The Life of the Lord Jesus Christ

By Johann Peter Lange

Edited by Rev. Marcus Dods







the contrast between Christian freedom and Jewish bondage, and between the faith of Abraham and the seeing of Christ

(Joh 8:31-59)

At once, then, Jesus now saw Himself surrounded by a large company of adherents who had given Him their faith.1 But He immediately knew that they had become His disciples through a misapprehension of their own. Therefore He said to them, ‘If ye will continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed.’ It still remained that they should verify their discipleship by subjecting themselves to His word as He meant it, and by persevering in this obedience. He then added, ‘Then shall ye know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’

Therewith He purposely hit the diseased spot from which their misapprehension had proceeded. Free they certainly wished to be made, but not through the truth, but through worldly might exercised by the Christ; free, not from error,—from that they thought themselves free already,—but from the Romans. ‘The truth shall make you free:’ this word fell upon their minds ungratefully. They now began to perceive that they had previously understood Him falsely; yet they wished to hear Him further, and to see more distinctly what His meaning was. They therefore answered, ‘We are Abraham’s seed, and have never been any one’s bondmen’ (have never surrendered ourselves in bondage to any one); ‘how canst thou then say, Ye shall be free?’2 As they perceived that it was in a spiritual sense that He was speaking of freedom, they purposely threw themselves into the sense of what He said, in order to drive Him to the confession that the freedom which they needed to be concerned about was another than spiritual freedom. They use the expression that they are Abraham’s seed in proof of what they say immediately after, and the sense of their expression is determined accordingly. They have, to wit, always regarded themselves inwardly as the free sons in God’s house, nay, as the heirs of the earth, although they outwardly had been reduced to slavery. It was with an inward protest that they have always submitted through mere compulsion to external subjugation, and have been as little disposed to acknowledge dependency upon Rome, as modern Rome has been to acknowledge worldly relations which contradict her hierarchical consciousness. In a spiritual or theocratical sense, therefore, they assert themselves to have been already free even from Abraham’s time, nay, the freeholders of the earth.3 Therefore they require Jesus to explain more clearly what He means by saying, Ye shall be free, dropping the qualifying sentiment, through the truth, we doubt not, purposely. Now He must explain Himself. The question, whether He perhaps might yet become their man, is brought to the very crisis. But at this moment He confronts them just as solemnly with the highest principle of freedom as He once did Nicodemus with the highest principle of knowledge: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.’ By bringing forth sin, a man makes for himself therein forthwith a tyrant; she gains a power over his whole being, in spirit, soul, and body, although she is an illusion, because in his life he has placed this illusion in the room of his God. That the Jews who confront Him are sinners, that their conscience shall testify to them; consequently they must now acknowledge that they are bondmen of sin. But if they are servants of sin, then they are servants absolutely, serfs; consequently also in the house of God—not in a good, but in a bad sense. This conclusion Jesus presupposes when adding further, ‘The servant abides not in the house for ever, but the son abideth therein for ever.’ As the Jews live in the family of God not as children but as servants, they have there no rights as heirs, no right of perpetual abiding in that house. They are liable to be put out, sold away, thrust off. And thus it befell them later; they were thrust forth, not only out of Canaan, but also out of the fellowship of God’s kingdom. Only the son of a house is the free subordinate therein, having an inalienable right to the house; and occupying this position, he can then obtain freedom even for the servants. These principles of civil rights Jesus applies to His own relations to them, declaring, ‘If the Son shall make you free, then will ye be free indeed.’ As the Son in the Father’s house, He can make them truly and really free, and this liberation He is fain to offer them.

‘We are Abraham’s seed!’ they had proudly said. ‘I know that ye are Abraham’s seed,’ answered the Lord; ‘but—ye seek to kill Me, because My word takes no effect in you.’

