John 8:31-59

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These small group studies of John contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

John 8:31-59 Inductive Bible Study

  1. What it means to be Jesus’ disciple (31-36)

    1. Keep his words (31-32)

    2. Have a transformed life (33-36)

  2. The Jews’ lost condition (37-47)

    1. Physical ancestry cannot save them (37)

    2. They aren’t following Abraham’s example (38-40)

    3. They were imitating Satan (41-44)

    4. They do not believe the truth and are blinded in their condition (45-47)

  3. Jesus’ identity (48-58)

    1. The Jews didn’t know it (48)

    2. He is humble (50)

    3. Those who follow Him will be freed from spiritual death (51)

    4. The Jews misunderstand the death he is referring to (52-53)

    5. It is the Father that glorifies Him (54-55)

    6. Their ancestor Abraham was glad in heaven when he saw Jesus’ time come on earth (56)

    7. The Jews cannot believe Jesus saw Abraham (57)

    8. Jesus claims to be Yahweh (58)

  4. The Jews’ response (59)

Questions-

What does the phrase mean “abide in My word”? How can we live in Jesus’ Word?

Does verse 31 teach works-based salvation?

How will we know the truth? By studying? (It is by living it out that we know the truth, not just by studying.)

In what way does the truth set a person free? What is the opposite of free? What were the people Jesus was talking to captives of?

Is it possible to just think you can do a “little sin”, but stop when you are ready?

Who is the slave of sin? What does it mean to be the slave of sin (under its control, no freedom)?

Are people who practice care-free lifestyles doing whatever they want whenever they want without taking responsibility for their actions really free? How can we be free of sin?

Could physical lineage help the Israelites?

What is the difference between Abraham and the Jews whom Jesus was talking to?

How can you show you are a child of God? What would a child of God do?

What do Satan’s children do? Do Satan’s followers generally worship and acknowledge him directly? What does this show about Satan’s normal strategy (he is a master of deception; often his greatest work is in convincing people to be “good”; look at the Mormons for example).

How did Jesus answer His own question (verse 47)?

How did the Jews respond to Jesus’ arguments (attack without considering their validity)?

What did Jesus mean in verse 51?

How did the Jews misunderstand Him in verse 53?

What did Jesus mean in verse 56? What is “My day” and how did Abraham see it?

What is Jesus claiming in verse 58?

What is the significance of the words “I am”?

How did the Jews understanding Jesus’ statement?

What options does this leave us as far as forming an opinion on who Jesus is (we have to come to a decision and he only the options of Lord, Liar, Lunatic)?

Cross-references –

John 15:7 – Abide in Jesus and let His words abide in us (31)

Luke 14:26-27,33 – The cost of being a disciple (31)

John 16:13 – The Spirit will guide us into all truth (32)

Galatians 5:13 – Our freedom is not license to sin, but motivation to love and serve. (32)

1 Peter 2:16 – Use our freedom for good and become bondslaves to Christ.

Romans 6:12-23 – Discusses being slaves of sin prior to Christ and giving our lives to Christ, killing sin, and becoming slaves of righteousness (34-36)

Proverbs 5:22 – His own iniquities will capture the wicked, ad he will be held with the cords of his sin. (34)

Matthew 3:7-10 – John the Baptist told them that God could raise up children to Abraham from stones in the ground (38-44)

1 John 3:8-10 – The one who practices sin is of the devil (44)

1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love the world or things in the world. That is not the love of the Father (38-44)

1 John 5:1-3 – The person who loves the Father will love the Son. Those who love the Son will keep His commands. (38-44)

John 13:15 – Jesus has given us an example to follow, servanthood (38-44)

1 Peter 2:21-23 – Jesus left us an example to follow, holy living, not returning evil for evil (38-44)

Matthew 13:17 – Many people wanted to see what the Jews saw, that is Jesus (56)

John 1:1 – Jesus was in the beginning with God. He is God (58)

Exodus 3:14 – God is “I AM”. (58)

Teaching Points

  1. What it means to be Jesus’ disciple 31-36

What does the phrase mean “abide in My word”? How can we live in Jesus’ Word?

Does verse 31 teach works-based salvation?

How will we know the truth? By studying? (It is by living it out that we know the truth, not just by studying.)

