John 8:56
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
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(56) Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day.—They had asked in scorn if He were greater than their father Abraham (John 8:53). .His words have shown that He was. He now, with the thoughts of John 8:39 still present, contrasts the exultation of him whom they claimed as father, when he saw from afar the Messianic advent, with their rejection of the Messiah who is actually among them. Abraham realised the fulness of the promises made to him, and believed in the Lord that the blessing should be fulfilled to his seed. He, too, had kept God’s word, and in the true sense had not seen death (see Genesis 15:1-6; Genesis 22:18). The words, “My day,” are used, as in Luke 17:22, for the manifestation of Christ on earth.

And he saw it, and was glad.—This is the historic fulfilment of the joy which looked forward to the day of Christ. Our Lord reveals here a truth of the unseen world that is beyond human knowledge or explanation. From that world Abraham was cognisant of the fact of the Incarnation, and saw in it the accomplishment of the promise which had brought joy to shepherds watching their flocks, as the Patriarch had watched his; there came an angel, as angels had come to him, and a multitude of the heavenly host, exulting in the good news to men. In that joy Abraham had part. The truth comes as a ray of light across the abyss which separates the saints in heaven from saints on earth. As in the parable, where Lazarus is in Abraham’s bosom, the rich man is represented as knowing and caring for his brethren on earth, so here the great Patriarch is spoken of as knowing and rejoicing in the fact of the Incarnation. The faculty of reason cannot explain how it is, but the faculty of faith can receive the truth that there is a “communion of saints,” and finds in it a comfort which robs separation of its bitterness, and a power which strengthens all the motives to a holy and devoted life. (Comp. Luke 16:19-31; Hebrews 12:1.)

John 8:56-59. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day Ηγαλλιασατο ινα ιδη την ημεραν, exulted with desire, to see my day. “The words ινα ιδη, that he might see, immediately following the verb, show,” as Dr. Campbell observes, “that it cannot mean here, rejoiced, but rather signifies, desired earnestly, wished, longed.” Indeed, the expression may with the strictest propriety signify, “leaping forward with joy to meet the object of our wishes, as well as exulting in the possession of it.” By his day, our Lord seems to mean, the time when the promised seed should come, in whom all nations were to be blessed by being converted from idolatry to the knowledge and worship of the true God; and put in possession of all the blessings attendant on true religion. He earnestly desired, as if our Lord said, to see the great transactions of my life, by which these blessings were to be procured for all nations, and to take a view of the happy state into which the world would be brought, when they were bestowed upon them. And he saw it, and was glad — His faith was equivalent to seeing. By the favour of a particular revelation, Abraham had a distinct foresight of these things, and was exceedingly transported with the prospect. If then you want to know my person and character, you may form some notion of both from the disposition with which Abraham regarded me. Our Lord, therefore, plainly enough assumed the character of the Messiah on this occasion. Then said the Jews, Thou art not yet fifty years old, &c. — Understanding what he said in a natural sense, they thought he affirmed that he had lived in the days of Abraham; which they took to be ridiculous nonsense, as he was not arrived at the age of fifty; for they had no conception of his divinity, notwithstanding he had told them several times that he was the Son of God. Jesus saith, Verily, &c., before Abraham was, I am — Greek, πριν Αβρααμ γενεσθαι εγω ειμι, “before Abraham was born, I am, that is, I had a glorious existence with the Father, and am still invariably the same, and one with him.” So Doddridge. Thus also Dr. Campbell, who observes, “I have followed here the version of Erasmus, which is close, both to the sense and to the letter: Antequam Abraham nasceretur ego sum. Diodati renders the words in the same way in Italian. Heylin and Wynne translate in English in the same manner. Εγω ειμι, (which we translate I am,) may indeed be rendered I was. The present for the imperfect, or even for the preterperfect, is no unusual figure with this writer. However, as an uninterrupted duration, from the time spoken of to the time then present, seems to have been suggested, I thought it better to follow the common method.” Our Lord here, in the strongest terms, appears to assert his proper divinity, declaring himself to be, what St. John more largely expresses, (Revelation 1:8,) the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, who is, was, and is to come, the Almighty. See also Exodus 3:14; Hebrews 1:12.

