Jesus tells unbelieving Pharisees Satan’s their father

Samuel Mills

In today’s study is a lively exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees.

Some of the people who were rejecting Jesus were attempting to stand on their rights to Heaven simply because they were descendents of Abraham.

Jesus told them that if they were truly children of God, they would respect Him and reverence Him; because He was the Son of God whom God had sent.

Jesus told them their refusal to accept Him revealed their father was in fact the devil.

John 8:31-43

31-32: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”

Jesus was telling the ones who did believe in Him they should go on and accept all His teachings.

Some had probably reached the place where they had faith in Him but had not reached the point of being full believers, or as Jesus said, “really my disciples.”

Others who had originally believed were by the end of today’s study ready to kill Him.

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth.” The Old testament word translated “truth” had more to do with integrity or faithfulness to one’s word or character while the Greek translation emphasized reality.

The Jewish thought characterized God as the Truth, so the Jewish hearers should have realized he was referring specifically to God’s truth in the Jewish sense.

33: “They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’”

When you think about it, their statement to the effect of never being slaves of anyone doesn’t make any sense because they were slaves at the time.

In fact, the Jewish nation had been under bondage to at least four kingdoms: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome.

It’s a struggle to grasp their line of thinking, but from the point of view of the Jewish teachers in that day, Israel was ruled by God alone, and these other nations were considered to be servants of God simply carrying out His will.

And since it was God’s will nothing had changed in that they believed God would ultimately break the yokes of the other nations.

This belief is said to be behind the revolt of A.D. 66-70.

34: “Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.’”

The Jewish teachers believed that since Israel had the law, they could not be enslaved by what they referred to as the evil impulses of the Gentiles.

35: “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.”

Although the Jewish slaves could interact with the family with which they belonged, they did not have a permanent place in the family. The law mandated that Jewish slaves be freed in certain years, and under the Gentile laws, they could also be sold to other households, or even freed.

36: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

True freedom can only come through Christ.

37: “I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.”

Jesus knows these people are natural descendants, or of the bloodline of Abraham, and in referring to their claim to be Abraham’s children, points out how strange it is they would want to kill the one who spoke the word of God, because that certainly is not what Abraham would do.

That they have no room for His word points to the fact their minds were closed to anything He had to say.

They didn’t understand, or perhaps believe the cov- enant was changing and the only way they could reach Heaven would be through Jesus, the Messiah.

Their belief was that, except for the most wicked, being a descendant of Abraham virtually guaranteed salvation.

38: “I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

Metaphorically, a father was someone whose ways one imitated, often a teacher, or spiritual leader.

Jesus’ actions, and in fact His entire earthly life, was a result of what He had seen while in the presence of His Father, God. The Pharisees were doing what they had heard from the one Jesus refers to later (in verse 41) as their father the devil.

39-40: “Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” Jesus said, “then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things.”

Abraham was used as the ultimate model for Jewish piety and hospitality. The Pharisees could not get away from the importance of calling Abraham their father, and continued their claim to rights derived from their ancestry. But true line of Abraham descent was on moral grounds, not on racial descent.

The true sons of Abraham must act in harmony with what Abraham did, which would not include the desire to kill Jesus.

41: “You are doing the things your own father does.”

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

To suggest that someone had one father by laws but another by nature was to suggest that one’s mother was guilty of adultery.

Speaking of Satan, this is still another reference Jesus makes to “your own father.” It is possible their remark concerning “illegitimate children” may have been an indirect reference to slanders about the birth of Jesus.

When Jesus questioned their ancestry, they began to say that God was their father. They considered their descent, “children of Abraham,” to be equivalent in Jewish literature to “children of god” because God had adopted Abraham’s descendants.

Children of the Devil

“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me.’”

True children of God would also love Jesus, because He came from and was actually sent by God.

43: “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.”

He repeated this over and over, but their minds were so against anything He had to say that it went unheard.

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.

“When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The devil was the original murderer and denier of truth. I have heard it said that “whenever someone lies they are honoring Satan.” Jewish tradition taught that Satan’s lie had led to Adam’s death. The implication here is that Satan wanted to kill Jesus and the Pharisees were attempting to carry out his plans.

Jesus said that Satan is a murderer, liar, and in fact the father of lies. According to translators, the statement “the father of lies” might possibly be more accurately interpreted as the “the father of liars,” which would have been a more personal attack on the Pharisees.

Return to top