In what way does the truth set a person free? What is the opposite of free? What were the people Jesus was talking to captives of?

Is it possible to just think you can do a “little sin”, but stop when you are ready?

Who is the slave of sin? What does it mean to be the slave of sin (under its control, no freedom)?

Are people who practice care-free lifestyles doing whatever they want whenever they want without taking responsibility for their actions really free? How can we be free of sin?

John 15:7 – Abide in Jesus and let His words abide in us (31)

Luke 14:26-27,33 – The cost of being a disciple (31)

John 16:13 – The Spirit will guide us into all truth (32)

Galatians 5:13 – Our freedom is not license to sin, but motivation to love and serve. (32)

1 Peter 2:16 – Use our freedom for good and become bondslaves to Christ.

Romans 6:12-22 – Discusses being slaves of sin prior to Christ and giving our lives to Christ, killing sin, and becoming slaves of righteousness (34-36)

Proverbs 5:22 – His own iniquities will capture the wicked, ad he will be held with the cords of his sin. (34)

Jesus was talking to a group of people who were following Him and had professed faith in Him. They believed, at least for the time being, that He was the Messiah, that He was true. Yet Jesus knew the hearts of men and wasn’t deceived. He lays down a couple of conditions or tests to see if they are really His disciples. It is not enough to say, “Lord, Lord.” A true disciple of Christ will have fruit of that.

The first criteria is to abide in His Word. What does this mean? Abide means to live. So it basically means to live in light of or according to Jesus’ words. The concept. A true disciple will do what Jesus says! These days there is a lot of easy believism going around. It’s so easy to get gifts and blessings from God. Just pray a prayer and acknowledge His existence. But the Bible actually teaches that becoming His follower brings a cost with it. Read Luke 14:26-27,33. Will a king be satisfied if a person in his kingdom says, “yes, you are the king” if that person doesn’t follow the king and acknowledge his right to rule? Will the king be satisfied if that person doesn’t bow the knee? If we want to be disciples of Christ we must make Him the Lord of our life. What does that mean? Is Jesus the Lord of your life? Can you truly say that you are serving Him above everything else?

So if you want to be a disciple of Christ you must obey what He said to do. Otherwise you are an imposter. In the kingdom of God there is no tight-roping or line walking or fence sitting. You have to choose your side. Either obey or disobey.

What is the result of abiding in His words? The first is that we will know the truth. Truth is not just an abstract theory or philosophy. Satan and his demons know the truth .Yet they are still living a lie and practicing deception. If we abide in God’s words we can know truth through personal experience. For example a girl may believe that her father will catch her, but she can experience this truth by jumping. A non-believer may understand there is a God in the world and He cares for us, but this person will not experience God’s personal care unless he becomes a disciple of Christ. So a person who abides in Christ’s words will know the truth through personal experience. He can experience all the promises of God. John 16:13. The Spirit guides us into all truth.

What is the effect of this truth in our lives? It sets us free. Sets us free from what?

It was a maxim of the Jews, “That no man was free, but he who exercised himself in the meditation of the law.” Through God’s divine revelation we can know truth from error. We don’t have to be trapped into the deceptive ways of the world. These blind people and lead them to destruction. They put people in a box so that they cannot get out. People want to do good. They want to find life’s meaning and purpose. They want to truly enjoy the world. But they can’t do any of this. They are miserable and burdened. They are blind. But God will open our eyes to the light and help us to live according to His truth, able to really enjoy the world and His purpose for our lives.

The Jews thought they had never been enslaved before. Here one can get a glimpse of their ethnic pride. Yet Jesus responds that they are enslaved to sin. Being enslaved to sin is the opposite of freedom. Read Romans 6:12-23. The United States Declaration of Independence declares that everybody has some unalienable rights and included in these are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Everybody wants to be free. But what does it mean to be free? If you go to the street and ask somebody what freedom is they will probably tell you it means to be able to live their life as they like and make their own decisions. Many think that it is the absence of authority or at least the absence of abusive authority. Yet this doesn’t guarantee true freedom. True freedom is the ability to practice what is right and good and follow God with one’s life. In the 70s there was a mini-cultural revolution in the States. The core tenets were free-love and anti-authority and anti-social rules. In other words people thought they were free if they could do whatever they want including sex or drinking or smoking etc. with no interference. Is that person really free? No! The freedom of the world is actually bondage to sin. Without Christ a person has no ability to please God and no ability to escape sin. Compare to the movie, Matrix (the people thought they were free, but were actually hooked up as batteries for the machines). And slaves of sin aren’t only the obvious drug slaves, sex slaves, alcohol slaves. There are also power slaves, respect slaves, recognition slaves, beauty slaves etc.

