At that time Jesus said to the multitudes of the Jews: Which of you shall convince Me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe Me? He that is of God heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God. The Jews therefore answered, and said to Him: Do not we say well, that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered: I have not a devil: but I honour My Father, and you have dishonoured Me. But I seek not My own glory: there is One that seeketh and judgeth. Amen, amen, I say to you: If any man keep My word, he shall not see death for ever. The Jews therefore said: Now we know that Thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets: and Thou sayest: If any man keep My word, he shall not taste death for ever. Art Thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead, whom dost Thou make Thyself? Jesus answered: If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing: it is My Father that glorifieth Me, of whom you say that He is your God, and you have not known Him: but I know Him: And if I shall say that I know Him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know Him, and do keep His word. Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see My day: he saw it and was glad. The Jews therefore said to Him: Thou art not yet fifty years old: and hast Thou seen Abraham? Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. They took up stones therefore to cast at Him: but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.
Verse 51. He shall not see death, he shall not die, for ever. That is, he shall not incur an eternal death, as they who die in sin: but they understood his words of the death of the body. Wi. — You accuse me of being possessed with a devil, because I preach to you a doctrine far different from what you are accustomed to hear; but I speak nothing but the truth; I give honour to my Father, I execute his orders; and the words I now speak to you, are the words of eternal life. Whoever observes them shall not die. Moses promised a long life to those who observed what was commanded in the old law, and offered them as their reward goods and temporal prosperity. But I now offer you an eternal life. Believe my words, keep them, and observe my ordinances, and you shall not feel the death of the soul, the second, eternal, and most miserable of deaths. Calmet.
Verse 56. Abraham, your father, rejoiced that he might see my day, my entrance into this world, my incarnation, my birth, my manifestation in Israel, my death and passion. S. Irenæus, Origen, S. Cyril, &c. — He waited with impatience for the deliverance of the whole world. He saw it, and was glad. He saw it in spirit, for God revealed it to him. He saw it approaching in the birth of his son Isaac, and in the miraculous deliverance of his dear son, when he was commanded to offer him in sacrifice to the Lord. The vivacity of his faith made him, as it were, present at the time of my birth, though then so far off. S. Chrys. Leont. Theophyl. Euth. — It is not unlikely that this patriarch, and the others who were with him, detained in limbo, were apprised of the incarnation and coming of the Messias, which would fill them with an effusion of inexpressible joy. S. Chrys. — Christ here teaches us two things. 1. That he was before Abraham. 2. That the Jews were not true sons of Abraham, now treating so rudely him, who, even before his coming, had given the patriarch so much joy. Calmet.
Verse 58. Before Abraham was made, I am. Christ here speaks of his eternal existence as God. S. Aug. shews this by these very words, I am. He does not say, before Abraham was made, I was made: because, as the Son of God, he never was made: but I am, which shews his eternal divine nature. Wi.
44. You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45. And because I tell you the truth, you believe me not. 46. Which of you convinces me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not believe me? 47. He that is of God hears God’s words: you therefore hear them not, because you are not of God.
CHRYS. Our Lord, having already cut off the Jews from relationship to Abraham, overthrows now this far greater claim, to call God their Father, You are of your father the devil.
AUG. Here we must guard against the heresy of the Manicheans, who hold a certain original nature of evil, and a nation of darkness with princes at their head, whence the devil derives his existence. And thence they say our flesh is produced; and in this way interpret our Lord’s speech, You are of your father the devil: viz. to mean that they were by nature evil, drawing their origin from the opposite seed of darkness.
ORIGEN. And this seems to be the same mistake, as if one said, that an eye which saw right was different in kind from an eye which saw wrong. For just as in these there is no difference of kind, only one of them for some reason sees wrong; so, in the other case, whether a man receives a doctrine, or whether he does not, he is of the same nature.
AUG. The Jews then were children of the devil by imitation, not by birth: And the lusts of your father you will do, our Lord says. You are his children then, because you have such lusts, not because you are born of him: for you seek to kill Me, a man that has told you the truth: and he envied man, and killed him: he was a murderer from the beginning; i.e. of the first man on whom a murder could be committed: man could not he slain, before man was created. The devil did not go, girt with a sword, against man: he sowed an evil word, and slew him. Do not suppose therefore that you are not guilty of murder, when you suggest evil thoughts to your brother. The very reason why you rage against the flesh, is that you cannot assault the soul.
