings out the connection of the word with that for “was in bondage,” in the last verse.
It is striking that we have this same thought in the letters of both St. Paul and St. Peter. (See margin.)
is the servant of sin—that is, the bond-servant, or slave of it; for the question is not about free service, but who are in bondage. (Compare 2Pe 2:19; Re 6:16). The great truth here expressed was not unknown to heathen moralists; but it was applied only to vice, for they were total strangers to what in revealed religion is called sin. The thought of slaves and freemen in the house suggests to our Lord a wider idea.Matthew 7:23; and this very phrase, 1Jo 3:4. And indeed, the very heathen could see, that there was no such slavery as a servitude to lusts and passions: men are the servants of corruption, 2 Peter 2:19; under the dominion of sin, Romans 6:20.
whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin; which must be understood, not of one that commits a single act of sin, though ever so gross, as did Noah, Lot, David, Peter, and others, who yet were not the servants of sin; or of such who sin through ignorance, weakness of the flesh, and the power of Satan's temptations, and especially who commit sin with reluctance, the spirit lusting against it; nor indeed of any regenerate persons, though they are not without sin; nor do they live without the commission of it, in thought, word, or deed; and though they fall into it, they do not continue and live in it, but rise up out of it, through the grace of God, and by true repentance; and so are not to be reckoned the servants of sin, or to be of the devil. But this is to be understood of such whose bias and bent of their minds are to sin; who give up themselves unto it, and sell themselves to work wickedness; who make sin their trade, business, and employment, and are properly workers of it, and take delight and pleasure in it: these, whatever liberty, they promise themselves, are the servants of corruption; they are under the government of sin, that has dominion over them; and they obey it in the lusts thereof, and are drudges and slaves unto it, and will have no other wages at last but death, even eternal death, if grace prevent not; see Romans 6:16.Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 8:34. Δείκνυσιν (and that with solemn asseveration), ὅτι δουλείαν ἐνέγηνεν ἀνωτέρω τὴν ἐξ ἁμαρτίας, οὐ τὴν ἐκ δυναστείας ἀνθρώπου, Euth. Zigabenus.
ὁ ποιῶν] instead of keeping himself free from it.
δοῦλος] as to His moral personality or Ego, comp. as to the figure and subject-matter, Romans 6:17 ff; Romans 7:14 ff. Analogous examples from the Classics in Wetstein; from Philo in Loesner, p. 149.John 8:34. The answer is: ἀμὴν … ἁμαρτίας [τῆς ἁμαρτίας is bracketed by W.H]. The liberty meant is inward, radical, and individual. “Every one who lives a life of sin is a slave.” Cf. Romans 6:16; Romans 6:20; 2 Peter 2:19; Xen., Mem., iv. 5, 3; Philo’s tract “Quod omnis probus sit liber,” and the Stoic saying “solus sapiens est liber”. The relations subsisting ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ in the house of God, the Theocracy to which they boasted to belong, must be determined by what is spiritual, by likeness to the Head of the house; “this servitude would lead to national rejection,” Edersheim. It behoves them therefore to remember this result of the generally recognised principle that sin masters the sinner and makes him a slave (John 8:35), viz., “that the slave does not abide in the house,” does not permanently inherit the promises to Abraham, and the blessedness of fellowship with God; it is the Son who abide for ever. Cf. Hebrews 3:6. The slave has no permanent footing in the house: he may be dismissed or sold. The transition which Paul himself had made from the servile to the filial position coloured his view of the Gospel, Galatians 4:1-7; but here it is not the servile attitude towards God but slavery to sin that is in view. From this slavery only the Son emancipates, ἐὰν οὖν … ἔσεσθε. This implies that they were all born slaves and needed emancipation, and that only One, Himself the Son, could give them true liberty.—ὄντως ἐλεύθεροι in contrast to the liberty they boasted of in John 8:33. How the Son emancipates is shown in Galatians 4:1-7. The superficial character of the liberty they enjoyed by their birth as Jews is further emphasised in John 8:37.
