The Murderers

Dear Cornelius,

If you remember me you called me Cyrus Nogreto. I have question to you. Why did Christ called the Jews a murderer in John 8:44? Aren’t they chosen people of God?

Thank you,
Cyrus Nogreto

Dear Cyrus,

Thank you for asking and reaching out again. I think your question is timely for these days we heard a lot of murders. So many Christians died because of their faith. Some innocent people also died because of the ideological faith by other people. It is sad but when I remember how the apostles died, it uplift my spirit. True Christians died well. There is a man called Ignatius of Antioch. Before he was murdered in front of the people in the coliseum in Rome he prayed “ I am God’s wheat May I be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, Until I become the fine white bread That belongs to Christ.“.  When two fierce lions were let out into the coliseum Ignatius prayer was swiftly answered.

Let us understand together what Cyrus is referring to in John 8:44. Let me clarify that I am not considering myself a preacher so you can follow me with my interpretations and if you are willing to believe then praise be to God. If not I encourage you continue learning the bible in context because context is king. It is very important to understand the context first so that we can understand why are the words spoken that way.

John 8:44 (NKJV) – 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

If we want to understand the context of John 8:44, we need to start understanding the beginning of chapter 8. John chapter 8 begins with the story that Christ went to the Mount of Olives but nothing else mentioned what happen in the mountain. The three other gospels (Mark, Luke and Matthew) accounts Christ and the Apostles conversation at the Mount of Olives which is known to many as “Olivet Discourse“. Matthew 24 in particular is the source of the teaching of INC’s “rumors of wars” which in real context is referring to the “end of the age” not end of the world. John did not have topics about Olivet Discourse because I think he is the same John who wrote the Revelation. The book of Revelation therefore is the version of John to the Olivet Discourse. In John 8:12 Christ said

John 8:12 (NKJV) – 12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Then the Pharisees accused him of self-witnessing or self-proclaiming. Then Jesus explained He judge no one (person), yet if He judge, it is in accordance to His father.

John 8:15-18 (NKJV) – 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. 17 It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. 18 I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.”

The law requires the testimony of two men before judging anyone but the Jews brought  a woman accused of adultery. Christ knows He is being tested by the Jewish crowds in the Temple because they doubted Him. When Christ asked “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first”, no one left to condemn the woman. Then Christ said “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”.

In John 8:19 – 19 Then they said to Him, “Where is Your Father?
Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”

How the chosen people of God do not know the Father? The Jews, in all their heart, in all their mind, in all their deeds, they are the chosen people of God, sons of God, descendant of Abraham, living in the Temple of God (Jerusalem Temple). They did not know they are actually not of God. In John 8:21 Christ said “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.”. Why they cannot come? First the Pharisees thought Christ is going away, He is going to kill Himself but little that they know at that time, they are actually going to kill Him. I think you are getting the point now, they are the murderer but they do not know it.

The next verses Christ actually telling these Jewish leader that He was sent to judge them. This is one that also convince me that the bible is talking of the judgement of the Jews, the end of the age not he end of the world.

John 8:25-26 (NKJV) – 25 Then they said to Him, “Who are You?”
And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. 26 I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.”

Who is the “you” in verse 26? The Jewish crowds in the Temple.

Abraham Descendants

In John 8:38, Christ claimed the Jewish leaders have different father even if they are claiming they are descendants of Abraham. So who is their father?

John 8:37-41 (NKJV) – 37 “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”
39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.”
Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”

Why is Christ’s Father is not the same Father of the Jews that He was speaking to? Christ is a Jew, His mother is a Jew. Jesus is actually agreeing these Jews are descendant of Abraham but I think he meant the other descendants of Abraham.

Galatians 4:22-23 (NKJV)
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise,

The question is are they descendant of the bondwoman or freewoman? The bondwoman was born according to the flesh. This is why Christ said in the beginning “you judge according to the flesh”. They are descendant of the bondwoman. The descendants of the flesh teach about the flesh. They follow the law but the law they follow became human laws. For example they accused Christ of working on a sabbath day when He healed a man sick almost in his entire life (John 5:5). They follow the law according to their understanding in the old testament but no longer the true law that God gave them. Same thing in today’s religions: do this, do that, write this, write that, promise this, promise that, etc., then you will be saved. The descendant of the free woman is about believing in Christ, the spiritual worship. The old covenant requires Israel for a burn offering, this is a physical worship. In Christianity, Christ is the lamb. As a lamb he offered himself once and for all for those who believe in Him. So there is not more physical sacrifices required.

I think the Pharisees are saying they are not born of fornication, they are also discrediting Christ birth that He was born out of wedlock. Fornication in the Hebrew world is a common language used for those who are not children of God like that of Samaritan who are product of intermarried. Fornication can also mean to refer to Ismael who is the son of the bondwoman. Old testament Israelite’s who engaged in unfaithfulness through the worship of false gods were called “the children of fornication” (Hosea 2:4).

