John 8:44
You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
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(44) Ye are of your father the devil.—“Ye” is emphatic. “Ye who have claimed Abraham and God as your father. Ye are of the father, but that father is the devil.” The possessive pronoun (your) is not expressed in the Greek, and the form of the sentence is one which would have required it if it were included in the sense. The father who has been referred to in John 8:38; John 8:41 is now definitely named. The relation between father and son is maintained, but the father of the thoughts and acts of those to whom He speaks was not God, not Abraham, but the devil.

And the lusts of your father ye will do.—Better, ye desire to do, ye will to do. The verb is not an auxiliary, as it appears to be in our version, but expresses the determination of the will. (Comp. Notes on John 5:40; John 7:17.)

He was a murderer from the beginning.—Comp. Wisdom Of Solomon 2:23-24, “For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of His own eternity. Nevertheless, through envy of the devil came death into the world, and they that do hold of his side do find it.” So St. Paul, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12). The Fall was the murder of the human race; and it is in reference to this, of which the fratricide in the first family was a signal result, that the Tempter is called a murderer from the beginning (see Note on John 1:1). “Cain was of that wicked one, and slew his brother.” (Comp. Notes on 1John 3:8-12, where the thought is expanded.) The reference to the murderer is suggested here by the fact that the Jews had been seeking to kill our Lord (John 8:40). They are true to the nature which their father had from the beginning.

And abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.—Better, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. The word is not that which we have before had in the sense of “abide” (see Note on John 5:38), and the tense of the verb is present in meaning. The words do not refer to the fall of the devil, which is here implied but not stated, but to his constant character. He has no place in the sphere of the truth; it is not the region of his action and outer life; and the result of this is that there is no truth in the sphere of his thought and inner life. Had he been true, he would have come to stand in the light and life of truth.

When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own.—This is in contrast to the work of Christ (John 8:28; John 8:40) and to the work of the Holy Spirit (Note on John 16:13.) The Holy Spirit will not speak of Himself; He came to speak the truth which He heard from God. The devil speaketh a lie (comp. Genesis 3), and this is of his own (see Note on Matthew 12:35).

For he is a liar, and the father of it.—Better, and the father of the liar. This is probably the meaning of the Greek, and it can only be expressed in English by the repetition of the substantive. The verse ends as it begins, by a reference to the Jews whom He is addressing. They were of the nature of him whose spiritual children they were. The murderous thoughts in their hearts, and their non-receptivity of truth, plainly indicated who their father was.

The reader will hardly, perhaps, need to be cautioned against the old heretical rendering of the first and last clauses of this verse, by “Ye are of the father of the devil . . . for he is a liar, and also his father.” Still, as this view has been revived in some quarters in our own day, one word of reminder that it is no less opposed to the context and the teaching of this Gospel than it is to the whole tenor of Biblical truth and of rational theology, may not be misplaced. On the personality of the devil, which, if plain words have any meaning, is here implied in the words of Christ, see Notes on Matthew 4.

John 8:44-47. Ye are of your father the devil — Ye are the genuine children of Satan; and the lusts Τας επιθυμιας, the desires; of your father ye will do — Namely, resolutely and obstinately, as the words, θελετε ποιειν, evidently imply. The account which Josephus gives of the wickedness of the Jews, about this time, abundantly vindicates this assertion of our Lord from any appearance of undue severity. He was a murderer — Greek, ανθρωποκτονος, man-slayer, or man-killer; from the beginning — The common term for murderer, in the New Testament, is φονευς. And it seems “not without intention, that the devil, a being not of earthly extraction, is rather called a manslayer than a murderer, as marking with greater precision his enmity to the human race.” — Campbell. Satan was a manslayer in inclination, from the beginning of his becoming a devil, and actually such from the beginning of the world: for, from the beginning of the creation, he contrived and designed the ruin of mankind. And he has ever since endeavoured to work their ruin; sometimes by seducing them into sin by his lies, (for as he abode not in the truth, there is no truth in him,) and sometimes by instigating them to kill those whom God sends to reclaim them; as well as in various other ways. Withal, having early departed from holiness and truth, a habit of lying has become perfectly natural to him; and when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own — Speaketh what is proper to himself, he being the proper parent, and, as it were, creator of lying. Because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not — Ye, his children, disbelieve me, because, instead of soothing you in your sins, and flattering you with lies, I tell you the truth, to which, like your father, you are utterly averse. Which of you convinceth me of sin? — Greek, ελεγχει με περι αμαρτιας, which of you convicteth me of sin. The word convinceth is not the proper term in this place; for it relates only to the opinion of the person himself, about whom the question is. But our Lord here, in order to show that the unbelief of his hearers had no reasonable excuse, challenges them openly to convict him, if they could, in any instance, of a deviation from truth or righteousness. As if he had said, Bring evidence of such a deviation, evince it to the world: prove that I have not received my commission from God; or that I have done something to render me unworthy of credit. Show, if you can, that I have taught false doctrine, reproved you unjustly for your actions, or committed sin myself. If you cannot, but must acknowledge that my life is as unreprovable as my doctrine; that the latter is confirmed by the former, and that both are such as become a messenger of God; what is the reason that ye do not believe me? He that is of God, heareth God’s words — He that is a child of God, humbly receiveth the revelations which God makes of himself by his messengers, hears his words, and obeys his commands, with joy and reverence. Ye, therefore, hear them not — Ye reject the revelations, doctrines, commandments, promises, and threatenings, and his word in general, declared by me, his Messenger, and my servants, for no other reason but because you are not his children.8:41-47 Satan prompts men to excesses by which they murder themselves and others, while what he puts into the mind tends to ruin men's souls. He is the great promoter of falsehood of every kind. He is a liar, all his temptations are carried on by his calling evil good, and good evil, and promising freedom in sin. He is the author of all lies; whom liars resemble and obey, with whom all liars shall have their portion for ever. The special lusts of the devil are spiritual wickedness, the lusts of the mind, and corrupt reasonings, pride and envy, wrath and malice, enmity to good, and enticing others to evil. By the truth, here understand the revealed will of God as to the salvation of men by Jesus Christ, the truth Christ was now preaching, and which the Jews opposed.Ye are of your father the devil - That is, you have the temper, disposition, or spirit of the devil. You are influenced by him, you imitate him, and ought therefore to be called his children. See also 1 John 3:8-10; Acts 13:10; "Thou child of the devil."