The fleeting illusion which they had indulged, that He might perhaps be their man, is again destroyed, and their former hostile sentiments are resumed with heightened rancour. He cannot help telling them plainly how the purpose of destroying Him is now again glaring from their very eyes. How ill that agrees with their appeal to Abraham! And the reason of their wishing to kill Him is, because His word makes no way with them;—not, therefore, merely because He healed the sick man on the Sabbath-day.

When the word of Jesus is utterly without any salutary effect with men, and falls off from their minds, gaining no entrance, this is proof of a decided hostility of the will against the eternal truth which dwells in His life, and this hostility, even though it be unconscious, is a design against His life, since His life is one with truth.

Yet, in such a case, it is through the word which falls off without gaining entrance that hostility against Jesus is first really quickened in the heart of bad men. With the rejection of His word is developed hatred against Him, the disposition to nail Him to the cross.

After saying this, Jesus seeks to induce them to examine themselves whether they can in truth be reckoned as Abraham’s children: He states the position, ‘I speak what I have seen with My Father, and ye practise what ye have seen with your father.’ This principle is a very simple one. Genuine children continue the work of their fathers through word and deed.

Now between God and Abraham there subsisted the most intimate friendship. Consequently such friendship must subsist also between the genuine children of God and the genuine children of Abraham. If, then, they were as truly Abraham’s sons as He was the Son of God, they could not fail to be thoroughly attached to Him. But instead of this, they are His deadly enemies. His word finds no entrance at all into the life of their spirit, while, on the other hand, their looks are bent upon Him like deadly arrows. If they stand in this position to one another, and if He can appeal to the fact that God is His Father, how can they possibly affirm that their father is Abraham?

They understand quite well that the position which He states is meant to drive them to this inquiry; and therefore they endeavour to turn the thrust back upon Him by making the decided affirmation, ‘Our father is Abraham!’ As here spoken, this sentence is not a mere simple declaration, but an argumentative position, with some such meaning as this: Well, sons are as their fathers; our father is Abraham; if, then, there is discord between us, see to it who is Thy father.

But the affirmation which they had stated Jesus cannot suffer to hold good. ‘If ye were Abraham’s sons (He says), ye would do Abraham’s works; but now ye seek to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth which I have heard of God.’ In a threefold aspect is this lust for His death to be regarded as criminal,—as a crying opposition to the spirit of Abraham: it is a lust to kill a man; to kill Him because He speaks the truth; and, in fact, because He speaks the highest truth which He brings to them from the lips of God Himself. ‘Thus did not Abraham,’ He adds. And now that it is made out that they cannot be Abraham’s sons, His next declaration must, of course, seem to them very enigmatical and insidious: ‘Ye do the works of your father!’ Who then should be this father of theirs? He must needs be an adversary of Abraham and an adversary of God, according to the spiritual sense in which Jesus has spoken of him: they must be spiritual bastards if they are not genuine sons of Abraham: they must have two fathers,—their natural father, Abraham, and their spiritual father who is not yet named. In that case, they would be begotten in real fornication, first by reason of their impure double-descent, and next also by reason of their spiritual degeneracy. With an abrupt fling they endeavour to break off the discussion, by affirming, ‘We be not born of fornication;’ i.e., we are neither bastards, palmed off upon Abraham by some miscreant, nor yet fallen from Abraham’s faith. But still, they do not feel the blow which was struck to have been warded off by this affirmation: they feel themselves in a disadvantageous position if they continue contrasted with Him as Abraham’s sons; first, because He then stands forth over against them as the Son of God, and next, because they have a dim feeling that He is justified in reproaching them with deflection from Abraham’s character of mind. Perplexed, therefore, and defeated, they abandon the position of their Jewish hereditary pride, of their historical claims, in order to throw themselves into His higher position: ‘We’ (as well as Thou) ‘have one Father’ (to whom Abraham’s paternity brings us back), ‘even God.’

