Gospel of John Bible Study (8:31-47) Children of Abraham & Children of the Devil

Memory Verse John 8:36  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Reading: John 8:31-47


Name something that one of your parents did when you were a child that you did when you were an adult?


The location of this section of Scripture is the same as it is for the preceding sections:  Jesus is teaching on the temple grounds (see v. 59).

v. 31 “the Jews who had believed him”  The Greek is in the past tense which seems to indicate, especially with the support of the following passages, that this group of people no longer believes in Jesus.

v. 32  truth in this context is referring to the person and work of Jesus Christ.  He is the Truth that truly set us free.  He is the Truth that truly saves us.

v. 34  “everyone who sins”  The Greek indicates that continuous, repeated action is being referred to here.  Therefore, Jesus is referring not to people who merely sin, for everyone does that.  Instead he is saying that anyone whose lifestyle is characterized by continuous, repetitive sin is a slave to sin.  Sins that are habitual or addictive would fit this description.  But what seems to be in view here in this context, is the continuous, persistent sin of unbelief, especially in the face of the mounting evidence that Jesus is indeed the Son of God.

v. 35 “family”  The Greek word here can also mean household, which would include extended family on the one hand, and slaves and servants on the other.  In that time, a slave’s place in a household was only temporary, while a son would always have a place in his household of origin.

v.36 “son” could mean “son” in the generic sense as in the previous verse, or it could refer particularly to Jesus.  The sentence works both ways.

v. 37  “have no room for my word”  Jesus’ teaching is not able to make headway among the hearers’ because of their persistent resistance.

v. 38 “you do what you have heard from your father”  The word “your” is omitted in several significant Greek manuscripts.  Therefore the passage probably should be read as an imperative “you do what you have heard from the Father” (that is, God the Father).

vv. 39-41  By their deeds, they show who their father really is.

v. 40  “Abraham did not do such things”  The Greek is emphatic.

V. 41  “your father”  Here the distinction is clearly made between Jesus’ Father, who is God, and the father of the unbelievers, who is the devil.

“we are not illegitimate children”  The speakers are implying that Jesus is an illegitimate child, which further shows that they really do not know who Jesus is or where he came from.

v. 43 “you are unable to hear what I say” is not referring to deafness, but to being able to listen and respond, in this case, due to an unwillingness to do so.

v. 44 “you belong to your father, the devil”  The Greek indicates that the relationship of the devil to Jesus’ unbelieving hearers was not just one of ownership, but also one of origination, as in, “you come from your father, the devil.”  Jesus is saying that they are the devil’s offspring, which would have surely angered them.

v. 46 “can any of you prove me guilty of sin”  Jesus has a clear conscience and his actions also reveal who his Father is.  So his sinless actions are another proof which call people to believe.

v. 47 “hears” again, in the sense of listening and responding.


  1. In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” How does knowing the Truth (Jesus) set us free (v. 31)?  How, according to Jesus, do we know the Truth?
  2. How are we slaves to sin?
  3. If the son in a family set one of the household slaves free, they would indeed be free.  How has Jesus set us free?
  4. The people to whom Jesus was speaking were physical descendants of Abraham.  Would that save them?  Why or why not?  Will our physical parentage save us?
  5. How is the devil a murderer, a liar and the father of lies?
  6. If we don’t believe someone, how likely are we to listen to them and respond positively to what they say?
  7. How do our actions indicate who we believe?


  1. Is it important to be particular about whom we believe?  How do we do that in our everyday lives?


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