Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: John
Book: John
Chapter: 8

The Pharisees and the adulteress. (1-11) Christ's discourse
with the Pharisees. (12-59)

1-11 Christ neither found fault with the Law, nor excused the
prisoner's guilt; nor did he countenance the pretended zeal of
the Pharisees. Those are self-condemned who Judge others, and
yet do the same thing. All who are any way called to blame the
faults of others, are especially concerned to look to
themselves, and keep themselves pure. In this matter Christ
attended to the great work about which he came into the world,
that was, to bring sinners to Repentance; not to destroy, but to
save. He aimed to bring, not only the accused to Repentance, By
showing her his Mercy, but the prosecutors also, By showing them
their sins; they thought to ensnare him, he sought to convince
and convert them. He declined to meddle with the Magistrate's
office. Many crimes merit far more severe Punishment than they
meet with; but we should not leave our own work, to take that
upon ourselves to which we are not called. When Christ sent her
away, it was with this caution, Go, and Sin No more. Those who
help to save the Life of a criminal, should help to save the
soul with the same caution. Those are truly happy, whom Christ
does not condemn. Christ's favour to us in the forgiveness of
past sins should prevail with us, Go then, and Sin No more.

12-16 Christ is the Light of the world. God is Light, and
Christ is the image of the invisible God. One Sun enlightens the
whole world; So does one Christ, and there needs No more. What a
dark Dungeon would the world be without the Sun! So would it be
without Jesus, By whom Light came into the world. Those who
follow Christ shall not walk in Darkness. They shall not be left
without the truths which are necessary to keep them from
destroying error, and the directions in the way of duty,
necessary to keep them from condemning Sin.

17-20 If we knew Christ better, we should know the Father
better. Those become vain in their imaginations concerning God,
who will not learn of Christ. Those who know not his Glory and
Grace, know not the Father that sent him. The time of our
departure out of the world, depends upon God. Our enemies cannot
hasten it any sooner, nor can our friends delay it any longer,
than the time appointed of the Father. Every true believer can
look up and say with pleasure, My times are in thy Hand, and
better there than in my own. To all God's purposes there is a

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.

30-36 Such power attended our Lord's words, that many were
convinced, and professed to believe in him. He encouraged them
to attend his teaching, rely On his promises, and obey his
commands, notwithstanding all temptations to evil. Thus doing,
they would be his disciples truly; and By the teaching of his
Word and Spirit, they would learn where their Hope and strength
lay. Christ spoke of spiritual liberty; but Carnal hearts feel
No other grievances than those that molest the body, and
distress their worldly affairs. Talk to them of their liberty
and property, tell them of waste committed upon their lands, or
damage done to their houses, and they understand you very Well;
but speak of the Bondage of Sin, Captivity to Satan, and liberty
By Christ; tell of wrong done to their precious souls, and the
hazard of their eternal welfare, then you bring strange things
to their ears. Jesus plainly reminded them, that the Man who
practised any Sin, was, in fact, a Slave to that Sin, which was
the case with most of them. Christ in the Gospel offers us
Freedom, he has power to do this, and those whom Christ makes
free are really So. But often we see persons disputing about
liberty of every kind, while they are slaves to some sinful

37-40 Our Lord opposed the proud and vain confidence of these
Jews, showing that their descent from Abraham could not profit
those of a contrary Spirit to him. Where the Word of God has No
place, No good is to be expected; room is left there for all
wickedness. A sick person who turns from his Physician, and will
take neither remedies nor Food, is past Hope of recovery. The
Truth both heals and nourishes the hearts of those who receive
it. The Truth taught By philosophers has not this power and
effect, but only the Truth of God. Those who claim the
privileges of Abraham, must do Abraham's Works; must be
strangers and sojourners in this world; keep up the Worship of
God in their families, and always walk before God.

41-47 Satan prompts men to excesses By which they Murder
themselves and others, while what he puts into the mind tends to
ruin men's souls. He is the great promoter of falsehood of every
kind. He is a liar, all his temptations are carried On By his
Calling evil good, and good evil, and promising Freedom in Sin.
He is the author of all lies; whom liars resemble and obey, with
whom all liars shall have their portion for ever. The special
lusts of the Devil are spiritual wickedness, the lusts of the
mind, and corrupt reasonings, pride and envy, wrath and malice,
Enmity to good, and enticing others to evil. By the Truth, here
understand the revealed will of God as to the Salvation of men
By Jesus Christ, the Truth Christ was now preaching, and which
the Jews opposed.

48-53 Observe Christ's disregard of the applause of men. Those
who are dead to the praises of men can Bear their contempt. God
will seek the honour of all who do not seek their own. In these
verses we have the doctrine of the Everlasting happiness of
believers. We have the character of a believer; he is one that
keeps the sayings of the Lord Jesus. And the privilege of a
believer; he shall By No means see Death for ever. Though now
they cannot avoid seeing Death, and tasting it also, yet they
shall shortly be where it will be No more forever, Ex 14:13.

54-59 Christ and all that are his, depend upon God for honour.
Men may be able to dispute about God, yet may not know him. Such
as know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Christ, are Put
together, 2Th 1:8. All who rightly know anything of Christ,
earnestly desire to know more of him. Those who discern the dawn
of the Light of the Sun of Righteousness, wish to see his
rising. "Before Abraham was, I AM." This speaks Abraham a
Creature, and our Lord the Creator; Well, therefore, might he
make himself greater than Abraham. I AM, is the name of God, Ex
3:14; it speaks his self-existence; he is the First and the
Last, ever the same, Re 1:8. Thus he was not only before
Abraham, but before all worlds, Pr 8:23; Joh 1:1. As Mediator,
he was the appointed Messiah, long before Abraham; the Lamb
slain from the foundation of the world, Re 13:8. The Lord
Jesus was made of God Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and
Redemption, to Adam, and Abel, and all that lived and died By
Faith in him, before Abraham. The Jews were about to Stone Jesus
for Blasphemy, but he withdrew; By his miraculous power he
passed through them unhurt. Let us stedfastly profess what we
know and believe concerning God; and if heirs of Abraham's
Faith, we shall rejoice in looking forward to that Day when the
Saviour shall appear in Glory, to the confusion of his enemies,
and to complete the Salvation of all who believe in him.