The devil - See the notes at Matthew 4:1.

The lusts - The desires or the wishes. You do what pleases him.

Ye will do - The word "will," here, is not an auxiliary verb. It does not simply express futurity, or that such a thing will take place, but it implies an act of volitions. This you will or choose to do. The same mode of speech occurs in John 5:40. In what respects they showed that they were the children of the devil he proceeds to state:

1. in their murderous disposition;

2. in rejecting the truth;

3. in being favorable to falsehood and error.

He was a murderer from the beginning - That is, from the beginning of the world, or in the first records of him he is thus represented. This refers to the seduction of Adam and Eve. Death was denounced against sin, Genesis 2:17. The devil deceived our first parents, and they became subject to death, Genesis 3. As he was the cause why death came into the world, he may be said to have been a murderer in that act, or from the beginning. We see here that the tempter mentioned in Genesis 3 was Satan or the devil, who is here declared to have been the murderer. Compare Romans 5:12, and Revelation 12:9; "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world." Besides, Satan has in all ages deceived men, and been the cause of their spiritual and eternal death. His work has been to destroy, and in the worst sense of the word he may be said to have been a murderer. It was by his instigation, also, that Cain killed his brother, 1 John 3:12; "Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother." As the Jews endeavored to kill the Saviour, so they showed that they had the spirit of the devil.

Abode not in the truth - He departed from the truth, or was false and a liar.

No truth in him - That is, he is a liar. It is his nature and his work to deceive.

He speaketh of his own - The word "own" is in the plural number, and means of the things that are appropriate to him, or that belong to his nature. His speaking falsehood is originated by his own propensities or disposition; he utters the expressions of his genuine character.

He is a liar - As when he deceived Adam, and in his deceiving, as far as possible, the world, and dragging man down to perdition.

The father of it - The father or originator of falsehood. The word "it" refers to lie or falsehood understood. From him falsehood first proceeded, and all liars possess his spirit and are under his influence. As the Jews refused to hear the truth which Jesus spoke, so they showed that they were the children of the father of lies.

44. Ye are of your father the devil—"This is one of the most decisive testimonies to the objective (outward) personality of the devil. It is quite impossible to suppose an accommodation to Jewish views, or a metaphorical form of speech, in so solemn an assertion as this" [Alford].

the lusts of your father—his impure, malignant, ungodly propensities, inclinations, desires.

ye will do—are willing to do; not of any blind necessity of nature, but of pure natural inclination.

He was a murderer from the beginning—The reference is not to Cain (as Locke, De Wette, Alford, &c.), but to Adam [Grotius, Calvin, Meyer, Luthardt, &c.]. The death of the human race, in its widest sense, is ascribed to the murderous seducer of our race.

and abode not in the truth—As, strictly speaking, the word means "abideth," it has been denied that the fall of Satan from a former holy state is here expressed [Locke, &c.], and some superior interpreters think it only implied [Olshausen, &c.]. But though the form of the thought is present—not past—this is to express the important idea, that his whole character and activity are just a continual aberration from his own original truth or rectitude; and thus his fall is not only the implied basis of the thought, but part of the statement itself, properly interpreted and brought out.

no truth in him—void of all that holy, transparent rectitude which, as His creature, he originally possessed.

When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own—perhaps his own resources, treasures (Mt 12:35) [Alford]. (The word is plural). It means that he has no temptation to it from without; it is purely self-begotten, springing from a nature which is nothing but obliquity.

the father of it—that is, of lying: all the falsehood in the world owes its existence to him. What a verse is this! It holds up the devil (1) as the murderer of the human race; but as this is meant here in the more profound sense of spiritual death, it holds him up, (2) as the spiritual parent of this fallen human family, communicating to his offspring his own evil passions and universal obliquity, and stimulating these into active exercise. But as there is "a stronger than he," who comes upon him and overcomes him (Lu 11:21, 22), it is only such as "love the darkness," who are addressed as children of the devil (Mt 13:38; 1Jo 3:8-10).

