8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 1 8:33 “We are descendants 2 of Abraham,” they replied, 3 “and have never been anyone’s slaves! How can you say, 4 ‘You will become free’?” 8:34 Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, 5 everyone who practices 6 sin is a slave 7 of sin. 8:35 The slave does not remain in the family 8 forever, but the son remains forever. 9 8:36 So if the son 10 sets you free, you will be really free.
1 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).
2 tn Grk “We are the seed” (an idiom).
3 tn Grk “They answered to him.”
4 tn Or “How is it that you say.”
5 tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.”
6 tn Or “who commits.” This could simply be translated, “everyone who sins,” but the Greek is more emphatic, using the participle ποιῶν (poiwn) in a construction with πᾶς (pas), a typical Johannine construction. Here repeated, continuous action is in view. The one whose lifestyle is characterized by repeated, continuous sin is a slave to sin. That one is not free; sin has enslaved him. To break free from this bondage requires outside (divine) intervention. Although the statement is true at the general level (the person who continually practices a lifestyle of sin is enslaved to sin) the particular sin of the Jewish authorities, repeatedly emphasized in the Fourth Gospel, is the sin of unbelief. The present tense in this instance looks at the continuing refusal on the part of the Jewish leaders to acknowledge who Jesus is, in spite of mounting evidence.
7 tn See the note on the word “slaves” in 4:51.
8 tn Or “household.” The Greek work οἰκία (oikia) can denote the family as consisting of relatives by both descent and marriage, as well as slaves and servants, living in the same house (more the concept of an “extended family”).
9 sn Jesus’ point is that while a slave may be part of a family or household, the slave is not guaranteed a permanent place there, while a son, as a descendant or blood relative, will always be guaranteed a place in the family (remains forever).
10 tn Or “Son.” The question is whether “son” is to be understood as a direct reference to Jesus himself, or as an indirect reference (a continuation of the generic illustration begun in the previous verse).