What does John 8:55 mean?
ESV: But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.
NIV: Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word.
NASB: and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him. And if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you; but I do know Him, and I follow His word.
CSB: You do not know him, but I know him. If I were to say I don't know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him, and I keep his word.
NLT: but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him.
KJV: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
NKJV: Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word.
Verse Commentary:
Any illusions that Jesus was timid, weak, or passive are destroyed when a person actually reads the Gospels. In particular, the gospel of John shows that Jesus was willing to be forceful and direct when necessary. Jesus drove corrupt businessmen out of the temple with a whip (John 2:13–22). He easily handled the challenges of public debate (Matthew 16:1; 19:3; Matthew 22:35; Luke 10:25; 11:54). Earlier in this conversation, He referred to His critics as the sons of the devil (John 8:44). Here, Jesus is as forceful and direct in His condemnation as anywhere in the Bible.

In short, Jesus has knowledge of God and teaches the message God wants the world to hear. The men opposing Him (John 8:13), insulting Him (John 8:41, 48), and trying to kill Him (John 8:59) are not. This is because Jesus knows God and represents truth. These critics are liars who do not know God.

In Greek, the statement Jesus makes here implies a difference even deeper than what's implied in English. When Jesus refers to his critics, He states that they have not "come to know" God, using the Greek root word ginosko. This is a knowledge gained by observation and experience. But, when speaking of His own knowledge, Jesus uses the Greek root word eido, which is knowledge that's intuitive, inherent, or natural. In other words, these men haven't even encountered or learned about God, while Jesus has personal, direct knowledge of Him. The gulf between Christ's understanding of God and their understanding is not just intellectual, and not just spiritual. The difference is fundamental: Jesus knows God because He is God. This is a point Jesus will make very directly in the upcoming verses, enraging His critics.
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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