Apostate Christianity’s Response in the 7th Dialogue

You all know I am in John’s Gospel on Sunday mornings at Berean Baptist Church.

This Sunday, we will begin to carefully examine the beginnings of the seventh dialogue (John 7:14-24; 7:25-36; 7:37-44; 7:45-52; 8:12-20; 8:21-30; 8:31-59) that Jesus had in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Catch this – what Terry Griffith writes in his article in the book, The Gospel of John and Christian Theology  (Eerdmans, 2008), editors Richard Bauckham and Carl Mosser.

He explains (I have transliterated the Greek words),

The reply of the apostates challenges Jesus’ statement that freedom is a consequence of being his disciples.  How can Jesus offer them a freedom which they perceive they already possess by virtue of their being the children (sperma) of Abraham (8:33)?  They have never been enslaved and therefore need no liberation.  Thus, they are rejecting at the outset of the dialogue the premise of Jesus’ argument.  Given this state of affairs, it is very difficult to see in what sense they could be regarded as believers at all.  Jesus’ riposte then proceeds to draw a contrast between the position of the slave and the son in the household (8:34-36).  Only sons have an abiding (menei) or permanent position in the household.  Sons by implication are those who accept the teaching of Jesus (which comes from God — see 8:28, 38; 12:49; 17:8).  Slaves, however, are those who commit sin (ho poion tein hamartian) [25] which here must mean something like rejecting Jesus and his teaching [26].  The clear implication is that they are already outside the household, whose implied head is God [27].  In 8:37-38 Jesus then proceeds to take up their mention of themselves as Abraham’s children in order to draw a contrast between his father and theirs.  Ominously, Jesus draws attention to their intention to kill him, which he says is inspired by their father.  The stage is set for the final showdown” (189).

[25] “The phrase poiein tein harmartianis found only here and in I John 3:4, 8, 9 in the Johannine writings.

[26] 8:37 makes this clear – they have no room or reception for Jesus’ word (ho logos ho emos ou chorei en humin).  Compare Matt. 19:11:  “Not everyone accepts this teaching (ou pantes chorousin ton logon).”  This theme is picked up again in John 15:5-7, where those who do not remain (menei) in Jesus (and according to 15:7 mutatis mutandis do not remain in Jesus’ words) are likened to a branch of the vine that is thrown away and cast on the fire.  See also 16:9:  “with regard to sin because they do not believe in me.”

[27] Compare 2 John 9:  “Everyone who goes ahead and does not remain (mei menon) in the teaching of the Messiah does not have God.  The one who remains (ho menon) in this teaching has both the Father and the Son.”

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