Many Christians try to show the divinity of Christ, by equating him with the figure in Genesis 18 , ANGEL OF THE LORD. They refer to John 8:56 “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”, and in particular the wording “MY DAY“. Let us examine the different interpretations of Biblical commentors on this issue:
BLUE = Future
RED=Plains of Mamre
To conclude here, you will see that the MAJORITY of commentaries are referring to a FUTURE observance of Christ, as opposed to Jesus coming down in human form, in Genesis 18.
But as usual in John 8:57 , the Jews twisted the words of Jesus and the Trinitarian Christians are gullible enough to accept their reasoning. In the next post we will see how commentators have understood the Jews were in-fact twisting or misinterpreting what Jesus was saying.
Abraham rejoiced to see my day – Or, he earnestly desired to see my day; ηγαλλιασατο, from αγαν, very much, and ἁλλομαι, I leap – his soul leaped forward in earnest hope and strong expectation that he might see the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The metaphor appears to be taken from a person who, desiring to see a long-expected friend who is coming, runs forward, now and then jumping up to see if he can discover him. There is a saying very like this in Sohar Numer fol. 61: “Abraham rejoiced because he could know, and perceive, and cleave to the Divine Name.” The Divine name is יהוה Yehovah ; and by this they simply mean God himself.
And he saw it – Not only in the first promise, Genesis 3:15, for the other patriarchs saw this as well as he; and not only in that promise which was made particularly to himself, Genesis 12:7; Genesis 22:18, (compared with Galatians 3:16;), that the Messiah should spring from his family; but he saw this day especially when Jehovah appeared to him in a human form, Genesis 18:2,Genesis 18:17, which many suppose to have been a manifestation of the Lord Jesus.
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Clarke, Adam. “Commentary on John 8:56”. “The Adam Clarke Commentary”. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-8.html. 1832.
My day – The, day of the Messiah. The word “day,” here, is used to denote the time, the appearance, the advent, and the manner of life of the Messiah. Luke 17:26; “as it was in the days of Noah so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” See John 9:4; Matthew 11:12. The day of judgment is also called the day of the Son of man, because it will be a remarkable time of his manifestation. Or perhaps in both those cases it is called his day because he will act the most conspicuous part; his person and work will characterize the times; as we speak of the days of Noah, etc., because he was the most conspicuous person of the age.
He saw it – See Hebrews 11:13; “These all died in faith, not having received (obtained the fulfillment of) the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them,” etc. Though Abraham was not permitted to live to see the times of the Messiah, yet he was permitted to have a prophetic view of him, and also of the design of his coming; for,
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day
Abraham’s vision of Christ’s day
2. Abraham’s second act. “He saw it,” though “afar off” (Hebrews 11:13), “as in a perspective glass” (1 Corinthians 13:12). He did not know precisely the day, but that such a day should come. How did he see it?
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad.
This is one of the most interesting things Jesus ever said. When did this occur? It did not happen in Abraham’s lifetime, for “These all died in faith, not having received the promise, but having seen and greeted them from afar” (Hebrews 11:13). Thus, this verse goes beyond what happened in Abraham’s life span, suggesting that just as Moses and Elijah had been granted personal conversation with Jesus (Matthew 17:3), something similar may have been granted to Abraham. The whole mystery of this focuses the mind upon the words of the Lord, “He that keepeth my word shall not see death!”
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day,…. Or “he was desirous to see my day”, as the Syriac and Arabic versions rightly render the word; or “very desirous”, as the Persic version: and indeed, this was what many kings and prophets, and righteous men, were desirous of, even of seeing the Messiah and his day: we often read of ימות המשיח, “the days of the Messiah”: and the Jews, in their TalmudF25, dispute much about them, how long they will be; one says forty years, another seventy, another three ages: it is the opinion of some, that they shall be according to the number of the days of the year, three hundred and sixty five years; some say seven thousand years, and others as many as have been from the beginning of the world; and others, as many as from Noah; but we know the day of Christ better, and how long he was here on earth; and whose whole time here is called his day; this Abraham had a very great desire to see:
and he saw it and was glad; he saw it with an eye of faith, he saw it in the promise, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed; and when it was promised him he should have a son, which was the beginning of the fulfilment of the other, he laughed, and therefore his son was called Isaac, to which some reference is here made; he saw him in the birth of his son Isaac and rejoiced, and therefore called his name Isaac, that is, “laughter”: he saw also Christ and his day, his sufferings, death, and resurrection from the dead, in a figure; in the binding of Isaac, in the sacrifice of the ram, and in the receiving of Isaac, as from the dead; and he not only saw the Messiah in his type Melchizedek, and who some think was the Son of God himself, but he saw the second person, the promised Messiah, in an human form, Genesis 18:2; and all this was matter of joy and gladness to him. This brings to mind what the Jews say at the rejoicing at the law, when the book of the law is brought outF26.
“Abraham rejoiced with the rejoicing of the law, he that cometh shall come, the branch with the joy of the law; Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, rejoiced with the joy of the law; he that cometh shall come, the branch with the joy of the law.’
20 Your father Abraham t rejoiced to see my u day: and he x saw [it], and was glad.
(20) The power of Christ showed itself through all former ages in the fathers, for they saw in the promises that he would come, and very joyfully laid hold of him with a living faith.(t) Was very desirous.
(u) A day is a space that a man lives in, or does any notable act in, or endures any great thing in.
(x) With the eyes of faith; (Hebrews 11:13).
Abraham rejoiced to see my day, etc. — exulted, or exceedingly rejoiced that he should see, he exulted to see it, that is, by anticipation. Nay,
he saw it, and was glad — he actually beheld it, to his joy. If this mean no more than that he had a prophetic foresight of the gospel-day – the second clause just repeating the first – how could the Jews understand our Lord to mean that He “had seen Abraham?” And if it mean that Abraham was then beholding, in his disembodied spirit, the incarnate Messiah [Stier, Alford, etc.], the words seem very unsuitable to express it. It expresses something past – “he saw My day, and was glad,” that is, surely while he lived. He seems to refer to the familiar intercourse which Abraham had with God, who is once and again in the history called “the Angel of the Lord,” and whom Christ here identifies with Himself. On those occasions, Abraham “saw ME” (Olshausen, though he thinks the reference is to some unrecorded scene). If this be the meaning, all that follows is quite natural.
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day… and was glad.. Saw it in promise by prophetic vision; whether or not “Abraham was greater,” he rejoiced in the hope of the revelation of Christ.
