8:30 While he was saying these things, many people 1 believed in him.
8:31 Then Jesus said to those Judeans 2 who had believed him, “If you continue to follow my teaching, 3 you are really 4 my disciples 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 5
1 tn The word “people” is not in the Greek text, but is supplied for clarity and smoothness in the translation.
2 tn Grk “to the Jews.” In NT usage the term ᾿Ιουδαῖοι (Ioudaioi) may refer to the entire Jewish people, the residents of Jerusalem and surrounding territory (i.e., “Judeans”), the authorities in Jerusalem, or merely those who were hostile to Jesus. (For further information see R. G. Bratcher, “‘The Jews’ in the Gospel of John,” BT 26 : 401-9; also BDAG 479 s.v. ᾿Ιουδαῖος 2.e.) Here the phrase refers to the Jewish people in Jerusalem who had been listening to Jesus’ teaching in the temple and had believed his claim to be the Messiah, hence, “those Judeans who had believed him.” The term “Judeans” is preferred here to the more general “people” because the debate concerns descent from Abraham (v. 33).
3 tn Grk “If you continue in my word.”
4 tn Or “truly.”
5 tn Or “the truth will release you.” The translation “set you free” or “release you” (unlike the more traditional “make you free”) conveys more the idea that the hearers were currently in a state of slavery from which they needed to be freed. The following context supports precisely this idea.
sn The statement the truth will set you free is often taken as referring to truth in the philosophical (or absolute) sense, or in the intellectual sense, or even (as the Jews apparently took it) in the political sense. In the context of John’s Gospel (particularly in light of the prologue) this must refer to truth about the person and work of Jesus. It is saving truth. As L. Morris says, “it is the truth which saves men from the darkness of sin, not that which saves them from the darkness of error (though there is a sense in which men in Christ are delivered from gross error)” (John [NICNT], 457).