What does John 8:57 mean?
ESV: So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”
NIV: You are not yet fifty years old,' they said to him, 'and you have seen Abraham!'
NASB: So the Jews said to Him, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and You have seen Abraham?'
CSB: The Jews replied, "You aren't fifty years old yet, and you've seen Abraham? "
NLT: The people said, 'You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham? '
KJV: Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
NKJV: Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”
Verse Commentary:
A common theme in Jesus' interaction with His critics was that of misunderstanding. More often than not, Jesus' words were interpreted in an overly literal, physical sense. In fact, most of what Jesus taught was meant to be understood in a spiritual sense. The problem, of course, was not that His critics lacked intelligence or education (Matthew 16:1; 19:3; Matthew 22:35; Luke 10:25; 11:54). On the contrary, they had all of the evidence they could possibly need. This included Scripture (John 5:39–40) and miracles (John 5:36). Their refusal to accept Christ was just that—refusal—which is what caused their mistakes. In other words, they did not understand because they refused to obey. Their hatred for the truth made it impossible for them to grasp Jesus' message (John 7:17; John 8:43).

In the prior verse, Jesus referred to Abraham, noting that even he looked forward to the coming of a Promised One. That person, according to Scripture and evidence, is Jesus Himself. But the remark made by Jesus implies the same idea He spoke of in verse 55: that His knowledge is personal, direct, and innate. This leads to another misunderstanding, delivered with palpable sarcasm: "Abraham has been dead for thousands of years, how can you claim to have seen him?" The answer Jesus gives will not only summarize His teaching, it will outrage His critics to the point of another physical attack.
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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