John 8:52
Then said the Jews to him, Now we know that you have a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and you say, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
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(52) Abraham is dead, and the prophets.—They still “do not understand His speech,” and take His words in a merely physical sense. In that sense they were impossible, for they are contradicted by the fact that death came to the great Patriarch and the prophets, and if to them, then surely, much more to ordinary men. They regard it as conclusive that their assertion in John 8:48 is correct. No one, except a man under the influence of a demon, would make an assertion so opposed to the almost unbroken experience of mankind.

If a man keep my saying.—Better, If a man keep My word, as in last verse.

He shall never taste of death.—The expression is stronger than that which He had used, “shall never see death.” They use it to put in the strongest way their wonder at the impossible promise which He had uttered. It has occurred before in Matthew 16:28. (See Note there.) It occurs again in the New Testament only in Hebrews 2:9.

8:48-53 Observe Christ's disregard of the applause of men. those who are dead to the praises of men can bear their contempt. God will seek the honour of all who do not seek their own. In these verses we have the doctrine of the everlasting happiness of believers. We have the character of a believer; he is one that keeps the sayings of the Lord Jesus. And the privilege of a believer; he shall by no means see death for ever. Though now they cannot avoid seeing death, and tasting it also, yet they shall shortly be where it will be no more forever, Ex 14:13.Hast a devil - Art deranged. Because he affirmed a thing which they supposed to be contrary to all experience, and to be impossible. 52, 53. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil, &c.—"Thou art now self-convicted; only a demoniac could speak so; the most illustrious of our fathers are dead, and Thou promisest exemption from death to anyone who will keep Thy saying! pray, who art Thou?" Thou hast a devil: this is the third time we have met with this blasphemous imputation from these wretched men, John 7:20, in this chapter, John 8:48, and here. What we have here, may strongly incline us to believe, that by the phrase they did not intend that he was possessed with the devil; for they here declare themselves confirmed in what they said, from his speaking that which was contrary to sense and demonstration. Abraham was dead, (though the father of the faithful), and the prophets were dead; and therefore to speak of any mortal man’s not seeing death, was contrary to every day’s experience, and to the experience of the holiest men who ever lived. To them therefore who understood him speaking of a natural dissolution of the soul and body, this looked like the language of one beside himself; which probably was all they meant, when they said he had a devil, unless they used it as a term of reproach and passion; of all which none can give any just account. Then said the Jews unto him,.... Upon these last words that he spake, giving assurance, that whoever kept his saying, should not die:

now we know that thou hast a devil; they thought and said so before, but now they were assured, that he must be under diabolical influence, must be possessed with the devil, and mad, and out of his senses; for they thought no man in his senses would ever talk at this rate:

Abraham is dead, and the prophets; that is, they are dead also, as the Ethiopic version adds; see Zechariah 1:5;

and thou sayest, if a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death: Abraham and the prophets were so far from pretending by their doctrine to communicate life and secure men from death, that they could not keep themselves from dying; and therefore it must be diabolical madness and frenzy to assert anything of this kind.

{17} Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.

(17) Against those who abuse the glory of the saints to debase Christ's glory.

John 8:52-53. The Jews understood Him to speak of natural death, and thus found a confirmation of their charge that He was mad in consequence of being possessed with a devil. It is in their view a senseless self-exaltation for Jesus to ascribe to His word, and therefore to Himself, greater power of life than was possessed by Abraham and the prophets, who had not been able to escape death.

νῦν ἐγνώκ.] “antea cum dubitatione aliqua locuti erant,” in John 8:48, Bengel.

γεύσηται] a different and stronger designation, not intentionally selected, but the result of excitement. Comp. on the expression Matthew 16:28, and the Rabbis as quoted by Schoettgen and Wetstein; Leon. Alex. 41: γεύεσθαι ἀστόργου θανάτου. The image employed, probably not derived from a death-cup,—a supposition which is not favoured by the very common use of the expression in other connections,—serves to set forth to the senses the πικρότης, the bitterness of experiencing death. Comp. the classical expressions, γεύεσθαι πένθους, Eur. Alc. 1072; μόχθων, Soph. Trach. 1091; κακῶν, Luc. Nigr. 28; πόνων, Pind. Nem. 6. 41; πενίης, Maced. 3; ὀϊστοῦ, Hom. Od. φ, 98, χειρῶν υ, 181. The kind of experience denoted by γεύεσθαι is always specified in the context.