As to rendering this clause, Before Abraham was born, I was: notwithstanding the nicest critical distinctions, it must at least be acknowledged that this is a very unusual sense of εγω ειμι, and the less necessary, as the proper and common translation affords us a just and important sense, and one to which none but the enemies of our Lord’s divinity can object. It is indeed striking to observe the unnatural construction to which they have recourse who stumble at this text. The Socinians, with the most perverse impropriety, render the passage thus: “Before Abraham was made Abraham,” that is, the father of many nations, in the spiritual sense of the promise, “I am the Messiah.” Grotius and others, of too much learning not to discern the proper force of the words, are of opinion that our Lord only affirms of himself that he was before Abraham in the divine decree. But 1st, Christ says this in answer to the objection of the Jews, which had no respect to the priority of these two persons in the decree of God, but as to actual existence. 2d, This sense of the passage is trifling indeed, if our Lord was no more than a man, it being certain that all creatures, of whatsoever order, existed equally soon in the divine decree. Besides, that our Lord did really exist at the time mentioned in the text, is plain likewise from John 17:5. Nor is it to be imagined that, if our Lord had been a mere creature, he would have ventured to express himself in a manner so nearly bordering on blasphemy, or have permitted his beloved disciple so dangerously to disguise his meaning; a meaning indisputably clear to every plain and unprejudiced reader; a full proof whereof is the manner in which his hearers now received it: for, filled with rage, upon the blasphemy, as they thought it, of his claiming divinity to himself, they immediately prepare to inflict the punishment of a blasphemer upon him, by stoning him. But Jesus hid himself — Greek, εκρυβη, was hidden, or concealed, probably suddenly be came invisible; and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, unobserved, and so passed by — Or passed on, with the same ease as if none had been there.

8:54-59 Christ and all that are his, depend upon God for honour. Men may be able to dispute about God, yet may not know him. Such as know not God, and obey not the gospel of Christ, are put together, 2Th 1:8. All who rightly know anything of Christ, earnestly desire to know more of him. Those who discern the dawn of the light of the Sun of Righteousness, wish to see his rising. Before Abraham was, I AM. This speaks Abraham a creature, and our Lord the Creator; well, therefore, might he make himself greater than Abraham. I AM, is the name of God, Ex 3:14; it speaks his self-existence; he is the First and the Last, ever the same, Re 1:8. Thus he was not only before Abraham, but before all worlds, Pr 8:23; Joh 1:1. As Mediator, he was the appointed Messiah, long before Abraham; the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Re 13:8. The Lord Jesus was made of God Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption, to Adam, and Abel, and all that lived and died by faith in him, before Abraham. The Jews were about to stone Jesus for blasphemy, but he withdrew; by his miraculous power he passed through them unhurt. Let us stedfastly profess what we know and believe concerning God; and if heirs of Abraham's faith, we shall rejoice in looking forward to that day when the Saviour shall appear in glory, to the confusion of his enemies, and to complete the salvation of all who believe in him.Your father Abraham - The testimony of Abraham is adduced by Jesus because the Jews considered it to be a signal honor to be his descendants, John 8:39. As they regarded the sayings and deeds of Abraham as especially illustrious and worthy of their imitation, so they were bound, in consistency, to listen to what he had said of the Messiah.

Rejoiced - This word includes the notion of desire as well as rejoicing. It denotes that act when, compelled with strong desire for an object, we leap forward toward its attainment with joy; and it expresses:

1. the fact that this was an object that filled the heart of Abraham with joy; and,

2. that he earnestly desired to see it.

We have no single word which expresses the meaning of the original. In Matthew 5:12 it is rendered "be exceeding glad."

To see - Rather, he earnestly and joyfully desired that he might see. To see here means to have a view or distinct conception of. It does not imply that Abraham expected that the Messiah would appear during his life, but that he might have a representation of, or a clear description and foresight of the times of the Messiah.

My day - The, day of the Messiah. The word "day," here, is used to denote the time, the appearance, the advent, and the manner of life of the Messiah. Luke 17:26; "as it was in the days of Noah so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." See John 9:4; Matthew 11:12. The day of judgment is also called the day of the Son of man, because it will be a remarkable time of his manifestation. Or perhaps in both those cases it is called his day because he will act the most conspicuous part; his person and work will characterize the times; as we speak of the days of Noah, etc., because he was the most conspicuous person of the age.

