John 8:37
I know that you are Abraham's seed; but you seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(37) I know that ye are Abraham’s seed.—He uses the word which they had used in John 8:33, acknowledging their merely physical descent from Abraham. He has since used the word “Son,” but does not apply it to them. In John 8:39 He refuses to acknowledge that they are Abraham’s “children.”

But ye seek to kill me.—The difficulty of understanding these words to refer to those who believed on Him (John 8:30-31), have led to the opinion that others of the hierarchy answer in John 8:33. This seems unnatural, and is opposed to the words which immediately follow. As a party, they had been, and still were, seeking to kill Him. These believers, by their question in John 8:33, were showing the spirit which declined discipleship, were identifying themselves with His opponents.

Because my word hath no place in you.—Better, makes no progress in you, “does not advance, does not gain ground in you.” That meaning is established by undoubted examples, and is in exact agreement with the thought of the context. In John 8:31 the test was, “If ye abide in My word.” Their question proves that their faith was momentary. The word had but penetrated the surface of their thoughts, but they had not so received it as to allow it to advance into the mind and influence their conduct.

John 8:37-40. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed — That ye are descended from Abraham, as Ishmael and Esau, and their posterity also were, I know; but what can that avail you, while you are so unlike Abraham, in your spirit and conduct, as it is plain you are? For you seek to kill me — Who am not only an innocent person, but the Lord of life and glory, invested with an extraordinary commission from God to instruct and save you: a crime this, the heinousness of which no words can describe. Thus having answered their objection concerning freedom, (John 8:34-36,) he here answers the other branch of it, concerning their being Abraham’s offspring. Because my word hath no place in you — In your minds and hearts, and has not any weight with, or influence upon you, but is of a tenor directly contrary to your prejudices and lusts. I speak that which I have seen with my Father — And which I know to be agreeable to his mind and will; but with which it is impossible to reconcile your practice. For ye do that which you have seen with your father — To whom you manifest a visible conformity, in your dispositions and actions. By which he intimated, that their devices, designs, and works were as truly diabolical, as his doctrine was divine. They answered, Abraham is our father — As if they had said, Observe on whom thy reflection falls. Thou reproachest that holy patriarch, who was peculiarly dear to God. Jesus saith, If ye were Abraham’s children — His true and genuine progeny, his spiritual seed; ye would do the works of Abraham — Ye would resemble that great and good man in faith and holiness; and therefore, “instead of seeking to take the life of one who is come to you from God, with a revelation of his will, ye would believe on him; in imitation of Abraham, who, for his faith in all the divine revelations, and his obedience to all the divine commands, however hard they were to flesh and blood, was ennobled with the grand titles of the father of the faithful, and the friend of God.” But now ye seek to kill me — And that for no other reason but because I have told you the truth, clearly, fully, and faithfully, which I have heard of God — Received in commission from him. This did not Abraham — He did nothing like this; but was famous for his humanity, justice, and piety, giving the readiest credit, and the most joyful welcome, to all the messages which God sent him. Some render the clause, Abraham would not have done this; that is, he would not have acted thus, if he had lived now.8:37-40 Our Lord opposed the proud and vain confidence of these Jews, showing that their descent from Abraham could not profit those of a contrary spirit to him. Where the word of God has no place, no good is to be expected; room is left there for all wickedness. A sick person who turns from his physician, and will take neither remedies nor food, is past hope of recovery. The truth both heals and nourishes the hearts of those who receive it. The truth taught by philosophers has not this power and effect, but only the truth of God. Those who claim the privileges of Abraham, must do Abraham's works; must be strangers and sojourners in this world; keep up the worship of God in their families, and always walk before God.I know ... - I admit that you are the descendants of Abraham. Jesus did not wish to call that in question, but he endeavored to show them that they might be his descendants and still lack entirely his spirit. See the notes at Matthew 3:9.

Ye seek to kill me - John 5:16; John 7:32.

Because my word - My doctrine; the principles of my religion. You have not the spirit of my doctrine; you hate it, and you therefore seek to kill me.