As, on the one hand, they could not at last have denied to Him that He also was a son of Abraham, namely, by virtue of natural descent, so, on the other, they consider that He will not be able to dispute the fact that God was their Father as well as His, namely, not only by virtue of creation, but also by virtue of their Israelitish calling. They also, no doubt, consider that from this no inference can be drawn affecting the present debate. ‘God is our Father!’ This sound from their lips could not but awaken in the heart of Jesus a variety of feelings. ‘If God were your Father, then would ye long since have held Me dear;4 for from God have I proceeded, and from Him I am come hither’5 (in deepest origin of being, that is, as well as in most complete manifestation, sent from God, and by God). This He is certain of, and this He must also now again asseverate, that ‘He is not come of Himself;’ that no impulse of sinful self-will had thrust Him forth upon this course, nay, that no ingredient of sin had mingled with this course, but that He stands before them a pure Mission of God. Thus He is constrained to represent Himself to them, but on that account also to complain, ‘Why do ye then not understand my speech?’ Why is the sound of My voice so strange to you, that ye are not in a condition to receive the spiritual import of My word? It is impossible that, under such circumstances, they can be children of God. This dark enigma, Whose children are they? He must now solve for them, to rescue the honour of the Father from the imputation of His being the gloomy Father of such bedarkened children. Therefore He gives forth the word of thunder, ‘Ye are of your father the devil, and are minded to do the lusts of your father. He was a manslayer from the beginning, and in the truth he has no abiding-place, for truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is the liar, and the liar’s father.’

He now charges them with a twofold guilt: not only with the murderous mind with which they have destined death for Him, but also with the lying and hypocrisy with which they seek to deny this, and dare to represent themselves as true children of God. In both respects He styles them spiritual children of the devil. It is evident that He describes a personal being when He speaks of the Liar who speaks a lie, although He again almost resolves his individuality into the impersonality of wickedness in saying, that in speaking a lie, he speaks of his own. Man knows of Satan from the beginning only as manslayer and liar; for Satan sought to destroy our race through the entanglement of the Fall,6 and this object he attained through the means of a lie, and that a hypocritical lie. These characteristic features of the devil are therefore the characteristic features of what is devilish in the world; viz., the Hatred which grows till it becomes a desire to murder, and the Lie which dares to hide its malignity under the hypocritical guise of the fear of God and of benevolence towards man. But the two are ever producing each the other. The Lie begets the Hatred, and the Hatred the Lie. Hatred converts what were originally forms of life into dark and gloomy caricatures, and the Lie represents the false caricatures of her own forming as original forms: the former dissolves personalities into phantoms which are really nonentities, the latter converts phantom nonentities into living beings.

Jesus immediately passes on to make good His heavy charge. That they wish to kill Him, and that too with a spirit of rancorous enmity, He needs not to prove to them; their own conscience tells them that. But that they are also liars is a point which shall now likewise be made good.

When a man is under the direction of falsehood, he loses ever more and more the sense of truth, and, on the other hand, is ever more and more disposed to believe the arch-liar’s lie. By any and every illusion he becomes liable to be duped; whilst everything that is real becomes the object of his aversion. Thus the gainsayers of Christ, according to His accusation of them, were disposed to believe the devil.

Then He continued, ‘But me ye believe not, even because I tell you the truth.’ It was just the truthfulness of His word (He said) that was the reason that they were not minded to believe Him. The proof He then alleges as follows: ‘Who of you convinceth me of a wrong-doing?’7 They had hitherto repeatedly sought to do this, but had never been able: all their charges against Him He had victoriously beaten down. Therefore they could not help allowing that He spake the truth. ‘But if I speak the truth’ (He adds), ‘why do ye not believe me?’ This strange phenomenon could only be explained on the supposition, that the spirit of lies animated them as much as the spirit of murder. It followed, then, that they were not God’s children, but children of darkness. He lays down the canon, ‘He who is of God, receiveth the words of God;’ and draws from it the conclusion, ‘Ye therefore receive them not, because ye are not of God.’