Rejoiced (ηγαλλιασατο — ēgalliasato). First aorist middle indicative of αγαλλιαομαι — agalliaomai a word of Hellenistic coinage from αγαλλομαι — agallomai to rejoice.
To see (ινα ιδηι — hina idēi). Sub-final use of ινα — hina and second aorist active subjunctive of οραω— horaō This joy of Abraham is referred to in Hebrews 11:13 (saluting, ασπασαμενοι — aspasamenoi the promises from afar). There was a Jewish tradition that Abraham saw the whole history of his descendants in the vision of Genesis 15:6., but that is not necessary here. He did look for and welcome the Messianic time, “my day” (την ημεραν την εμην — tēn hēmeran tēn emēn). “He saw it, and was glad” (ειδεν και εχαρη — eiden kai echarē). Second aorist active indicative of οραω — horaō and second aorist passive indicative of χαιρω — chairō Ye see it and are angry!
Rejoiced ( ἠγαλλιάσατο )
With exultant joy. See on 1 Peter 1:6.
To see ( ἵνα ἴδῃ )
The Greek construction is peculiar. Literally, that he should see; i.e., in the knowledge or anticipation that he should see.
The exact meaning of the expression is altogether uncertain.
He saw it – By faith in types, figures, and promises; as particularly in Melchisedec; in the appearance of Jehovah to him in the plains of Mamre, Genesis 18:1 ; and in the promise that in his seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Possibly he had likewise a peculiar revelation either of Christ’s first or second coming.
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day1; and he saw it, and was glad.
- Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. “My day” means the mediatorial manifestation of Messiah. Abraham saw it by faith in the promised seed.
To see my day; to foresee it.
56.Your father Abraham. He grants to them, in words only, what he formerly took from them, that Abraham is their father But he shows how idle is the objection drawn from the name of Abraham “He had no other object,” says he, “during his whole life, than to see my kingdom flourish. He longed for me when I was absent, you despise me when I am present.” What Christ here asserts concerning Abraham alone, applies to all the saints. But this doctrine has greater weight in the person of Abraham, because he is the father of the whole Church. Whoever then desires to be reckoned in the number of the godly, let him rejoice, as he ought to do, in the presence of Christ, for which Abraham ardently longed.
Exulted to see my day. The word exult expresses a vehement zeal (248) and ardent affection. We must now supply the contrast. Though the knowledge of Christ was still so obscure, Abraham was inflamed by so strong a desire, that he preferred the enjoyment of it to everything that was reckoned desirable. How base then is the ingratitude of those who despise and reject him, when he is plainly offered to them? The wordday does not, in this passage, denote eternity, (as Augustine thought,) but the time of Christ’s kingdom, when he appeared in the world clothed with flesh, to fulfill the office of Redeemer.
But a question now arises, How did Abraham behold, even with the eyes of faith, the manifestation of Christ? For this appears not to agree with another statement of Christ,
Many kings and prophets desired to see the things which you see,
and yet did not see them,
I reply, faith has its degrees in beholding Christ. Thus the ancient prophets beheld Christ at a distance, as he had been promised to them, and yet were not permitted to behold him present, as he made himself familiarly and completely visible, when he came down from heaven to men.
Again, we are taught by these words that, as God did not disappoint the desire of Abraham, so he will not now permit any one to breathe after Christ, without obtaining some good fruit which shall correspond to his holy desire. The reason why he does not grant the enjoyment of himself to many is — the wickedness of men; for few desire him. Abraham ’s joy testifies that he regarded the knowledge of the kingdom of Christ as an incomparable treasure; and the reason why we are told that herejoiced to see the day of Christ is, that we may know that there was nothing which he valued more highly. But all believers receive this fruit from their faith, that, being satisfied with Christ alone, in whom they are fully and completely happy and blessed, their consciences are calm and cheerful. And indeed no man knows Christ aright, unless he gives him this honor of relying entirely upon him.
Others explain it to mean, that Abraham, being already dead, enjoyed the presence of Christ, when he appeared to the world; and so they make the time of desiring and the time of seeing to be different. And indeed it is true, that the coming of Christ was manifested to holy spirits after death, of which coming they were held in expectation during the whole of their life; but I do not know if so refined an exposition agrees with Christ’s words.
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
Ver. 56. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see] He saw it afar off, and saluted it, ασπασαμενοι, Hebrews 11:13. His good old heart danced levaltos within him, as children use to dance about a bonfire (so the wordηγαλλιασατο signifies), with an exuberance of joy, that joy of faith. The Fathers say that he saw Christ’s birth at the valley of Mamre, Genesis 18:1-16, and his passion in the mount Moriah, Genesis 22:3-14
Christ’s Day, or Christmas Joys
I. The text does not tell us that Abraham had any distinct foresight of the manner of Christ’s birth. That was a mystery which remained locked up in the secret chambers of God’s counsels, until it seemed good to the Holy Ghost to reveal it to the prophet Isaiah. But the meaning of the words My day in the text must clearly be the day or season of Christ’s coming, and dwelling upon earth, the day or season of that earthly life into which He entered. This, then, is the day which our father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see, the day of the coming of Him in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed, the day of Christ’s coming to dwell upon earth, in order that He might deliver mankind from their sins.
II. If we have the spirit of Abraham, if we have the faith of Abraham, we must rejoice, as Abraham rejoiced, in the thought that we are to see Christ’s day. The Christian is to rejoice at the coming of Christ, because He who is the Lord of light and life brings both one and the other. This He did, when He first came, to the whole world. The whole world was lying in darkness and in the shadow of death, when the Sun of righteousness arose and turned its darkness into light, its night into day. The whole world was rotten at heart and palsied in all its limbs, when Christ came and breathed His spirit into it, and said, “Arise and walk.” And as it was with the whole world, when Christ first came as on this day to deliver it out of its deadly darkness, so is it still with the soul of every one to whom Christ comes for the first time. These, then, are the reasons why we are to rejoice in the coming of Christ; that, whereas without Christ we are blind, Christ opens our eyes and enables us to see; that whereas without Christ we are deaf, Christ enables us to hear; that whereas without Christ we are in darkness and know not where we are nor whither we go, Christ sheds the clearest, brightest light both upon us and upon everything around us: that, further, whereas without Christ we are bound with the chains of sin, Christ came to burst those chains and to deliver us into the glorious liberty of the children of God; in a word that, whereas without Christ we are without God in the world, Christ has set us at one with God—that, whereas without Christ we are at war with God, with each other, and with ourselves, Christ came to bring us peace with ourselves, with each other, and with God.