Our Saviour now plainly tells them what he meant by their

father, mentioned John 8:38; viz. the devil, whose children though they were not by natural traduction, yet they were by imitation, wilfully doing the things which the devil would have them do. He instances in two of these lusts: 1. Murder. He saith, The devil from the beginning of the world had a mind and design against the sons of men; and he ever since (as the apostle tells us, 1 Peter 5:9) hath gone about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. And in this they were his true children, using all arts imaginable to destroy him whom God had sent into the world for man’s salvation. In another thing also they were the true and genuine children of the devil; the devil had no truth in him, nor did he abide in the truth. God indeed created the angels (who afterward fell) in a state of rectitude, without unrighteousness; but they did not keep their first station. So, neither did they love the truth, nor abide in it, but were wholly false and liars, and could not abide the truth. Ye are of your father the devil,.... Not of his substance, but by imitation and example; and as being under his authority and influence, his instructions and directions, and ready to follow after him, and obey his commands; the word "your" is rightly supplied, and is in some copies:

and the lusts of your father ye will do; the Syriac and Persic versions read in the singular number, "the lust", or "desire of your father"; by which may be particularly meant, his eager desire after the death of Christ, which he showed at different times; he instigated Herod to seek to destroy his life in his infancy, and when he was just entering on his public ministry, he tempted him to destroy himself; and often stirred up the Scribes and Pharisees, to stone him or kill him, some other way; and at last put it into the heart of one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, to betray him: this looks as if though the devil had a notion of the salvation of men by Christ, yet that he thought, as some erroneous men have also done, that it was only by his doctrine and example, and therefore he was in haste to get him out of the world, that he might not be useful, or any more so that way; and not by the shedding of his blood, the sacrifice of himself, or by his sufferings and death, in the room of sinners; or otherwise it is scarcely credible, that he would have sought his death so earnestly: now this selfsame lust and insatiable desire after the death of Christ prevailed in the Jews; and they were resolute and bent upon fulfilling it at any rate, nor could anything divert them from it; this is the thing Christ is speaking of in the context, and is what fully proved the devil to be their father, and them to be his children:

he was a murderer from the beginning; he was not only spoken of from the beginning, as he that should bruise the Messiah's heel, or should compass his death, but he was actually a murderer of Adam and Eve, and of all their posterity, by tempting them to sin, which brought death and ruin upon them; and who quickly after that instigated Cain to slay his brother; and has had, more or less, a concern in all murders committed since; and has been in all ages, and still is, a murderer of the souls of men; and therefore is rightly called Abaddon, and Apollyon, which signify the destroyer: the phrase, "from the beginning", does not intend the beginning of his own creation; for he was created a holy creature, was in the truth, though he abode not in it; and was in an happy state, though he lost it: nor strictly the beginning of time, or of the creation of the world, which were some days at least before the fall of man, when the devil commenced a murderer; but it being very near it, therefore this phrase is made use of: the Syriac version renders it, "from Bereshith", which is the first word in the Hebrew Bible, and is frequently used by the Jewish Rabbins for the six days of the creation; and if Adam fell, as some think, the same day he was created, it might be properly said that the devil was a murderer from thence. Philo (p) speaks of Eve's serpent, as , "a murderer of man"; applying to this purpose the text before referred to, Genesis 3:15;

and abode not in the truth; neither in the integrity, innocence, and holiness, in which he was created; nor in veracity, or as a creature of veracity, but spake lies, and formed one, by which he deceived Eve, saying, "ye shall not surely die", Genesis 3:4, when God had said they should, Genesis 2:17; nor in the truth of the Gospel, which was at least in part made known unto him; particularly that the Son of God should become man, and in that nature be the head of angels and men: this he and his associates, in the pride of their hearts, not bearing that the human nature should be exalted above that of theirs, left their first estate, broke off their allegiance to God, and turned rebels against him:

because there is no truth in him; not that this is a reason why he continued not in the truth, for there was originally truth in him; though he abode not in it; but a reason, showing there was none in him now, since he was fallen from it, and abode not in it; there is no truth in him, that is natural and genuine, and essential to him; and if at any time he speaks it, it is not from his heart, but because he is forced to it, or has an evil design in it:

when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; that is genuine and natural, of his own devising, willing, and approving:

for he is a liar, and the father of it; he was a liar, as early as he was a murderer, or rather earlier; it was with a lie he deceived, and so murdered our first parents, and he has continued so ever since; he was the first author of a lie; the first lie that ever was told, was told by him; he was the first inventor of one; he was the first of that trade; in this sense the word "father" is used, Genesis 4:20; so the serpent is by the Cabalistic Jews (q) called, the lip of lie, or the lying lip.

(p) De Agricultura, p. 203. (q) Lex. Cabalist. p. 724.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the {l} beginning, and {m} abode not in the {n} truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his {o} own: for he is a liar, and the {p} father of it.

(l) From the beginning of the world: for as soon as man was made, the devil cast him headlong into death.

(m) That is, did not continue constantly, or did not remain.

(n) That is, in faithfulness and uprightness, that is, he did not remain in the manner in which he was created.

(o) Even from his own head, and from his own mind or disposition.

(p) The author of it.

John 8:44. After the negative statement in John 8:42-43 comes now the positive: Ye (ὑμεῖς, with great, decided emphasis—ye people, who deem yourselves children of God!) are children of the devil,[29] in the sense, namely, of ethical genesis (comp. 1 John 3:8; 1 John 3:12), which is further explained from ἐκεῖνος onward. The expression must therefore not be regarded as teaching an original difference in the natures of men (Hilgenfeld, comp. on John 3:6).

