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John 8:12-20

Jesus as the Light of the World

8:12 Then Jesus spoke out again, 1  “I am the light of the world. 2  The one who follows me will never 3  walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 8:13 So the Pharisees 4  objected, 5  “You testify about yourself; your testimony is not true!” 6  8:14 Jesus answered, 7  “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you people 8  do not know where I came from or where I am going. 9  8:15 You people 10  judge by outward appearances; 11  I do not judge anyone. 12  8:16 But if I judge, my evaluation is accurate, 13  because I am not alone when I judge, 14  but I and the Father who sent me do so together. 15  8:17 It is written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. 16  8:18 I testify about myself 17  and the Father who sent me testifies about me.”

8:19 Then they began asking 18  him, “Who is your father?” Jesus answered, “You do not know either me or my Father. If you knew me you would know my Father too.” 19  8:20 (Jesus 20  spoke these words near the offering box 21  while he was teaching in the temple courts. 22  No one seized him because his time 23  had not yet come.) 24 

1 tn Grk “Then again Jesus spoke to them saying.”

2 sn The theory proposed by F. J. A. Hort (The New Testament in the Original Greek, vol. 2, Introduction; Appendix, 87-88), that the backdrop of 8:12 is the lighting of the candelabra in the court of women, may offer a plausible setting to the proclamation by Jesus that he is the light of the world. The last time that Jesus spoke in the narrative (assuming 7:53-8:11 is not part of the original text, as the textual evidence suggests) is in 7:38, where he was speaking to a crowd of pilgrims in the temple area. This is where he is found in the present verse, and he may be addressing the crowd again. Jesus’ remark has to be seen in view of both the prologue (John 1:4, 5) and the end of the discourse with Nicodemus (John 3:19-21). The coming of Jesus into the world provokes judgment: A choosing up of sides becomes necessary. The one who comes to the light, that is, who follows Jesus, will not walk in the darkness. The one who refuses to come, will walk in the darkness. In this contrast, there are only two alternatives. So it is with a person’s decision about Jesus. Furthermore, this serves as in implicit indictment of Jesus’ opponents, who still walk in the darkness, because they refuse to come to him. This sets up the contrast in chap. 9 between the man born blind, who receives both physical and spiritual sight, and the Pharisees (John 9:13, 15, 16) who have physical sight but remain in spiritual darkness.

3 tn The double negative οὐ μή (ou mh) is emphatic in 1st century Hellenistic Greek.

4 sn See the note on Pharisees in 1:24.

5 tn Grk “Then the Pharisees said to him.”

6 sn Compare the charge You testify about yourself; your testimony is not true! to Jesus’ own statement about his testimony in 5:31.

7 tn Grk “Jesus answered and said to them.”

8 tn The word “people” is supplied in the translation to indicate that the pronoun (“you”) and verb (“do not know”) in Greek are plural.

9 sn You people do not know where I came from or where I am going. The ignorance of the religious authorities regarding Jesus’ origin works on two levels at once: First, they thought Jesus came from Galilee (although he really came from Bethlehem in Judea) and second, they did not know that he came from heaven (from the Father), and this is where he would return. See further John 7:52.

10 tn The word “people” is supplied in the translation to indicate that the pronoun and verb (“judge”) in Greek are plural.

11 tn Or “judge according to external things”; Grk “according to the flesh.” These translations are given by BDAG 916 s.v. σάρξ 5.

12 sn What is the meaning of Jesus’ statement “I do not judge anyone”? It is clear that Jesus did judge (even in the next verse). The point is that he didn’t practice the same kind of judgment that the Pharisees did. Their kind of judgment was condemnatory. They tried to condemn people. Jesus did not come to judge the world, but to save it (3:17). Nevertheless, and not contradictory to this, the coming of Jesus did bring judgment, because it forced people to make a choice. Would they accept Jesus or reject him? Would they come to the light or shrink back into the darkness? As they responded, so were they judged – just as 3:19-21 previously stated. One’s response to Jesus determines one’s eternal destiny.

13 tn Grk “my judgment is true.”

14 tn The phrase “when I judge” is not in the Greek text, but is implied by the context.

15 tn The phrase “do so together” is not in the Greek text, but is implied by the context.

16 sn An allusion to Deut 17:6.

17 tn Grk “I am the one who testifies about myself.”

18 tn Grk “Then they were saying to him.” The imperfect verb has been translated with ingressive force here because of the introduction of a new line of questioning by the Pharisees. Jesus had just claimed his Father as a second witness; now his opponents want to know who his father is.

19 sn If you knew me you would know my Father too. Jesus’ reply is based on his identity with the Father (see also John 1:18; 14:9).

20 tn Grk “He”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

21 tn The term γαζοφυλάκιον (gazofulakion) can be translated “treasury” or “treasure room” in this context. BDAG 186 s.v. 1 notes, “It can be taken in this sense J 8:20 (sing.) in (or at) the treasury.” BDAG 186 s.v. 2 argues that the occurrences of this word in the synoptic gospels also refer to the treasury: “For Mk 12:41, 43; Lk 21:1 the mng. contribution box or receptacle is attractive. Acc. to Mishnah, Shekalim 6, 5 there were in the temple 13 such receptacles in the form of trumpets. But even in these passages the general sense of ‘treasury’ is prob., for the contributions would go [into] the treasury via the receptacles.” Based upon the extra-biblical evidence (see sn following), however, the translation opts to refer to the actual receptacles and not the treasury itself.

sn The offering box probably refers to the receptacles in the temple forecourt by the Court of Women used to collect freewill offerings. These are mentioned by Josephus, J. W. 5.5.2 (5.200), 6.5.2 (6.282); Ant. 19.6.1 (19.294); and in 1 Macc 14:49 and 2 Macc 3:6, 24, 28, 40 (see also Mark 12:41; Luke 21:1).

22 tn Grk “the temple.”

23 tn Grk “his hour.”

24 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

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