John 8:56. Your Father Abraham rejoiced, &c.— When the figurative word day is used not to express the period of any one’s existence, but to denote his peculiar office and employment, it must needs signify that very circumstance in his life which is the characteristic of such office or employment: but Jesus is here speaking of his peculiar office and employment, as appears from the occasion of the debate, which was his saying, if any man keep my commandments, he shall never taste of death; intimating thereby the virtue of his office as Redeemer. Therefore, by the word day, must needs be meant that characteristic circumstance of his life; but that circumstance was the laying it down for the redemption of mankind; consequently, by the word day, is meant the great sacrifice of Christ. But not only the matter, but the manner likewise of this great revelation, is delivered in the text; Abraham rejoiced to SEE my day: this evidently shews it to have been made not merely by revelation in words, but by representation in action. The Greek word rendered to see, is frequently used in the New Testament in its proper signification, for to see sensibly; but whether used literallyor figuratively, it always denotes a full intention. That the expression was as strong in the Syriac language, as in the Greek of this inspired historian, appears from the reply which the Jews made to our Lord; Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou SEEN Abraham? which plainly intimated, that theyunderstood the assertion of Abraham’s seeing Christ’s day, to mean a real beholding him in person. We may therefore conclude from the words of the text, that the redemption of mankind was not only revealed to Abraham, but revealed likewise by representation: and we have shewn in the notes on Genesis 22 that the command to offer up Isaac was the very revelation of Christ’s day, or of the redemption of mankind by his death and sufferings. St. Chrysostom, in his comment on this place, says, “Christ, by the word day, seems to signify that of his crucifixion, which was typified in the offering up of Isaac and the ram.” Erasmus says likewise, “Jesus meant, by these dark passages, that Abraham, when he was preparing to offer up his son Isaac, saw our Lord’s being delivered up to the death of the cross for the redemption of mankind.” We are sure that Abraham had in fact this desire highly raised in him: the verb ηγαλλιαστατο signifies to leap forward with joy to meet the object of one’s wishes, as well as to exult in the possession thereof. Accordingly, the ancient versions, particularly the Syriac, render it by words which express earnest desire; and after them the best critics translate it, earnestly desired ινα ιδη, that he might see; which implies, that the period of his desires was in the space between the promise made, and the actual performance of it by the delivery of the command; consequently, that it was granted at his request. The text plainly distinguishes two different periods of joy; the first, when it was promised that he should see; the second, when he actually saw: and it is to be observed, that according to the exact use of the word rendered rejoiced, which is noted above, it implies that tumultuous pleasure which the certain expectation of an approaching blessing, understood only in thegross, occasions; and the word rendered was glad, that calm and settled joy which arises from our knowledge and acquiescence in the possession of it: but the translators, perhaps, not apprehending that there was any time between the grant to see, and the act of seeing, turned it, he rejoiced to see. From the following words of this verse it will appear, that Abraham, at the time when the command to sacrifice his son was given, knew it to be that revelation which he had so earnestly requested. He saw it and was glad. Thus our Lord plainly and peremptorily assumed the character of the Messiah.
That is, “Abraham having received a promise, that the Messias should come of his seed, he exceedingly rejoiced to see the day of my coming in the flesh, though afar off, with the eye of his faith, and in a figure, in his sacrificed son Isaac: and this sight of his faith was so transporting, that he leaped for joy.”
Learn hence, That a strong faith gives such a clear sight of Christ (though at a distance) as produceth an holy delight and rejoicing in him.
56.] The Lord does not deny them their outward title of children of Abraham:—it is of spiritual things that He has been speaking, in refusing them the reality of it.
ἠγαλλ. ἵνα ἴδῃ, rejoiced, that He should see; not (Grotius, Calov., Kuin., &c.) “wished that he might see.” The object of his joy is treated as its purpose. The intent is to shew that Abraham did in his time keep Christ’s word, viz. by a prospective realizing faith; and therefore that he, in the sense of John 8:51, had not seen death. This is expressed by κ. εἶδεν κ. ἐχάρη: see below. But what is τ. ἡμ. τ. ἐμήν? Certainly, the day of Christ’s appearance in the flesh ( ὁ τῆς ἐπιδημίας αὐτοῦ καιρός, Cyril Alex(137)). When that was over, and the attention was directed to another and future appearance, the word came to be used of His second coming, 1 Corinthians 1:8, &c. &c. But this, as well as the day of His Cross (Euthym, alli(138).), is out of the question here;—and the word Rabbinically was used for the time of the Messiah’s appearance. So we have it, Luke 17:22; Luke 17:26; but here as there, the expression must not be limited exclusively to the former appearance. From the sense it is evident that Abraham saw by faith and will see in fact, not the first coming only, but that which it introduces and implies, the second also. Technically however, in the form of the sentence here, the First is mainly in view. And to see that day, is to be present at, witness, it;—to have experience of it.
κ. εἶδεν κ. ἐχάρη, viz. in his Paradisiacal state of bliss. Maldonatus has a striking note here (ii. 710): “Cum dicit, vidit, haud dubium quin eo modo vidisse dicat, quo videre dixerat tantopere concupivisse. Non autem concupiverat sola videre fide … quia fide jam Christi diem videbat.… Vidit ergo diem Christi re ipsa, quemadmodum et ille et patres omnes videre concupiverant. Non quod vivus viderit, sed quod mortuus Christum venisse noverit, tempusque illud exactum esse quod usque ad ejus adventum a Deo constitutum fuisse sciebat. Quod enim dicit, Exsultavit ut videret diem meum, perinde valet ac si diceret, Cupivit ut veniret dies meus: venit, et gavisus est. Quis enim dubitet Abraham et cæteros patres qui cum eo erant (sive ex revelatione, quam in hac vita habuissent, sive ex revelatione, quam tunc, quum Christus venit, habuerint de ejus adventu) non ignorasse Christum venisse, etiam antequam ad eos post mortem veniret?” Only that I would rather believe, as Stier does (iv. 444 f. edn. 2), that the ‘seeing of Christ’s day’ was not by revelation, but actual—the seeing of a witness. ‘Abraham then has not seen death, but lives through my word;—having believed and rejoiced in the promise of Me, whom he has now seen manifest in the flesh.’
Meyer quotes the Socinian interpretation as a specimen of “monstrous perversion:” “exultaturus fuisset … et si vidisset, omnino fuisset gavisurus.”
