Ye ( ὑμεῖς )
Emphatic, in contrast with ἡμεῖς , we, of John 8:41.
Of your father ( ἐκ )
Very suggestive, implying community of nature, as in John 8:42. Compare 1 John 3:8, 1 John 3:10.
See on Matthew 4:1. John uses Satan only once in the Gospel (John 13:27), frequently in Revelation, and nowhere in the Epistles. A few critics have adopted the very singular rendering, which the Greek will bear, ye are of the father of the devil. This is explained by charging John with Gnosticism, and making him refer to the Demiurge, a mysterious and inferior being descended from God, by whom God, according to the Gnostics, created the universe, and who had rebelled against God, and was the father of Satan. It is only necessary to remark with Meyer that such a view is both unbiblical and un-Johannine.
Lusts ( ἐπιθυμίας )
See on Mark 4:19.
Ye will do ( θέλετε ποιεῖν )
Wrong. Properly, ye will to do. Rev., it is your will to do. See on John 7:17.
Murderer ( ἀνθρωποκτόνος )
Only here and 1 John 3:15. Literally, a manslayer; from ἄνθρωπος , man, and κτείνω , to kill. The epithet is applied to Satan, not with reference to the murder of Abel, but to the fact of his being the author of death to the race. Compare Romans 7:8, Romans 7:11; Hebrews 2:14.
From the beginning
Of the human race.
Stood not ( οὐκ ἕστηκεν )
This may be explained in two ways. The verb may be taken as the perfect tense of ἵστημι , which is the form for the English present tense, I stand. In that case it would describe Satan's present standing in the element of falsehood: he standeth not in the truth. Or it may be taken as the imperfect tense of στήκω , I keep my standing, or simply, I stand, in which case the form will be ἔστηκεν , and it will mean that even before his fall he was not true, or that he did not remain true to God, but fell. Meyer, who takes it in the former sense, observes: “Truth is the domain in which he has not his footing; to him it is a foreign, heterogeneous sphere of life
. The lie is the sphere in which he holds his place.” So Mephistopheles in Goethe's “Faust”:
“I am the spirit that denies!
And justly so; for all things from the void
Called forth, deserve to be destroyed;
'Twere better, then, were naught created.
Thus, all which you as sin have rated, -
Destruction, - aught with evil blent, -
That is my proper element.”
When he speaketh a lie ( ὅταν λαλῇ τὸ ψεῦδος )
More strictly, whenever - the lie, as opposed to the truth, regarded as a whole. Two interpretations are given. According to one, the Devil is the subject of speaketh: according to the other, the subject is indefinite; “when one speaketh;” stating a general proposition.
Of his own ( ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων )
Literally, out of the things which are his own. “That which is most peculiarly his ethical nature” (Meyer).
For he is a liar, and the father of it ( ὅτι ψεύστης ἐστὶ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ )
Three interpretations are given. 1. That of the A.V. and Rev. “He is a liar, and the father of the lie.” 2. “He is a liar, and the father of the liar (since of it may also be rendered of him ).” 3. Making ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ , his father, the subject of the sentence, and referring his to one, the indefinite subject of speaketh (“when one speaketh a lie”). Thus the rendering will be, Because his father is a liar.As to Jesus' course of thought - if we accept either of the first two renderings, it turns on the character of Satan. After stating that the Jews are children of the Devil, He goes on to describe the Devil as a murderer and a liar, and enlarges on the latter characteristic by saying that falsehood is his natural and peculiar element. Whenever he lies he speaks out of his own false nature, for he is a liar, and the father of the lie or of the liar. If we accept the third rendering, the thought turns rather on the character of the Jews as children of Satan. He utters first, the general charge, ye are the children of the Devil, and as such will do his works. Hence you will be both murderers and liars. He was a murderer, and ye are seeking to kill me. He stood not in the truth, neither do ye; for, when one speaketh a lie, he speaketh out of his own false nature, by a birthright of falsehood, since his father also is a liar.