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Several times during the narrative provided by the Gospel of John the Jews attempt to kill the Lord Jesus Christ.

For example:

  • John 5:17-18

    17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” 18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. NASB

  • John 8:58-59

    58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. NASB

  • John 10:30-31

    30 I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. NASB

I see two possibilities here:

  1. First possibility

Objectively, the Lord Jesus Christ makes a factual statement.

Jesus says, "I am X."

The Jews properly understand that factual statement.

The Jews say, "Jesus says that he is X."

However, the Jews disbelieve that factual statement.

The Jews say, "Although Jesus says that he is X, we do not believe that Jesus is X."

The Jews accuse Jesus of blasphemy because they believe Jesus said that he is X when he is not, and a claim to be X when someone is not is blasphemous.

The Jews say, "Jesus says that he is X, but we do not believe Jesus is X. If someone says they are X when they are not, it is blasphemy. Therefore, Jesus has committed blasphemy."

Consequently, the Jews attempt to kill Jesus for committing blasphemy.

  1. Second possibility

Objectively, the Lord Jesus Christ makes a factual statement.

Jesus says, "I am X." (Jesus is indeed X.)

The Jews misunderstand that factual statement.

The Jews say, "Jesus says that he is Y." (Jesus actually said that he was X.)

The Jews disbelieve what they have misunderstood (although they are not aware that they have misunderstood).

The Jews say, "Although Jesus says that he is Y, we do not believe that Jesus is Y."

The Jews accuse Jesus of blasphemy because they (supposedly) heard Jesus say that he is Y, but they do not believe Jesus is Y. A claim to be Y when someone is not Y is blasphemous.

The Jews say, "Jesus says that he is Y, but we do not believe Jesus is Y. If someone says they are Y when they are not, it is blasphemy. Therefore, Jesus has committed blasphemy."

Consequently, the Jews attempt to kill Jesus for committing blasphemy.


I suppose there could be other possibilities. That being said, which of the two possibilities explains the Jews' reaction to Jesus' statements? Did they want to kill him because they disbelieved his statements or because they misunderstood his statements? If neither, then what is the reason for their attempt to kill him?

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  • Isn't this just a really convoluted way of asking "Did Jesus claim to be God?" – Caleb May 28 '16 at 7:08
  • @Caleb I'm concerned with whether the Jews actually misunderstood or disbelieved Jesus, not whether Jesus actually claimed to be God. It seems to me that the Jews did misunderstand him. For example, when he said he would destroy the Temple and raise it up in 3 days, they misunderstood him as though he was talking about the Temple on the mount, rather than his body. Again, Nicodemus misunderstood Jesus as though he was referring to being physically born again from his mother ("second time"), but Jesus was referring to born again, spiritually. Seems there is a trend for misunderstanding him. – user862 May 28 '16 at 7:31
  • Then why does the bulk of the question deal with establishing that the the Jewish leaders wanted him killed for blasphemy, and specifically for claiming he was something he wasn't? The real answer to this question is that neither of possibilities is correct (you're assuming they're being honest and forthright, have no ulterior motives, and don't manipulate the situation at all—to all of which there is evidence to the contrary), but if you really think those are the options then haven't you ruled out the very thing you claim to be asking about? – Caleb May 28 '16 at 10:01
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Disbelief = Understanding without Accepting

Jesus said that the Jews did not believe him despite of doing his Father's works. Disbelief can only occur when one clearly understands what he/she is denying of.Therefore, the Jews correctly understood Jesus' claims yet they chose not to believe in Him. Jesus said to the Jews that believing in him results into knowing and understanding him. This is not a mere knowledge but a saving knowledge (cf. John 17:3) since the Jews already understood and yet chose not to accept it.

John 10

36 do you say of him whom bthe Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because dI said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me;

38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (ESV)

Since John 8:57-58 is an extension of John 10 regarding the reaction of the Jews (stoning Jesus because of his claims), we therefore conclude that the Jews did understand Jesus' claims yet merely put no trust in it.

John 8

58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.(ESV)

The Jews picked up stones again to stone him

John 10:32 (ESV)

On the other hand, the writer of the 4th Gospel tells us in John 5:18 that Jesus was "making HIMSELF equal with God." The writer uses the words "he" and "himself" in this text refer to Jesus, and not his accusers. It is the writer who attributes both "breaking the Sabbath" and "making himself equal with God" to Jesus, and not the Jews. Therefore, the Jews correctly viewed Christ's claims in the point of view of the writer himself.

John 5

18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

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  • (-1) Calling God one's father makes one equal to God?? Have you never prayed the "Lord's Prayer"?! – user10231 May 28 '16 at 20:46
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    @WoundedEgo: Jesus said (John 20:17), "...my Father and your Father..." The relationship between Jesus and God the Father is different from God the Father and us. We are sons of God by adoption; he is the only son of God by nature. Furthermore, John 5 clearly states that the Jews understood Jesus saying God was his Father as being a claim to equality with God. – user862 May 29 '16 at 3:05
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YES. The Jews misunderstood because they were incapable of understanding.

John 5:18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Did Jesus break the Sabbath? We can safely assume not. Their 'version' of the law - which included the Sabbath was already suspect - Jesus gave them a huge serve for their wicked practices and beliefs - they were supposed to represent and teach God's way to the nation.

Matt 23:27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

So no sabbath broken. Wrong x 1!

Did Jesus claim equality with the God by calling God his Father? No.

They took what he said and heard what they wanted to hear - anything that they could use to falsely accuse him. Wrong x 2!

John spends the next few verses telling us the things Jesus said to show that he was not equal with God, but took his every cue from the things the Father showed him...

v30 “I can do nothing on My own initiative".

Every encounter Jesus had with the Jews raised similar issues - they didn't get Jesus, his words or understand his actions - always missing the point and going their own direction. They wanted outcomes Jesus wasn't providing.

Jesus knew exactly what their game was and they hated him for it - wanted him gone or dead ASAP.

Thankfully God had a few in mind that were able to hear and understand, to see and believe the plan that God had in mind - the one that Jesus was presenting all along - the kingdom - for all.

Moral of the story - anytime we think of using what the Jews said about God or Jesus to form doctrine is a slippery slope to nowhere good.

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