ἐκ τοῦ πατρ. τ. διαβ.] of the father who is the devil, not of your father, etc. (De Wette, Lücke), which is inappropriate after the emphatic ὑμεῖς, or ought to have been specially marked as emphatic (ὙΜΕῖς ἘΚ ΤΟῦ ὙΜῶΝ ΠΑΤΡῸς, etc.). Nonnus well indicates the qualitative character of the expression: ὙΜΕῖς ΔῆΤΑ ΤΈΚΝΑ ΔΥΣΑΝΤΈΟς ἘΣΤῈ ΤΟΚῆΟς. Hilgenfeld’s view, which is adopted by Volkmar: “Ye descend from the father of the devil,” which father is the (Gnostic) God of the Jews, is not only generally unbiblical, but thoroughly un-Johannine, and here opposed to the context. John could have written simply ἐκ τοῦ διαβ., if the connection had not required that prominence should be given to the idea of father. But in the entire connection there is nothing that would call for a possible father of the devil; the question is solely of the devil himself, as the father of those Jews. Erroneously also Grotius, who explains the passage as though it ran,

τοῦ πατρ. τῶν διαβόλων.

καὶ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας, etc.] The conscious will of the child of the devil is to accomplish that after which its father, whose organ it is, lusts. This is rooted in the similarity of their moral nature. The desire to kill is not exclusively referred to, though, as even the plural ἐπιθυμίας shows, it is included.

ἘΚΕῖΝΟς, etc.] for murder and lying were just the two devilish lusts which they were minded to carry out against Jesus.

ἀνθρωποκτόνος ἦν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς] from the beginning of the human race. This more exact determination of the meaning is derivable from ἀνθρωποκτόνος, inasmuch as it was through his seduction that the fall was brought about, in whose train death entered into the world (see on Romans 5:12). So Origen, Chrysostom, Augustine, Theophylact, and the majority of commentators; also Kuinoel, Schleiermacher, Tholuck, Olshausen, Klee, Maier, Lange (referring it, however, after the example of Euth. Zigabenus, also to Cain), Luthardt, Ewald, Godet, Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, I. pp. 418, 478; Müller, Lehre v. d. Sünde, II. p. 544 f. ed. 5; Lechler in the Stud. u. Kritik. 1854, p. 814 f.; Hahn, Theol. d. N. T. I. p. 355; Messner, Lehre d. Apostel, p. 332; Philippi, Glaubenslehre, III. p. 272; see especially Hengstenberg on the passage, and his Christol. I. p. 8 ff.; Weiss, Lehrbegr. p. 133 f. Compare the corresponding parallels, Wis 2:24; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2; also Ev. Nicod. 23, where the devil is termed ἡ τοῦ θανάτου ἀρχὴ, ἡ ῥίζα τῆς ἁμαρτίας; see also Grimm on Wis 1:1. This view is the only one that is appropriate to the expression ἈΠʼ ἈΡΧῆς, which the design of the context requires to be taken exactly (מן בראשׁיח, Lightfoot, p. 1045), as it must also be understood in 1 John 3:8. Comp. Joseph. Antiq. I. 1, 4. Others refer to Cain’s murder of his brother (Cyril, Nitzsch in the Berl. theol. Zeitschr. III. p. 52 ff., Schulthess, Lücke, Kling, De Wette, Reuss, Beitr. p. 53, Hilgenfeld, Baeumlein, Grimm), which is not, however, rendered necessary by 1 John 3:12, and would further, without any warrant, exclude an earlier commencement; would be opposed to the national and New Testament view (see on 2 Corinthians 11:3) of the fall and the connection of the present passage; and would finally lack any allusion to it in Genesis 4; whilst, on the contrary, the antithesis between truth and falsehood, which follows afterwards, points unmistakeably to Genesis 3. Finally, inasmuch as ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς must signify some definite historical starting-point, it is incorrect, with B. Crusius, to deny a reference either to the fall or to Cain’s murder of his brother, and to take ἀνθρωποκτ. ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς as simply a general designation.

Brückner also treats the reference to a definite fact as unnecessary.

ἮΝ] that is, during the entire past, ἈΠʼ ἈΡΧῆς onwards.

Κ. ἘΝ Τῇ ἈΛΗΘ. ΟὐΧ ἝΣΤΗΚΕΝ] does not refer to the fall of the devil (2 Peter 2:4; Judges 1:6), as Augustine, Nonnus, and most Catholics maintain,[30] as though εἱστήκει (Vulg.: stetit) had been employed, but is his constant characteristic:[31] and he does not abide in the truth, ἐμμένει, ἀναπαύεται, Euth. Zigabenus. The truth is the domain in which he has not his footing; to him it is a foreign, heterogeneous sphere of life: the truth is the opposite of the lie, both in formal and material significance. The lie is the sphere in which he holds his place; in it he is in the element proper and peculiar to him; in it he has his life’s standing.

ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἀλήθ. ἐν αὐτῷ] the inner ground of the preceding statement. The determining cause of this inner ground, however, is expressed by the words ἐν αὐτῷ, which are emphatically placed at the end. As truth is not found in him, as it is lacking to his inner essence and life, it cannot possibly constitute the sphere of his objective life. Without truth in the inward parts—truth regarded, namely, as a subjective qualification, temper, tendency—that is, without truth in the character, a man must necessarily be foreign to, and far from, the domain of objective truth, and cannot have his life and activity therein. Without truth in the inward parts, a man deals in life with lies, deception, cunning, and all ἀδικία. Note that ἀλήθ. is used first with, and then without, the article.

ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων] of that which is his own, which constitutes the proper ground or essence of his inner man,—of that which is most peculiarly his ethical nature. Comp. Matthew 12:34.