He saw it - See Hebrews 11:13; "These all died in faith, not having received (obtained the fulfillment of) the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them," etc. Though Abraham was not permitted to live to see the times of the Messiah, yet he was permitted to have a prophetic view of him, and also of the design of his coming; for,

1. God foretold his advent clearly to him, Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18. Compare Galatians 3:16; "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ."

2. Abraham was permitted to have a view of the death of the Messiah as a sacrifice for sin, represented by the command to offer Isaac, Genesis 22:1-13. Compare Hebrews 11:19. The death of the Messiah as a sacrifice for the sins of men was that which characterized his work - which distinguished his times and his advent, and this was represented to Abraham clearly by the command to offer his son. From this arose the proverb among the Jews Genesis 22:14, "In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen," or it shall be provided for; a proverb evidently referring to the offering of the Messiah on the mount for the sins of men. By this event Abraham was impressively told that a parent would not be required to offer in sacrifice his sons for the sins of his soul - a thing which has often been done by pagan; but that God would provide a victim, and in due time an offering would be made for the world.

Was glad - Was glad in view of the promise, and that he was permitted so distinctly to see it represented. If the father of the faithful rejoiced so much to see him afar off, how should we rejoice that he has come; that we are not required to look into a distant futurity, but know that he has appeared; that we may learn clearly the manner of his coming, his doctrine, and the design of his death! Well might the eyes of a patriarch rejoice to be permitted to look in any manner on the sublime and glorious scene of the Son of God dying for the sins of men. And our chief honor and happiness is to contemplate the amazing scene of man's redemption, where the Saviour groaned and died to save a lost and ruined race.

56. Abraham rejoiced to see my day, &c.—exulted, or exceedingly rejoiced that he should see, he exulted to see it, that is, by anticipation. Nay,

he saw it, and was glad—he actually beheld it, to his joy. If this mean no more than that he had a prophetic foresight of the gospel-day—the second clause just repeating the first—how could the Jews understand our Lord to mean that He "had seen Abraham?" And if it mean that Abraham was then beholding, in his disembodied spirit, the incarnate Messiah [Stier, Alford, &c.], the words seem very unsuitable to express it. It expresses something past—"he saw My day, and was glad," that is, surely while he lived. He seems to refer to the familiar intercourse which Abraham had with God, who is once and again in the history called "the Angel of the Lord," and whom Christ here identifies with Himself. On those occasions, Abraham "saw ME" (Olshausen, though he thinks the reference is to some unrecorded scene). If this be the meaning, all that follows is quite natural.

You glory much in this, that you have Abraham to your father. This father of yours foresaw my coming into the world, and my dying upon the cross. He saw it by the eye of faith, in the promise which was made to him, That in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. He saw it in the type of Isaac’s being offered, then receiving him in a figure, Hebrews 11:19. He saw it in the light of Divine revelation. He saw my coming in the flesh; my dying upon the cross for sinners; the publication of my gospel to the whole world, by which means all the nations of the earth became blessed in his seed. And he

was glad, with the joy of faith, which gives the soul a union with an absent object by faith made certain to it, Hebrews 11:1.

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day,.... Or "he was desirous to see my day", as the Syriac and Arabic versions rightly render the word; or "very desirous", as the Persic version: and indeed, this was what many kings and prophets, and righteous men, were desirous of, even of seeing the Messiah and his day: we often read of , "the days of the Messiah": and the Jews, in their Talmud (y), dispute much about them, how long they will be; one says forty years, another seventy, another three ages: it is the opinion of some, that they shall be according to the number of the days of the year, three hundred and sixty five years; some say seven thousand years, and others as many as have been from the beginning of the world; and others, as many as from Noah; but we know the day of Christ better, and how long he was here on earth; and whose whole time here is called his day; this Abraham had a very great desire to see:

and he saw it and was glad; he saw it with an eye of faith, he saw it in the promise, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed; and when it was promised him he should have a son, which was the beginning of the fulfilment of the other, he laughed, and therefore his son was called Isaac, to which some reference is here made; he saw him in the birth of his son Isaac and rejoiced, and therefore called his name Isaac, that is, "laughter": he saw also Christ and his day, his sufferings, death, and resurrection from the dead, in a figure; in the binding of Isaac, in the sacrifice of the ram, and in the receiving of Isaac, as from the dead; and he not only saw the Messiah in his type Melchizedek, and who some think was the Son of God himself, but he saw the second person, the promised Messiah, in an human form, Genesis 18:2; and all this was matter of joy and gladness to him. This brings to mind what the Jews say at the rejoicing at the law, when the book of the law is brought out (z).