The Jews are coarse enough to be now minded to treat the language of lofty rebuke which Christ had uttered, which rested entirely upon actual fact, which had been forced from Him, and which He had made good by proof, as if it were the language of mere abuse. They will treat Him as if He had been simply using words of railing, and in the use of railing they will quickly outdo Him. ‘Do we not put our meaning in a handsome form’ (they reply, with a rabbinically polished malignity, and with a self-complacency which thinks it is gilding over the coarseness of the answer), ‘in saying that thou art a Samaritan, and art possessed by a demon?’ They think they are outbidding Him in two ways. He had given to understand that they were no genuine sons of Abraham—spiritual bastards; in return, they nickname Him a Samaritan—a mongrel, who in reality is a heathen, though washed over as a Jew: He had reproached them with being, in the spirit of lying which animated them, children of the devil; in return He is told, that as one possessed, He carries a devil in Him bodily.

‘Lo the highest excitements of passion, Jesus always opposes in the most strongly marked contrast the highest tranquility; and thus He does in the present instance. He answers, ‘I have no demon’ (whom I am to be supposed to serve), ‘but I honour My Father. This, He says, is His simple and only business, to honour the Father. ‘And ye’ (He adds) ‘dishonour Me’—treat Me with insult.

They insulted Him now for glorifying God,—they, the fathers of Israel. ‘The feelings of His heart at this horrible contradiction He expresses in short sentences, which, however, say much.

“I seek not Mine own honour, He first says. He is content to let it come to pass that they shall insult Him even to the death of the cross.

‘But, He continues, ‘there is one that seeketh it, and judgeth.’ Therewith stands before His soul the whole dreadful future of this infatuated people.

And therewith a strong feeling of pity for the infatnated ones likewise rises up in His mind; and as if he would yet, with a loud cry of warning and of rescue, snatch them from the flames of judgment, from death, He suddenly breaks forth into the compassionate call, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, If any man will keep My word, he shall never see death!’ This great gospel reverberates into the midst of that judgment which already had begun, and which, in its solemn future, stands so plainly before His soul, in order that at least He might by this cry save some.8 But confronting this solemn feeling of pure Jove and sorrow, the hardened heart of His enemies disclosed itself in all its horrible determination. They fasten upon the burning word of the compassionate One as a senseless piece of heresy. ‘Now we know that thou hast a demon. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man will keep my word, he shall never taste death.” Surely it is not without a purpose that they alter and heighten His expression. And then they press home upon Him the conclusion, ‘Art Thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And also the prophets are dead. Whom makest Thou Thyself?’

Abraham and the prophets then behoved themselves to die, all one after another; while He promises that He would lift all, one with another, for ever above death who should keep His word. This implies that He is at any rate Himself altogether raised above death. ‘Chey believe now that they have completely got hold of Him, in requiring Him to explain whom He made Himself to be, —to explain Himself, in particular, in respect to His relation to Abraham,

Jesus answered that He had no wish to honour Himself. ‘If He honoured Himself, His honour would be nothing;’ He would expect His glorification from the Father. Names, appellatives, assertions of His dignity, would do no good—would in their untimeonsness only do hurt; the direction of His Father should decide it all. He it was that glorified Him, whom they designated as their God. Neverthless they knew Him not; but he, however, knew Him—had an assured acquaintance with Him.

It is with Jesus so simple a matter, that He must out of His divine consciousness speak, and work, and testify of the Father: this work is so entirely the soul of His life, that to Him their gainsaying of His deeds and doctrine seems a continual demand that He should abdicate His position in the truth, should deny His innermost consciousness, should lie as they did. With this painful feeling, He says, ‘And if I should say, I know Him not, I should be like unto you, a liar’ But no! speaks His whole being decidedly in answer to this demand: ‘I Know Him and keep His word.

