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Commentary On John Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

John 8:15-20

15. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no man.16. And if I judge, my judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I and the Father, who hath sent me.17. It is even written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.18. I am one who testify concerning myself, and the Father who hath sent me testifieth concerning me.19. They said therefore to him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, You neither know me nor my Father. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.20. These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, teaching in the temple; and no man seized him, because his hour was not yet come.

15. You judge according to the flesh. This may be explained in two ways; either that they judge according to the wicked views of the flesh, or that they judge according to the appearance of the person. For the flesh sometimes denotes the outward appearance of a man; and both meanings agree well with this passage, since wherever either the feelings of the flesh prevail, or a regard to the person regulates the judgment, neither truth nor justice dwells. But I think that the meaning will be more certain, if you contrast the flesh with the Spirit, understanding his meaning to be, that they are not lawful and competent judges, because they have not the Spirit for their guide.

I judge no man. Here, too, commentators differ. Some distinguish it thus, that he does not judge as man. Others refer it to the time, that while he was on earth, he did not undertake the office of a Judge Augustine gives both expositions, but does not decide between them. But the former distinction cannot at all apply. For this sentence contains two clauses, that Christ does not judge, and that if he judge, his judgment is solid and just, because it is divine. As to the former clause, therefore, in which he says that he does not judge, I confine it to what belongs peculiarly to this passage. For in order the more fully to convict his enemies of pride, he employs this comparison, that they unjustly assume the liberty to judge, and yet cannot condemn him, while he merely teaches and abstains from performing the office of a judge.

16. And if I judge, He adds this correction, that he may not appear entirely to surrender his right. If I judge, says he, my judgment is true, that is, it is entitled to authority. Now the authority arises from this consideration, that he does nothing but according to the commandment of the Father.

For I am not alone. This phrase amounts to an affirmative, that he is not one of the ordinary rank of men, but that he must be considered along with the office which was assigned to him by the Father. But why does he not rather make an open assertion of his Divinity, as he might truly and justly have done? The reason is, that as his Divinity was concealed under the veil of the flesh, he brings forward his Father, in whom it was more manifest. Still, the object of the discourse is, to show that all that he does and teaches ought to be accounted Divine.

17. Even in your law it is written. The argument might, at first sight, appear to be weak, because no man is received as a witness in his own cause. But we ought to remember what I have already said, that the Son of God ought to be excluded from the ordinary number of other men, because he neither is a private individual, nor transacts his own private business. As to his distinguishing himself from his Father, by doing so he accommodates himself to the capacity of his hearers, and that on account of his office, because he was at that time a servant of the Father, from whom, therefore, he asserts that all his doctrine has proceeded.

19. Where is thy father? There can be no doubt whatever, that it was in mockery that they inquired about his Father For not only do they, with their wonted pride, treat contemptuously what he had said about the Father, but they likewise ridicule him for talking loftily about his Father, as if he had drawn his birth from heaven. By these words, therefore, they mean that they do not value so highly Christ's Father, as to ascribe any thing to the Son on his account. And the reason why there are so many in the present day who, with daring presumption, despise Christ, is, that few consider that God has sent him.

You neither know me nor my Father. He does not deign to give them a direct reply, but in a few words reproaches them with the ignorance in which they flattered themselves. They inquired about the Father; and yet when they had the Son before their eyes, seeing, they did not see, (Matthew 13:13.) It was therefore a just punishment of their pride and wicked ingratitude, that they who despised the Son of God, who had been familiarly offered to them, never approached to the Father For how shall any mortal man ascend to the height of God, unless he be raised on high by the hand of his Son? God in Christ condescended to the mean condition of men, so as to stretch out his hand; and do not those who reject God, when he thus approaches to them, deserve to be excluded from heaven?

Let us know that the same thing is spoken to us all; for whoever aspires to know God, and does not begin with Christ, must wander -- as it were -- in a labyrinth; for it is not without good reason that Christ is called the image of the Father, as has been already said. Again, as all who, leaving Christ, attempt to rise to heaven, after the manner of the giants, are destitute of all right knowledge of God, so every man who shall direct his mind and all his senses to Christ, will be led straight to the Father. For on good grounds does God declare that,

by the mirror of the Gospel, we clearly behold God in the person of Christ,
(2 Corinthians 3:18.)

And certainly it is an astonishing reward of the obedience of faith, that whosoever humbles himself before the Lord Jesus, penetrates above all the heavens, even to those mysteries which the angels behold and adore.

20. These words spoke Jesus in the treasury. The treasury was a part of the temple where the sacred offerings were laid up. It was a much frequented place, and hence we infer that this sermon was delivered by Christ amidst a large assembly of men, so that the people had less excuse. The Evangelist likewise holds out to us the astonishing power of God in this respect, that they were constrained to endure Christ openly teaching in the temple, though but lately they sought to seize him, and put him to death. For since they held an undisputed sway in the temple, so that they ruled there with the fierceness of tyrants, they might have banished Christ from it by a single word. And when he ventured to take upon himself the office of a teacher, why do they not instantly lay violent hands on him? We see then that God caused men to hear him, and guarded him by his protection, so that those savage beasts did not touch him, though they had their throats opened to swallow him. The Evangelist again mentions his hour, that we may learn that it is not by the will of men, but by the will of God, that we live and die.

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