Historical Background

God promised to Abraham that he will become father of a great nation.

Genesis 12:2 (NKJV)
2
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.

The Israelite in time of Jesus believed the promise to Abraham for a great nation is their nation. They did not understand that Abraham nation is as many as the dust in the earth.

Genesis 13:16 (NKJV) – 16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.

The descendant of Abraham are many as the dust of the earth, contrary to the teaching of the Iglesia Ni Cristo only a few will be saved.

How else God reveal the number of Abraham descendants?

Genesis 15:5 (NKJV) – 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.

God said if you can count the stars, that is how many people will become your descendants. Do you think there are only 2 million stars? The Jews in time of Christ thought they are the only people God put aside as His own, they did not know God intended to include all the non-Jews. This is the same mistake the exclusivist teach in our time.

The bondwoman

Because Abraham and Sarah are too old, they decided to take it in their own hand without waiting for God’s promise.

Genesis 16:2 (NKJV) – 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.

Sarah concluded that since she was 75 years old, there was no way she would ever have a baby. That was a perfectly reasonable, perfectly “human” conclusion. So she and Abraham decided to take matters in their own hands and help God out. But, of course, God doesn’t need our help, and whenever we try to help God, things get worse, not better.

Hagar became pregnant and a son named Ishmael was born. Hagar is the bondwoman. According to Paul in Galatians 4:23, the son of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh. That is because it was done according to the decision of Sarah and Abraham not according to the will of God. The son of the bondwoman is Ismael, the descendant of those Christ was talking to in the Temple who live in the flesh and are murderer.

God further promised Abraham that He will provide for Ishmael, who also will become the progenitor of a great nation. Thus assured of Ishmael’s safety and well-being, Abraham sent Ishmael and his mother out of the household.

Many Christians believe Ismael is the root of Islam and I think because of

Galatians 4:24-25 (NKJV) – 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—

Hagar is Mount Sanai in Arabia. I think this does not prove Islam is a root of Abraham because Mount Sinai is also the place where Moses received the ten commandments.  Paul’s Galatians audience will never understand if he is referring to Islam because it did not exist yet in their time. Paul was actually referring to the two covenants, the bondwoman is the old covenant and the freewoman is the new covenant.

The freewoman

God’s will is that Sarai, will become Sarah and she and Abraham will have a son name Isaac.

Genesis 17:15-17 (NKJV) – 15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”

Genesis 17:21 (NKJV) – 21 But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.”

What the Israelite’s did not understand is that Sarah will be the mother of “nations”. Therefore the promise to Abraham to be the father of nation actually means many nations. The Jews believed that the promise is only to them. I think it was wrong from the beginning to think that God’s standing policy is to set aside His own people, this was the mistake of the Jews. God’s plan is to make Abraham descendant of many nations as many as the dust of the earth. Why this is so? John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.“.

According to Paul letter to the Romans,

Romans 9:6-8 (NKJV) – 6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.

Remember the audience in Romans are the Jewish believers of Christ who lived in Rome and Gentiles who became believers of Christ. The reason Paul spoken these words is because the Jewish believers are persecuting the Gentiles for not being circumcised under the law so how can they be saved? There are Israel people who are not of Israel both are seed of Abraham. Circumcision is a requirement in the old covenant but it is an act in the flesh. Christ is about faith and spiritual worship. The Jewish believers are holding back, they have converted but not fully for they are still trying to come back under the law. This reminds me of those who are expelled member of the Church and still trying to fight to restore the Church for they are still believing the rules of the flesh, do this and do that, write this and write that, then you will be saved.

The Murderers

Back to our main topic Christ words are becoming harsh in John chapter 8. If we continue reading from verse 43, Christ telling the Jews in the Temple that they do not listen to Him because they are not of God. They will never understand Him because their father is the devil who is a murderer from the beginning. These Jews they kill prophets,

John 8:43- 47 NKJV) – 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

Christ telling these Jewish crowds and leaders they are not of God. Read this

Matthew 3:7 (NKJV) – 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Jesus is a Jew, the Pharisee and Sadducees I think are comparable in ranking position as the “Sanguniaan”. Imagine telling your Church leaders you bunch of brood of vipers! Sorry I did not say that. Brood can be a group of people who are serious of something. In this case seriously trying to question the authority of Christ.

In John 8:19 Christ said my Father is not your father. In John 8:44 Christ said your father is the devil, he was a murderer from the beginning because he is a liar. Christ is telling the Jewish crowd they are liar because they said they are of God but they are not. Because they are not of God they do not hear Him meaning they will never understand what Christ was saying because God did not gave them to Him.

At the end of John chapter 8, Jesus claim the I AM.

John 8:57-58 (NKJV) – 57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

Christ is claiming before Abraham He exited. The words “I AM” is a reserve words to the Jews as referring to God. This words all the more angered the Jewish leaders which is the reason why they accused Him of blasphemy.

Hope you learn from this lesson.

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