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Jehovah’s Witnesses

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

According to John 8:12-59

8  12  Then Jesus spoke again to them, saying: “I am the light of the world.+ Whoever follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light+ of life.” 13  So the Pharisees said to him: “You bear witness about yourself; your witness is not true.” 14  In answer Jesus said to them: “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my witness is true, because I know where I came from and where I am going.+ But you do not know where I came from and where I am going. 15  You judge according to the flesh;*+ I do not judge any man at all. 16  And yet even if I do judge, my judgment is truthful, because I am not alone, but the Father who sent me is with me.+ 17  Also, in your own Law it is written: ‘The witness of two men is true.’+ 18  I am one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”+ 19  Then they said to him: “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered: “You know neither me nor my Father.+ If you did know me, you would know my Father also.”+ 20  He spoke these words in the treasury+ as he was teaching in the temple. But no one seized him, for his hour had not yet come.+ 21  So he said to them again: “I am going away, and you will look for me, and yet you will die in your sin.+ Where I am going, you cannot come.”+ 22  The Jews then began to say: “He will not kill himself, will he? Because he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’” 23  He went on to say to them: “You are from the realms below; I am from the realms above.+ You are from this world; I am not from this world. 24  That is why I said to you: You will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am the one, you will die in your sins.” 25  So they began to say to him: “Who are you?” Jesus replied to them: “Why am I even speaking to you at all? 26  I have many things to speak concerning you and to pass judgment on. As a matter of fact, the One who sent me is true, and the very things I heard from him I am speaking in the world.”+ 27  They did not grasp that he was talking to them about the Father. 28  Jesus then said: “After you have lifted up the Son of man,+ then you will know that I am he+ and that I do nothing of my own initiative;+ but just as the Father taught me, I speak these things. 29  And the One who sent me is with me; he did not abandon me to myself, because I always do the things pleasing to him.”+ 30  As he was saying these things, many put faith in him. 31  Then Jesus went on to say to the Jews who had believed him: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, 32  and you will know the truth,+ and the truth will set you free.”+ 33  They replied to him: “We are Abraham’s offspring* and never have been slaves to anyone. How is it you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34  Jesus answered them: “Most truly I say to you, every doer of sin is a slave of sin.+ 35  Moreover, the slave does not remain in the household forever; the son remains forever. 36  So if the Son sets you free, you will be truly free. 37  I know that you are Abraham’s offspring. But you are seeking to kill me, because my word makes no progress among you. 38  I speak the things I have seen while with my Father,+ but you do the things you have heard from your father.” 39  In answer they said to him: “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them: “If you were Abraham’s children,+ you would be doing the works of Abraham. 40  But now you are seeking to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God.+ Abraham did not do this. 41  You are doing the works of your father.” They said to him: “We were not born from immorality; we have one Father, God.” 42  Jesus said to them: “If God were your Father, you would love me,+ for I came from God and I am here. I have not come of my own initiative, but that One sent me.+ 43  Why do you not understand what I am saying? Because you cannot listen to* my word. 44  You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father.+ That one was a murderer when he began,+ and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.+ 45  Because I, on the other hand, tell you the truth, you do not believe me. 46  Who of you convicts me of sin?+ If I speak truth, why is it that you do not believe me? 47  The one who is from God listens to the sayings of God.+ This is why you do not listen, because you are not from God.”+ 48  In answer the Jews said to him: “Are we not right in saying, ‘You are a Sa·marʹi·tan+ and have a demon’?”+ 49  Jesus answered: “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50  But I am not seeking glory for myself;+ there is One who is seeking and judging. 51  Most truly I say to you, if anyone observes my word, he will never see death at all.”+ 52  The Jews said to him: “Now we do know that you have a demon. Abraham died, also the prophets, but you say, ‘If anyone observes my word, he will never taste death at all.’ 53  You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died, are you? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?” 54  Jesus answered: “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me,+ the one who you say is your God. 55  Yet you have not known him, but I know him.+ And if I said I do not know him, I would be like you, a liar. But I do know him and am observing his word. 56  Abraham your father rejoiced greatly at the prospect of seeing my day, and he saw it and rejoiced.”+ 57  Then the Jews said to him: “You are not yet 50 years old, and still you have seen Abraham?” 58  Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to you, before Abraham came into existence, I have been.”+ 59  So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid and went out of the temple.


Or “by human standards; by outward appearance.”
Lit., “seed.”
Or “accept.”

Study Notes

the light of the world: The metaphor Jesus used to describe himself may have reminded his listeners of the four giant lampstands in the Court of the Women, which were lit during the Festival of Booths, or Tabernacles. (Joh 7:2; see App. B11.) The light from them illuminated the surroundings to a great distance. In addition, the expression “light of the world” echoes passages from Isaiah foretelling that “a great light” would be seen by “those dwelling in the land of deep shadow” and that the one referred to as Jehovah’s “servant” would be “a light of the nations.” (Isa 9:1, 2; 42:1, 6; 49:6) In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used the same metaphor when addressing his followers, saying: “You are the light of the world.” (Mt 5:14) The expression “light of the world” (where the Greek word koʹsmos refers to the entire world of mankind) fits well with Isaiah’s words about the Messiah being “a light of the nations.” And at Ac 13:46, 47, Paul and Barnabas show that these prophetic words of Isa 49:6 constituted a command to all of Christ’s followers to continue to serve as a light to the nations. Both Jesus’ ministry and that of his followers would enlighten people spiritually and free them from enslavement to false religious teachings.