κ. ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ] namely, of the liar; he, generically considered, to wit, the liar as such in general, is the devil’s child. The characterization of the devil thus aptly concludes with a declaration which at the same time confirms the reproach, ὑμεῖς ἐκ. τ. πατρὸς τοῦ διαβ. ἐστέ. The less to be approved, therefore, is the common explanation of αὐτοῦ, as standing for τοῦ ψεύδους, which is to be derived from ψεύστης (mendacii auctor, after Genesis 3:4 f.); although, linguistically considered, it is in itself admissible (Winer, p. 181 f. [E. T. p. 138]; Buttmann, p. 93 [E. T. p. 106]). The correct view has been taken also by B. Crusius, Luthardt, Tholuck, Hengstenberg, and as early as Bengel. The old heretical explanation, “as his father,”[32] or, “also his father,” as though αὐτοῦ referred to the devil, and the demiurge, whose lie is the pretending to be the most high God, were really intended (Hilgenfeld, Volkmar), must be rejected; for, on the one hand, John ought at the very least, in order to avoid being completely misunderstood, to have written ὅτι αὐτὸς ψ. . κ. . π. .;[33] while, on the other hand, he did not in the remotest degree entertain the monstrous, wholly unbiblical notion of a father of the devil. Nay, further, a father of this kind would not at all harmonize with the context. Even a writer as early as Photius, Quaest. Amphiloch. 88, takes the opposite view; as also Ewald, Jahrb. V. p. 198 f. It was in the highest degree unnecessary that Lachmann, (Praef. II. p. 7), in order to avoid having to refer αὐτοῦ to the devil, should have approved the reading qui, or ὃς ἄν, instead of ὅταν, which is supported by the feeblest evidence: “qui loquitur mendacium, ex propriis loquitur, quia patrem quoque mendacem habet.”

[29] In his Leben Jesu (p. 338 ff.), Schleiermacher groundlessly advances the opinion that Jesus had here no intention of teaching any doctrine regarding the devil, but wished merely to add force to His reproach by referring to the generally-adopted interpretation of the narrative of the fall. On the contrary, by His reproach, he not merely lays down the doctrine, but also further intentionally and explicitly expounds it, especially by assigning the ground, ὅτι οὐχ ἔστιν, etc. Baur (still in his Neut. Theol. p. 393) deduces from this passage that, according to John, Jesus had little sympathy for the Jews. He is speaking, however, not at all against the Jews in general, but merely against the party that was hostile to Him.

[30] Comp. also Martensen’s Dogmatics, § 105. Delitzsch, too (see Psychol. p. 62), explains the passage as though εἱστήκει were used: the devil, instead of “taking his stand in the truth,” revolted, as the god of the world, selfishly against God; for which reason the world has been “degraded and materialized” by God to a תהו ובהו, etc. In this way a new creation of the world is made out of the creation in Genesis 1, and out of the first act in the history of the world, a second.

[31] At the same time, we do not mean herewith to deny to John the idea of a fall of the devil, or, in other words, to represent him as believing the devil to have been originally evil. The passage under consideration treats merely of the evil constitution of the devil as it is, without giving any hint as to its origin. This in answer to Frommann, p. 330, Reuss, and Hilgenfeld. In relation to the doctrine of the fall of the devil nothing is here taught. Comp. Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, passim; Hahn, Theol. d. N. T. I. p. 319. Such a fall is, however, necessarily presupposed by this passage.

[32] Hence, also, the readings ὡς and καθὼς καί, instead of καί, which, though early in date, are supported by feeble testimony.

[33] Comp. Nonnus: ψεύστης αὐτὸς ἔφυ, ψευδήμονος ἐκ γενετῆρος.John 8:44. This was the result and evidence of their paternity: ὑμεῖς … [τοῦ πατρὸς is read by all recent editors]. “Ye are of the father who is the devil.” The translation, “of the father of the devil,” i.e., the (Gnostic) God of the Jews, is, as Meyer says, thoroughly un-Johannine. Perhaps a slight pause before the culminating words τοῦ διαβόλου would emphasise them and show that this had been in His mind throughout the conversation. Being, of this parentage they deliberately purpose [θέλετε] and not merely unintentionally are betrayed into the fulfilment of his desires. Their origin is determined by the fact that “from the first the devil was a manslayer”. To what does ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς refer? Since the beginning of the human race, or since men first were killed; not since the devil’s beginning. Cyril and some others think it is the first murder, that of Abel, that is in view (cf. 1 John 3:15), but far more probably it is the introduction of death through the first sin (Wis 2:23-24). So almost all recent commentators. Some think both references are admissible (see Lücke).—καὶ ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ οὐχ ἕστηκεν, “and stands not in the truth”. R.V[70] has “and stood not”; so the Vulgate “et in veritate non stetit”. W.H[71] adopt the same translation, reading οὐκ ἔστηκεν, the imperfect of στήκω, I stand; but good reasons against this reading are given by Thayer s.v. ἕστηκεν is the usual perfect of ἵστημι with the sense of a present. The reference therefore is not to the fall of the angels, but to the constant attitude of the devil; οὐκ ἐμμένει, Euthymius. “The truth is not the domain in which he has his footing.” Meyer, Weiss. He does not adhere to the truth and live in it. The reason being, ὅτιαὐτῷ, “because truth is not in him”. There is not in him any craving for the truth. He is not true to what he knows. His nature is so false that ὅταν λαλῇ τὸ ψεῦδος ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων λαλεῖ, “whenever he speaks what is false, he speaks of his own”. “But the article may mean ‘the lie that is natural to him,’ ‘his lie’ ” (Plummer).—ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων means that he speaks out of that which is characteristically and peculiarly his (cf. Matthew 12:34); “because he is”—this is his character and description—“a liar and his father,” i.e., he is himself a liar and the father of all liars. This is added to reflect light on the first statement of this verse. So Holtzmann and most recent interpreters. But Weiss rightly defends the reference of αὐτοῦ to ψεῦδος as in A.V[72] Westcott proposes to translate: “Whenever a man speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for his father also is a liar”. Paley renders: “When (one) utters … he is speaking from his own, because he is a liar, and (so is) his father”. Westcott’s translation makes excellent sense and suits the context and gives a good meaning to the ἰδίων, but, as he himself owns, the omission of the subject (ὅταν λαλῇ) is certainly harsh; it may be said, impossible.

