What does John 8:41 mean?
ESV: You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.”
NIV: You are doing the works of your own father.' 'We are not illegitimate children,' they protested. 'The only Father we have is God himself.'
NASB: You are doing the deeds of your father.' They said to Him, 'We were not born as a result of sexual immorality; we have one Father: God.'
CSB: You're doing what your father does.""We weren't born of sexual immorality," they said. "We have one Father--God."
NLT: No, you are imitating your real father.' They replied, 'We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.'
KJV: Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
NKJV: You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”
Verse Commentary:
Jesus has been using the idea of fatherhood to explain why the religious leaders opposing Him are not "true sons" of Abraham. Children inherit their nature from their fathers. So, those who are the actual spiritual children of Abraham will do what Abraham did, which was to obey God and respond to His message. The men attempting to kill Jesus (John 5:18) are rejecting the message of God, because they are rejecting the messenger of God (John 6:29). They are enslaved to sin (John 8:34) because they refuse to accept the only One who can set them free (John 8:31–32). As further proof, Jesus points out that their actions reflect their father—and neither God nor Abraham are associated with lies and murder.

Here, the conversation takes a nasty turn. Prior to this, the crowd's attacks on Jesus have been somewhat formal. They have disputed His claims, condemned His words, and even tried to have Him arrested or killed (John 5:18; John 7:32). In this moment, though, they resort to outright personal insults. The statement "we were not born of sexual immorality" is a direct slur against Jesus, whose birth was a subject of some controversy (Luke 1:30–38). In short, the critics are smearing Jesus' reputation by calling Him an illegitimate child.

Jesus' response shows that He is not the passive, soft, weak-eyed cartoon character so often imagined. Instead, He forcefully repeats His claim that these men reject Him because they reject God—they are the spiritual children of Satan (John 8:44)! This turmoil will escalate until Jesus once again claims to be God incarnate, at which point the crowd will resort to violence (John 8:59).
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 disciple John wrote the gospel of John decades after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. 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"— to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in 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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