John 8:23 MEANING

John 8:23
(23) There is indeed a gulf which they cannot pass, but it is not that between souls in Abraham's bosom and souls in Hades. It is the gulf between heaven and earth. This He brings out in two pairs of antithetic clauses. (Comp. Note on John 1:3.) These clauses interpret each other, and no deeper meaning is to be given to the first pair than is borne by the second. We may arrange them in a pair of affirmatives and a pair of negatives--

"Ye are from beneath;" "ye are of this world."

"I am from above" (not from beneath); "I am not of this world."

We have thus the full Hebrew expression of one thought, and this is the thought which John the Baptist, from another point of view, taught his disciples in John 3:31. They are by origin and nature of the earth. He was by origin and nature from heaven. Of the earth, their feelings and thoughts and life were of the earth, and, by devotion to things of the earth, they are destroying the spirit made in the image of God, which is within them, and the link between them and heaven. He is from heaven in origin, and is divine in nature. He has come to reveal the heavenly and the divine to the earthly and the human. In Him, and in Him only, can their spirits find deliverance from sin, and find the true life; for in Him, and in Him only, the divine and the human meet.

Verse 23. - Yet this essential divergence is not based on fatalistic grounds, but on moral ones. The argument of the twenty-fourth verse explains the description of ver. 23. The ground of this utter alienation is the lack of belief, which will leave them in their sins to die. He said to them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above. You spring from the lower as opposed to the higher world; you are influenced by considerations drawn from the earthly, sensual, superficial, and transitory. It is not necessary to suppose that our Lord is clenching the Jews' harsh speech about the underworld with a tu-quoque, as though they verily belonged to the Gehenna to which they were consigning him; for the next pair of clauses are in parallel apposition with the former. In the words, Ye are of this world; I am not of this world, "This world" corresponds with the τῶν κάτω of the previous clause, and the "not of this world" corresponds with the τὰ ἄνω, the heavenly regions from which he has continually declared, in many varieties of phrase, that he had come, or descended, or been sent. Certainly and broadly speaking, this is true, as a contrast between Christ and all other men before their regeneration. Our Lord especially charges home upon these earth-bound souls, on these purely human, selfish, unspiritual, unrenewed, unbelieving men, this antagonism to himself, this refusal to walk in his light or receive his life. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6). They are flesh. He does not exclude them forever from such participation in his own heavenly life as would reverse the descriptive and characteristic features of their being. The reason why they have not seen the kingdom or the King is that they are not born of the Spirit.

8:21-29 Those that live in unbelief, are for ever undone, if they die in unbelief. The Jews belonged to this present evil world, but Jesus was of a heavenly and Divine nature, so that his doctrine, kingdom, and blessings, would not suit their taste. But the curse of the law is done away to all that submit to the grace of the gospel. Nothing but the doctrine of Christ's grace will be an argument powerful enough, and none but the Spirit of Christ's grace will be an agent powerful enough, to turn us from sin to God; and that Spirit is given, and that doctrine is given, to work upon those only who believe in Christ. Some say, Who is this Jesus? They allow him to have been a Prophet, an excellent Teacher, and even more than a creature; but cannot acknowledge him as over all, God blessed for evermore. Will not this suffice? Jesus here answers the question. Is this to honour him as the Father? Does this admit his being the Light of the world, and the Life of men, one with the Father? All shall know by their conversion, or in their condemnation, that he always spake and did what pleased the Father, even when he claimed the highest honours to himself.And he said unto them,.... Upon this wicked remark of theirs, and query on his words:

ye are from beneath: not only of the earth, earthy, and so spoke of the earth, and as carnal men; but even of hell, they were the children of the devil; they breathed his Spirit, spoke his language, and did his lusts, as in John 8:44.

I am from above; not with respect to his human body, which he did not bring with him from heaven, that was formed below, in the Virgin's womb; otherwise he would not have been the seed of the woman, the son of Abraham, David, and Mary: but either with regard to his divine nature and person, he was of God, the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, who then lay in his bosom, and was in heaven above at that time; or to his mission, which was from heaven.

Ye are of this world; they were, as they were born into the world, sinful, carnal, and corrupt; they were in it, and belonged to it, had never been chosen, or called out of it; they had their conversation according to the course of it, and conformed to its evil customs and manners; they were under the influence of the God of the world, and were taken with the sinful and sensual lasts thereof; they were men of worldly spirits; they minded earth, and earthly things, and had their portion in this world, and might be truly called the men of it.

I am not of this world; he was in it, but not of it; he was come into it to save the chief of sinners, but he did not belong to it, nor did he conform to it; for though he conversed with sinners, ate with them, and received them, being called to repentance by him; yet he was separate from them, and did not as they did: nor did he pursue the pleasures, honours, and riches of this world, being all his days a man of sorrows, and despised of men; and though Lord of all, had not where to lay his head.

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