"Abraham rejoiced with the rejoicing of the law, he that cometh shall come, the branch with the joy of the law; Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, rejoiced with the joy of the law; he that cometh shall come, the branch with the joy of the law.''

(y) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 99. 1.((z) Seder Tephillot, fol. 309. 1. Ed. Basil.

{20} Your father Abraham {t} rejoiced to see my {u} day: and he {x} saw it, and was glad.

(20) The power of Christ showed itself through all former ages in the fathers, for they saw in the promises that he would come, and very joyfully laid hold of him with a living faith.

(t) Was very desirous.

(u) A day is a space that a man lives in, or does any notable act in, or endures any great thing in.

(x) With the eyes of faith; He 11:13.

John 8:56. Εἶτα κατασκευάζει καὶ ὅτι μείζων ἐστι τοῦ Ἀβρ., Euth. Zigabenus, and, indeed, in such a manner, that He, at the same time, puts the hostile children of Abraham to shame.

ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν] with a reproving glance back to John 8:39.

ἠγαλλιάσατο, ἵνα ἴδῃ] he exulted to see; the object of his exultation is conceived as the goal to whose attainment the joyous movement of the heart is directed. He rejoiced in the anticipation of seeing my day, i.e. of witnessing the day of my appearance on earth.[39] As to its historical date, ἠγαλλιάσατο does not refer to an event in the paradisaical life of Abraham; but, as Abraham was the recipient of the Messianic promise, which described, on the one hand, the Messiah as His own σπέρμα, himself, however, on the other hand, as the founder and vehicle of the entire redemptive Messianic development for all nations, the allusion is to the time in his earthly life when the promise was made to him. His faith in this promise (Genesis 15:6) and the certainty of the Messianic future, whose development was to proceed from him, with which he was thus inspired, could not but fill him with joy and exultation; hence, also, there is no need for an express testimony to the ἠγαλλ. in Genesis (the supposed reference to the laughing mentioned in Genesis 17:17 which was already interpreted by Philo to denote great joy and exultation, and which Hofmann also has again revived in his Weissag. und Erfüll. II. p. 13, is inadmissible, on a correct explanation of the passage). So much, however, is presupposed, namely, that Abraham recognised the Messianic character of the divine promise; and this we are justified in presupposing in him who was the chosen recipient of divine revelations. For inventions of the Rabbis regarding revelations of future events asserted, on the ground of Genesis 17:17, to have been made to Abraham, see Fabric. Cod. Pseudepigr. I. p. 423 ff. The seeing of the day (the experimental perception thereof through the living to see it, Luke 17:22; Polyb. x. 4. 7; Soph. O. R. 831, 1528; and see Wetstein and Kypke on the passage) to which (ἵνα) the exultation of Abraham was directed, was, for the soul of the patriarch, a moment of the indefinite future. And this seeing was realized, not during his earthly life, but in his paradisaical state (comp. Lampe, Lücke, Tholuck, De Wette, Maier, Luthardt, Lechler in the Stud. u. Krit. 1854, p. 817, Lange, Baeumlein, Ebrard, Godet), when he, the ancestor of the Messiah and of the nation, learnt that the Messianic age had dawned on the earth in the birth of Jesus as the Messiah. In like manner the advent of Jesus on the earth was made known to Moses and Elias (Matthew 17:4), which fact, however, does not justify us in supposing that reference is here made to occurrences similar to the transfiguration (Ewald). In Paradise Abraham saw the day of Christ; indeed, he there maintained in general a relation to the states and experiences of his people (Luke 16:25 ff.). This was the object of the καὶ εἶδε καὶ ἐχάρη; it is impossible, however, to determine exactly the form under which the ΕἾΔΕ was vouchsafed to him, though it ought not to be explained with B. Crusius as mere anticipation. We must rest contented with the idea of divine information. The apocryphal romance, Testamentum Levi, p. 586 f. (which tells us that the Messiah Himself opens the gates of Paradise, feeds the saints from the tree of life, etc., and then adds: τότε ἀγαλλιάσεται Ἀβραὰμ καὶ Ἰσαὰκ κ. Ἰακὼβ κἀγὼ χαρήσομαι καὶ πάντες οἱ ἅγιοι ἐνδύσονται εὐφροσύνην), merely supplies a general confirmation of the thought that Abraham, in the intermediate state of happiness, received with joy the news of the advent of Messiah. Supposing, however, that the relation between promise (ἨΓΑΛΛΙΆΣΑΤΟ, ἽΝΑ ἼΔῌ, etc.) and fulfilment (ΚΑῚ ΕἾΔΕ Κ. ἘΧΆΡΗ), expressed in the two clauses of the verse, do require the beholding of the day of Christ to be a real beholding, and the day of Christ itself to be the day of His actual appearance, i.e. the day of the incarnation of the promised One on earth, it is not allowable to understand by it, either, with Raphelius and Hengstenberg, the appearance of the angel of the Lord (Genesis 18), i.e. of the Logos, to Abraham; or, with Luther, “the vision of faith with the heart” at the announcement made in Genesis 22:18 (comp. Melancthon, Calvin, and Calovius);[40] or, with Olshausen, a prophetic vision of the δόξα of Christ (comp. John 12:41); or, with Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Erasmus, and most of the older commentators, also Hofmann, the beholding of an event which merely prefigured the day of Christ, a typical beholding, whether the birth of Isaac be regarded as the event in question (Hofmann; see also his Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 304 f.), or the offering up of Isaac as a sacrifice, prefiguring the atoning sacrifice and resurrection of Christ (Chrysostom, Grotius, and many others). According to Linder, in the Stud. und Krit. 1859, p. 518 f., 1867, p. 507 f., the day of Christ denotes nothing but the time of the birth of Isaac, which was promised in Genesis 18:10, so that Christ would thus appear to have represented Himself as one of the angels of the grove of Mamre (comp. Hengstenberg), and, by the expression ἡμέρα ἡ ἐμή, to have denoted a time of special, actual revelation. Taken thus, however, the day in question would be only mediately the day of Christ; whereas, according to the connection and the express designation τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ἐμήν, Christ Himself must be the immediate subject of the day, as the one whose appearance constitutes the day emphatically His

