John 8:57
Then said the Jews to him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?
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(57) Thou art not yet fifty years old.—There is no reason to doubt that we have the correct reading here, though some, from Chrysostom downward, have sought to avoid what seemed to them a difficulty, by substituting “forty” for “fifty.” Others, and among them were the “Elders who in Asia conferred with John, the Lord’s disciple,” have held that our Lord was between forty and fifty years of age at the time of his public ministry. We know this from the testimony of Irenaeus, who appears to have this very passage in his mind, for he says, As the gospel and all the Elders witness” (Lib. 2 chap. 22 § 5; Oxford Translation, p. 160). But “fifty years” was the period of full manhood (Numbers 4:3; Numbers 4:39; Numbers 8:24). This is expressed in round numbers, and there is no care to be more exact in comparison with the two thousand years which had passed since the close of Abraham’s earthly life. The thought is, “Thou art still a young man, and hast thou seen Abraham who died twenty centuries ago?”

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.Fifty years old - Jesus is supposed to have been at this time about the age of 33. It is remarkable that when he was so young they should have mentioned the number 50, but they probably designed to prevent the possibility of a reply. Had they said 40 they might have apprehended a reply, or could not be so certain that they were correct.

Hast thou seen Abraham? - It is remarkable, also, that they perverted his words. His affirmation was not that he had seen Abraham, but that Abraham had seen his day. The design of Jesus was to show that he was greater than Abraham, John 8:53. To do this, he says that Abraham, great as he was, earnestly desired to see his time, thus acknowledging his inferiority to the Messiah. The Jews perverted this, and affirmed that it was impossible that he and Abraham should have seen each other.

57-59. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old—"No inference can be drawn from this as to the age of our Lord at the time as man. Fifty years was with the Jews the completion of manhood" [Alford].

and hast thou seen Abraham?—He had said Abraham saw Him, as being his peculiar privilege. They give the opposite turn to it—"Hast Thou seen Abraham?" as an honor too great for Him to pretend to.

Christ was at this time but three and thirty years old, and upward: they dream of Abraham’s seeing him, and his seeing Abraham, with bodily eyes, of which Christ said nothing; that indeed had been a thing impossible, for Abraham was dead many hundred years before Christ appeared in the flesh to the world: neither doth our Saviour say, that he had seen Abraham, or that Abraham had seen him; but that he had seen his day, his coming in the flesh, his death, which Abraham had seen, not with bodily eyes, but with the eye of faith. Then said the Jews unto him, thou art not yet fifty years old,.... One copy reads forty, but he was not that; no, not much more than thirty; not above two or three and thirty years old: the reason of their fixing on this age of fifty might be, because Christ might look like such an one, being a man of sorrows and acquainted with griefs, as well as of great gravity; or they might be free in allowing him as many years, as could be thought he should be of, and gain their point; for what were fifty years, when Abraham had been dead above two thousand? and therefore he could never see Abraham, nor Abraham see him; moreover, this age of fifty, is often spoken of by the Jews, and much observed; at the age of fifty, a man is fit to give counsel, they say (a); hence the Levites were dismissed from service at that age, it being more proper for them then to give advice, than to bear burdens; a Methurgeman, or an interpreter in a congregation, was not chosen under fifty years of age (b); and if a man died before he was fifty, this was called the death of cutting off (c); a violent death, a death inflicted by God, as a punishment; Christ lived not to that age, he was now many years short of it:

and hast thou seen Abraham? if he had not, Abraham had seen him, in the sense before given, and in which Christ asserted it, and it is to be understood.

(a) Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 21. (b) T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 14. 1. Juchasin, fol. 44. 2.((c) T. Hieros. Biccurim, fol. 64. 3. T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 28. 1. Macsecheth Semachot, c. 3. sect. 9. Kimchi in Isaiah 38.10.

Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
John 8:57. The Jews, referring κ. εἶδε κ. ἐχάρη to the earthly life of Abraham, imagine the assertion of Jesus to imply that He had lived in the days of the patriarch, and professed to have been personally acquainted with him! How absurd is this!

