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John 8:21-24

Where Jesus Came From and Where He is Going

8:21 Then Jesus 1  said to them again, 2  “I am going away, and you will look for me 3  but will die in your sin. 4  Where I am going you cannot come.” 8:22 So the Jewish leaders 5  began to say, 6  “Perhaps he is going to kill himself, because he says, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’” 8:23 Jesus replied, 7  “You people 8  are from below; I am from above. You people are from this world; I am not from this world. 8:24 Thus I told you 9  that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am he, 10  you will die in your sins.”

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 Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” In NT usage the term ᾿Ιουδαῖοι (Ioudaioi) may refer to the entire Jewish people, the residents of Jerusalem and surrounding territory, 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 [1975]: 401-9.) Here the phrase refers to the Jewish authorities or leaders in Jerusalem. It was the Pharisees who had begun this line of questioning in John 8:13, and there has been no clear change since then in the identity of Jesus’ opponents.

6 tn The imperfect verb has been translated with ingressive force (“began to say”) because the comments that follow were occasioned by Jesus’ remarks in the preceding verse about his upcoming departure.

7 tn Grk “And he said to them.”

8 tn The word “people” is supplied in English to clarify the plural Greek pronoun and verb.

9 tn Grk “thus I said to you.”

10 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.

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