His κατʼ ἐξοχὴν, analogously to the day of His second advent (Luke 17:24; 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14; Php 1:6; Php 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:2); hence, also, the plural had not to be employed (in answer to Linder’s objection).

ΚΑῚ ἘΧΑΡΗ] appropriately interchanged for ἨΓΑΛΛ., the latter corresponding to the first outburst of emotion at the unexpected proclamation.

[39] ἡμέρα ἡ ἐμή expressly denotes (hence not τὰς ἡμέρας τὰς ἐμάς, comp. Luke 17:22) the exact, particular day of the appearance of Christ on earth, i.e. the day of His birth (Job 3:1; Diog. L. 4. 41), from the Johannine point of view, the day on which the ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο was accomplished. This was the great epoch in the history of redemption which Abraham was to behold.

[40] Bengel also: “Vidit diem Christi, qui in semine, quod stellarum instar futurum erat, sidus maximum est et fulgidissimum.”

John 8:56. And as regards The connection they claim with Abraham, this reflects discredit on their present attitude towards Jesus; for Ἀβραὰμ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν, “Abraham in whose parentage you glory,” ἠγαλλιάσατο ἵνα ἴδῃ τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ἐμήν, “rejoiced to see my day”. The day of Christ is the time of His earthly manifestation: τῆς ἐπιδημίας αὐτοῦ τῆς μετὰ σαρκός, Cyril. See Luke 17:22-26; where the plural expresses the same as the singular here. “To see” the day is “to be present” at it, “to experience” it; cf. Eurip., Hecuba, 56, δούλειον ἦμαρ εἶδες, and the Homeric νόστιμον ἦμαρ ἰδέσθαι. ἵνα ἴδῃ cannot here have its usual Johannine force and be epexegetical (Burton, Moods, etc.), nor as Holtzmann says = ὅτι ὄψοιτο, because in this case the εἶδε καὶ ἐχάρη would be tautological. Euthymius gives the right interpretation: ἠγαλλ., ἤγουν, ἐπεθύμησεν (similarly Theophylact), and the meaning is “Abraham exulted in the prospect of seeing,” or “that he should see”. This he was able to do by means of the promises given to him.—καὶ εἶδε, “and he saw it,” not merely while he was on earth (although this seems to have been the idea the Jews took up from the words, see John 8:57); for this kind of anticipation Jesus uses different language, Matthew 13:17, and at the utmost the O.T. saints could be described as πόρρωθεν ἰδόντες, Hebrews 11:13; but he has seen it in its actuality. This involves that Abraham has not died so as to be unconscious, John 8:52, and cf. Mark 12:26.