ORIGEN. Consider too, it was not one man only that he killed, but the whole human race, inasmuch as in Adam all die; so that he is truly called a murderer from the beginning.
CHRYS. He does not say, his works, but his lusts you will do, meaning that both the devil and the Jews were bent on murder, to satisfy their envy. And stood not in the truth. He shows whence sprang their continual objection to Him, that He was not from God.
AUG. But it will be objected perhaps, that if from the beginning of his existence, the devil stood not in the truth, he was never in a state of blessedness with the holy angels, refusing, as he did, to be subject to his Creator, and therefore false and deceitful; unwilling at the cost of pious subjection to hold that which by nature he was; and attempting in his pride and loftiness to simulate that which he was not. This opinion is not the same with that of the Manichaeans, that the devil has his own peculiar nature, derived as it were from the opposite principle of evil. This foolish sect does not see that our Lord says not, Was alien from the truth, but Stood not in the truth, meaning, fell from the truth. And thus they interpret John, The devil sins from the beginning, not seeing that if sin is natural, it is no sin. But what do the testimonies of the prophets reply? Isaiah, setting forth the devil under the figure of the prince of Babylon, says, How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! Ezekiel says, You have been in Eden, the garden of God. Which passages, as they cannot be interpreted in any other way, show that we must take the word, He stood not in the truth, to mean, that he was in truth, but did not remain in it; and the other, that the devil sins from the beginning, to mean, that he was a sinner not from the beginning of his creation, but from the beginning of sin. For sin began in him, and he was the beginning of sin.
ORIGEN. There is only one way of standing in the truth; many and various of not standing in it. Some try to stand in the truth, but their feet tremble and shake so, they cannot. Others are not come to that pass, but are in danger of it, as we read in the Psalms, My feet were almost gone: others fall from it. Because the truth is not in him, is the reason why the devil did not stand in the truth. He imagined vain things, and deceived himself; wherein He was so far worse than others, in that, while others are deceived by him, he was the author of his own deception. But farther; does the truth is not in him, mean that he holds no true doctrine, and that every thing he thinks is false; or that he is not a member of Christ, who says, I am the truth? Now it is impossible that any rational being should think falsely on every subject and never be even ever so slightly right in opinion. The devil therefore may hold a true doctrine, by the mere law of his rational nature: and therefore his nature is not contrary to truth, i.e. does not consist of simple error and ignorance; otherwise he could never have known the truth.
AUG. Or when our Lord says, The truth is not in him, He intends it as an index: as if we had asked Him, how it appeared that the devil stood not in the truth; and He said, Because the truth is not in him. For it would be in him, if he stood in it. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
AUG. Some have thought from these words that the devil had a father, and asked who was the father of the devil. This is the error of the Manichaeans. But our Lord calls the devil the father of a lie for this reason: Every one who lies is not the father of his own lie; for you may tell a lie, which you have received from another; in which ease you have lied, but are not the father of the lie. But the lie wherewith, as with a serpent’s bite, the devil slew man, had no source but himself: and therefore he is the father of a lie, as God is the Father of the truth.
THEOPHYL. For he accused God to man, saying to Eve, But of envy He has forbidden you the tree: and to God he accused man, as in Job, Does Job serve God, for wrought?
ORIGEN. Note however this word, liar, is applied to man, as well as to the devil, who begat a lie, as we read in the Psalm, All men are liars. If a man is not a liar, he is not an ordinary man, but one of those, to whom it is said, I have said, you are Gods. When a man speaks a lie, he speaks of his own; but the Holy Spirit speaks the word of truth and wisdom; as he said below, He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it to you.
AUG. Or thus: The devil is not a singular, but a common name. In whomsoever the works of the devil are found, he is to be called the devil. It is the name of a work, not of a nature. Here then our Lord means by the father of the Jews, Cain; whom they wished to imitate, by killing the Savior: for he it was who set the first example of murdering a brother. That he spoke a lie of his own, means that no one sins but by his own will. And inasmuch as Cain imitated the devil, and followed his works, the devil is said to be his father.
ALCUIN. Our Lord being the truth, and the Son of the true God, spoke the truth; but the Jews, being the sons of the devil, were averse to the truth; and this is why our Lord says, Because I tell you the truth, you believe not.