πεντήκοντα] Placed first to indicate emphasis, corresponding to the position afterwards assigned to the word Ἀβρ. Fifty years are specified as the period when a man attains his full growth (comp. Numbers 4:3; Numbers 4:39; Numbers 8:24 f.; Lightfoot, p. 1046 f.): thou hast not yet passed the full age of manhood! Consequently, neither the reading τεσσαράκοντα is to be preferred (Ebrard), nor need we conclude either that Jesus was above forty years of age (the Presbyters of Asia Minor in Iren. II. 22. 5); or that He was taken to be so old διὰ τὴν πολυπειρίαν αὐτοῦ (Euth. Zigabenus); or that He looked so old (Lampe, Heumann, Paulus); or that they confounded “the intensity of the devotion of His soul” as it showed itself in His person, with the traces of age (Lange, Life of Jesus). In the act of instituting a comparison with the two thousand years that had elapsed since Abraham’s day, they could not well care about determining very precisely the age of Christ. In answer to E. v. Bunsen (The Hidden Wisdom of Christ, etc., Lond. 1865, II. p. 461 ff.), who seeks to establish the correctness of the statement in Irenaeus, see Rösch in Die Jahrb. für deutsche Theol. 1866, p. 4 f. Without the slightest reason, Bunsen finds in the forty-six years of chap. John 4:2, the age of Christ. But even Keim is not opposed to the idea of Christ being forty years of age (Gesch. Jes. I. p. 469; comp. his Geschichtl. Chr. p. 235).John 8:57. This, however, the Jews completely misunderstand. They think that by asserting that Abraham saw His day, Jesus means to say that His day and the life of Abraham on earth were contemporaneous.—Πεντήκονταἑώρακας; “Fifty years” may be used as a round number, sufficiently exact for their purpose and with no intention to determine the age of Jesus. But Lightfoot (Hor. Heb., 1046) thinks the saying is ruled by the age when Levites retired, see Numbers 4:3; Numbers 4:39 : “Tu non adhuc pervenisti ad vulgarem annum superannuationis, et tune vidisti Abrahamum?” Irenaeus (ii. 22, 5) records that the Gospel (presumably this passage) and the Presbyters of Asia Minor who had known John, testified that Jesus taught till He was forty or fifty. This idea is upheld by E. v. Bunsen (Hidden Wisdom of Christ), and even Keim is of opinion that Jesus may have lived to His fortieth year.57. Then said the Jews] Better. Therefore said the Jews.

Thou art not yet fifty years old] The reading, ‘forty years,’ which Chrysostom and a few authorities give, is no doubt incorrect. It has arisen from a wish to make the number less wide of the mark; for our Lord was probably not yet thirty-five, although Irenaeus preserves a tradition that He taught at a much later age. He says (ii. xxii. 5), a quadrigesimo autem et quinquagesimo anno declinat jam in aetatem seniorem, quam habens Dominus noster docebat, sicut evangelium et omnes seniores testantur qui in Asia apud Joannem discipulum Domini convenerunt. By ‘evangelium’ he probably means this passage. But ‘fifty years’ is a round number, the Jewish traditional age of full manhood (Numbers 4:3; Numbers 4:39; Numbers 8:24-25). There is no reason to suppose that Jesus was nearly fifty, or looked nearly fifty. In comparing His age with the 2000 years since Abraham the Jews would not care to be precise so long as they were within the mark.John 8:57. Πεντήκοντα, fifty) For contention’s sake they exaggerate the number. But, had they not been altogether forgetful of His nativity at Bethlehem, they would have said, Thirty years old, and not much more. As it is, they imply this by their words, Thou hast not yet reached a half century, in other words, the year of superannuation; Numbers 4:3, The term of the Levite service, “From thirty years old and upward, even until fifty years old,” as Lightfoot observes; whence it seems, the expression is not unlike an adage. It is not likely, that Jesus by reason of sorrows had contracted a premature appearance of old age. Hebrews 1:9, “God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above they fellows:” Matthew 9:15, “Can the children of the bride-chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them?” ch. John 11:19, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking.”—Ἀβραάμ, Abraham) He had died 1850 years before this colloquy.—ἑώρακας, hast thou seen) They speak (and rightly so, indeed; comp. ch. John 16:16; John 16:22, “A little while, and ye shall not see Me, and again, a little while and ye shall see Me,” etc.: “Ye now have sorrow, but I will see you again,”) by the force of correlatives. Since Abraham saw Thy day; Thou hast seen Abraham.Verse 57. - The Jews, therefore, said unto him - once more misinterpreting his words, and giving a materialistic tone to his Divine hint - Thou hast not yet fifty years - "Thou art not fifty years old" - and hast thou seen Abraham? Christ did not say that be had seen Abraham, but that Abraham had seen and rejoiced in his day. The Jews chose to regard the language of Jesus as adding another immense improbability, if not falsehood, to his previous claims, viz. that he had actually lived to twice the age of Methuselah already. The "fifty years old" may have been simply used in round numbers for the age of man's prime and completed life (Numbers 4:3, 39; Numbers 8:24). There may have been, even if our Lord was only thirty-three years of age at the time of his Passion, that which apparently added to his years. A tradition is mentioned (Irenaeus, 100, 2, 22. 5) of the more advanced age of Jesus which the Ephesian presbyters preserved, and which Irenaeus regards as between the forty-fifth and fiftieth years. Ernest de Bunsen vainly finds a reference to Christ's age (John 2:20) in the forty-six years of the temple; but it is strange that, with the exception of the statement in Luke 3:23, there is nothing in the extraneous chronological data, e.g. the death of Herod and recall of Pontius Pilate, which need positively compress our Lord's life within fifty years (Westcott). And Keim has made the suggestion that our Lord did carry on his ministry for a much longer period than is commonly supposed. It is far more probable, however, that the Jews were using an expression for the term of a completed life, and were supplying no chronological data whatever. Thou art not yet fifty years old (πεντήκοντα ἔτη οὔπω ἔχεις)

Literally, thou hast not yet fifty years. The age of completed manhood.

Hast thou seen

Again misquoting the Lord's words.

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