Hath no place - That is, you do not embrace my doctrine, or it exerts no influence over you. The original word conveys the notion that there was no room for his doctrine in their minds. It met with obstructions, and did not penetrate into their hearts. They were so filled with pride, and prejudice, and false notions, that they would not receive his truth; and as they had not his truth or spirit, and could not bear it, they sought to kill him.

37-41. ye seek to kill me—He had said this to their face before: He now repeats it, and they do not deny it; yet are they held back, as by some marvellous spell—it was the awe which His combined dignity, courage, and benignity struck into them.

because my word hath no place in you—When did ever human prophet so speak of His words? They tell us of "the word of the Lord" coming to them. But here is One who holds up "His word" as that which ought to find entrance and abiding room for itself in the souls of all who hear it.

According to the flesh you are descended from Abraham, that I know; but of what advantage is or can this be to you, while in the mean time you are implacable enemies to me, and seek to murder me, who am not only an innocent person, but am the Lord of life, and came to save the world? And the root of this is your unbelief: did you receive and believe the word that I have spoken to you, you would do otherwise; but although the sound of my word pierceth your ears, and then you receive a little of it, yet it passeth not into your hearts, it hath no place within you; you do not believe it, you are not affected with it, it doth not dwell in you as it ought to do, so that you are not turned into the likeness and obedience of it. Men may be professors and members of the church of God, in whom yet the word of God hath no rooting, and findeth no true place; so as that their condition may be sad enough. I know that ye are Abraham's seed,.... In answer to the other part of the Jews' objection to Christ, and in favour of themselves, Christ owns that they were the natural seed of Abraham; for truth must be allowed to an adversary. But then this hindered not but they might be, as they were, in moral bondage to sin, and a generation of vipers, as those of them who came to John's baptism were; and might not be the sons of God, for not because they were the natural seed of Abraham, were they all the adopted sons of God; and might be cast out of the house of God, as Ishmael was cast out of Abraham's, though he was his natural seed. And what follows proves them to be under the power, and in the servitude of sin, and that they were the seed of the serpent that was to bruise the heel of the woman's seed, or put the Messiah to death, though they were the natural seed of Abraham:

but ye seek to kill me; which none but such who are under the governing power of sin, are slaves unto it, and the vassals of the devil, would ever do: the reason of which is,

because my word hath no place in you; their hearts were barred and bolted against it, with ignorance, enmity, and unbelief; it had no entrance into them; it did not come with power to their hearts, nor work effectually in them; it had no place at all in them, much less a dwelling; had it had one, it would have produced another effect in them, even love to Christ; which the doctrine of Christ, wherever it comes with power, and takes place in the soul, brings along with it; but where it does not, as here, hatred and indignation, envy and malice, more or less, show themselves. This clause is differently rendered, and so admits of different senses. The Vulgate Latin renders it, "my word does not take in you"; it did not take place in them, nor did it take with them; they could not receive it; in which sense the word is used in Matthew 19:11; for the natural man cannot receive the doctrines of Christ; they are not suited to his taste: they are disagreeable to him. The Syriac version renders it, "ye are not sufficient for my word", to take it in; they were not capable of it; they could not understand it; it requires divine illumination, and a spiritual discerning, which they had not: the Persic version is, "ye are not worthy of my words"; of having the Gospel preached to them, and continued with them; they contradicting and blaspheming it, and rejecting the author of it; see Acts 13:45. The Ethiopic version renders it, "my word does not remain with you"; and to the same purpose the Arabic version, "my word is not firm in you"; as soon as it was heard by them, it was caught away from them by Satan, whose children they were; it made no lasting impressions on them, but was like water spilt upon the ground: it may be rendered, "my word does not enter into you"; it did not make its way and penetrate into their hearts; for though, when attended with the demonstration of the Spirit, and of power, it is quick and powerful, and sharper than a twoedged sword, and enters into the conscience, and penetrates to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and lays open the secret thoughts and intents of the heart; yet of itself is an insufficient means of conversion; it cannot make its own way; there must be an exertion of powerful and efficacious grace; which shows the hardness and obstinacy of the heart of man.

{13} I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

(13) Our wicked manners declare that we are obviously born of a wicked nature: but we are changed, and made part of the household of God according to the covenant which he made with Abraham by Christ alone, apprehended and laid hold on by faith: and this faith is known by a godly and honest life.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 8:37. Now also He denies that they are children of Abraham, although hitherto they had boastfully relied on the fact as the premiss of their freedom, John 8:33.

