Carson begins this segment of his commentary by noting that John 8:12 follows 7:52 perfectly. If the passage from 7:53-8:11 is not original the text remains smooth (Carson 1991, 337). He then goes on to discuss the theme of light in John’s Gospel and Judaism. It was a familiar concept. When Jesus said he was “the light of the world” the people would have understood the concept (Carson 1991, 338).
Carson notes that Jesus’ words in 8:13 should not be understood to prohibit him from asserting his identity. Rather, they say that Jesus is not speaking or acting on his own initiative. He is speaking in accord with his overall testimony, in which his claims are documented by others’ (Carson 1991, 339). Jesus does testify to himself. He also makes judgment, which is fair (Carson 1991, 340).
John 8:21-30 speaks of Jesus’ source of authority. Carson sees Jesus repeating the ideas from 7:33-34, but more forcefully. This does not, however, make the people accept his word (Carson 1991, 341). Jesus, from the heavenly realm, is not understood by his hearers, who, in v. 23, are said to be from the fallen and rebellious world (Carson 1991, 342). In relation to verse 24, Carson speaks at length about the reference to Exodus 3:13-14. Carson concludes that Jesus’ statement of ἐγὼ εἰμί without a direct quote of ὅ ὦν from Exodus makes it difficult to see a direct claim here (Carson 1991, 343). The context, however, made it clear to Jesus’ hearers at some times that he was claiming deity (Carson 1991, 344).
John 8:31-59 introduces some people as believers, but they are later described as slaves to sin (Carson 1991, 246). Carson considers a variety of explanations for this apparent change of attitude. He concludes that some people may have a “fickle faith” which he contrasts with that of the genuine believer (Carson 1991, 348). Carson goes on to identify Jesus’ calls to count the cost of following him as a call to rightly analyze works. Thus the Christian can be sure his commitment to Jesus is true (Carson 1991, 348). Jesus moves the discussion to the concept of slavery next. Carson notes that the Jews no doubt understood Jesus’ reference to a moral servitude to sin. Otherwise they would not have denied being subjects. However, the status of slaves as compared to children is apparently the target of Jesus’ discussion (Carson 1991, 350). Conduct, whether as a slave, a son of Abraham, or the Son of God, shows our true status (Carson 1991, 351). In verses 42 and following, Jesus does not even allow for God to be the Father of the Jews in general. He ties fatherhood very closely to behavior (Carson 1991, 353). Carson notes that in verse 45 unbelief is explained. People who do not believe are children of their father, the Devil. The passage does not explain why some do believe. Carson reiterates the ideas from chapter six of God drawing people to believe (Carson 1991, 354). Jesus does go on to say he is the one who gives life. Verses 51-52 show this as his purpose (Carson 1991, 355). This sparks an objection. Does Jesus think he is greater than Abraham? Jesus claims perfect knowledge of God (Carson 1991, 356). He does claim to be greater than Abraham. He does so in such clear terms in verse 58 that the Jews move to stone him for blasphemy (Carson 1991, 358).
Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991.
Carson, D. A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005.
Harris, Murray J. John: Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Academic, 2015.