John 8:46
Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(46) Which of you convinceth me of sin?—He appeals to their knowledge of His sinless life, as in John 8:29. He asserted His own knowledge of entire conformity to His Father’s will. It is an appeal that spotless purity alone could make, and is His own testimony uttered in the dignity of certain knowledge. (Comp. John 14:30.)

If I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?—We may suppose that the last question was probably followed by a pause, during which any one might have answered the challenge. No one of all who had watched Him in Galilee and Judæa dared utter a syllable. Their silence is the seal to His own testimony. But if He is thought of by these as without sin, they cannot think of His words as untrue. They admit, then, that He speaks the truth, and yet they do not believe. On the absolute sinlessness of Christ, comp. 1John 3:5; 2Corinthians 5:21; 1Peter 1:19; 1Peter 1:22.

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.Which of you convinceth me? - To convince, with us, means to satisfy a man's own mind of the truth of anything; but this is not its meaning here. It rather means to convict. Which of you can prove that I am guilty of sin?

Of sin - The word "sin" here evidently means "error, falsehood, or imposture." It stands opposed to truth. The argument of the Saviour is this: A doctrine might be rejected if it could be proved that he that delivered it was an impostor; but as you cannot prove this of me, you are bound to receive my words.

46. Which of you convinceth me of sin—"Convicteth," bringeth home a charge of sin. Glorious dilemma! "Convict Me of sin, and reject Me: If not, why stand ye out against My claims?" Of course, they could only be supposed to impeach His life; but in One who had already passed through unparalleled complications, and had continually to deal with friends and foes of every sort and degree, such a challenge thrown wide among His bitterest enemies, can amount to nothing short of a claim to absolute sinlessness. If any of you can prove that I have spoken to you any thing that is false, and not consonant to the will of my Father, do it; but which of you is able to charge me with any such thing? If there be no such thing, but I have told you what is the very truth, and the will of my Father, as to what you are to believe and do, why do you not believe me? For every reasonable soul is a debtor to truth.

Which of you convinceth me of sin?.... Of any immorality in life, or of any imposture, corruption, or deceit in doctrine. There were many of them that were forward enough to charge him with both scandalous sins, and false doctrines; but none of them all could prove anything against him, so as to convict him according to law: they called him a wine bibber, and a glutton; gave out they knew he was a sinner; charged him with blasphemy and sedition; sought to bring proof of it, but failed in their attempt:

and if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? since as no sin in life, so no corruption in doctrine, could be proved against him, what he said must be truth; and therefore it was a most unreasonable thing in them, and showed invincible obstinacy, not to believe him.