[70] Revised Version.

[71] Westcott and Hort.

[72] Authorised Version.44. Ye are of your father the devil] At last Christ says plainly, what He has implied in John 8:38; John 8:41. ‘Ye’ is emphatic; ‘ye, who boast that ye have Abraham and God as your Father, ye are morally the Devil’s children.’ Comp. 1 John 3:8; 1 John 3:10, which is perhaps an echo of Christ’s words.

This passage seems to be conclusive as to the real personal existence of the devil. It can scarcely be an economy, a concession to ordinary modes of thought and language. Would Christ have resorted to a popular delusion in a denunciation of such solemn and awful severity? Comp. ‘the children of the wicked one’ (Matthew 13:38); ‘ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves’ (Matthew 23:15). With this denunciation generally compare those contained in Matthew 11:20-24; Matthew 23:13-36. “It is likely that dialogues of this sort would be of not infrequent occurrence, especially just at this time when the conflict is reaching its climax. It is likely too that they would be of the nature of dialogues broken by impatient interruptions on the part of the Jews, and not always a continuous strain of denunciation as in Matthew 23.” S. p. 159.

A monstrous but grammatically possible translation of these words is adopted by some who attribute a Gnostic origin to this Gospel;—‘ye are descended from the father of the devil.’ This Gnostic demonology, according to which the father of the devil is the God of the Jews, is utterly unscriptural, and does not suit the context here.

and the lusts of your father ye will do] Rather, ye will to do. See on John 6:67, John 7:17; and comp. John 8:40. ‘Ye love to gratify the lusts which characterize him, especially the lust for blood. Being his children, ye are like him in nature.’

He was a murderer from the beginning] The word for ‘murderer’ etymologically means ‘man-slayer,’ and seems to connect this passage with John 8:40 (see note there). The devil was a murderer by causing the Fall, and thus bringing death into the world. Comp. ‘God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of His own eternity. Nevertheless, through envy of the devil came death into the world, and they that do hold of his side shall find it (Wis 2:23-24): and ‘Cain was of that wicked one and slew his brother:’ and ‘whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer’ (1 John 3:12; 1 John 3:15).

and abode not in the truth] Rather, and standeth not in the truth. The verb is not S. John’s favourite word ‘abide’ (see on John 1:33), but (according to the common reading) the same that is used in John 1:35, John 3:29, John 7:37, &c. Though perfect in form it is present in meaning: therefore not ‘hath stood,’ still less ‘stood’ or ‘abode,’ but standeth. The true reading, however, is probably not hestêken, but estêken, the imperfect of stêkein (John 1:26; Romans 14:4), a stronger form of the verb; stood firm. Truth is a region from which the devil has long since departed.

he speaketh of his own] Literally, he speaketh out of his own; out of his own resources, out of his own nature: the outcome is what might be expected from him.

for he is a liar, and the father of it] Better, because he is a liar and the father thereof, i.e. father of the liar, rather than father of the lie (understood in liar). Here again a monstrous misinterpretation is grammatically possible;—‘for he is a liar, and his father also.’ It is not strange that Gnostics of the second and third centuries should have tried to wring a sanction for their fantastic systems out of the writings of S. John. It is strange that any modern critics should have thought demonology so extravagant compatible with the theology of the Fourth Gospel.John 8:44. Ὑμεῖς, ye) A most undisguised proof against them.—καὶ, and) and thence it is that.—ἐπιθυμίας, the lusts) which from the beginning he has been unable to accomplish, as respects the Son of God.—θέλετε, ye wish) with all your might.—ἀνθρωποκτόνος) a man-destroyer [murderer].—ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, from the beginning) ever since he knew anything of the nature of man.—καὶ ἐνὅταν, and in—when) Two sentences, expressing two contraries; to each of the two, ὅτι, because [for] is added.—οὐκ ἕστηκεν, he abode not [did not stand fast]) The Præterite time, and the theme itself ἵστημι, I stand, imply this to be the meaning; He did not attain to a fixed standing in the truth: (A similar expression occurs Romans 5:2, “We have access by faith into this grace, wherein we have obtained an established standing”) i.e. He was a liar from the beginning, as well as a man-destroyer; for this clause does not go before the mention of his lust of murder, but follows it.—οὐκ ἔστιν, is not) There was truth in him; but there is not now. Moreover, when first the truth ceased to exist in him, it was by his own fault; the lust of murder had place in him, and he determined to destroy man for that very reason, because man was then in the truth. From this it is evident that it was not long before the sin of man, that the devil sinned, and that the devil was created, not long before he sinned.—τὸ ψεῦδος, what is false [a lie]) Scripture is wont to designate not merely a voluntary lie by this severe term, but even error itself. Romans 1:25, “Who changed the truth of God into a lie;” 2 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:11, “lying wonders—God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie;” 1 John 2:21, “Because ye know—the truth—and that no lie is of the truth;” 27, “The anointing—is truth, and is no lie.”—ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων, of his own) The origin of evil. The contrary holds good of Christ; ch. John 7:17, “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself; He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory, but He that seeketh His glory that sent Him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.”—καὶ ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ, his father) The article has this force; and so. The word αὐτοῦ can be expressly referred to ψεῦδος, concerning which lie treats in the following clause; but it ought rather to be referred to the noun ψεύστης, a liar, which must be repeated in an indefinite sense.[229] For sometimes a relative expressed or implied appertains to another subject similar to it. 1 Timothy 2:15, “She shall be saved,” namely, woman, indefinitely although the she is to be referred to Eve [the woman alluded to, “Adam was not deceived, but the woman,” in the previous verse. So Job 1:21, “Naked came I forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return THITHER” [to my mother’s womb in a different and wider sense than in the first clause, viz. the womb of the earth]. Thus here the devil is said to be both a liar himself and father of every liar. For the opposition is clear between God and the devil, and between the sons of God and the sons of the devil. The man who is a liar, is a son of the devil. It is not the lie that is said in this passage to be the offspring of the devil.