ἀλλὰ ζητεῖτε] How opposed to a true, spiritual descent from Abraham! The reproach, however, had its justification, because these Jews had already turned round again, and the death of Jesus was the goal of the hierarchical opposition.

οὐ χωρεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν] has no progress in you, in your heart. This view of the meaning, which is philologically correct (Plat. Legg. iii. p. 684 E; Eryx. p. 398 B; ᾗ ἔμελλεν ὁ λόγος χωρήσεσθαι αὐτῷ; Herod. iii. 42, v. 89; Xen. Oec. i. 11; Polyb. 28. 15, 12, 10. 15, 4; Aristoph. Pax, 472; Ran. 472; 2Ma 3:40), thoroughly applies to the persons concerned; because whilst the word of Christ had penetrated their heart and made them for the time believers (John 8:30-31), it had had no further development, it had made no advance; on the contrary, they had gone back again after believing for a moment. Hence, also, it is not allowable to take ἐν ὑμῖν as equivalent to inter vos (Lücke, Hengstenberg). Others interpret: It finds no place in you (Vulgate: non capit in vobis; so Origen? Chrysostom, Theophylact, Erasmus, Castalio, Beza, Aretius, Maldonatus, Corn. a Lapide, Jansen, and several others; also B. Crusius, Ewald, and Baeumlein). Without any warrant from usage.[23] Others again render: It finds no entrance into you; so that ἐν ὑμῖν would be used pregnantly, indicating the persistence that follows upon movement. So Nonnus, Grotius, Kuinoel, De Wette, Maier, Tholuck, Luthardt. The expression would have to be referred back to the meaning—move forward, stretch forward (Wis 7:23; 2 Peter 3:9, and frequently in classical writers). But this explanation is neither indicated by the text (for the words are not εἰς ὑμᾶς), nor is it even appropriate to the sense, seeing that the word of Christ had actually stirred those men to momentary faith. At the same time, this explanation, however, is forced on those who refuse to regard the ΠΕΠΙΣΤΕΥΚΌΤΕς in John 8:31 as those who answer in John 8:33.

[23] Aristot. H. A. ix. 40, is not relevant; χωρεῖ there is impersonal, and the words mean: if there is no advance in their work.—The sense: It has no place in you, ought to have been expressed τὸν λόγον οὐ χωρεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν. Comp. John 21:25, and see on 2 Corinthians 7:2.John 8:37. οἶδαὑμῖν. “I know that you are Abraham’s seed; it is your moral descent which is in question, and your conduct shows that my word, which gives true liberty (John 8:31-32), does not find place in you.”—οὐ χωρεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν. The Greek Fathers all understand these words in the sense of A.V[69], “hath no place in you”. Cyril has διὰ τὴν ἐνοικήσασαν ἐν ὑμῖν ἁμαρτίαν δηλαδὴ, καὶ τόπον ὥσπερ οὐκ ἐῶσαν, etc. So Euthymius and Theophylact. Beza renders “non habet locum,” citing a passage from Aristotle, which Meyer disallows, because in it the verb is used impersonally. But Field has found another instance in Alciphron, Epist., iii. 7, in which χωρεῖν is used in the sense of “locum habere” (Otium Norvic., p. 67). The common meaning of χωρεῖν, “to advance,” is also quite relevant and indeed not materially different. It is frequently used for prosperous, successful progress. See Aristoph., Pax, 694, and other passages in Kypke; and cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:1, ἵνα ὁ λόγος τρέχῃ. “My word meets with obstacles and is not allowed its full influence in you.”

[69] Authorised Version.37. Christ’s words seem gradually to take a wider range. They are no longer addressed merely to those who for a moment had believed on Him, but to His opponents generally, whose ranks these short-lived believers had joined.

