The Mysterious Contract Offer in John 8:31-32

“And Yahshua says to those Judeans trusting in him, if you abide in my word truly my disciples you are. And you are knowing the truth, and it, the truth will liberate you.”  John 8:31-32.

        John 8:31-32 appears to represent a contract (covenant) offer from the messiah (variously transcribed: Yahshua, Jesus) to his disciples listening.  It’s mysterious though – in exchange for obedience, the reward is freedom?  Well, imagine you are alone in the dark universe, and then a living being of energy approaches you offering light and truth and comfort in exchange for obedience on that energy’s journey of freedom through the universe.  Would you accept the contract?  You might want to know more about the character of this living being before you sign your name, right?  Well, that appears to be one of the main reasons we’re here on earth – to learn about our Creator and the meaning of covenants.

        The context of this passage is important, especially beginning at John 8:24-30 (here’s a very literal translation of the Aramaic):

        I told you that you will die in your sins for unless you are believing that I – I AM* you are dying in your sins.  The Judeans said, ‘You, who are you?’ Yahshua said to them, ‘Even if I should begin to speak with you, much I have to me against you to say and to be judging but he who sent me true is and I, those things of hearing from Him, these He speaks, I in this world.’  And not they knew of concerning the Father he spoke to them.  Said Yahshua to them again, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know, of I – I AM, and whatever from my own will not do I work, but as my Father taught me, therefore it I speak. And He who sent me with me is, and not does leave me alone my Father because of I whatever of pleases to Him work I in all exchanges.”

*Note: In the ancient text, ‘I – I AM’ (ana ana) can be translated ‘I am who I claim to be’. See e.g., John 9:9 as the blind man says “ana ana” meaning “It’s me” or “I am who I am” or “I am who I claim to be”.  Everyone agrees the blind man was not claiming to be the Father, and no one listening to him reacted to him as if he was claiming divinity. Indeed, if ana ana meant “I am God” then why in John 8 would the Judeans listening to Yahshua respond to ana ana by simply asking, “You, Who are you?”  For more on this topic visit: http://www.peshitta.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3361#p21590

        Abbreviated, John 8:32 has even become a pop culture icon, ‘The truth will set you free.’ I think that’s awesome — it’s a strong seed, and can grow into a fruitful tree. To see that a covenant is presented in John 8:31-32, it helps to discern each word carefully and individually:

  • If you (an anThun) = A choice is presented to you.  Impliedly, and in the context of this passage, this phrase may suggest you have free will.  Indeed, freedom (and absence of duress) is a necessary element to the ability to contract.
  • abide (ThkThrun) = This phrase represents a duty for you, which is a required element of a contract – consideration.  Abide generally means to reside in, follow, or accept.   The root word in my literal-based Aramaic bible translation is ‘katar,’ which can also mean to continue. So, one interpretation of ‘abide in’ is that the messiah’s offer may be accepted by performance – following in the messiah’s word.  But another interpretation comes from the passage’s larger context – beginning at John 8:24 – of trusting that the messiah speaks on behalf of the Father.  In the latter interpretation, the covenant is accepted by trust/faith.
  • in my word (bmlThy)= In the biblical sense, words are spiritual forces that create.  The context of John 8:31 appears to include John 8:24, where the messiah explains that he speaks not for himself, but for the Father.  Words create covenants.
  • truly (ShryrayTh) = this word is truth.  The adverb nature of this word emphasizes that the disciples hold/possess truth.
  • my disciples (Thlmydy) = In context, these words help describe that with fidelity to the messiah, a disciple shows his genuineness toward the covenant.  Intent is a key element of a contract.  Additionally, a contract will define the parties.
  • you are (anThun) = This phrase shows there is a cause and effect relationship here that operates upon you.
  • and you are knowing the truth (uThdEaun Shrra)= This statement appears to have two functions.  First, it helps define a disciple as someone who knows the truth in the messiah.  Second, it operates as confirmation that one contractual benefit (consideration) provided by the messiah is that the disciple will get to enjoy knowing the truth.  Notice also the emphasis on the present rather than future – the truth is here and now.
  • and it, the truth will liberate you (uhu Shrra nKhrrkun) = This statement symbolically concludes the covenant offer because this anointed son speaking these words is the messiah — his blood mysteriously cleanses many sins, which is liberating.   The liberation you receive in the truth (described with the pronoun ‘hu’ which can be ‘it’ or ‘he’ or ‘she’) is the second benefit (consideration) for your fidelity to the covenant with the messiah.

        Making the mental effort to discern words carefully is a spiritual process.  The words of the bible are frequently analogized to ‘milk.’  For illustrative purposes, see Isaiah 28:7-13.

        By contrast, the larger ideas and concepts spiritually discerned from those words are analogized to solid foods, like butter and honey. For illustrative purposes see Prov. 16:24, Psalm 119:103-04.

        It takes diligent work to produce butter from milk, or honey from nectar.  It is said that milk is designed specially for the newborns, who are new to Christianity that is.

        We read in Isaiah 8:7-10 and Matthew 1:23 that Immanuel is another important name for the messiah, as the name means “El is with us.”   The name “El” is associated with Elohim (Alhym), which takes various meanings depending on the context.  Click here to read more here on this topic.

        Regarding the messiah’s ability to make a covenant, see Isaiah 42:4 (the messiah’s torah), and Jeremiah 31:31-32 (the new covenant).