This, then, is what they must again hear in answer to their question, Whom makest ‘Thou Thyself? and no more. He will confront them only as simply a child of the truth, and as Son of God in an exclusive sense; the disclosure of His imperial dignities He will await from His Father. But in regard to His relation to Abraham, that He declares plainly: ‘Abraham your father was transported with joy (by the promise), that he should see My day; and he saw it, and was glad.’ Here a threefold contrast is to be observed: First, we must distinguish Abraham as the father of the Jews (ὑμῶν), and Abraham as seeing the day of Christ; next, the strong emotion of his soul at the promise that He should see the day of Christ, and that beholding of His day itself; and lastly, in the third place, the inner being of Christ, and this appearing of His day. Abraham had also a natural aspect of being, according to which he was the progenitor of these Jews who now were opposed to Jesus, as formerly of Ishmael and of Esau. But in this Abraham a change took place; his soul bounded up with transport towards God, when the promise was given him that he should see the day of salvation. This promise he received in visions accorded to him. But when were those visions fulfilled to him 2) We might think on some foresight of his future relation to Christ, imparted to him in vision, But that is already indicated in the first sentence : ‘he was transported with joy. In addition to this, it is stated that he saw the day of Christ. The day of Christ, then, is surely to be regarded as the coming forth of the eternal being of Christ into the light of the world, into the sphere of phenomenal manifestation.9 Jesus, therefore, in spirit knows for certain that Abraham in the higher world had celebrated His entrance into the world of men, His birth.10

But when Jesus here speaks of His day, He does so in the perfected certainty of that consciousness of His, according to which His present appearance in the flesh stands contrasted with the preceding process of His becoming a man, which had been going on from Abraham, and from eternity, as the clear day forms a contrast to the dawn which precedes it.

At this juncture, the chasm between Jesus and His opponents has widened to the extremist degree. In this reminiscence of the patriarch Abraham, Jesus has plunged with joyous consciousness into the depths of His essential being and of the process which issued in His coming in the flesh, and only replies to them as if still His Spirit were in that lofty and far-off distance; while they have gone down so very low in the tone of their feeling, that they can now catch no more than the outermost sound of His words, the outermost impression of His personal form. Under these circumstances, it appears to them to be rank nonsense that He would fain assert that Abraham had rejoiced at His appearing. Abraham (they think) had lived many centuries before, and this Jesus was now living; how then should these two have ever met? Nevertheless His statement is not objectionable enough as He had Himself given it; they must yet give it a little twist, in order that it may have the perfect stamp of heresy. Jesus had declared that Abraham had seen Him; they reverse His statement, and charge Him with asserting that ‘He had seen Abraham.’ ‘And how (they exclaim) should that be possible, since thou art not yet fifty years old?’ Why do they estimate His age so great? Some have said that Jesus really looked older than He was,—that through His labours and journeyings He was aged early. Others are of opinion that the number fifty was here chosen to indicate that He wanted years of being half a century old, to say nothing of that great number of centuries which would be required for Him to have seen Abraham, But the probability is, that these Rabbins really had a peculiar predisposition to confound with traces of age the deep seriousness of the Spirit’s consecration which was visible in the appearance of Christ; as, on the other hand, they without question regarded the silvery beard of a Rabbin as an evidence of spiritual dignity. This belongs to that dead, coarse-minded way of viewing things, into which these hypocritical pretenders to spiritual life were sunk, and through which they were to such a degree plunged in secularity of mind, that they could think of no other connection between the days of Abraham and their own than the long ladder of centuries.