{14} Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

(14) Christ thoroughly executed the office that his Father gave him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 8:46. Groundlessness of this unbelief. Εἰ μὴ, διότι τὴν ἀλήθειαν λέγω, ἀπιστεῖτέ μοι, εἴπατε, τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν ἐλέγχει με περὶ ἁμαρτίας ὑπʼ ἐμοῦ γενομένης, ἵνα δόξητε διʼ ἐκείνην ἀπιστεῖν; Euth. Zigabenus. Ἁμαρτία, fault, is not to be taken in the intellectual sense, as untruth, error (Origen, Cyril, Melancthon, Calvin, Beza, Bengel, Kypke, Tittmann, Kuinoel, Klee, and others), but, as it is employed without exception in the N. T., namely as equivalent to sin. Jesus boldly urges against His opponents His unassailable moral purity—and how lofty a position of superiority does He thus assume above the saints of the Old Testament!—the fact that against Him can be brought ἁμαρτίας ὄνειδος οὐδὲν (Soph. O. C. 971), as a guarantee that He speaks the truth; justly too, for according to John 8:44 ἀλήθεια must be regarded as the opposite of ψεῦδος, whereas a lie falls under the category of ἁμαρτία (comp. ἀδικία, John 7:18). The conclusion is from the genus to the species; hence also it is inadmissible to take ἁμαρτία in the special sense of “fraus” (“qua divinam veritatem in mendacium converterim,” Ch. F. Fritzsche in Fritzsch. Opusc. p. 99), “wicked deception” (B. Crusius), “sin of word” (Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 33 f.), “false doctrine” (Melancthon, Calvin), and so forth. Even in classical usage ἁμαρτία, in and by itself, would denote neither error nor deception, but only acquire this specific meaning through an addition more precisely determining its force.[34] Considered in itself it denotes fault, perversity, the opposite of ὀρθότης (Plat. Legg. i. p. 627 D, ii. p. 668 C). Comp. δόξης ἁμαρτία, Thuc. i. 32. 4; ΝΌΜΩΝ ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑ, Plat. Legg. i. p. 627 D; γνώμης ἁμάρτημα, Thuc. ii. 65. 7. Remark further, in connection with this important passage: (1) The argument is based, not upon the position that “the sinless one is the purest and surest organ of the knowledge and communication of the truth” (Lücke); or that “the knowledge of the truth is grounded in the purity of the will” (De Wette, comp. Ullmann); for this would presuppose in the consciousness in which the words are spoken, to wit, in the consciousness of Jesus, a knowledge of the truth obtained mediately, or, at all events, acquired first in His human state; whereas, on the contrary, especially according to John’s view, the knowledge of the truth possessed by Jesus was an intuitive one, one possessed by Him in His pre-human state, and preserved and continued during His human state by means of the constant intercourse between Himself and God. The reasoning proceeds rather in this way: Am I really without sin,—and none of you is able to convict me of the contrary,—then am I also without ψεῦδος; but am I without ΨΕῦΔΟς, then do I speak the truth, and you, on your part (ὑμεῖς), have no reason for not believing me. This reasoning, however, is abbreviated, in that Jesus passes at once from the denial of the possibility of charging Him with ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑ, to the positive, special contrary which follows therefrom,—leaving out the middle link, that consequently no ΨΕῦΔΟς can be attributed to Him,—and then continues: ΕἸ ἈΛΉΘ. ΛΈΓΩ (Lachmann and Tischendorf correctly without ΔΈ). Further, (2) the proof of the sinlessness of Jesus furnished by this passage is purely subjective, so far as it rests on the decided expression of His own moral consciousness in the presence of His enemies; but, at the same time, it is as such all the more striking in that the confirmation of His own testimony (comp. John 14:30) is added to the testimony of others, and to the necessity of His sinlessness for the work of redemption and for the function of judge. This self-witness of Jesus, on the one hand, bears on itself the seal of immediate truth (otherwise, namely, Jesus would have been chargeable with a καυχᾶθαι of self-righteousness or self-deception, which is inconceivable in Him); whilst, on the other hand, it is saved from the weakness attaching to other self-witnessings, both by the whole evangelical history, and by the fact of the work of reconciliation. (3) The sinlessness itself, to which Jesus here lays claim, is in so far relative, as it is not absolutely divine, but both is and must be divine-human, and was based on the human development of the Son of God.[35] He was actually tempted, and might have sinned; this abstract possibility, however, never became a reality. On the contrary, at every moment of His life it was raised into a practical impossibility.[36] Thus He learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8). Hence the sinlessness of Jesus, being the result of a normal development which, at every stage of His earthly existence, was in perfect conformity with the God-united ground of His inner life (comp. Luke 2:40; Luke 2:52), must always be regarded as conditioned, so far as the human manifestation of Jesus is concerned, by the entrance of the Logos into the relation of growth; whilst the unconditioned correlate thereto, namely, perfection, and accordingly absolute moral goodness—goodness which is absolutely complete and above temptation at the very outset—belongs alone, nay, belongs necessarily to God. In this way the apparent contradiction between this passage and Mark 10:18 may be resolved. For the rest, the notion of sin as a necessary transitional point in human development is shown to be groundless by the historic fact of the sinlessness of Jesus. See Ernesti, Ursprung der Sünde, I. p. 187 ff.

[34] Polyb. 16. 20, 6, is, without reason, adduced by Tholuck against this view. In the passage referred to, ἁμαρτίαι are faults, goings wrong in general. The sentence is a general maxim.

[35] Comp. Gess, Pers. Chr. p. 212. At the same time, the sinless development of Jesus is not to be subsumed under the conception of sanctification. See also Dorner’s Sinless Perfection of Jesus, and the striking remarks of Keim, Geschichtl. Chr. p. 109 ff., ed. 3, also p. 189 f.

[36] Any moral stain in Christ would have been a negation of His consciousness of being the Redeemer and Judge.