ABRAHAM’S VIEWS OF CHRIST
John 8:56. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
ONE cannot read any of our Lord’s discourses without seeing the need of a spiritual discernment. For want of it, his hearers could not understand his plainest assertions. It being his object to convey spiritual instruction, he used such expressions as were suited to that end: but his hearers annexed only a carnal sense to them, and therefore conceived of him as talking like a maniac; “Thou hast a devil, and art mad.” One expression in particular gave them the highest offence: he had said, “If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death:” this they interpreted as relating to the death of the body; and, well knowing that Abraham and the prophets had all died, they could not endure such arrogance as that assertion implied; since it, in fact, exalted him above Abraham himself. Though they misconstrued his meaning, our Lord would not deny the inference which they drew from his words; but, on the contrary, confirmed it; and told them, that, contemptible as they thought him, Abraham himself had “eagerly desired to see his day [Note: This must be the sense of ἠγαλλιάσατο in this place; else there would be a manifest tautology.],” and, on being favoured with a sight of it, “had greatly rejoiced.” At this they stumbled still more: and, on being further assured by him that he existed before Abraham was born, they took up stones to stone him.
In the assertion before us, however ridiculous it appeared to their carnal apprehensions, is contained a most important truth: to illustrate which, we shall shew,
I. What were Abraham’s views of Christ—
To mark this with precision is no easy matter. If we suppose that Abraham understood the types as we do, his views of Christ were complete indeed: for, from the appearance of Jehovah to him in human shape [Note: Genesis 18:2; Genesis 18:22; Genesis 18:25; Genesis 18:27; Genesis 18:30.], he would behold the incarnation of Christ; and from Melchizedec, to whom Abraham himself offered tithes of all that he possessed, and from whom also he received a blessing [Note: Genesis 14:17-20.], he would know the everlasting priesthood of Christ, and the necessity of depending on him for all spiritual blessings. Moreover, from his being ordered to offer Isaac upon an altar on Mount Moriah (the very place where Christ was afterwards crucified;) and from Isaac being restored to him, when in Abraham’s purpose he was already dead; he would learn the sacrifice of Christ by the hand, as it were, of his own Father [Note: Isaiah 53:10.], and his resurrection from the dead. And as he is said to have made this offering “by faith,” and to have “received his son from the dead in a figure,” we are by no means certain that he did not see the mystery contained in that remarkable transaction [Note: See Hebrews 11:17-19.]. But we wish always to lean to the safe side in our interpretations of Holy Writ, and rather to assert too little than too much: we therefore content ourselves with ascribing to Abraham such views only as the New Testament writers have clearly assigned to him. He saw then,
1. The person and work of Christ as a Saviour—
[He saw that there was some particular person who should spring from him, distinct from, and superior to, all his other descendants [Note: Galatians 3:16.]. He saw that the covenant which God had condescended to make with him was confirmed and ratified in that particular individual [Note: Galatians 3:17.]. He saw that that person was to be a source of blessings to mankind; and that, not to one nation only, but to all the nations of the earth. He saw, that though the land of Canaan was promised to him and his posterity, this was not the only, or the chief, blessing which they were to inherit: on the contrary, he regarded Canaan only as a type of a better inheritance [Note: Hebrews 11:9-10; Hebrews 11:13-16.]; and saw distinctly, that grace and glory were the special benefits which the promised Seed should obtain for them [Note: Luke 1:68-75. Compare with Galatians 3:14; Galatians 3:18.]. Whether he knew precisely in what manner Christ was to obtain these things for us, we do not undertake to determine; but that Christ was to be the one fountain of these blessings to the world, he knew assuredly: for on that very truth he grounded all his hopes of salvation.]
2. The method of a sinner’s justification through him—
[We are continually told, “that Abraham’s faith was counted to him for righteousness.” But was it the act of faith that constituted his justifying righteousness before God? If so “he has whereof to glory;” (in direct opposition to St. Paul’s assertion); and he was saved by works, and not by faith only [Note: Romans 4:1-5.] (for faith, as an act of our own, is a work, as much as love, or any other act). No: it was by the object of faith that he was justified, even by that promised Seed, who died for him upon the cross: and it was to that promised Seed that he looked for a justifying righteousness before God [Note: Romans 3:21-26; Romans 5:18.].
It may be said, in opposition to this, that St. James says he was justified by works, and particularly by offering up his son Isaac upon the altar [Note: James 2:21-23.]. But a very little consideration will suffice to shew, that he does not contradict the assertions of St. Paul. When was Abraham justified? I answer, the very moment he believed the declaration of God with respect to the promised Seed [Note: Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15:5-6.]. But this was long before any of those acts of obedience for which we might suppose him to have been justified: it was no less than twenty-four years before he was circumcised [Note: Compare Genesis 12:4. with 17:1, 24 and Romans 4:9-12.]: and consequently, forty, if not fifty, years, before that act of obedience which St. James refers to [Note: Genesis 22:1-2.]. This indisputably proves, that the offering up of Isaac was not the ground of his justification before God; but that it was only an evidence of the truth and sincerity of that faith whereby he was justified. The righteousness of Christ was that by which he was justified; his faith was only the means of his justification; and his works were the evidence of his justification: by faith he apprehended Christ; and by offering up his son (from whom Christ was to spring), he shewed the reality and strength of his faith.
This great truth, that we are justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is the one grand point in which the whole Gospel centers: and this point Abraham saw, not only in reference to himself, but in reference also to the whole world; as well those who should not derive their natural descent from him, as those who should [Note: Galatians 3:8-9.]. Other things he might see more or less distinctly; but this he saw as clearly as we ourselves can do; yea, happy would it be for many, if they saw it half so clearly as he did [Note: Romans 4:18-22.].]
From knowing what his views of Christ were, we shall be at no loss to say,
II. Why he so exulted in them—
Though we should estimate his knowledge by the lowest standard, the event which he foresaw could not fail of being a source of much joy to him,
1. Because of the mystery contained in it—
[Frequently does St. Paul characterize the Gospel as a “mystery that from eternity was hid in the bosom of God,” and as containing “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [Note: Colossians 2:3.].” Another Apostle represents the very “angels in heaven as desiring to look into it,” and to search out, if possible, its immeasurable extent [Note: 1 Peter 1:10-12.].
