What does John 8:39 mean?
ESV: They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did,
NIV: Abraham is our father,' they answered. 'If you were Abraham's children,' said Jesus, 'then you would do what Abraham did.
NASB: They answered and said to Him, 'Abraham is our father.' Jesus *said to them, 'If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham.
CSB: "Our father is Abraham," they replied."If you were Abraham's children," Jesus told them, "you would do what Abraham did.
NLT: Our father is Abraham!' they declared. 'No,' Jesus replied, 'for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example.
KJV: They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus has just explained that being part of God's family is a spiritual matter, not a question of genealogy. The Jewish religious leaders who seek to kill Him (John 5:18) are descended from Abraham. But they are not true "sons" of Abraham, because they do not accept the One sent by God (John 6:29). To support this, Jesus used the analogy of a household servant, who lives in the home and knows "about" the master, but who has no real rights to the house. A true son, on the other hand, has a permanent relationship. Spiritually, this is the case with those who are in Abraham's family tree, but do not follow God. Since they do not do what Abraham did—obey God—they cannot be "true sons" of God the Father.

The critics, seemingly confused about the meaning of this, once again state that they are children of Abraham. This repeated reference might also be a subtle insult to Jesus, by hinting at His scandalous birth. Later, this subtlety will be gone and the crowd will outright accuse Jesus of being an illegitimate child (John 8:41).

Here, Jesus takes a slightly different approach. In the prior verse, He spoke to the hostile crowd about "your father," meaning someone other than Abraham or God. Here, He begins to point out that the actions of these critics prove their real spiritual state. They don't do as Abraham did, so they are not Abraham's children. Instead, their actions imitate the Devil, their true (spiritual) father.
Verse Context:
John 8:31–59 is a passage which dovetails with John 2:13–22, where Jesus drives corrupt businessmen from the temple. These Scriptures disprove any myths that Jesus was weak, timid, passive, or soft. In this exchange with the Pharisees, Jesus pulls no punches. Jerusalem's religious leaders, and their followers, continue to resist Jesus' preaching. They rely on arrogance and insults, to which Jesus responds with blunt, unfiltered condemnation. This culminates in Jesus making an overt statement of His own divinity, punctuating the debate by declaring ''before Abraham was, I am!''
Chapter Summary:
John chapter 8 includes the story of the adulterous woman, a well-known but controversial passage. Most scholars believe this story is authentic, but not originally found in this exact spot in Scripture. This chapter continues Jesus' preaching during the Feast of Booths, where He once again comes into conflict with local religious leaders. Here, Christ will make His second ''I AM'' statement, using the analogy of light, which is a common theme in Hebrew theology. This conversation will become more and more heated. Eventually, Jesus' opponents are enraged enough to attempt killing Him right then and there.
Chapter Context:
Jesus is attending the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem, and has once again come into conflict with the local religious authorities. In the previous chapter, Jesus referred to Himself as a source of living water, playing off of the festivals' ritual pouring of water in the temple. In this chapter, Jesus will use the imagery of lights, also related to festival traditions. This chapter demonstrates Jesus' willingness to be direct, even aggressive, with His critics. The next few chapters will complete Jesus' public ministry, as He prepares for His impending death.
Book Summary:
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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