John 8:46. τίςἁμαρτίας; Alford, who represents a number of interpreters, says: “The question is an appeal to His sinlessness of life, as evident to them all, as a pledge for His truthfulness of word”. Calvin is better: “Haec defensio ad circumstantiam loci restringi debet, ac si quicquam sibi posse obiici negaret, quominus fidus esset Dei minister”. Similarly Bengel.—εἰ δὲμοι; “If I speak truth, why do you not believe me?” It follows from their inability to convict Him of sin, that He speaks what is true: if so, why do they not believe Him?

46. Which of you convinceth me of sin?] Or, convicteth Me of sin (see on John 3:20). Many rebuked Christ and laid sin to His charge: none brought sin home to His conscience. There is the majesty of Divinity in the challenge. What mortal man would dare to make it? See on John 8:29, and comp. John 14:30, and John 15:10; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 Peter 2:22. Note the implied connexion between sin generally and falsehood, as between righteousness and truth, John 7:18.

And if I say the truth] Better, If I say truth. No MSS. have the article, and the best MSS. omit the conjunction. ‘If I am free from sin (and none of you can convict Me of sin), I am free from falsehood and speak the truth. Why then do ye on your part refuse to believe Me?’ ‘Ye’ is emphatic.

John 8:46. Ἑλέγχει, convicts) Jesus appeals to the conscience of all.—περὶ ἁμαρτίας, of sin) that is, that I am in error, and that I am away from the truth. What person dares to maintain this?—διατί, why) To this why, the word therefore in John 8:47 answers. Comp. the why, John 8:43, “Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because,” etc.

Verse 46. - Which of you convieteth me of sin? Ἐλέγχω is used in the sense of John 16:6-8 (see note) - Which of you can justify a charge of sin against me? can bring it home to me or others? Sin (ἁμαρτία) is not mere "error," as Erasmus and some others have urged, because the word throughout the New Testament (and in the classics when not accompanied by some explanatory term) always means "contrariety to the will of God," moral offence not intellectual defect (so Meyer, Luthardt, Godet, Westcott). Nor is it sound exegesis to limit ἁμαρτία to one particular form of sin (such as "false doctrine," Calvin, Melancthon, Tholuck). There is no need to limit its reference; and in the unanswered query, while we cannot say that by itself this passage is sufficient to demonstrate the sinlessness of Christ, it reveals a sublime depth in his translucent consciousness that places him - unless he were the most deluded or self-sufficient of human teachers - on a different position from all other Divine messengers. In proportion as other great moral prophets have set their own standard high, they have become conscious of their own defects; and from Moses to St. Paul, from Augustine to St. Francis, the saintliest men have been the most alive to their own departures from their ideas of right. The standard of Jesus is higher than that of any other, and he appears nevertheless absolutely without need of repentance, above the power of temptation, beyond the range of conviction. True, the Jews brought a charge of madness and folly upon him immediately; but, so far from convincing him or mankind, they stand forever covered with the shame of their own incompetence to apprehend his message or himself. He being, then, without sin, and assuming that he stands in the eternal truth, and is the absolute Truth of things, and that he cannot from his moral purity deceive or misinform them, and that his testimony to himself is final, sufficient, and trustworthy, asks, If I say the truth - without your having convicted me of sin or brought any moral obliquity or offence against me - if I say (the) truth, why do ye not believe me? The reason is in them rather than in him. Their non-belief discloses no flaw in his revelation, but makes it evident that they and he are on different planes of being, with a discrepant, opposed, moral paternity. "Why do ye not believe me?" He marvelled at their unbelief! He is from God; they are from God's great enemy. The moral perfection of Jesus as the God-Man is absolutely necessary to his character as "God's Lamb," as "the Only Begotten," "the Son," and as "the Judge," of the human race. As he subsequently said, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing fit me." To account for this sinless, perfect humanity, the entire conception of the Divine nature blended in indissoluble union with his own is found imperative at every epoch of Christ's life. At every development of his official character, in every new combination of circumstance, in conflict and sorrow, when smarting from treachery and dying alone upon the cross, he is "perfect," he fulfils the perfect norm, he reaches the standard of Divine humanity. There is no discrepance here with even Mark's account of his language to the young ruler (Mark 10:18), for he does not there say that he is not good, nor does he do other than suggest that he is identified with the One who is good. John 8:46Convinceth (ἐλέγχει)

See on John 3:20. Rev., convicteth.

Sin (ἁμαρτίας)

Not fault or error, but sin in general, as everywhere in the New Testament.

The truth (ἀλήθειαν)

Without the article, and therefore not the whole truth, but that which is true as to any part of divine revelation.

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