8:24 Thus I told you 5 that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am he, 6 you will die in your sins.”
8:56 Your father Abraham was overjoyed 7 to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” 8
1 tn Grk “He”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
2 tn The expression οὖν πάλιν (oun palin) indicates some sort of break in the sequence of events, but it is not clear how long. The author does not mention the interval between 8:12-20 and this next recorded dialogue. The feast of Tabernacles is past, and the next reference to time is 10:22, where the feast of the Dedication is mentioned. The interval is two months, and these discussions could have taken place at any time within that interval, as long as one assumes something of a loose chronological framework. However, if the material in the Fourth Gospel is arranged theologically or thematically, such an assumption would not apply.
3 tn Grk “you will seek me.”
4 tn The expression ἐν τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ ὑμῶν ἀποθανεῖσθε (en th Jamartia Jumwn apoqaneisqe) is similar to an expression found in the LXX at Ezek 3:18, 20 and Prov 24:9. Note the singular of ἁμαρτία (the plural occurs later in v. 24). To die with one’s sin unrepented and unatoned would be the ultimate disaster to befall a person. Jesus’ warning is stern but to the point.
5 tn Grk “thus I said to you.”
6 tn Grk “unless you believe that I am.” In this context there is an implied predicate nominative (“he”) following the “I am” phrase. What Jesus’ hearers had to acknowledge is that he was who he claimed to be, i.e., the Messiah (cf. 20:31). This view is also reflected in English translations like NIV (“if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be”), NLT (“unless you believe that I am who I say I am”), and CEV (“if you don’t have faith in me for who I am”). For a different view that takes this “I am” and the one in 8:28 as nonpredicated (i.e., absolute), see R. E. Brown, John (AB), 1:533-38. Such a view refers sees the nonpredicated “I am” as a reference to the divine Name revealed in Exod 3:14, and is reflected in English translations like NAB (“if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins”) and TEV (“you will die in your sins if you do not believe that ‘I Am Who I Am’”).
sn See the note on Christ in 1:20.
7 tn Or “rejoiced greatly.”
8 tn What is the meaning of Jesus’ statement that the patriarch Abraham “saw” his day and rejoiced? The use of past tenses would seem to refer to something that occurred during the patriarch’s lifetime. Genesis Rabbah 44:25ff, (cf. 59:6) states that Rabbi Akiba, in a debate with Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai, held that Abraham had been shown not this world only but the world to come (this would include the days of the Messiah). More realistically, it is likely that Gen 22:13-15 lies behind Jesus’ words. This passage, known to rabbis as the Akedah (“Binding”), tells of Abraham finding the ram which will replace his son Isaac on the altar of sacrifice – an occasion of certain rejoicing.