[229] The father of every one who is a liar.—E. and T.Verse 44. - Ye are of the father who is the devil. In this way the great bulk of the best commentators translate this difficult clause, Hilgenfeld, Volkmar, and Davidson translate, "You are of the father of the devil;" and suggest that here the evangelist betrays his fierce Gnostic (Ophite) antagonism to the Jews, and adopts the view that the God of the Old Testament, the "Creator," was the Father of the serpent. This is surely untenable. The Creator of all things, in the prologue, is none other than the Father acting through the Logos. In the third, fourth, and fifth chapters, the greatest honours are ascribed to the God of the Jewish people, and not the faintest hint given of such radical divergence from the standpoint of Judaism. In this very passage the father of the faithful Jews is spoken of with profound reverence. "The second-century Gnostic" must have so cleverly concealed his sentiments, and have refuted his position so frequently, that it is inexcusably inept for him to have shown his cloven foot on this occasion. Thoma ignores the wild conjecture of Hilgenfeld. Our Lord was not dealing with the parentage of the devil, but with the moral and religious parentage of those Jews who were manifesting the most bitter antagonism to himself and plotting his destruction. For them to claim spiritual kinship and childlike feeling to the Father whose holy nature and whose love to them he was revealing, was a strange contradiction in terms. Our Lord repudiated it in this terrible language. He had worsted the seductive suggestions of the devil, and when he saw and heard them repeated and set forth as Divine proposals, he gave them their true name. "You disclaim the faintest sympathy with other gods; you resent the bar sinister on your escutcheon; you say that religiously as well as historically you are not born of any fornication - there is no taint in your theological position; but I tell you plainly that you are from, you are manifesting the very essence and substance of, the father who is the prime enemy of God and man. The phrase is in perfect keeping with many synoptic phrases (Matthew 13:38; Matthew 23:15; cf. John the Baptist's language, Matthew 3:7). And the lusts of your father - those of falsehood and murder, lying and slaughter, being the top and chief of all his evil passions - ye are willing, desirous to do. He has engendered these very lusts within you. The paternity of your angry passions, your incapacity to see and accept my word, are both alike explained. There is no more terrible rebuke in the whole compass of revelation. The disciple whom Jesus loved, in preserving these words, shows very decidedly that he was a "Son of Thunder," and calls down fire from heaven (a very storm) which has been ever since descending upon the heads of these and all other bitter antagonists of the Son of man. He was a murderer (literally, a manslayer) from the beginning. This has often been referred to the spirit which animated Cain in the slaughter of his brother Abel. There is some corroboration of such a reference in 1 John 3:12, "Cain was ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ of that wicked one, and slew his brother;" and in the language of 1 John 3:15, "Whoso hateth his brother is a murderer." (So Lucke, Reuss, De Wette, and others.) But the narrative of the death of Abel makes no reference to the agency of the devil, but rather indicates that the sin of Cain was originated by his having been begotten in the image of the fallen Adam. The better interpretation and reference of the words may be seen in 1 John 3:8, "He that doeth sin is from the devil (ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου), for the devil sinneth from the beginning (ἀπ ἀρχῆς)." And sin entered into the world through the seduction and false statements of the devil, by which the first man was veritably slain, his moral nature killed outright. Grace was not shut out, but Adam died. In the day that he ate of the forbidden tree, man most surely and in the deepest sense died. "God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity. Nevertheless, through envy of the devil came death into the world: and they that do hold of its side do find it" (Wisd. 2:23, 24; Revelation 12:9); "Sin entered into the world, and death by sin" (Romans 5:12). The work of destruction at the beginning of humanity upon earth has never been exhausted. In murderous propensity, in lying and seductive words and ways, the children of wrath are ever showing their parentage. To this statement our Lord added what has by many been regarded as a distinct revelation of the fall of Satan himself from the condition of rectitude (cf. Jude 1:6; 2 Peter 2:4). He stands not; continues not - in the truth (ἕστηκεν in the perfect is the better reading, and demands this translation; the rendering of the Vulgate, stetit, favoured by Augustine, and involving a reference to the fall of the devil, would have required εἱστήκει, pluperfect). Jesus (lid not, therefore, explicitly assert anything with reference to the act of original revolt of the devil, but declared that the devil has no place in truth; he restlessly resists, throwing a hopeless, perilous glamour of falsehood round all he touches. Schaff suggests, rightly, that the combination of this statement with that of the prologue (John 1:3) presupposes the fall of this mighty and murderous spirit from a previous condition of rectitude, and the dictum of our Lord ought never to have been charged with the admission of an eternal principle of evil. The fall of the lost angels is not explicitly stated. Because there is no truth in him. The absence of the article before "truth" shows that in the previous clause the objective truth is meant, that the reality of things as known by him is referred to. The truth was that region or sphere of action in which he elected not to stand, and, as a matter of fact, does not stand nor find place. By "truth" is meant subjective truth or "truthfulness," the spirit which repudiates falsehood in all its forms and manifestations. There is no consistency with himself, no inward harmony with reality. This is given as reason why the devil stands not in the truth. Whensoever he speaketh a lie, he speaketh (λαλεῖ) from (ἐκ, out of) his own resources - from what is most entirely his own, revealing the depth of his truthless, loveless, fatal, godless nature. Schaff quotes from Gothe's 'Faust' the account which Mephistopheles gives of his own being. Here it is in Kegan Paul's translation -