Do we wonder then that Abraham rejoiced in the manifestation of this to his soul? To see such a display of the divine perfections, all exhibited in the person of one who should spring from his loins; to see a descendant of his own effecting what all the angels in heaven would in vain have endeavoured to effect; to see him, by his own obedience unto death, bringing more honour to God than all the obedience of angels ever brought, and more good to man than he would have enjoyed if he had never sinned at all; I say, to see such “a day” as this, might well fill him with all the rapture that feeble mortality could sustain. When this mystery began to be more fully manifested in the incarnation of Christ, a multitude of the heavenly host, astonished, as it were, at the display of the Divine glory, commenced a new song, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men.” And from that period it has been the one theme of praise and adoration among saints on earth and saints in heaven. Yea, so glorious, so inexhaustible is the subject, that after millions of years it will be as new and interesting as ever: and to all eternity, notwithstanding it will be progressively unfolded to the admiring universe, it will be found to have a length and breadth, a depth and height, that can never be explored.]
2. Because of the benefits conveyed by it—
[If he had only his own personal benefit in view, he could not but rejoice: for, what an amazing benefit is it for a guilty creature to say, “Behold, God is my salvation: I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song, he also is become my salvation [Note: Isaiah 12:2.]!” It is not possible for any one to have this sweet assurance, and not adopt the language of exultation actually used by the Church of old, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord: my soul shall be joyful in my God: for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels [Note: Isaiah 61:10.].” Indeed it is said of every believer, that “though lie has not personally seen Christ, yet he cannot but rejoice in him with joy unspeakable and full of glory [Note: 1 Peter 1:8-9.].” But doubtless he looked to the salvation of a ruined world: and what joy must not that excite! See in what raptures David was, at the prospect which was opened to him [Note: Psalms 98. Read, and quote, the whole psalm.]! See how, at the period of our Saviour’s advent, every heart rejoiced! how Mary exclaimed, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour!” how the embryo infant, of six months’ existence only in the womb of Elizabeth, leaped for joy at the approach of the blessed Virgin, in whom the Saviour was but just formed [Note: Luke 1:44.]! Hear, at the time of his nativity, with what ecstatic joy the angels proclaimed his advent, “Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord [Note: Luke 2:10-11.]!” Hear how every person, to whose ears it was at all welcome, exulted in it! how Zacharias “blessed God;” and Simeon desired his dismission from the body, accounting that he had attained all that was valuable in life, now that he had seen and embraced the infant Saviour [Note: Luke 2:27-32.]! Behold, when salvation by Christ was proclaimed on the day of Pentecost, how all the converts forgot every personal concern, and spent all their time in blessing and praising God [Note: Acts 2:44-47.]. So it was, wherever the glad tidings were proclaimed [Note: Acts 8:8; Acts 8:39.]. No wonder then it was so with Abraham, when he heard, as it were, an universal jubileeproclaimed: his heart at least, if not his lips, gave vent to its feelings, in the expressive language of the prophet, “Sing, O ye heavens, for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein; for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel [Note: Isaiah 44:23.].”]
We cannot conclude without inquiring, What effect has the arrival of this day on you [Note: If this be preached on Christmas-day, it will admit of that application. But the true reference is to the gospel-day.]?
[How many who live under the meridian light of the Gospel have never yet attained the knowledge nor the joy that Abraham possessed, though he lived two thousand years before the Lord Jesus came into the world! The greater part of those who bear the Christian name, even when commemorating the Saviour’s advent, celebrate it only in a way of carnal feasting; thus making his being “manifested to take away our sins” an occasion of multiplying their transgressions against him. But woe be to those who so mock and insult the Saviour of the world: truly their mirth will have a very different issue from what they expect. I call upon you then to examine, what effect the contemplation of this mystery has produced on you? Has it filled you with admiration, and gratitude, and joy? and does this effect of it remain upon your mind from day to day? Tell me, if Abraham so exulted in it when he saw it only prospectively, and at the distance of two thousand years, should you view it with indifference, who are privileged to behold it in its meridian splendour? Methinks the frame predicted by the Prophet Isaiah, should be that of every soul amongst you: “It shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us; this is the Lord; we have waited for him; we will be glad, and rejoice in his salvation [Note: Isaiah 25:9.].” My dear brethren, be not satisfied, if this be not your experience: be assured, you know nothing of the Saviour’s love, nothing, at least, as you ought to know it, if it have not produced this effect upon you. If you be Abraham’s children, you will “walk in the steps of your father Abraham,” believing in Christ, and rejoicing in him; not indeed in the prospect of his advent in the flesh, but in the prospect of that day which is now fast approaching, when all, both Jews and Gentiles, shall be gathered to him, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God — — — You will also look forward to that day, when he will come again in the glory of his Father, and of all his holy angels, to judge the world—for ever to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.”]
John 8:56. εἶτα κατασκευάζει καὶ ὅτι μείζων ἐστι τοῦ ἀβρ., Euth. Zigabenus, and, indeed, in such a manner, that He, at the same time, puts the hostile children of Abraham to shame.
ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν] with a reproving glance back to John 8:39.