 Westcott and Hort.34. Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin] Better, Everyone who continues to commit sin is the bond-servant of sin. ‘Committeth sin’ is too weak for the Greek: Christ does not say that a single act of sin enslaves. ‘To commit (poiein) sin’ is the opposite of ‘to do the Truth’ (John 3:21). Again, ‘servant,’ though often a good translation where nothing degrading is implied, is not strong enough, where, as here, the degradation is the main point. Moreover, the connexion with John 8:33 must be kept up. The words for ‘bondage’ and ‘servant’ are cognate; therefore either ‘bondage’ and ‘bond-servant,’ or ‘slavery’ and ‘slave,’ must be our renderings.
Some have thought that we have here an echo of Romans 6:16, which of course S. John may have seen. But why may not both passages be original? The idea that vice is slavery is common in all literature: frequent in the classics. 2 Peter 2:19 is probably an echo either of this passage or of Romans 6:16. Comp. Matthew 6:24.John 8:34. Ἀπεκρίθη, answered) Jesus replies in inverse order to the twofold objection of the Jews, and first goes on with the portion of the discourse concerning freedom, then discusses the portion concerning the children of Abraham, from John 8:37.—ὁ ποιῶν) he who habitually committeth sin, as opposed to the truth.—δοῦλός ἐστι, is the slave) by the very fact, 2 Peter 2:19, “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage;” Romans 6:16, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.”Verse 34. - Jesus answered them; i.e. those "Jews who believed him," but whose retort showed their faith to be of the most feeble and imperfect kind, and which, if it were momentarily assumed, was ready to disappear at the first touch of trial. A promise of Divine love had been treated by them as an insult, not so much to their national history, as to their religious triumph over their civil and political disasters. There is no reason to believe that in these, or in the following words, the unbelieving Jews had once more become the interlocutors, as Tholuck and Hengstenberg have done on different grounds. Meyer, Ellicott, Lange, and many others agree with the view here advanced. The answer to them (αὐτοῖς, those who were the subjects of ἀπεκρίθησαν) is introduced with peculiar solemnity: Verily, verily I say unto you, every one (πᾶς) that doeth sin - ὁ ποιῶν ἁμαρτίαν is different from πράσσων φαῦλα of John 3:20; it is the precise opposite of ποιῶν ἀλήθειαν of John 3:21, and does not mean "everyone who committeth separate acts of transgression," but it means "everyone who is living a life of sin" - is the bond slave (of sin). Godet is strongly disposed, on the ground of the exceedingly small authority of D and b alone (and certain quotations of Origen), to believe that the τῆς ἁμαρτίας is a gloss. Certainly the whole passage would be easier to interpret if our Lord had simply said that the man under the habitual power of sin is a slave, and had then, in vers. 35 and 36, advanced to the contrast between the slave and the Son. But there is great unanimity among all the authorities as to the accuracy of the Received and Revised Texts, though Westcott and Hort place it in brackets. The interpretation, consequently, is simply this, that Christ did "pass from the idea of bondage under sin to that of bondage generally, and from the idea of sonship to the Son" (Westcott). The notion of personal transgression producing a bondage, and enfettering the soul and the will, and separating it from the glorious liberty of true sonship, lay outside of their notion of discipleship. They were not requiring deliverance from sin or its bondage; what they wanted was the full realization of the national hope. The language of this verse can be paralleled from the writings of the classics and rabbis, and is largely handled by St. Paul (Romans 6. and 7.). The relation between sin as a principle and sins as acts of the will is a great New Testament revelation. The personal commission of sin augments the force of the corrupt tendency which leads to and facilitates fresh transgression. Every compliance with evil forges a new fetter, and imposes it on the will of the transgressor. "The strong man guards his house, and his goods are in peace" (Luke 11:21).
Rev., more correctly, every one that committeth.
Sin (τὴν ἁμαρτίαν)
The servant (δοῦλος)
Or, a servant. Properly, a bond-servant or slave. See on Matthew 20:26.
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