the Father: Some manuscripts read “he,” but the main text reading has strong support in ancient manuscripts.

treasury chests: Ancient Jewish sources say that these contribution boxes, or receptacles, were shaped like trumpets, or horns, evidently with small openings at the top. People deposited in them various offerings. The Greek word used here also occurs at Joh 8:20, where it is rendered “the treasury.” That expression apparently refers to an area located in the Court of the Women. (See study note on Mt 27:6 and App. B11.) According to rabbinical sources, 13 treasury chests were placed around the walls of that court. It is believed that the temple also contained a major treasury where the money from the treasury chests was brought.

the treasury: Or “near the treasury (contribution) chests.” The Greek word used here also occurs at Mr 12:41, 43 and Lu 21:1, where it is rendered “treasury chests.” Apparently, the term here refers to the area of the temple located in the Court of the Women, where there were 13 treasury chests. (See App. B11.) It is believed that the temple also contained a major treasury and that the money from the treasury chests was taken there. But it is unlikely that this verse speaks about that area.—See study note on Mr 12:41.

sexual immorality: The Greek word por·neiʹa is a general term for all sexual intercourse that is unlawful according to the Bible. It includes adultery, prostitution, sexual relations between unmarried individuals, homosexuality, and bestiality.—See Glossary.

immorality: Or “sexual immorality.” Greek, por·neiʹa.—See study note on Mt 5:32 and Glossary, “Sexual immorality.”

We were not born from immorality: Or “We are not illegitimate children.” The Jews were claiming to be legitimate children of God and of Abraham and, thus, heirs of the promises made to Abraham.

when he began: Or “from the beginning,” that is, from the beginning of the Devil’s course as a murderer, a liar, and a slanderer of God.—1Jo 3:8, ftn.

a certain Samaritan: The Jews generally looked down on the Samaritans and refused to have any dealings with them. (Joh 4:9) Some Jews even used the term “Samaritan” as an expression of contempt and reproach. (Joh 8:48) One rabbi is quoted in the Mishna as saying: “He that eats the bread of the Samaritans is like one that eats the flesh of swine.” (Shebith 8:10) Many Jews would not believe the testimony of a Samaritan or accept a service from one. Aware of the scornful attitude generally held by Jews, Jesus made a strong point in this illustration that is often referred to as the parable of the good, or neighborly, Samaritan.

a Samaritan: Here the Jews used the term “Samaritan” as an expression of contempt and reproach.—See study note on Lu 10:33 and Glossary, “Samaritans.”

he saw it: That is, with eyes of faith.—Heb 11:13; 1Pe 1:11.

you have seen Abraham?: A few manuscripts read “has Abraham seen you?,” but the main text reading has strong support in early authoritative manuscripts.

I am he: Lit., “I am.” Greek, e·goʹ ei·mi. Some consider this expression to be an allusion to the Septuagint reading of Ex 3:14 and use it to identify Jesus with God. However, Ex 3:14 uses different wording (e·goʹ ei·mi ho on, “I am The Being; I am The Existing One”) from that used at Joh 4:26. Moreover, the expression e·goʹ ei·mi is used in the Septuagint to render words spoken by Abraham, Eleazar, Jacob, David, and others. (Ge 23:4; 24:34; 30:2; 1Ch 21:17) In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the phrase e·goʹ ei·mi is not limited to the rendering of words expressed by Jesus. The same Greek words are used at Joh 9:9 in recording a reply by a man whom Jesus had cured. They simply convey the message: “It is I.” These words are also used by the angel Gabriel as well as by Peter, Paul, and others. (Lu 1:19; Ac 10:21; 22:3) Obviously, these statements are not references to Ex 3:14. A comparison of the parallel accounts in the synoptic Gospels shows that the phrase e·goʹ ei·mi found at Mr 13:6 and Lu 21:8 (“I am he”) is a shorter way of expressing the more complete thought found at Mt 24:5, which is rendered “I am the Christ.”

I have been: The opposing Jews wanted to stone Jesus for claiming that he had “seen Abraham,” although, as they said, Jesus was “not yet 50 years old.” (Joh 8:57) Jesus’ response was to tell them about his prehuman existence as a mighty spirit creature in heaven before Abraham was born. Some claim that this verse identifies Jesus with God. They argue that the Greek expression used here, e·goʹ ei·miʹ (rendered “I am” in some Bibles), is an allusion to the Septuagint rendering of Ex 3:14 and that both verses should be rendered the same way. (See study note on Joh 4:26.) In this context, however, the action expressed by the Greek verb ei·miʹ started “before Abraham came into existence” and was still in progress. It is therefore properly translated “I have been” rather than “I am,” and a number of ancient and modern translations use wording similar to “I have been.” In fact, at Joh 14:9, the same form of the Greek verb ei·miʹ is used to render Jesus’ words: “Even after I have been with you men for such a long time, Philip, have you not come to know me?” Most translations use a similar wording, showing that depending on context there is no valid grammatical objection to rendering ei·miʹ as “have been.” (Other examples of rendering a present tense Greek verb using a present perfect tense verb are found at Lu 2:48; 13:7; 15:29; Joh 1:9; 5:6; 15:27; Ac 15:21; 2Co 12:19; 1Jo 3:8.) Also, Jesus’ reasoning recorded at Joh 8:54, 55 shows that he was not trying to portray himself as being the same person as his Father.

picked up stones to throw at him: About two months later, the Jews again tried to kill Jesus in the temple. (Joh 10:31) Since the temple was still being renovated, it has been suggested that the Jews gathered the stones from a construction site.