"I am the spirit, who aye deny!
And rightly so; for everything
Is only good for perishing;
So better 'twere that nought had been,
And, therefore, all that you call sin
Ruin, whate'er with evil's rife
Is my true element of life."
Gothe exactly expressed the ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων by "mein eigentliches element." Because he is a liar, and the father of the liar. This translation makes the αὐτοῦ refer to τεύστης, which is the most natural antecedent (so Bengel, Meyer, Lange, Godet, etc.), notwithstanding the difficulty of the construction. This language asserts not only the agelong proof which history gives of the falsehood of this terrible personality, but declares that he exerts an evil paternity in the life of every liar. "Brood of vipers" is a phrase used by John Baptist and Christ himself when addressing Pharisees. The well known imagery of the first promise, "I will put enmity between her seed and thy seed," etc., suggests the same thought. There is an awful significance in this power of the devil to sow his deadly seed in human life, and to produce thus, on the soil of human nature, "children of the wicked one" (cf. Paul's language, Acts 13:10, addressed to Elymas, υἱὲ διαβόλου, "son of the devil"). Another translation makes αὐτοῦ refer to ψεῦδος: He is a liar, and the father of falsehood, or thereof (Revised Version); thus drawing an abstract out of the concrete ψεύστης, or possibly referring to the first he which slew the spiritual life of men - to the "Ye shall not surely die" of Genesis 3:4. It is against this view that our Lord is here dealing with persons rather than with abstractions. Westcott and Moulton and Revised Version in margin have given indefiniteness to the subject of the verb λαλῇ, and translate, "Whensoever one [or, 'a man'] speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for his father also is a liar;" the idea being that the evil inheritance from the father of lies has even made falsehood the essential element, the proprium, of the liar. This, however, appears to involve a very complicated thought. The ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων, if strictly spoken, contradicts the idea of the liar's peculiarities being the result of inheritance. Still less satisfactory is the vain endeavour of the Gnostics, who found here a second reference to the father of the devil. They discovered in some Italic Versions, and in the usage of some of the Fathers, καθὼς καί, in place of καὶ, and so took it to mean, "he is a liar, as also his father." Higenfeld and Volkmar have fastened upon this text also, and thus found further proof of Gnostic (Ophite) heresy in the Gospel. Riggenbach and Godet have remarked that, if the father of the devil was spoken of in the previous clause, "his father" would mean "the father of the father of the devil"! We have already seen how groundless such a charge against the Gospel is, and how such a rendering would throw the entire context into confusion. If we accept the first translation, we find that our Lord announces a doctrine concerning the devil, and conveys more information than can be obtained from any other source. This is not mere accommodation to the consciousness of a daemoniac or the prejudices of the Jews, as some have interpreted Christ's language in the synoptic Gospels, but it is distinct dogmatic teaching about the personality, character, and method of the devil. Ye (ὑμεῖς)

Emphatic, in contrast with ἡμεῖς, we, of John 8:41.

Of your father (ἐκ)

Very suggestive, implying community of nature, as in John 8:42. Compare 1 John 3:8, 1 John 3:10.

The Devil

See on Matthew 4:1. John uses Satan only once in the Gospel (John 13:27), frequently in Revelation, and nowhere in the Epistles. A few critics have adopted the very singular rendering, which the Greek will bear, ye are of the father of the devil. This is explained by charging John with Gnosticism, and making him refer to the Demiurge, a mysterious and inferior being descended from God, by whom God, according to the Gnostics, created the universe, and who had rebelled against God, and was the father of Satan. It is only necessary to remark with Meyer that such a view is both unbiblical and un-Johannine.

Lusts (ἐπιθυμίας)

See on Mark 4:19.

Ye will do (θέλετε ποιεῖν)

Wrong. Properly, ye will to do. Rev., it is your will to do. See on John 7:17.

Murderer (ἀνθρωποκτόνος)

Only here and 1 John 3:15. Literally, a manslayer; from ἄνθρωπος, man, and κτείνω, to kill. The epithet is applied to Satan, not with reference to the murder of Abel, but to the fact of his being the author of death to the race. Compare Romans 7:8, Romans 7:11; Hebrews 2:14.

From the beginning

Of the human race.


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