ORIGEN. But how is this said to the Jews, who believed in Him? Consider: a man may believe in one sense, not believe in another; e.g. that our Lord was crucified by Pontius Pilate, but not that He was born of the Virgin Mary. In this same way, those whom He is speaking to, believed in Him as a worker of miracles, which they saw Him to be; but did not believe in His doctrines, which were too deep for them.
CHRYS. You wish to kill Me then, because you are enemies of the truth, not that you have any fault to find in Me: for, which of you convinces Me of sin?
THEOPHYL. As if to say: If you are the sons of God, you ought to hold sinners in hatred. If you hate Me, when you cannot convince Me of sin, it is evident that you hate Me because of the truth: i.e. because I said I was the Son of God.
ORIGEN. A bold speech this; which none could have had the confidence to utter, but he Who did no sin; even our Lord.
GREG. Observe here the condescension of God. He who in by virtue of His Divinity could justify sinners, deigns to show from reason, that He is not a sinner. It follows: He that is of God hears God’s words; you therefore hear them not, because you are not of God.
AUG. Apply this not to their nature, but to their faults. They both are from God and are not from God at the same time; their nature is from God, their fault is not from God. This was spoken too to those, who were not only faulty, by reason of sin, in the way in which all are: but who it was foreknown would never possess such faith as would free them from the bonds of sin.
GREG. Let him then, who would understand God’s words ask himself whether he hears them with the ears of his heart. For there are some who do not deign to hear God’s commands even with their bodily ears; and there are others who do this, but do not embrace them with their heart’s desire; and there are others again who receive God’s words readily, yes and are touched, even to tears: but who afterwards go back to their sins again; and therefore cannot be said to hear the word of God, because they neglect to practice it.
48. Then answered the Jews, and said to him, Say we not well that you are a Samaritan, and have a devil? 49. Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honor my Father, and you do dishonor me. 50. And I seek not mine own glory; there is one that seeks and judges. 51. Verily, verily, I say to you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
CHRYS. Whenever our Lord said any thing of lofty meaning, the Jews in their insensibility set it down madness: Then answered the Jews and said to Him, Say we not well that you are a Samaritan, and have a devil?
ORIGEN. But how, we may ask, when the Samaritans denied a future life, and the immortality of the soul, could they dare to call our Savior, Who had preached so much on the resurrection and the judgment, a Samaritan? Perhaps they only mean a general rebuke to Him for teaching, what they did not approve of.
ALCUIN. The Samaritans were hated by the Jews; they lived in the land that formerly belonged to the ten tribes, who had been carried away.
ORIGEN. It is not unlikely too, some may have thought that He held the Samaritan opinion of there being no future state really, and only put forth the doctrine of a resurrection and eternal life, in order gain to the favor of the Jews. They said that He had a devil, because His discourses were above human capacity, those, viz. in which He asserted that God was His Father, and that He had come down from heaven, and others of a like kind: or perhaps from a suspicion, which many had, that He cast out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.
THEOPHYL. Or they called Him a Samaritan because He transgressed the Hebrew ordinances, as that of the sabbath: the Samaritans not being correct observers of the law. And they suspected Him of having a devil, because He could disclose what was in their thoughts. When it was that they called Him a Samaritan, the Evangelist no where says: a proof that the Evangelists left out many things.
GREG. See; when God suffers a wrong, He does not reply reproachfully: Jesus answered, I have not a devil. An intimation this to us, that when reproached by our neighbors falsely, we should not retort upon them by bringing forward their evil deeds, however true such charges might be; lest the vehicle of a just rebuke turn into a weapon of rage.
CHRYS. And observe, when He had to teach them, and pull down their pride, He used roughness; but now that He has to suffer rebuke, He treats them with the utmost mildness: a lesson to us to be severe in what concerns God, but careless of ourselves.
AUG. And to imitate His patience first, if we would attain to His power. But though being reviled, He reviled not again, it was incumbent on Him to deny the charge. Two charges had been made against Him: You are a Samaritan, and have a devil. In reply He does not say, I am not a Samaritan: for Samaritan means keeper; and He knew He was a keeper: He could not redeem us, without at the same time preserving us. Lastly, He is the Samaritan, who went up to the wounded, and had compassion on him.