ἠγαλλιάσατο, ἵνα ἴδῃ] he exulted to see; the object of his exultation is conceived as the goal to whose attainment the joyous movement of the heart is directed. He rejoiced in the anticipation of seeing my day, i.e. of witnessing the day of my appearance on earth.(39) As to its historical date, ἠγαλλιάσατο does not refer to an event in the paradisaical life of Abraham; but, as Abraham was the recipient of the Messianic promise, which described, on the one hand, the Messiah as His own σπέρμα, himself, however, on the other hand, as the founder and vehicle of the entire redemptive Messianic development for all nations, the allusion is to the time in his earthly life when the promise was made to him. His faith in this promise (Genesis 15:6) and the certainty of the Messianic future, whose development was to proceed from him, with which he was thus inspired, could not but fill him with joy and exultation; hence, also, there is no need for an express testimony to the ἠγαλλ. in Genesis (the supposed reference to the laughing mentioned in Genesis 17:17 which was already interpreted by Philo to denote great joy and exultation, and which Hofmann also has again revived in his Weissag. und Erfüll. II. p. 13, is inadmissible, on a correct explanation of the passage). So much, however, is presupposed, namely, that Abraham recognised the Messianic character of the divine promise; and this we are justified in presupposing in him who was the chosen recipient of divine revelations. For inventions of the Rabbis regarding revelations of future events asserted, on the ground of Genesis 17:17, to have been made to Abraham, see Fabric. Cod. Pseudepigr. I. p. 423 ff. The seeing of the day (the experimental perception thereof through the living to see it, Luke 17:22; Polyb. x. 4. 7; Soph. O. R. 831, 1528; and see Wetstein and Kypke on the passage) to which ( ἵνα) the exultation of Abraham was directed, was, for the soul of the patriarch, a moment of the indefinite future. And this seeing was realized, not during his earthly life, but in his paradisaical state (comp. Lampe, Lücke, Tholuck, De Wette, Maier, Luthardt, Lechler in the Stud. u. Krit. 1854, p. 817, Lange, Baeumlein, Ebrard, Godet), when he, the ancestor of the Messiah and of the nation, learnt that the Messianic age had dawned on the earth in the birth of Jesus as the Messiah. In like manner the advent of Jesus on the earth was made known to Moses and Elias (Matthew 17:4), which fact, however, does not justify us in supposing that reference is here made to occurrences similar to the transfiguration (Ewald). In Paradise Abraham saw the day of Christ; indeed, he there maintained in general a relation to the states and experiences of his people (Luke 16:25 ff.). This was the object of the καὶ εἶδε καὶ ἐχάρη; it is impossible, however, to determine exactly the form under which the εἶδε was vouchsafed to him, though it ought not to be explained with B. Crusius as mere anticipation. We must rest contented with the idea of divine information. The apocryphal romance, Testamentum Levi, p. 586 f. (which tells us that the Messiah Himself opens the gates of Paradise, feeds the saints from the tree of life, etc., and then adds: τότε ἀγαλλιάσεται ἀβραὰμ καὶ ἰσαὰκ κ. ἰακὼβ κἀγὼ χαρήσομαι καὶπάντες οἱ ἅγιοι ἐνδύσονται εὐφροσύνην), merely supplies a general confirmation of the thought that Abraham, in the intermediate state of happiness, received with joy the news of the advent of Messiah. Supposing, however, that the relation between promise ( ἠγαλλιάσατο, ἵνα ἴδῃ, etc.) and fulfilment ( καὶεἶδε κ. ἐχάρη), expressed in the two clauses of the verse, do require the beholding of the day of Christ to be a real beholding, and the day of Christ itself to be the day of His actual appearance, i.e. the day of the incarnation of the promised One on earth, it is not allowable to understand by it, either, with Raphelius and Hengstenberg, the appearance of the angel of the Lord (Genesis 18), i.e. of the Logos, to Abraham; or, with Luther, “the vision of faith with the heart” at the announcement made in Genesis 22:18 (comp. Melancthon, Calvin, and Calovius);(40) or, with Olshausen, a prophetic vision of the δόξα of Christ (comp. John 12:41); or, with Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Erasmus, and most of the older commentators, also Hofmann, the beholding of an event which merely prefigured the day of Christ, a typical beholding, whether the birth of Isaac be regarded as the event in question (Hofmann; see also his Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 304 f.), or the offering up of Isaac as a sacrifice, prefiguring the atoning sacrifice and resurrection of Christ (Chrysostom, Grotius, and many others). According to Linder, in the Stud. und Krit. 1859, p. 518 f., 1867, p. 507 f., the day of Christ denotes nothing but the time of the birth of Isaac, which was promised in Genesis 18:10, so that Christ would thus appear to have represented Himself as one of the angels of the grove of Mamre (comp. Hengstenberg), and, by the expression ἡμέρα ἡ ἐμή, to have denoted a time of special, actual revelation. Taken thus, however, the day in question would be only mediately the day of Christ; whereas, according to the connection and the express designation τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ἐμήν, Christ Himself must be the immediate subject of the day, as the one whose appearance constitutes the day emphatically His
His κατʼ ἐξοχὴν, analogously to the day of His second advent (Luke 17:24; 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14; Philippians 1:6; Philippians 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:2); hence, also, the plural had not to be employed (in answer to Linder’s objection).
καὶ ἐχαρη] appropriately interchanged for ἠγαλλ., the latter corresponding to the first outburst of emotion at the unexpected proclamation.
John 8:56. ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν, your Father) John 8:37; John 8:39, “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; Abraham is our father.”— ἠγαλλιάσατο, ἵνα, exulted that) Evinced his eagerness with longing desire. A similar expression occurs, Romans 10:1, “My heart’s desire, εὐδοκία τῆς ἐμῆς καρδίας,” ἵνα, thatfollows verbs of desiring. This ἀγαλλίασις, exultation, preceded, his seeing; and again χαρά, joy, accompanied the seeing.— τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ἐμήν, my day) The day of the Majesty of Christ: Philippians 1:10, “sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;” 1 Corinthians 1:8, “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ;” which day presupposes all the times of Christ, even in the eyes of Abraham. The days of Christ’s flesh (when He bestowed Himself on others) are one thing, the day of Christ Himself and of His glory is another thing [i.e. the two are altogether distinct]. This latter day was future in respect to this speech. Therefore the joy of Abraham preceded that day.— καὶ εἶδε, and he saw it) He saw it, even then in the revelation of My Divine glory; see verses following and Hebrews 11:13, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them and embraced them,” etc. He saw the day of Christ, who of the seed of the patriarch, which was about to be equal in number to the stars, is the greatest and brightest luminary. And inasmuch as he saw this day, which is to be altogether a day of life, he did not see death; John 8:51, etc., “If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death:—Abraham is dead—and Thou sayest, If a man,” etc.—Thus the vehemence of the Jews is rebutted. He did not however see it, as the apostles did: Matthew 13:17, “Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them.”— καὶ ἐχάρη, and he rejoiced) having obtained his wish.
You glory much in this, that you have Abraham to your father. This father of yours foresaw my coming into the world, and my dying upon the cross. He saw it by the eye of faith, in the promise which was made to him, That in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. He saw it in the type of Isaac’s being offered, then receiving him in a figure, Hebrews 11:19. He saw it in the light of Divine revelation. He saw my coming in the flesh; my dying upon the cross for sinners; the publication of my gospel to the whole world, by which means all the nations of the earth became blessed in his seed. And he
was glad, with the joy of faith, which gives the soul a union with an absent object by faith made certain to it, Hebrews 11:1.
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Poole, Matthew, “Commentary on John 8:56”. Matthew Poole’s English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-8.html. 1685.
Rejoiced to see my day; to hear of and obtain clear views of the coming of Christ.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Edwards, Justin. “Commentary on John 8:56”. “Family Bible New Testament”. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-8.html. American Tract Society. 1851.
56. ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν. Whom you so confidently claim (John 8:39; John 8:53): he rejoiced in expecting One whom ye scornfully reject.
