Father of Lies

One of the most intriguing verses in the New Testament is The Gospel of John 8:44. This verse has been hacked over and intellectualized over and over. Heads spinning, objectives contemplated and safety considered. It’s one of my favorite stories and it’s here at Bible Gateway (KJV)

It’s necessary to understand the context to fully appreciate the text. Jesus is in the temple and has just saved a woman from being stoned. Everyone leaves the Temple except the woman. Then an invisible Pharisee who wasn’t a man (verses 9-12) begins to have a discussion with him. The Pharisee challenges his authority and others join (also invisible?) and ask him about his father.

28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

They continue to question him and he asks them who they are.

39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

The conversation goes on to my favorite verse where Jesus tells them:

44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

At the end of the chapter the invisible men chase him out with rocks.

What in the world is going on here? It helps to understand that although Jesus was a carpenter he was well versed in the Tanakh. This has been noted by historians as odd; most Jews of his day were illiterate. What he’s saying is the father of the Jews is a liar. The father of the Jews was Abraham. He’s referring to two old testament stories.

The first is Bereishit (Genesis) 22, also known as the Binding of Isaac. The story is that Abraham goes to sacrifice his son Isaac, is talked out of it by an angel and sacrifices a Ram instead (Jewish Virtual Library). This is another one of those stories that’s been rewritten. Turns out in the original version, Abraham does sacrifice Isaac (Live Science). It is also not entirely clear if Abraham is told to do this by God. He definitely uses deceit to get Isaac up on the mountain. Whomever he is talking to tells him.

17 that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

This leads us to the second story Jesus is referring to, the story of Adam. When he and Eve are questioned if they have eaten the fruit they tell God they haven’t. Then God kicks them out of the garden and tells them their seed will multiply as the sands of the seashores. The other hint is when Jesus refers to himself as the son of man. In Aramaic, the word man is Adam. Jesus declares he is the son of Adam, probably Able. Therefore probably Isaac, son of Abraham.