Yet Christ will set us free if we are willing. He will cut the chains of sin, take off the burden of guilt, open our eyes to the light, and will give us wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31). Before our minds were darkened, our eyes were blind, our tastes were dull. But no longer. If free we will be able to enjoy God, enjoy creation, enjoy His gifts, and will be able to walk on the path that God has laid out for us. We will be free to do what is right.

So to be Christ’s disciple the first criteria is the abide in His word, to obey Him. The second is to have a transformed life. If our life hasn’t been transformed or we aren’t obeying Him then we aren’t His disciple.

On a side note, the Jews said they had never been enslaved. But much of their history they were enslaved most notably for four hundred years in Egypt.

  1. The Jews’ lost condition (37-47)

Could physical lineage help the Israelites?

What is the difference between Abraham and the Jews whom Jesus was talking to?

How can you show you are a child of God? What would a child of God do?

What do Satan’s children do? Do Satan’s followers generally worship and acknowledge him directly? What does this show about Satan’s normal strategy (he is a master of deception; often his greatest work is in convincing people to be “good”; look at the Mormons for example).

How did Jesus answer His own question (verse 47)?

Jesus here responds to their argument that they are Abraham’s descendants (33). He shows them very clearly that they don’t follow the example of Abraham, but follow their true father, Satan. Let’s discuss it. I will call this section “like father like son”. Briefly explain this idiom. Jesus spoke and did the things from God. They do the things of Satan.

Through verses forty Jesus makes it clear that if they were Abraham’s children (in spirit) that they would do his deeds. But instead they were trying to kill a person, a person who had told the truth and was from God.

The Jews were relying on their physical lineage. No one can be saved through their parents or ancestors. Stone, Michael, Stanley, and I need to pay special attention to this point.

The Jews father was the devil. So they were like him. They sought to murder Jesus and they didn’t care for the truth. The children of the devil don’t all dress up in black, wear skeletons for costumes, and dance around a fire worshipping Satan. Many appear good as the Pharisees did. But their hearts are stained.

Read and discuss:

Matthew 3:7-10 – John the Baptist told them that God could raise up children to Abraham from stones in the ground (38-44)

1 John 3:8-10 – The one who practices sin is of the devil (44)

1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love the world or things in the world. That is not the love of the Father (38-44)

1 John 5:1-3 – The person who loves the Father will love the Son. Those who love the Son will keep His commands. (38-44)

John 13:15 – Jesus has given us an example to follow, servanthood (38-44)

1 Peter 2:21-23 – Jesus left us an example to follow, holy living, not returning evil for evil (38-44)

For us the challenge is obvious, like father like Son. We must choose whom to follow. We must follow either God or the world. The person who is from God loves the things of God and seeks to serve God. The person who is from Satan is filled with evil desires, and loves the world. The one who practices sin is of the devil. So the question is, who is your father? If it is God, then imitate Him. Follow Him. Set apart your life to Him. Don’t deceive yourself and think that you can practice sin and still be of God.

III.Jesus’ identity (48-58)

    1. The Jews didn’t know it (48)

    2. He is humble (50)

    3. Those who follow Him will be freed from spiritual death (51)

    4. The Jews misunderstand the death he is referring to (52-53)

    5. It is the Father that glorifies Him (54-55)

    6. Their ancestor Abraham was glad in heaven when he saw Jesus’ time come on earth (56)

    7. The Jews cannot believe Jesus saw Abraham (57)

    8. Jesus claims to be Yahweh (58)

How did the Jews respond to Jesus’ arguments (attack without considering their validity)?

What did Jesus mean in verse 51?

How did the Jews misunderstand Him in verse 53?

What did Jesus mean in verse 56? What is “My day” and how did Abraham see it?

What is Jesus claiming in verse 58?

What is the significance of the words “I am”?

