My pastor referenced John 8:44 in his sermon yesterday and it got the wheels turning later when I got home. I got to thinking that here is yet another text disproving full-preterism, which denies that physical death is a result of sin.
John 8: Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father. Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.”
Follow the train of thought: These Jews wanted to end Jesus’ life. And the reason they desired murder was because they were of their father the devil, who is a murderer from the beginning.
The “murder” in view here is PHYSICAL DEATH.
Yet, where do we read in the beginning of Genesis that the devil was walking around bashing people over the head with rocks or stabbing them? We don’t. Instead, we read that God gave man a law and threatened “death” upon violating that law. So what does the devil do? He encourages rebellion and lies (no truth in him) to Eve, telling her “surely you will NOT die.”
The devil is actively seeking the “death” of man! And to argue that this “death” in Genesis is merely “spiritual” destroys the parallel Jesus makes in John 8. He didn’t say that these Jews desire something similar or akin to what the devil has done from the beginning. Rather, He traces their wicked desire of wanting to “kill” Him back to their father the devil who has had the same desires “you want to do,” from the beginning.
This connection seems plain to me, on the face of it. So then i thought, “let’s see what some commentators say.”
Some commentators speak of the devil as being a “murderer of souls” as well. That I don’t deny. The sin of “murder” runs deeper than just wanting to unjustly take someone’s physical life. Jesus speaks of unjust anger in the heart as “murder” (Matthew 5). However, His teaching there does not exclude the external. He is pointing to the reality that the external act of “murder” stems from internal lust. BOTH are a problem!
Some of these same men that would call the devil a “murderer of souls” or speak of “heart murder” do NOT exclude the external, as the hyper-preterists erroneously do:
Matthew Henry writes, “He was man’s tempter to that sin which brought death into the world, and so he was effectually the murderer of all mankind, which in Adam had but one neck.”
John Gill writes, “he was not only spoken of from the beginning, as he that should bruise the Messiah’s heel, or should compass his death, but he was actually a murderer of Adam and Eve, and of all their posterity, by tempting them to sin, which brought death and ruin upon them”
Jamieson, Fausset & Brown write, “He was a murderer from the beginning–The reference is not to Cain (as LOCKE, DE WETTE, ALFORD, &c.), but to Adam [GROTIUS, CALVIN, MEYER, LUTHARDT, &c.]. The death of the human race, in its widest sense, is ascribed to the murderous seducer of our race.”
Thomas Watson writes, “Murder is a diabolical sin. It makes a man the devil’s first born, for he was a murderer from the beginning. John 8:44. By saying to our first parents, ‘Ye shall not die,’ he brought death into the world.”
We see this “train of thought” confirmed. These Jews were children of the devil. Why? For in desiring the physical death of Jesus, they shared in the devil’s desire to see Adam and Eve physically die.