John 8:56

Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.

What day is "my day"?

  • Possibly related When did Abraham see Jesus' day? John 8:56-57
    – agarza
    Dec 29 '20 at 16:37
  • 2
    'Jesus' is the name given to the one born of the virgin Mary. The Son of God is only declared to be so by his resurrection of the Father. I think it is wrong to, retrospectively, apply the name given to the baby born in Bethlehem to mysterious manifestations prior to his coming into the world. Yes, he existed. But not as 'Jesus' incarnate. He who said 'my day' is God manifest in flesh.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 29 '20 at 19:30
  • Consider "my day" as meaning "the day of the Lord" (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, Malachi, Acts, 1Corinthians, 2Corinthians, 1Thessalonians, and 2Peter) or "the Lord's day" (Revelation). In particular, 1Corinthians 5:5, 2Corinthians 1:1, and 1Corinthians 1:8 use the phrase "the Day of the Lord Jesus". If all those people were told of the Day, or had a vision of it, the it's no surprise that Abraham would too. Dec 29 '20 at 22:06

John 8:56 is not discussing seeing Jesus face to face. The verse says that Abraham "saw my day". That is, Jesus was saying that Abraham looked forward to the time of Jesus when Messiah would appear.

Note how various versions render this:

  • NIV: Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad."
  • NLT: Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.”
  • ESV: Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”
  • BSB: Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see My day. He saw it and was glad.”
  • NASB: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."

The verse can be understood in one of several ways:

  • Abraham saw the time of Jesus prophetically in vision
  • Abraham looked forward to Jesus time in the same hope that all others had yearned for.
  • Abraham had hoped that Messiah's coming would be in Abraham's time and thus Abraham would live to see the day of Messiah's coming. Most of the mother's in Israel cherished such a hope.

It is not necessary to choose between these alternatives because all are possibly correct. Ellicott observes this:

He [Jesus] now, with the thoughts of John 8:39 still present, contrasts the exultation of him whom they claimed as father, when he saw from afar the Messianic advent, with their rejection of the Messiah who is actually among them. Abraham realised the fulness of the promises made to him, and believed in the Lord that the blessing should be fulfilled to his seed. He, too, had kept God’s word, and in the true sense had not seen death (see Genesis 15:1-6; Genesis 22:18). The words, “My day,” are used, as in Luke 17:22, for the manifestation of Christ on earth.

And he saw it, and was glad.—This is the historic fulfilment of the joy which looked forward to the day of Christ. Our Lord reveals here a truth of the unseen world that is beyond human knowledge or explanation. From that world Abraham was cognisant of the fact of the Incarnation, and saw in it the accomplishment of the promise which had brought joy to shepherds watching their flocks, as the Patriarch had watched his; there came an angel, as angels had come to him, and a multitude of the heavenly host, exulting in the good news to men. In that joy Abraham had part.

Benson arrives at a similar conclusion:

John 8:56-59. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day — Ηγαλλιασατο ινα ιδη την ημεραν, exulted with desire, to see my day. “The words ινα ιδη, that he might see, immediately following the verb, show,” as Dr. Campbell observes, “that it cannot mean here, rejoiced, but rather signifies, desired earnestly, wished, longed.” Indeed, the expression may with the strictest propriety signify, “leaping forward with joy to meet the object of our wishes, as well as exulting in the possession of it.” By his day, our Lord seems to mean, the time when the promised seed should come, in whom all nations were to be blessed by being converted from idolatry to the knowledge and worship of the true God; and put in possession of all the blessings attendant on true religion. He earnestly desired, as if our Lord said, to see the great transactions of my life, by which these blessings were to be procured for all nations, and to take a view of the happy state into which the world would be brought, when they were bestowed upon them. And he saw it, and was glad — His faith was equivalent to seeing. By the favour of a particular revelation, Abraham had a distinct foresight of these things, and was exceedingly transported with the prospect.


Did "Abraham" ever see Jesus (person to person)? - After Abram became "Abraham" in Genesis 17, YHWH descended to meet Abraham (face to face) in Genesis 18:22-33, but an Angel of YHWH was heard from heaven in Genesis 22:11-15.

  • Neither YHWH (Genesis 18:22) nor the Angel of YHWH (Genesis 22:11-15) declare themselves to be Jesus.

Genesis 18:22 "Abraham was still standing before YHWH"

Genesis 18:33 "And YHWH departed when He finished speaking to Abraham"

Genesis 22:11 And an angel of YHWH called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham! Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."

  • Consequently - the angel of YHWH inspires Abraham to call the place of Isaac's salvation : "the Lord will be seen" in Genesis 22:14.

Genesis 22:15 "And an angel of YHWH called to Abraham a second time from heaven." - So... Abraham did not literally see YHWH (face to face) like he did in Genesis 18. - but we know YHWH is the name of God. - so who was the Angel of YHWH who saved Isaac?

  • John 8:56 offers a name (Jesus) metaphorically associated with the action of the unnamed Angel of YHWH from Genesis 22:11-15 who provided "salvation" for Isaac.

According to the immediate context of your question, (John 8:56), no He did not see Jesus in person. The Jews at John 8:55 had not "really" known God personally. In other words, The enemies of Jesus knew "about" God, but they did not know Him.

Jesus says, "but I know Him" testifies to a personal, intimate knowledge. The "I" means "I myself" which emphasizes "I" in contrast to them/you. Jesus repeated, "But I know Him, and keep His word. Again meaning Jesus had an intimate and personal knowledge of the Father.

At John 8:56 it's almost as if Jesus is saying, IN FACT, "Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see My day etc." "My day" is the grand and glorious day of Messiah. This was the very time the Jews were witnessing but rebelling against.

The phrase "He saw it" refers to the atoning work Jesus was to accomplish at Calvary. I believe Abraham saw Him by faith in God's word, and in a shadowy type. The Jews saw Him in the flesh. They mocked, but Abraham rejoiced.

As a side note regarding John 8:57 the Jews say to Jesus, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Why did the Jews say 50 years when Jesus was only 33 years old? As it turns out the ministers in the tabernacle ceased to minister at age 50 (Numbers 4:3; 8;25). Important matters were left to the elders; thus it might have been an implication that Jesus was not old enough to council them.

At John 8:58 Jesus is saying that before Abraham's existence He himself was existing. However, "I am" means much more than that because He was less than 50 years old. He as a person exists in the ever present now no matter at what point on the time line one may identify. Jesus' statement about Abraham could be made about any man or being for that matter. (John 1:1 and John 1:30.)

In dealing with the question of whether Abraham saw Jesus in person, the answer is yes. Before His incarnation the Lord Jesus appeared in the Old testament as the angel of the Lord. I want to be perfectly clear that the angel of the Lord/Jesus is "NOT" an actual angel, nor is He Michael the arc angel. As the angel of the Lord He functioned as a messenger/mediator to those in the OT as well as to the nation of Israel.

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