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©Michael Player

Chapter 8:31-47 (ESV)

Posted on August 16, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 8:31-47 (ESV) - So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Question to consider: What makes someone an offspring of the devil?

God’s promise to Adam and Eve after their rebellion in the garden of Eden was that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the seed of the serpent, and the seed of the serpent would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. As I pointed out in my study of Genesis 3:14-15, this distinction between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent is made throughout scripture and divides the world into two kinds of people— those who put their faith in God’s promise of redemption through Christ which is counted to them as righteousness and those who believe they can stand before God in their own righteousness.

The Pharisees in today’s discussion with Jesus also saw the world as divided into two kinds of people based on that Genesis promise: Jews and Gentiles. The name “Jew” was derived from those who called themselves the yehudi (ie, the Judaists). It extended beyond the direct descendants of Judah to all of Israel because Judah stood as surety for Benjamin when Joseph, acting as the Egyptian prime minister, Zaphenath-paneah (one who discovers hidden things) commanded that Jacob be brought to him and decided to keep Jacob’s favorite son, Benjamin, as insurance. Judah asked to stand in for his brother and ultimately received the ruling scepter from his father, Jacob.

So the concept of being a part of the holy line through a spiritual ancestry rather than a physical one was not foreign to the Jews. Even those who were Gentile could convert to Judaism if they learned the Law and the traditions and were baptized and circumcised into the faith. What offended them was that Jesus professed to be the fulfillment of this holy line— the Son of God and Son of Man (seed of the woman). This was the “truth” that would set people free because He would make them righteous before God.

The Pharisees saw this as slavery and so professed that they were already righteous before God because Abraham was their father. Certainly there was irony to their statement that they had never been enslaved to anyone since they were once slaves of Egypt and currently a vassal kingdom of Rome. But setting that aside, Jesus emphasized that they were a slave to sin, and the Law was not given to save them from it but to condemn them for it.

Abraham recognized this and therefore clung to God’s promise that he’d be a blessing to the nations. If Abraham was truly their father, they would have recognized Jesus as God’s fulfillment of that promise. Instead, Jesus pointed out that their true father was the devil— they were not a seed of the woman but a seed of the serpent.


Dear heavenly Father, help us to cling to the promises that You have fulfilled in Christ. We confess that we are a slave to sin and cannot free ourselves, but we know that You are faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. May this truth fill us to overflowing. Amen.