ἠγαλλιάσατο ἵνα ἴδῃ. Exulted that he might see My day; the object of his joy being represented as the goal to which his heart is directed. This is a remarkable instance of S. John’s preference for the construction expressing a purpose, where other constructions would seem more natural. Comp. John 4:34; John 4:47, John 6:29; John 6:50, John 9:2-3; John 9:22, John 11:50, John 16:7. Abraham exulted in anticipation of the coming of the Messiah through implicit belief in the Divine promises. Winer, p. 426. ‘My day’ is most naturally interpreted of the Birth of Christ: comp. Luke 17:22. The aorists εἶδεν and ἐχάρη point to a definite event.
καὶ εἶδεν κ. ἐχάρη. A very important passage with regard to the intermediate state, shewing that the soul does not, as some maintain, remain unconscious between death and the Day of Judgment. The Old Testament saints in Paradise were allowed to know that the Messiah had come. How this was revealed to them we are not told; but here is a statement of the fact. Ἐχάρη expresses a calmer, less emotional joy than ἠγαλλιάσατο and therefore both are appropriate: ‘exulted’ while still on earth; ‘was glad’ in Hades: ‘exulted’ in tumultuous anticipation; ‘was glad’ in calm beholding. Thus the ‘Communion of Saints’ is assured, not merely in parables (Luke 16:27-28), but in the plain words of Scripture. Hebrews 12:1.
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad’.
Abraham had been told by God that ‘by you all the families of the earth will be blessed’ and that ‘kings would be born of him’ (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 17:6; compare Genesis 22:18-19), and as he looked forward to kings being born from him he might well have associated the coming time of blessing with the coming of a righteous future king descended from him, one who would rule nations as he ruled his family tribe (compare Genesis 49:10-14). How else could the nations of the world be blessed through him? Abraham thus rejoiced in the great day when God and the world would be at one through his descendants and looked forward to that day of God. This came out especially when at last the chosen son, through whom the promises would begin fulfilment, was born, for laughter was continually associated with that birth, even in the very name Isaac itself (meaning ‘laughter’). Abraham rejoiced at the birth of Isaac for he rejoiced at him as the sign of the fulfilment of the promises in the future.
There was also a Rabbinic tradition that when God made His covenant with Abraham He showed him the day of the Messiah. Genesis Rabbah 44:25ff states that Rabbi Akiba, in a debate with Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai, held that Abraham had been shown not this world only but the world to come, which would include the days of the Messiah.
But this statement of Jesus, taken over-literally, produced derision.
56. Your father Abraham—He prepares to assert his superiority over Abraham in his highest title, their boasted father; much more, then, over all other Jews.
Rejoiced—Exulted, leaped for joy.
To see my day— Literally, that he should see my day. Abraham’s exultation was in hope of seeing Christ’s day.
And he saw it—Saw it in accordance with his exultant hope. But when did he thus see Christ’s day. The interpretation hitherto most common is that concisely given by Dr. A. Clarke on the passage. “
And he saw it—Not only in the first promise, Genesis 3:15, for the other patriarchs saw this as well as he; and not only in that promise which was made particularly to himself, Genesis 12:7; Genesis 22:18, (compared with Galatians 3:16,) that the Messiah should spring from his family; but he saw this day especially when Jehovah appeared to him in a human form, Genesis 18:2; Genesis 18:17, which many suppose to have been a manifestation of the Lord Jesus.”
But many later leading commentators, as Tholuck, Stier, and Alford, hold, that as Abraham’s exultant hope of seeing preceded the seeing itself, the seeing cannot be a mere prophetic seeing but a real. It must then be a seeing by Abraham from paradise. Tholuck says, “Such a sympathy is ascribed to Abraham as that spoken of in 1 Peter 1:12, where the angels are said to look down with joy upon the redemption wrought out, and in Luke 9:31, where Moses and Elias speak with the Redeemer of his decease at Jerusalem.” This is a much more striking meaning; but would not, then, he saw it have been in the present tense? Is not Abraham’s seeing in paradise, a permanent seeing?
Jesus was, of course, referring to Abraham as the physical ancestor of His hearers, not their spiritual father. The occasion of Abraham”s rejoicing, to which Jesus referred, is unclear. The commentators have suggested various incidents in his life that Moses recorded (i.e, Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 15:17-21; Genesis 17:17; Genesis 21:6; Genesis 22:5-14). I think the most likely possibility is Genesis 12:3, the prediction that God would bless the whole world through Abraham. In any case, Jesus said that Abraham anticipated His day. Jesus was claiming that He fulfilled what Abraham looked forward to. We need to be careful not to read back into Abraham”s understanding of the future what we know from revelation that God gave after Abraham died. Clearly Abraham did know that his seed would become the channel of God”s blessing to the entire world.
The Hebrew and Greek words translated “seed” (Heb. zera, Gr. sperma) are collective singulars, as is the English word. It is not clear from the word whether one or more seeds are in view. The Bible uses the phrase “seed of Abraham” to refer to four entities: Jesus Christ ( Galatians 3:16), Abraham”s spiritual children (believers, Galatians 4:6-9; Galatians 4:29), his physical descendents (the Jews, Genesis 12:1-3;Genesis 12:7; et al.), and his physical and spiritual posterity (saved Jews, Romans 9:6; Romans 9:8;Galatians 6:16).
John 8:56. Tour father Abraham exulted that he should see my day; and he saw it and rejoiced. This translation, though more exact than that of the Authorised Version, does not fully bring out the meaning of the original. All English renderings of the words (unless they are paraphrases) must be more or less ambiguous. ‘Rejoiced to see’ conveys the meaning of ‘rejoiced because (or when) he saw;’ ‘exulted that he should see’ means strictly, ‘exulted in the knowledge that he should see.’ Nor is the difficulty removed if we take the ordinary rendering of the Greek construction, ‘that he might;’ for exulted that he might see is ambiguous still, though not in the same way. Perhaps the Greek words (which are very peculiar) are best represented by the paraphrase, ‘Your father Abraham exulted in desire that he might see my day; and he saw (it) and rejoiced.’ The interpretation, which is as difficult as the translation, turns mainly on the meaning of the words ‘my day.’ The nearest approach to this expression in the New Testament .is found in Luke 17:22, ‘one of the days of the Son of man,’ where the meaning must be ‘one of the days connected with the manifestation of the Son of man upon the earth.’ Here the form is more definite, ‘my day,’ and it seems exceedingly difficult to give any other meaning than either the whole period of the life of Jesus on earth, or, more precisely, the epoch of the Incarnation. In this case the past tense ‘he saw it’ is conclusive for the latter, if actual sight is intended. The patriarch received the promise in which was contained the coming of the day of Christ. By faith he saw this day in the far distance, but—more than this—exulting in the prospect he longed to see the day itself: in joyful hope he waited for this. In the fulness of time the day dawned; the heavenly host sang praises to God for its advent; and (none who remember the appearance of Moses and Elias on the Mount of Transfiguration can feel any difficulty in the words of this verse) Abraham too saw it and rejoiced. By those who do not accept this explanation it is urged—
(1) That Jesus would probably not thus refer the Jews to that which no Scripture records. But the truth spoken of is so general and so simple—Abraham’s knowledge of the fulfilment of God’s promises to him—that no Jew who believed in Jesus could refuse it credence.