Abraham’s seed] He admits their claim in their own narrow sense. They are the natural descendants of Abraham: his children in any higher sense they are not (John 8:39). Comp. ‘neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children’ (Romans 9:8).

hath no place in you] Rather, maketh no advance in you. His word had found place in them for a very short time; but it made no progress in their hearts: it did not abide in them and they did not abide in it (John 8:31). They had stifled it and cast it out.John 8:37. Ἀλλά) but ye cherish sin, even the design of killing Me.—ὁ λόγος ὁ ἐμός, My word) the word of truth and of freedom.—οὐ χωρεῖ, doth not take.[228]) They who do not believe, have an antipathy towards Christ and His word. Comp. the foll. ver., “Ye do that which ye have seen with your father,” in opposition to, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father.” The correlatives are: a man ought to abide: [Christ’s] word ought to take possession [have place in; please].

[228] i.e. Your tastes; doth not take possession in your case. Better the Engl. Vers. “Hath no place in you.”—E. and T.Verse 37. - I know (οϊδα, I know absolutely, I do not come to know it from your retort) that ye are the seed of Abraham. They belonged to the noble race, "whose are the fathers;" they were the σπέρμα of him who received the promises. Christ admitted the pedigree, but he proceeds to show that mere hereditary descent would be of no avail to them apart from moral considerations. These ideas, these revolutionary conceptions, so far as Judaism was concerned, were not the evolution of Christian ideas in the second century. It is most instructive to see how clearly St. Paul had already grasped them, and woven them into a powerful argument when dealing with the Judaizers in Galatia, many years before this Gospel was written (see the entire argument of Galatians 3, which thus rests on the teaching of the Christ himself). But ye seek to kill me. This charge is certainly difficult to suppose applicable to those who "had come to believe in him" (ver. 31). One of three suppositions must be made - either

(1) the believing Jews were surrounded by angry groups of his bitter enemies, to whom he here addressed himself; or

(2) the Lord spoke here to them as representing the large company of Jerusalem opponents, whom he knew at that moment to be planning his death, and as all orators and debaters are in the habit of dealing with opposing arguments by showing the character they assume in others, who make them their boast; or

(3) those who had come to believe him up to a certain point had as rapidly relapsed, at the first touch of spiritual proof, into disbelief and cruel hostility. This seems the more natural interpretation of the fact, which may, at the same time, have become patent from some angry manifestation of his implacable foes. There is much to be found in the background and scenery of this dramatic colloquy, reported with such extreme brevity, which would, if we exactly knew how to paint it, solve its difficulties. Ye seek to slay me, because my word - the word which is mine - makes no progress - or, advance - in you. Ξωρέω has both transitive and intransitive meanings; thus it means "leave," "depart," "turn," or "come to," with εἰς (2 Peter 3:9, "contain;" John 2:6; John 21:25; Mark 2:2); but it has the force frequently in Plato "to make progress or advance," and it has this force here. So Meyer, Westcott, R.T., etc. (Luthardt and Tholuck suggest "find entrance," which would require εἰς rather than ἐν). Not only did they not continue in Christ's word (ver. 31), but the word itself made no way in their minds; it was barred out by prejudices, and thus choked at its very first working. Christ thus represents his word first as the very atmosphere and home in which his true disciples abide, and then as a powerful influence which grows evermore in power and command as it is pondered. It means more and more to those who abide in it; it implicitly contains a whole universe of truth and reality, of impulse and motive, for those who allow to it "free course" - who are of the truth, and hear his voice. Hath no place (οὐ χωρεῖ)

Rev., hath not free course, or maketh no way. This rendering is in harmony with John 8:30, John 8:31, concerning those who believed, but did not believe on Him, and who showed by their angry answer, in John 8:33, that the word of Jesus had made no advance in them. The rendering of the A.V. is not supported by usage, though Field ("Otium Norvicense") cites an undoubted instance of that sense from the Epistles of Alciphron, a post-Christian writer, who relates the story of a parasite returning gorged from a banquet and applying to a physician, who administered an emetic. The parasite, describing the effect of the medicine, says that the doctor wondered where such a mess had place (ἐχώρησε). For the rendering of the Rev., compare Aristophanes: πῶς οὖν οὐ χωρεῖ τοὔργον; "How is it that the work makes no progress?" ("Peace," 472). Plutarch, ἐχώρει διὰ τῆς πόλεως ὁ λόγος, "the word: (or report) spread (or advanced) through the city ("Caesar," 712).

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