How did the Jews understanding Jesus’ statement?

What options does this leave us as far as forming an opinion on who Jesus is (we have to come to a decision and he only the options of Lord, Liar, Lunatic)?

How did the Jews respond? They didn’t examine themselves as they should have done. But they attacked Jesus’ character and claimed he had a demon. In debates among politicians if one is losing they will often revert to character attacks instead of really listening and evaluating the other person’s argument.

Yet Jesus was humble. He repeats His goal is not for self-glorification and again offers spiritual life. Once again, the offer goes over their heads.

I think that “My day” refers to Jesus’ first coming and Abraham saw it from heaven. Still the main point is that Jesus had seen Abraham and that Abraham rejoiced in what Jesus was doing.

The Jews latched onto this and gave Jesus a perfect chance to make it clear that He wasn’t God and didn’t come from heaven. Yet Jesus didn’t take the chance. He once again affirmed His equality with God. Read Exodus 3:14 and discuss.

    1. YHWH – I AM who I AM (translated LORD in English versions, YHWH and I AM built on same word, in Exodus 3:13-15 these two words used interchangeably) (10-15 minutes)

      1. Key Verses (Exodus 3:13-15)

      2. Implications (Ask people first what implications they can think of)

        1. God exists

          1. Application/Implication for us: Most people acknowledge God exists, but live as if He doesn’t. We will be judged for our conduct. We will have no excuse. For example you know God is watching you, but you still sin anyway; you ignore Him.

        2. God’s personality and power are not dependant on anything else. The come solely from himself His character is solely from His own and hasn’t been shaped by anything else or any law/standard outside Himself. People are shaped and formed by their upbringing, culture, and environment.

        3. God does not change – He is our foundation that doesn’t move and we can have complete confidence in Him. Family, friends, science, and our situation in life all change. God is the only one who doesn’t. He can’t improve because He is already perfect. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

          1. Application/Implication for us: Anyone ever have someone break a promise to you because they changed their mind? Most of us have. God will never change His mind. Circumstances don’t affect Him. He will keep His promises.

        4. God is what He is. He is not bound to our standards.

          1. Application/implication for us: We must conform to God and not God to us. He is the standard; we are not. Therefore we cannot question Him, His plans, or His wills. We often try to make God do what we want. We expect Him to deal with things the way we would. We sometimes doubt when He doesn’t. We don’t know why sin, death, pain, etc. are still in the world. Why doesn’t God just wipe them out? We would! He is perfect and His ways are too high for us to understand. Isaiah 55:8-9. We must have faith and trust Him because we know what kind of God He is. This fact should comfort us.

        5. Here Jesus makes a clear and purposeful claim identifying himself as Yahweh. It would be incredible strange and abnormal language for Jesus to say before Abraham was born, “I am” if he meant us to understand this in any different way. This great, infinite God has drawn near to us sinful humans in Jesus Christ. John 8:58-59. We can approach Him freely through Christ. What a great privilege this is! We can be friends with I AM and have a special relationship with Him!

          1. Application/Implication for us: He has drawn near to us so we should rejoice in this and draw near to Him.

Jesus didn’t leave us an option to think He was a great man or prophet. He claimed to be God. We must recognize His claims and decide one way or the other. The Jews recognized His claim and tried to kill Him. We should believe and give our lives to Him.

Matthew 13:17 – Many people wanted to see what the Jews saw, that is Jesus (56)

John 1:1 – Jesus was in the beginning with God. He is God (58)

Exodus 3:14 – God is “I AM”. (58)

Main Points

  1. Abide in Christ’s words. If you are really His disciple you will obey Him. Search out His Word. Learn it. Keep it.

  2. Examine yourself to see if you have a transformed life. If you don’t then go to the Son who makes us free. A disciple of Christ cannot be a slave of sin. Don’t let yourself be enslaved to the world or its way of thinking. Allow Christ to give you true freedom.

  3. Like father like son. Make sure you are not imitating the wrong father. Become holy as God is holy. Get rid of all evil desires and fill your heart with things that are of God. Read Philippians 4:6.

  4. Jesus claimed to be the great “I AM”. Recognize what this name means. Praise God that the eternal Father and creator exists and came to us in human form so that we can know and follow His example.

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