        As a side note, many Christians claim that all saved Christians become the “bride” of the messiah.  Based on the scriptures, I disagree.  First, if every Christian become the bride of the messiah, then who are all these formerly human servants in heaven described as guests at his wedding banquet in Matthew 22:1-14?  A wedding banquet is a different thing than a wedding ceremony.  Second, the messiah describes many family relationships (and other relationships) for his servants besides husband and wife.  See e.g., Matthew 12:50 “For all who work the will of my father in the heavens are my brother and my sister and my mother.”  Lastly, we might benefit from an example (typology) from the old testament  – just as the father took one rib from the body of adam to make eve, perhaps so will the father take one rib from the body of the messiah to make his bride.

        To finish this post, I’ll recommend reading John Chapter 6, and say that spiritual thinking seems mysterious.  I don’t think its something that’s supposed to be elitist though (i.e., only for priests and intellectuals). But rather, it seems to be achieved primarily through patience, fidelity, trust, humility, and diligent work – virtues to pray for.

        Here is a translation of Matthew 25:14-46

14 For as a man journeying calls his servants,

and delivers his acquisitions to them

15 — having given one five talent weights

and having given another two

and having given another one:

— human by human as to his power:

and straightway he journeys.

16 And he who took the five talent weights

goes and merchandises them,

and gains another five:

17 also likewise

he who, having two, merchandises another two:

18 and he who, having taken one,

goes and digs in the earth

and secretes the silver of his master.

19 After a vast time the lord of those servants comes

and takes reckoning:

20 and he who had been taking five talent weights

offers another five talent weights:

wording, my master,

you gave five talent weights to me:

behold,

I merchandised another five talent weights above them.

21 His master words to him,

Very well, you graced servant and trustworthy:

you, being trustworthy over little:

I stand you over much:

enter the cheer of your master.

22 And he approaches — he having two talent weights

and words, My master,

you gave two talent weights to me:

behold,

I merchandised another two talent weights above them.

23 His master words to him,

Very well, graced and trustworthy servant:

you, being trustworthy over little,

I stand you over much:

enter the cheer of your lord.

24 And he comes — who took one talent weight

and words, My master,

I know you — that you are a hard human,

harvesting where you seed not,

and congregating from where you scattered not:

25 and being frightened,

I went and secreted your talent weight in the earth:

behold, you have your own.

26 His master answers, wording to him,

You evil and lazy servant,

you, knowing I harvest where I seed not,

and congregate where I scatter not:

27 and you had been needing

to place my silver upon the table*,

*of the money changers

and then at my coming

I had been receiving my own with interest.

28 So take the talent weight from him,

and give to him having ten talent weights.

29 For to him who has, is given:

and added to him:

and to him, not having,

even what he has is taken from him.

30 And eject the idle servant into outer darkness:

there being weeping and gnashing of teeth.

31 And when the Son of humanity comes in his glory

— and with all his holy angels

then he sits on the throne of his glory:

32 and congregates all peoples in front of him:

and he separates them one by one,

as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats:

33 and indeed he stands the sheep by his right

and the goats by his left.

34 Then the sovereign words to them by his right,

Come, you eulogized of my Father,

inherit the sovereigndom being prepared for you

from the foundation of the world:

35 for I famished and you gave me to eat

I thirsted and you watered me

a stranger and you congregated me

36 naked and you covered me

sick and you visited me

and being in a guardhouse and you came to me.

37 Then the just answer him, wording, Our Lord,

When saw we you famished and nourished you?

Or thirsting and watered you?

38 and when saw we you a stranger,

and congregated you?

Or naked, and covered you?

39 And when saw we you sick?

Or in a guardhouse, and came to you?

40 And the sovereign answers, wording to them,

Amen! I word to you,

As much as you worked

to one of these my least brothers,

you did to me.

41 Then he also words to them by the left,

Go from me, you cursed, into ‘alma* fire,

  1. *Translation note: ‘alma from Ealm here in Aramaic is generally translated eon, age, duration, or world

prepared for the devouring accuser and his angels:

42 for I famished and you gave me no eats

and I thirsted and you gave me no drink

43 and a stranger and you had not been congregating me

naked and you had not been covering me

sick and in a guardhouse

and you had not been visiting me.

44 Then they also answer him, wording,

Our Lord, when saw we you famishing or thirsting?

Or a stranger or naked or sick or in a guardhouse

and ministered not to you?

45 Then he answers, wording to them,

Amen! I word to you,

As much as you worked it not

to one of the least of these,

you also worked it not to me:

46 and these go to ‘Ealm torment:

and the just to life ‘Ealm.

2 Comment

  1. On the contract bit you are correct. When we do as God says He is bound by His word to bless us accordingly. When we do not we have no promise. Also your conclusion of the nature of hell is also correct it will not last forever. What hell really is is the realization of what was expected of you in this life and the realization that you did not live up to it. That is why we must develope faith. What is faith? Faith is the evidence of things hoped for but not seen. There some things key to the development of faith 1) God is who he says he is. 2) He is able to communicate with you because without communication with God we are adrift on the sea of philosophy having no anchor being able only to use ‘reason’ to discern the truth 3) we must have agency that is the ability to choose freely our course while in this life away from Him. This is critical as we in very real terms choose our own destiny relative to being obedient to His laws [commandments] demonstrating our faith in Him or the extent of our faith in Him or even the extent to which we care or not for our Eternal Father. Life is an eternal thing mortality is a testing ground of profound fairness

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