ORIGEN. Our Lord, even more than Paul, wished to become all things to all men, that He might gain some and therefore He did not deny being a Samaritan. I have not a devil, is what Jesus alone can say; as He alone can say, The prince of this world comes, and has nothing in Me. None of us are quite free from having a devil. For; even lesser faults come from him.
AUG. Then after being so reviled, all that He says to vindicate His glory, is, But I honor My Father: as if to say, That you may not think Me arrogant, I tell you, I have One, Whom I honor.
THEOPHYL. He honored the Father, by revenging Him, and not suffering murderers or liars to call themselves the true sons of God.
ORIGEN. Christ alone honored the Father perfectly. No one, who honors any thing which is not honored by God, honors God.
GREG. As all who have zeal toward God are liable to meet with dishonor from wicked men, our Lord has Himself set us an example of patience under this trial; And you do dishonor Me.
AUG. As if to say, I do my duty: you do not do yours.
ORIGEN. And this was not addressed to them only, but to all who by unrighteous deeds inflict injury upon Christ, who is righteousness; or by scoffing at wisdom wrong Him who is wisdom: and the like.
GREG. How we are to take injuries, He shows us by His own example, when He adds, I seek not Mine own glory, there is one that seeks and judges.
CHRYS. As if to say, I have told you this on account of the honor which I have for My Father; and for this you dishonor Me. But I concern not myself for your reviling: you are accountable to Him, for whose sake I undergo it.
ORIGEN. God seeks Christ’s s glory, in every one of those who receive Him: which glory He finds in those who cultivate the seeds of virtue implanted in them. And those in whom He finds not His Son’s glory, He punishes: There is one that seeks and judges.
AUG. Meaning of course the Father. But is it then that He says in another place, The Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son. Judgment is sometimes put for condemnation, whereas here it only stands for trial: as if to say, There is one, even My Father, who distinguishes My glory from yours; you glory after this world, I not after this world. The Father distinguishes the glory of the Son, from that of all men: for that He has been made man, does not bring us to a comparison with Him. We men have sin: He was without sin, even when He was in the form of a servant; for, as the Word which was in the beginning, who can speak worthily of Him?
ORIGEN. Or thus; If that is true which our Savior says below, All men are yours, it is manifest that the judgment itself of the Son, is the Father’s.
GREG. As the perversity of the wicked increases, preaching so far from giving way, ought even to become more active. Thus our Lord, after He had been accused of having a devil, imparts the treasures of preaching in a still larger degree: Verily, verily, I say to you, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death.
AUG. See is put for experience. But since, about to die Himself, He spoke with those about to die, what means this, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death? What, but that He saw another death from which He came to free us, death eternal, the death of the damned, which is shared with the devil and his angels! That is the true death: the other is a passage only.
ORIGEN. We must understand Him, as it were, to say, If a man keep My light, he shall not see darkness forever; forever being taken as common to both clauses, as if the sentence were, If a man keep My saying for ever, He shall not see death for ever: meaning that a man does not see death, so long as he keeps Christ’s word. But when a man, by becoming sluggish in the observance of His words, and negligent in the keeping of his own heart, ceases to keep them, he then sees death; he brings it upon himself. Thus taught then by our Savior, to the prophet who asks, What man is he that lives, and shall not see death? we are able to answer, He who keeps Christ’s word.
CHRYS. He says, keep, i.e. not by faith, but by purity of life. And at the same time too He means it as a tacit intimation that they can do nothing to Him. For if whoever keeps His word, shall never die, much less is it possible that He Himself should die.
52. Then said the Jews to him, Now we know that you have a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and you say, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53. Are you greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead; whom make you yourself? 54. Jesus answered, If I honor myself, my honor is nothing; it is my Father that honors me; of whom you say, that he is your God: 55. Yet you have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like to you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
GREG. As it is necessary that the good should grow better by contumely, so are the reprobate made worse by kindness On hearing our Lord’s words, the Jews again blaspheme: Then said the Jews to Him, Now we know you have a devil.