56. rejoiced to see my day] Literally, exulted that he might see My day, the object of his joy being represented as the goal to which his heart is directed. This is a remarkable instance of S. John’s preference for the construction expressing a purpose, where other constructions would seem more natural. Comp. John 4:34; John 4:47, John 6:29; John 6:50, John 9:2-3; John 9:22, John 11:50, John 16:7. Abraham exulted in anticipation of the coming of the Messiah through implicit belief in the Divine promises.

and he saw it, and was glad] A very important passage with regard to the intermediate state, shewing that the soul does not, as some maintain, remain unconscious between death and the Day of Judgment. The Old Testament saints in Paradise were allowed to know that the Messiah had come. How this was revealed to them we are not told; but here is a plain statement of the fact. The word for ‘was glad’ expresses a calmer, less emotional joy than the word for ‘rejoiced,’ and therefore both are appropriate: ‘exulted’ while still on earth; ‘was glad’ in Hades. Thus the ‘Communion of Saints’ is assured, not merely in parables (Luke 16:27-28), but in the plainer words of Scripture. Comp. Hebrews 12:1.

John 8:56. Ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν, your Father) John 8:37; John 8:39, “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; Abraham is our father.”—ἠγαλλιάσατο, ἵνα, exulted that) Evinced his eagerness with longing desire. A similar expression occurs, Romans 10:1, “My heart’s desire, εὐδοκία τῆς ἐμῆς καρδίας,” ἵνα, that follows verbs of desiring. This ἀγαλλίασις, exultation, preceded, his seeing; and again χαρά, joy, accompanied the seeing.—τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ἐμήν, my day) The day of the Majesty of Christ: Php 1:10, “sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;” 1 Corinthians 1:8, “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ;” which day presupposes all the times of Christ, even in the eyes of Abraham. The days of Christ’s flesh (when He bestowed Himself on others) are one thing, the day of Christ Himself and of His glory is another thing [i.e. the two are altogether distinct]. This latter day was future in respect to this speech. Therefore the joy of Abraham preceded that day.—καὶ εἶδε, and he saw it) He saw it, even then in the revelation of My Divine glory; see verses following and Hebrews 11:13, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them and embraced them,” etc. He saw the day of Christ, who of the seed of the patriarch, which was about to be equal in number to the stars, is the greatest and brightest luminary. And inasmuch as he saw this day, which is to be altogether a day of life, he did not see death; John 8:51, etc., “If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death:—Abraham is dead—and Thou sayest, If a man,” etc.—Thus the vehemence of the Jews is rebutted. He did not however see it, as the apostles did: Matthew 13:17, “Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them.”—καὶ ἐχάρη, and he rejoiced) having obtained his wish.

