The Evangelical Universalist Forum

JRP's Exegetical Compilation: John 8:21-28ff

This is part of my Exegetical Compilation series, which I am slllooooowwwwlly posting up, and which can be found here.

John 8:21-28ff: Jesus promises that a group of Jews (by context most likely rabbis and/or Pharisees) shall certainly die in their sins, and that they will die in their sins if they do not recognize Him as “I AM” (John 8:21, in relation to their complaint that He is making Himself out to be God Most High, Whose name of self-existence is “I AM”). Yet He also says (v.28) that they shall come to know He is “I AM” after (or when) they lift Him up.

In other words, He’s saying that some of them shall certainly die in their sins (after lifting Him on the cross) without believing He is “I AM” and not go where He is going (also said at John 7:34, although for that purpose probably more in reference to Him going beyond the current boundaries of Israel into the regions of Tyre and Sidon and thence back down through the Decapolis); but then shall come to know He is “I AM” after all, later (after lifting Him up as the Son of Man somehow).

Those who come to believe in Him while He is saying such things (v.30) are the ones who end up being rebuked by Him as children of the devil – much as Peter is rebuked like Satan in the Synoptics, and who certainly doesn’t abide in or keep His word! If these are thus taken as examples thereby of a separate group of non-elect, by the same evidence Peter must be of the non-elect, which no Calvinist would admit, and at the same time no Arminian would say the case of St. Peter was hopeless. And indeed, Jesus says later to His own apostles (John 13:33), “You shall seek Me, and as I said unto the Jews, where I go you cannot come, so now I say it to you.” They are not forbidden from following after – in fact Christ goes on to promise this soon (13:36) – but neither is that group of Jews forbidden from following later. If these are the Pharisee opponents, Jesus does later say, during His greatest condemnations against them, that they shall eventually praise Him Who comes in the name of the Lord (Matt 23:38-39).

Similarly, such choices by the people involved, leading to rebuke and judgment by Christ, don’t prevent God from saving them later (even if they have to be punished first). That someone cannot find Christ at first while seeking Him, does not void the promise of Christ that those who seek, and who keep on knocking, shall find Him (Matt 7:7; Luke 11:9); even though true repentance will first be necessary before someone can seek with all their heart (Jer 29:13).

John 8:34-36, by the way, probably refers to the ‘paterfamilias’ concept of ‘son-placement’ (or adoption as it’s translated) mentioned by St. Paul in Galatians 4, where the children of the father are slaves in regard to authority until the father judges they are mature enough to be given the authority and responsibilities of the family name, thus coming into their inheritance. (The original Greek probably didn’t read “slave of sin” at verse 34.) The slave wouldn’t remain in the house forever, because as the child grows older but not more mature the father would put him or her out of the house until when-if-ever the child repented of his or her behavior.

Members may discuss these verses pro and con below, and are invited and encouraged to post links to other discussions of these verses, whether at the forum or off-site.

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