ORIGEN. Those who believe the Holy Scriptures, understand that what men do contrary to right reason, is not done without the operation of devils. Thus the Jews thought that Jesus had spoken by the influence of the devil, when He said, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death. And this idea they labored under, because they did not know the power of God. For here He was speaking of that death of enmity to reason, by which sinners perish: whereas they understand Him of that death which is common to all; and therefore blame Him for so speaking, when it was certain that Abraham and the Prophets were dead: Abraham is dead, and the Prophets; and you say, If man keep My saying, be shall never taste of death. Shall never taste of death, they say, instead of, shall not see death; though between tasting and seeing death there is a difference. Like careless hearers, they mistake what our Lord said. For as our Lord, in that He is the true bread, is good to taste; in that He is wisdom, is beautiful to behold; in like manner His adversary death is both to be tasted and seen. When then a man stands by Christ’s help in the spiritual place pointed out to him, he shall not taste of death if he preserves that state: according to Matthew, There those standing here, which shall not taste of death. But when a man hears Christ’s words and keeps them, he shall not see death.
CHRYS. Again, they have recourse to the vainglorious argument of their descent: Are you greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? They might have said, Are you greater than God, whose words they are dead who heard? But they do not say this, because they thought Him inferior even to Abraham.
ORIGEN. For they do not see that not Abraham only, but every one born of women, is less than He who was born of a Virgin. Now were the Jews right in saying that Abraham was dead? for he heard the word of Christ, and kept it, as did also the Prophets, who, they say, were dead. For they kept the word of the Son of God, when the word of the Lord came to Hosea, Isaiah, or Jeremiah; if any one else kept the word, surely those Prophets did. They utter a lie then when they say, We know that you have a devil; and when they say, Abraham is dead, and the Prophets.
GREG. For being given over to eternal death, which death they saw not, and thinking only, as they did, of the death of the body, their minds were darkened, even while the Truth Himself was speaking. They add: Whom makes you Yourself?
THEOPHYL. As if to say, you a person of no account, a carpenter’s son of Galilee, to take glory to Yourself!
BEDE. Whom make you Yourself? i.e. Of what merit, of what dignity would you be accounted? Nevertheless, Abraham only died in the body; his soul lived. And the death of the soul which is to live for ever, is greater than the death of the body that must die some time.
ORIGEN. This was the speech of persons spiritually blind. For Jesus did not make Himself what He was, but received it from the Father: Jesus answered and said, If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing.
CHRYS. This is to answer their suspicions as above, If I bear witness of Myself My witness is not true.
BEDE. He shows in these words that the glory of this present life is nothing.
AUG. This is to answer those who said, Whom make you Yourself? He refers His glory to the Father, from Whom He is: It is My Father that honors Me. The Arians take occasion from those words to calumniate our faith, and say, Lo, the Father is greater, for He glorifies the Son. Heretics, have you not read that the Son also glorifies the Father?
ALCUIN. The Father glorified the Son, at His baptism, on the mount, at the time of His passion, when a voice came to Him, in the midst of the crowd, when He raised Him up again after His passion, and placed Him at the right hand of His Majesty.
CHRYS. He adds, Of whom you say that He is your God; meaning to tell them that they were not only ignorant of the Father, but even of God.
THEOPHYL. For had they known the Father really, they would have reverenced the Son. But they even despise God, who in the Law forbade murder, by their clamors against Christ. Wherefore He says, You have not known Him.
ALCUIN. As if to say, you call Him your God, after a carnal manner, serving Him for temporal rewards. You have not known Him, as He should be known; you are not able to serve Him spiritually.
AUG. Some heretics say that the God proclaimed in the Old Testament is not the Father of Christ, but a kind of prince of bad angels. These He contradicts when He calls Him His Father, whom the Jews called their God, and knew not. For had they known Him, they would have received His Son. Of Himself however He adds, But I know Him. And here too, to men judging after the flesh, He might appear arrogant. But let not arrogance be so guarded against, as that truth be deserted. Therefore our Lord says, And if I should say I know Him not, I should be a liar like to you.
CHRYS. As if to say, As you, saying that you know Him, lie; so were I a liar, did I say I knew Him not. It follows, however, (which is the greatest proof of all that He was sent from God,) But I know Him.
THEOPHYL. Having that knowledge by nature; for as I am, so is the Father also; I know Myself, and therefore I know Him. And He gives the proof that He knows Him: And I keep His saying, i.e. His commandments. Some understand, I keep His saying, to mean, I keep the nature of His substance unchanged; for the substance of the Father and the Son is the same, as their nature is the same; and therefore I know the Father. And here has the force of because: I know Him because I keep His saying.