They might even now be reckoning up, that more than seventeen centuries were wanting, if we subtract the age of Christ from the time that had elapsed since the death of Abraham, when Jesus answered their objection with that great word of His, ‘Before Abraham came into being, I am!’ Seventeen centuries deficit so it ran in their calculation of His statement, made according to their purely secularized system of religion. On the summit of secularized thought they took their station, confronting Him in triumph, and believed that they were exposing Him to ridicule, through that enormous anachronism of which they think He has made Himself guilty. But Jesus was now, as it were, poising Himself aloft in the depths of eternity, hovering far above the reach of their attacks in awful joy, amid the deeps of His own consciousness : it was as out of eternity that that blessed word of His pealed forth, in which, indeed, they deemed they discovered the most enormous, the most senseless heresy. With that word He expressed the consciousness of His eternity in God. This eternity He expresses in the contrast between His life and the life of Abraham, in a threefold relation; namely, as an eternity before time, an eternity within time, and an eternity above time. If He was before Abraham, then He was before Him not in temporal manifestation, but in eternal, essential subsistence—in eternity before time: He was with God. But since He does not say, I was before Abraham, but I am before him, He therewith expresses the eternity of His being within time—an eternity which runs through all time in a perpetual presence with it. Yea, this declaration, I am, proves that He also, now and continually, feels Himself, according to His inner life (resting in God), to he above time. In the first respect, Christ is the eternal Logos, who upholds the world, whose existence upholds all emergence into being—the appearance of Abraham as well. In the second respect, He is the Angel of the Covenant, who in Abraham’s faith begins the process of His becoming man, and continues it until it is perfected in the person of Jesus. In the third form, He is the eternal Son, whose consciousness, embracing humanity, embraces in His redeeming activity Abraham as well.

As soon as Jesus had spoken this word, His sentence in the court of His adversaries was pronounced. Forthwith ‘they took up stones to stone Him.? But He escaped from them, Without doubt there arose the highest excitement round about Him, whilst He, on the other hand, was asserting the heavenly tranquility of His nature; and therefore the uproar served as a veiling cloud for Him. His faithful ones also were probably on the spot grouping themselves around Him. Thus He went forth out of the temple. ‘He went through the midst of them, and so passed by,’ we read in an additional clause, which is not sufficiently authenticated, but which, no doubt, gives us at any rate the right explanation, viz., that Jesus did not conceal Himself from them, but that He escaped them, in their tumultuous excitement, just by going through the very midst of the excited crowd.



Strauss (i. 679) fancies he has discovered that the discourses of the fourth Evangelist move ‘in endless repetitions of the same thoughts and expressions.’ This aspect they certainly wear for him to whom it is not given to press into their proper sense and connection; by reason of the peculiar simplicity of their diction and colouring; by reason of their setting forth the richest revelations of the inner life of Jesus in the most delicate onward-movement through circumstances of outward fact, in a contemplative form of language which is marked by the extremest and most touching simplicity. In such a style of language it can very well happen that, e.g., the verbal contradiction shall arise: If I speak of Myself, My witness is not true (ver. 31); and, Though I speak of Myself, yet is My witness true (viii. 14); whilst this seeming verbal contradiction is perfectly removed by considering the context of the two passages. And as it is with this seeming contradiction, so also is it with the cases of seeming similarity or identity. The ‘endless repetitions of the same thoughts’ develop themselves to the understanding reader into a grand succession of distinct utterances, different from each other’ of Christ’s God-manlike consciousness. So, e.g., in John vii. 17, Jesus sets forth the relation of His doctrine to the good behaviour of men who act antecedently to their knowledge of Christ according to their best knowledge and conscience, and at the same time teaches us to regard His calling as Teacher as a dignity committed to Him by the Father, in contrast with the character of teacher transmitted by Rabbins to the pupils of their schools. But in ver, 28, the point in question is the contrast between His external descent and His essential origination from the Father, as that origination is impressed on His consciousness and His whole conduct. In chap. viii. 28, again, we have to do with quite another contrast. The Jews require Him to declare Himself openly respecting His relations to their expectations of the Messias; He in return assures them, that in word and deed He takes only those steps which are pointed out to Him by the Father. In ver. 38 He then declares, that (in His judgment of them) He speaks what He has seen with His Father; that thus, as He in general only expresses what God has really wrought, so also, in His description of their position, He only marks the judgment which His Father Himself passes upon them. This judging according to the reality of things, He puts in contrast with their utterly null, groundless, diabolical doings (Christ-murder), which they have seen with their father, the murderer of the innocent man (Adam) and of the pious man (Abel). But what He before was saying (ver. 30) of His speaking and judging, was with especial reference to His miraculous activity, to the contrast between the quickening and not quickening of the dead. In ver, 43 of the same chapter, in the assurance that He was come in His Father’s name, He marks the contrast between His really Messianic life and the rise of the false messiahs who should come in their own name. The passage vi. 388 expresses the distinction between His historical and His ideal position in the world. We are bound to compassionate a criticism which, in this rich world of the most delicate and most deep-thoughted utterances of distinct christological truth, fancies that it finds everywhere only the echo of the same thought, and in its self-conceit will burden the exalted Evangelist with the poverty of thought with which it is itself oppressed.


