I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and you do that which you have seen with your father.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I speak that which I have seen with my Father.—Some of the older MSS. read “the” for “My,” but without change of sense. For the thought, comp. John 8:28, where we have the same connection between doing and speaking. He is the Word, and His work is to speak what He had seen in His eternal existence with the Father.
And ye do that which ye have seen with your father.—For “seen,” the better reading is probably heard. Here, as in the previous clause, some MSS. omit the possessive pronoun with “father,” but it is rightly inserted to express the meaning. The clauses are in direct opposition to each other, and this is shown by the emphatic personal pronouns—“I, on My part . . . My Father.” “You, on your part . . . your father.” The tenses of the verbs, too, are to be distinguished—“That which I have seen” (during My whole existence in eternity). “That which ye heard” (when ye became servants of sin). The cases of the substantives are also different—“I have seen with my Father” (signifying existence with. Comp. John 1:1). “Ye heard from your father” (what he directed).
Again, there is a word in the original which it is hard to represent in English, and which our version altogether omits. It is not simply “and ye do,” but “and ye therefore, or accordingly, do.” It is the same principle of union between Father and Son which directs His work, which is to reveal God, and their work, of which the seeking to kill Him is an instance.John 3:11-13.
My Father - God.
Your father - The devil. See John 8:44. To see here means to learn of. They had learned of or been taught by the devil, and imitated him.John 8:44, prompts you to do.
and ye do that which ye have seen with your father; meaning the devil, whom, though they had not scan with their eyes, nor any of his personal actions; yet acted so much under his influence, and according to his will, as if they had close and intimate consultation with him, and took their plan of operation from him, and had him continually before them, as their example and pattern, to copy after. The Ethiopic version reads, "what ye have heard"; and so it is read in three of Beza's copies, and in three of Stephens's.I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 8:38. That my word has thus failed to produce any effect in you, is due to the fundamentally different origin of my discourse on the one hand, and of your doings on the other.
ἑώρακα π. τ. πατρί] by which Jesus means the intuition of the divine truth which He derived from His pre-human state (comp. on John 8:28), not from His intercourse with God in time (Godet, Beyschlag), as though this latter were involved in the parallel καὶ ὑμεῖς, whereas the difference in the analogous relation is already betrayed by the very difference of expression (ἤκουσατε and παρὰ τοῦ πατρός).
καὶ ὑμεῖς οὖν] you also therefore, following my example of dependence on the Father. There is a stinging irony in the word οὖν.
ἠκούσατε] i.e. what your father has commanded you. Note the distinction between the perf. and aor. Who their father is, Jesus leaves as yet unsaid; He means, however, the devil, whose children, ethically considered, they are; whereas He is the Son of God in the essential, metaphysical sense.
ποιεῖτε] habitual doing (John 7:51), including, but not exclusively referring to, their wish to kill Him (John 8:37). It is indicative, and no more imperative (Hengstenberg, after Matthew 23:32) than in John 8:41.John 8:38. “And yet the word of Christ justly claimed acceptance, for it was derived from immediate knowledge of God,” Westcott.—ἐγὼ ὃ [or ἃ ἐγὼ, as recent editors read] … ποιεῖτε. “What I have seen with my Father I speak; and what ye have seen with your father ye do.” He makes the statement almost as if it were a necessary principle that sons should adopt their fathers’ thoughts. The οὖν might be rendered “and so”; it was because Jesus uttered what He had learned by direct intercourse with His Father that the Jews sought to slay Him. See John 8:16-19. The ἑώρακα (cp. John 3:31-32) might seem to indicate the knowledge He had in His pre-existent state, but the next clause forbids this.—ποιεῖτε, if it is to balance λαλῶ, must be indicative.38. I speak, &c.] The text here is a little uncertain, but the following seems to have most authority; I speak the things which I have seen with (My) Father: ye also, therefore, do the things which ye heard from (your) father. ‘I speak those truths of which I have had direct knowledge from all eternity with the Father; you, therefore, following My relation to the Father, commit those sins which your father suggested to you.’ Christ does not say who their father is; but he means that morally they are the children of the devil. The ‘therefore’ (rare in discourses) is severely ironical. The connexion of John 8:38 with John 8:37 is not quite obvious. Perhaps it is this:—My words make no progress in you, because they are so different in origin and nature from your acts, especially your attempt to kill Me. It is possible to take the latter half of the verse as an imperative; and do ye therefore the things which ye heard from the Father.John 8:38. Λαλῶ, I speak) Understand, and I do. See presently after.—καί, and) This follows from the general sentiment [maxim], which in the former half of the verse is taken for granted: each one imitates his own father.—ποιεῖτε, ye do) Understand, and ye speak: although I speak is more suitable concerning Jesus in this passage; and ye do, concerning His adversaries. The one member is to be supplied from the other. So Malachi 1:14, who hath in his flock a male [and one free from blemish], and yet making a vow sacrificeth [a female, or one in other respects] an unsuitable victim.Verse 38. - I speak the things which I have seen with the (my) Father: and do you therefore the things which ye heard from the (your) father; or, and you therefore do the things which ye heard from your father. We need not, with Meyer, limit the Lord's vision of the Divine things which he saw with the Father to his premundane Personality. He describes himself in constant communion with the Father. The Father is with him. He knows the mind and will and good pleasure of the Father. His is the perfectly pure heart, which is as an eye forevermore beholding the Father. That the Only Begotten sees and knows what no other sees, is constantly taught in this Gospel (see John 3:32; John 6:46). In Christ, moreover, the disciple may verily see the Father (John 14:7, 9; 1 John 2:23). The probable textual reading given above would draw a species of contrast between Christ's "seeing" (παρὰ τῷ) with the Father, and the Jews' "hearing" (παρὰ τοῦ) from the Father, as though such communication were less intimate than "seeing." This must not be pressed (see ver. 40). If the ποιεῖτε be imperative, the language would be an appeal to the Jews to act out that which, from prophets and teachers and interpreters of the Divine will, they had heard. Moulton treats the clause as one more, one last, exhortation. The word of Christ had not advanced within them - it remained as a barren formula; let them give it free course now. Their opposition had not as yet been malignant or hopeless; one more chance is given them. The more ordinary interpretation is to make the ποιεῖτε indicative. If it be so, and still more if the ὑμῶν (omitted by B, L, P) be genuine, "the father" to whom reference is made as theirs, is in contrast with the Father of Christ, and, without pointedly saying so, Jesus implies that it is another father altogether. In ver. 44 Christ does indeed declare that the father with whom they are in ethical relation and sympathy is not God, but the devil - the very opposite of the God of Abraham, the very antithesis of the Father of infinite love. At this point he simply suggests, "Therefore the things which ye heard from your father ye do," ye habitually do, ye are now doing in your hatred and murderous sentiments towards myself. Surely this implies a severity which is hardly compatible with an address to Jews who believed him. The interpretation of the following verse is governed by that of this.
The best texts read ἠκούσατε, ye heard.
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