John 8:53. Surely thou art not greater (furnished with greater power against death), and so forth; σύ is emphatic. Comp. John 4:12.

ὅστις] quippe qui, who verily; assigning the ground.

τίνα σεαυτ. ποιεῖς] What sort of one dost thou make thyself? (John 5:18, John 10:33, John 19:7), “quem te venditas?” (Grotius), that thy word should produce such an effect?John 8:52. This confirms the Jews in their opinion that He is not in His right mind, Νῦν ἐγνώκαμεν … they seem to have now got proof of what they had suspected; “antea cum dubitatione aliqua locuti erant,” Bengel. Their proof is that whereas Jesus says that those who keep His word shall never die, Abraham died and the prophets; therefore Jesus would seem to be making Himself greater than those most highly revered personages.52. Now we know that thou hast a devil] ‘It was somewhat of a conjecture before, but now we recognise clear evidence of it.’

Abraham is dead] Abraham died. Again they shew a gross want of perception and ‘do not understand His speech’ (John 8:43). They cannot discern a spiritual truth, but understand Him to be speaking of physical death. ‘My saying’ should be ‘My word’ as in John 8:51.

he shall never taste of death] In their excitement they exaggerate His language. The metaphor ‘taste of death’ is not taken from a death-cup, but from the general idea of bitterness. It is frequent in the classics.John 8:52. Νῦν ἐγνώκαμεν, now we know) Previously they had spoken with some degree of doubt: John 8:48, “Say we not well that Thou art,” etc.; but now to the solemn asseveration of Jesus, John 8:51, they oppose this assertion of theirs.Verse 52. - The Jews - the adverse dominant party, ready always to misunderstand his words - (then) said to him, Now - in reference to their own charge (ver. 48), which he had solemnly disclaimed - we know (we have come to know, ἐγνώκαμεν) that thou hast a daemon. They imply that he must be under some most bewildering hallucination. These words have scattered their momentary hesitation. They must have reasoned thus: "He who claims such power for his own words must have personal immunity from death. This is a daemoniacal folly and delusion. There have been greater than he who heard and kept the words of God, and who, nevertheless, did not escape death." Abraham died, and the prophets (died); and thou sayest, If a man keep my word, he shall never taste of death. Here observe the wilful alteration of the Saviour's words. In place of τὸν λόγον τὸν ἐμόν, "the word that is mine," they quote him as saying, τὸν λόγον μου, "my word," "the word of me" which conveys a more personal claim; and again, in lieu of the remarkable phrase, οὐ θεωρήσῃ, they say, οὐ μὴ γεύσηται equivalent to "shall not in any way experience death" - a form of expression incompatible with the fact of the physical death of his followers and a fortiori of himself. The believer, even like the Lord, does taste of death (Hebrews 2:9), but he does not see it. The phrase, γεύσεται θανάτου, is a rabbinical one for "drinking the cup of death" (cf. John 18:11; Revelation 18:6). Now

Looking back to John 8:48. If we were too hasty then in saying that you have a demon, your words now fully justify us. They understood Him to be speaking of natural death.

Is dead (ἀπέθανε)

Better, died: referring to the historical fact.

Taste of death

They change the form of Jesus' statement. The Lord himself tasted of death. See Hebrews 2:9. The phrase taste of death does not occur in the Old Testament, but is common in Rabbinic writings. "The angel of death," say the Rabbis, "holdeth his sword in his hand at the bed's head, having on the end thereof three drops of gall. The sick man, spying this deadly angel, openeth his mouth with fear; and then those drops fall in, of which one killeth him, the second maketh him pale, the third rotteth."

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