John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 8:25 - 8:25

Online Resource Library

Return to | Commentary Index | Bible Index | Search | Prayer Request | Download

John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 8:25 - 8:25

(Show All Books | Show All Chapters)

This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

25.From the beginning. They who translate the words τὴν ἀρχὴν, as if they had been in the nominative case, I am the beginning, (227) and as if Christ were here asserting his eternal Divinity, are greatly mistaken. There is no ambiguity of this sort in the Greek, but still the Greek commentators also differ as to the meaning. All of them, indeed, are agreed that a preposition must be understood; but many give to it the force of an adverb, as if Christ had said, “ ought first ( τὴν ἀρχὴν) to be observed.” Some too — among whom is Chrysostom — render it continuously thus: The beginning, who also speak to you, I have many things to say and judge of you This meaning has been put into verse by Nonnus. (228) But a different reading is more generally adopted, and appears to be the true one. I interpret τὴν ἀρχὴν, from the beginning; so that the meaning, in my opinion, is this: “ did not arise suddenly, but as I was formerly promised, so now I come forth publicly.” He adds,

Because I also speak to you; by which he means that he testifies plainly enough who he is, provided that they had ears. This word, ὄτι because, is not employed merely to assign a reason, as if Christ intended to prove that he was from the beginning, because he now speaks; but he asserts that there is such an agreement between his doctrine and the eternity which he has spoken of, that it ought to be reckoned an undoubted confirmation of it. It may be explained thus: “According to the beginning, that is, what I have formerly said, I now, as it were, confirm anew;” or, “ truly what I now also speak, is in accordance with the conditions made in all ages, so as to be a strong confirmation of it.”

In short, this reply consists of two clauses; for, under the word beginning, he includes an uninterrupted succession of ages, during which God had made a covenant with their fathers. When he says that he also speaks, he joins his doctrine with the ancient predictions, and shows that it depends on them. Hence it follows that the Jews had no other reason for their ignorance, than that they did not believe either the Prophets or the Gospel; for it is the same Christ that is exhibited in all of them. They pretended to be disciples of the Prophets, and to look to the eternal covenant of God; but still they rejected Christ, who had been promisedfrom the beginning, and presented himself before them.

(227) Ceux qui traduisent, “Je suis le commencement.”

(228) He refers to Nonnus, a Greek writer, who rendered into hexameter verse the Gospel by John. The passage stands thus:

Ti>v su< pe>leiv kai< Cristo<v ajni>acen, o tti par uJmi~n

Ex ajrch~v ajo>rizon e]cwn nh>riqma dika>zein

Kai< lale>ein

Who art thou ?and Christ cried aloud, What (I say) to you from the beginning,having an innumerable multitude of things to say and judge So far as relates to τὴν ἀρχὴν,Nonnus appears to agree with Calvin; for he renders it ἐξ ἀρχη̈ς,from the beginning. — Ed