AUG. He spoke the saying of the Father too, as being the Son; and He was Himself that Word of the Father, which He spoke to men.
CHRYS. In answer then to their question, Are you greater than our father Abraham, He shows them that He is greater than Abraham; Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: he saw it, and was glad; he must have rejoiced, because My day would benefit him, which is to acknowledge Me greater than himself.
THEOPHYL. As if to say, He regarded My day, as a day to be desired, and full of joy; not as if I was an unimportant or common person.
AUG. He did not fear, but rejoiced to see: he rejoiced in hope, believing, and so by faith saw. It admits of doubt whether He is speaking here of the temporal day of the Lord, that, viz. of His coming in the flesh, or of that day which knows s neither rising or setting. I doubt not however that our father Abraham knew the whole: as he says to his servant whom he sent, Put your hand under my thigh, and swear to me by the God of heaven. What did that oath signify, but that the God of heaven was to come in the flesh, out of the stock of Abraham.
GREG. Abraham saw the day of the Lord even then, when he entertained the three Angels, a figure of the Trinity.
CHRYS. They are aliens from Abraham if they grieve over what he rejoiced in. By this day perhaps He means the day of the cross, which Abraham prefigured by the offering up of Isaac and the ram: intimating hereby that He did not come to His passion unwillingly.
AUG. If they rejoiced to whom the Word appeared in the flesh, what was his joy, who beheld in spiritual vision the light ineffable, the abiding Word, the bright illumination of pious souls, the indefectible wisdom, still abiding with God the Father, and sometime to come in the flesh, but not to leave the Father’s bosom.
57. Then said the Jews to him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham? 58. Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
GREG. The carnal minds of the Jews are intent on the flesh only; they think only of His age in the flesh: Then said the Jews to Him, you are not fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham? that is to say, Many ages have passed since Abraham died; and how then could he see your day? For they took His words in a carnal sense.
THEOPHYL. Christ was then thirty-three years old. Why then do they not say, You are not yet forty years old, instead of fifty? A needless question this: they simply spoke as chance led them at the time. Some however say that they mentioned the fiftieth year on account of its sacred character, as being the year of jubilee, in which they redeemed their captives, and gave up the possessions they had bought.
GREG. Our Savior mildly draws them away from their carnal view, to the contemplation of His Divinity; Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am. Before is a particle of past time, am, of present. Divinity has no past or future, but always the present; and therefore He does not say, Before Abraham was, I was: but, Before Abraham was, I am: as it is in Exodus, I am that I am. Before and after might be said of Abraham with reference to different periods of his life; to be, in the present, is said of the truth only.
AUG. Abraham being a creature, He did not say before Abraham was, but, before Abraham was made. Nor does He say, I am made; because that, in the beginning WAS the Word.
GREG. Their unbelieving minds, however, were unable to support these indications of eternity; and not understanding Him, sought to destroy Him: Then they took up stones to cast at Him.
AUG. Such hardness of heart, whither was it to run, but to its truest likeness, even the stones? But now that He had done all that He could do as a teacher, and they in return wished to stone Him, since they could not bear correction, He leaves them: Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple. He did not hide Himself in a corner of the temple, as if He was afraid, or take refuge in a house, or run behind a wall, or a pillar; but by His heavenly power, making Himself invisible to His enemies, went through the midst of them: Jesus hid Himself, and, went out of the temple.
GREG. Who, had He chosen to exert the power of His Divinity, could, without a word, by His mere nod, have seized them, with the very stones in their hands, and delivered them to immediate death. But He who came to suffer, was slow to execute judgment.
AUG. For His part was more to exhibit patience than exercise power.
ALCUIN. He fled, because His hour was not yet come; and because He had not chosen this kind of death.
AUG. So then, as a man, He flies from the stones; but woe to them, from whose stony hearts God flies.
BEDE. Mystically, a man throws a stone at Jesus, as often as he harbors an evil thought, and if he follows it up, so far as lies in him, he kills Jesus.
GREG. What does our Lord mean by hiding Himself, but that the truth is hidden to them, who despise His words. The truth flies the company of an unhumbled soul. His example shows us, that we should in all humility rather retreat from the wrath of the proud, when it rises, than resist it, even though we might be able.