1) They are characterized πεπιστευκότες.

2) Others refer the sentence to the enjoyment of individual civil freedom. See Lücke, p. 320.

3) ʻThe commonest handicraftsman who is of Abraham s seed is the peer of kings, says the Talmud.ʼ See Tholuck, p. 231.


5)’Εξἦλθον καὶ ἢκω. [On the controversial use made of these words by theologians, see the elaborate and useful notes of Lampe in loc. ED.]

6) It is surely not proper to lay it down as a dilemma, that this passage must either refer to the seducing of the first man to the Fall, or else to Cain’s fratricide. The passage evidently goes back to the first beginning of the world’s history, and therefore to the Fall, and this takes in the manslaying which Satan was guilty of at its first commencement, But as this manslaying first came into evident view in the deed of Cain, surely this also must be included as well in this reference to what Satan has been doing from the beginning. This proposed dilemma might be set aside by a second, which might stand quite parallel to it: we might ask, whether the reason why Christ charged the Jews with being children of Satan lay in the murderous thoughts against Him which were now stirring within them, or in His foresight that they would in the result crucify Him? Comp. Tholuck on the passage.

7) To explain this utterance of Jesus rightly, we must recollect the occasion of its being spoken. Jesus had to do with opponents who had repeatedly accused Him of a wrong-doing, a trespass against the theocratic law. They had accused Him, it is true, but they had not been able to convict Him of the charge; He had always beaten their accusations victoriously to the ground, To this fact Me makes His appeal. Therefore also the following words, But if I speak to you the truth, do not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the word ἀμαρτία is here to be understood as meaning error. On the other hand, it is not, cither, to be referred to sin simply, In reference to the sinfulness of Jesus in general, He could hardly constitute the Pharisees judges on that point; they surely were not in a position to estimate the reality of His inward righteousness, any more than they knew how to estimate trespasses of properly a spiritual character on their own part. Yet indirectly (as Lücke very rightly observes) the question does really express the sinlessness of Jesus; for, by virtue of ‘His insight into the real nature of sin, the conscientious Christ could only have ventured to utter such a challenge, if He knew Himself to be even before God really pure from sin.’ [The words of Tholuck should be remembered in this connection. ‘Since, in the theology of Schleiermacher, the doctrine of the sinlessness of Christ has taken the place of the Church's doctrine of His deity, a new effort has been manifest to retain for the doctrine of the Redeemer this grand dictum probans.’—ED.)

8) The connection between these sentences, which seems a difficult problem to exegesis, comes out the more clearly in proportion as we take the three sentences in vers. 50, 51, quite emphatically, supposing a pause after each sentence.

9) See Luke xvii. 22. Comp. Lücke on the passage before us,

10) [This is the interpretation adopted by the best expositors. A refutation of other meanings will be found in Meyer on the passage; and Aliord’s quotation from Maldonatus gives the true sense, though Lampe’s note (ii. 508) is still more accurate and better expressed. As the basis of every just interpretation must lie his first position, ‘Bina gaudia de eo priedicantur, alternm, quod praecessit, alterum quod insecutum erat. ‘The ‘day of Christ’ he thus defines: ‘Per diem Christi intelligimus tempus adventus et commorationis ejus in mundo, ad opus salutis consummandum,’ The ‘seeing’ of the day is ‘pereeptio temporis adventus Christi tanquam as;’ and this was enjoyed by Abraham and the other celestial inhabitants —ED]