John 8:53 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 8:53, NIV: "Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?'"

John 8:53, ESV: "Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?”"

John 8:53, KJV: "Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?"

John 8:53, NASB: "You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died, are You? The prophets died too. Whom do You make Yourself out to be?'"

John 8:53, NLT: "Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?'"

John 8:53, CSB: "Are you greater than our father Abraham who died? And the prophets died. Who do you claim to be? ""

What does John 8:53 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Abraham is one of the most revered names in all of human history, and especially by those of the Jewish faith. A recurring theme in this debate has been whether or not the religious leaders of Jerusalem are following in his spiritual footsteps. According to the Pharisees, and other critics of Jesus, they are the descendants of Abraham, and so they hold the truth. Jesus, on the other hand, has pointed out that his critics' actions point to a different spiritual father. Abraham believed and obeyed God. These men lie and commit violence, which makes them the spiritual children of the devil. This exchange has led Jesus' opponents to use insults and slurs, such as accusing Him of being an illegitimate child. They've also accused Him of being insane.

Here, the critics once again invoke the superiority of their ancestors. The question asked here is phrased in such a way that it expects a "no" answer. This is like asking "you don't think…do you?" in English. Jesus has claimed that those who follow God, by accepting His teachings, will not "taste death" (John 8:51). These men are challenging that by pointing out—in their confusion—that Abraham and the prophets died. Is Jesus claiming to bring a superior message?

Ironically, this is exactly what Jesus is doing, which is the main theme of the book of Hebrews. However, in this case, Jesus is speaking of a consistent message from God. This is one that Abraham, and all the other prophets, were aware of. Jesus is about to follow the crucial question asked here—"who do you think you are?"—to a spectacular and outrageous conclusion.