What does John 8:53 mean?
ESV: Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?”
NIV: Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?'
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?'
CSB: Are you greater than our father Abraham who died? And the prophets died. Who do you claim to be? "
NLT: Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?'
KJV: Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
NKJV: Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?”
Verse Commentary:
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.
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.
Accessed 5/21/2024 12:49:07 PM
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