Verse 56. - Christ then proceeds to the allegation that he was greater than Abraham, and exclaims, Abraham, your father, exulted (a word is used of tumultuous joy, Luke 1:47) - triumphantly rejoiced that he should see my day (so Revised Version, margin). Winer translates the ἵνα ἴδῃ in the same way, though that translation really means "exulted in the knowledge that he should see." The "rejoiced to see," of the Authorized Version and Revised Version, implies that, when he thus exulted, he had seen, which is not exactly compatible or consistent with the following clause. If Canon Evans's theory of the use of ἵνα in the New Testament in the sense of "the contemplated result" be sound, we have a sufficient translation in "exulted that he would or should see" my day. In Luke 17:22 we hear of "one of the days of the Son of man." All those days seem gathered together in the expression, "my day," and can only mean the whole day of his manifestation as the incarnate Word - the day in which, through himself, God had visited his people. When did Abraham exult with so lofty an expectation and desire? Many times in solemn vision and by heavenly voice and holy promise Abraham was led to believe that in himself and in his seed all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 15:4; Genesis 17:17; Genesis 18:10; Genesis 22:18). This promise made him young again. He staggered not at the promise of God. His faith was counted for righteousness. He believed that God could and would do what seemed impossible. That which he rejoiced that he should see was the day of Christ, the revelation of the Father, and the way of life proffered to all nations. He anticipated a fulfilment of the promises to such an extent that he rejoiced in hope of the glory of God. So far thee is little difficulty. Our imagination easily pictures Abraham in the sacred tumult of a blessed hope concerning that which was eventually realized in the Messianic glory of the Lord Jesus. But our Lord added, He saw it, and was glad. And the interpretations of this clause are very conflicting. Calvin asks whether this does not contradict Luke 10:24, "Many kings and prophets desired to see the things which ye see, and yet did not see them." And he adds, "Faith has its degrees in beholding Christ. The ancient prophets beheld Christ at a distance, but not as present with them." We are reminded by others of Hebrews 11:13, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen and greeted them from afar." Consequently, the only vision of the day of Christ vouchsafed to Abraham was the far off prophetic glance. This interpretation ignores the difference of two clauses, "exulted that he would see," and "saw it, and was glad." This second clause is supposed by Hengstenberg and others to refer to the vision of the angel of the Lord, the Logos (Genesis 18.), or to the revelation of the vicarious death and resurrection of Messiah in the sacrifice of Isaac (so Chrysostom and Erasmus). Others, again, have laid emphasis on the "birth of Isaac" as the fulfilment of promises previously made to his faith. Isaac was regarded as "heir of the world," and the embodiment of the Messianic hope. He was the child of promise, of the Spirit rather than of the flesh. This view has been urged by Hofmann, Wordsworth, Westcott. The proper sense was, doubtless, that, since the Lord became incarnate, Abraham's exulting hope has been realized; that which he desired and rejoiced in anticipation to see has now dawned upon him. This becomes an emphatic revelation by our Lord in one palmary case, and therefore presumably in other instances as well, of the relation and communion between the glorified life of the saints, and the events and progress of the kingdom of God upon earth. A great consensus of commentators confirms this in terpretation - Origen, Lampe, Lucke, De Wette, Godet, Meyer, Stier, Alford, Lange, Watkins, Thoma. It is objected that this kind of information about the invisible world is contrary to the manner of Christ, and would stand alone. This objection, however, ignores, and especially in the case of Abraham, other references by our Lord to the same idea and fact. The parable, so called, of the rich man and Lazarus, introduces Abraham as having been acquainted, during their lifetime, with the condition of the two dead men (see Luke 16:22-25). And when our Lord, in conflict with the Sadducees, would prove from Scripture and the language of Jehovah in the "passage concerning the bush" that the dead rise, he said, "Since God called himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he was not the God of the dead, but of the living;" therefore Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were living, and not dead (Luke 20:36-38). In like manner, Moses and Elijah are represented as conversing with Jesus concerning the decease (ἔξοδον) he was about to accomplish (Luke 9:30, 31). St. Peter (1 Peter 1:12) declares that the angels desire to look into the mysteries of human redemption. St. Paul tells us that the principalities and powers in heavenly places receive fresh illustration of the manifold wisdom of God by and from the Church on earth (Ephesians 3:10). So that the idea is one in harmony with many other lines of Divine revelation. Abraham rejoiced at the advent of Christ. He has seen it, and been gladdened. The angels sang their praises at the birth of Christ, and rejoiced over one penitent sinner (Luke 15.). The patriarchs also rejoice that the promises which they handed down to the generations that would follow them have been fulfilled. The 'Midrash' declares, says Wunsche, that Abrabam saw the Law giving on Sinai, and rejoiced at it. Westcott says the "tense" is decisive against this joy of Abraham in Paradise. But the aorist simply calls attention to the effect at once produced upon the consciousness of Abraham as soon as he became aware of the day of the Son of man. Rabbinical ideas of the knowledge communicated to Abraham concerning the career of his descendants, confirm and illustrate this interpretation; while the light thus cast upon the darkness of the grave expounds the great statement, "He that continueth in [keepeth] my word shall not see death." John 8:56Rejoiced (ἠγαλλιάσατο)

With exultant joy. See on 1 Peter 1:6.

To see (ἵνα ἴδῃ)

The Greek construction is peculiar. Literally, that he should see; i.e., in the knowledge or anticipation that he should see.

My day

The exact meaning of the expression is altogether uncertain.

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