(2) That ‘sees’ and ‘rejoices’ would be more natural than ‘saw’ and ‘rejoiced.’ Not so, if the Incarnation is the event before the mind.
(3) That this view is not in harmony with the reply of the Jews in the next verse. That point will be considered in the note on the verse.
The only other possible interpretation is that which refers the words to two distinct periods in the earthly life of Abraham; one at which, after receiving the promises, he exulted in eager desire for a clearer sight, and another at which this clearer sight was gained. But it is very hard to think of two epochs in the patriarch’s life at which these conditions were satisfied; and it is still more difficult to believe that ‘my day’ is the expression that Jesus would have used had this been the sense designed. Verily, if Abraham thus exulted in the thought of the coming of his son and his Lord, the Jews who are despising and rejecting Him do not Abraham’s works, are no true seed of Abraham.
John 8:56. And as regards The connection they claim with Abraham, this reflects discredit on their present attitude towards Jesus; for ἀβραὰμ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν, “Abraham in whose parentage you glory,”ἠγαλλιάσατο ἵνα ἴδῃ τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ἐμήν, “rejoiced to see my day”. The day of Christ is the time of His earthly manifestation: τῆς ἐπιδημίας αὐτοῦ τῆς μετὰ σαρκός, Cyril. See Luke 17:22-26; where the plural expresses the same as the singular here. “To see” the day is “to be present” at it, “to experience” it; cf. Eurip., Hecuba, 56, δούλειον ἦμαρ εἶδες, and the Homeric νόστιμον ἦμαρ ἰδέσθαι. ἵνα ἴδῃcannot here have its usual Johannine force and be epexegetical (Burton, Moods, etc.), nor as Holtzmann says = ὅτι ὄψοιτο, because in this case the εἶδε καὶ ἐχάρη would be tautological. Euthymius gives the right interpretation: ἠγαλλ., ἤγουν, ἐπεθύμησεν (similarly Theophylact), and the meaning is “Abraham exulted in the prospect of seeing,” or “that he should see”. This he was able to do by means of the promises given to him.— καὶ εἶδε, “and he saw it,” not merely while he was on earth (although this seems to have been the idea the Jews took up from the words, see John 8:57); for this kind of anticipation Jesus uses different language, Matthew 13:17, and at the utmost the O.T. saints could be described as πόρρωθενἰδόντες, Hebrews 11:13; but he has seen it in its actuality. This involves that Abraham has not died so as to be unconscious, John 8:52, and cf. Mark 12:26.
Abraham, your father, rejoiced that he might see my day, my entrance into this world, my incarnation, my birth, my manifestation in Israel, my death and passion. (St. Irenæus, Origen, St. Cyril, &c.) — He waited with impatience for the deliverance of the whole world. He saw it, and was glad. He saw it in spirit, for God revealed it to him. He saw it approaching in the birth of his son Isaac, and in the miraculous deliverance of his dear son, when he was commanded to offer him in sacrifice to the Lord. The vivacity of his faith made him, as it were, present at the time of my birth, though then so far off. (St. John Chrysostom, Leont., Theophylactus, Euthymius) — It is not unlikely that this patriarch, and the others who were with him, detained in limbo, were apprised of the incarnation and coming of the Messias, which would fill them with an effusion of inexpressible joy. (St. John Chrysostom) — Christ here teaches us two things. 1. That he was before Abraham. 2. That the Jews were not true sons of Abraham, now treating so rudely him, who, even before his coming, had given the patriarch so much joy. (Calmet)
rejoiced = leaped for joy. Greek. agalliao. Compare John 5:35.
to = in order that (Greek. hina) he might.
see. App-133. Therefore Abraham must have heard of it from Jehovah, for “faith cometh by hearing”(Romans 10:17).
My day = the day, Mine; i.e. the day of My promised coming.
he saw = he saw [it, by faith]. App-133.
was glad = rejoiced. Greek. chairo. Compare John 3:29.‘
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day , [ eegalliasato (Greek #21) hina (Greek #2443) idee (Greek #1492)] – ‘exulted,’ or ‘exceedingly rejoiced that he should see;’ that is, exulted to see it by anticipation;
And he saw it, and was glad – he actually beheld it to his joy. If this mean no more than that he had a prophetic foresight of the Gospel Day-the second clause just repeating the first-how could the Jews understand our Lord to mean that He “had seen Abraham?” And if it mean that Abraham was then beholding, in his disembodied spirit, the incarnate Messiah, as Stier, Tholuck, Alford, etc., understand it, the words seem very unsuitable to express it. Plainly it speaks of something past-he saw my day, and was glad-that is, surely, while he lived. We understand it therefore to refer to the familiar conversation which Abraham had with that “Angel of the Lord” who in the History is repeatedly called “The Lord” or Yahweh-the Angel of the covenant, with whom Christ here identifies Himself. On those occasions, says our Lord, Abraham “saw ME.” Such is the view of Olshausen; but we need not suppose it, with him, to refer to some unrecorded scene. Taking the words in this sense, all that follows will, we think, be quite natural.
Your father Abraham. God made the promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18; Galatians 3:16).By faith, he looked forward to Gods act in Christ to set men free. My day. This refers to the First Coming of Christ to be the world’s Savior. See John 3:16; John 3:25-27, and notes there.
(56) Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day.—They had asked in scorn if He were greater than their father Abraham (John 8:53). .His words have shown that He was. He 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. The truth comes as a ray of light across the abyss which separates the saints in heaven from saints on earth. As in the parable, where Lazarus is in Abraham’s bosom, the rich man is represented as knowing and caring for his brethren on earth, so here the great Patriarch is spoken of as knowing and rejoicing in the fact of the Incarnation. The faculty of reason cannot explain how it is, but the faculty of faith can receive the truth that there is a “communion of saints,” and finds in it a comfort which robs separation of its bitterness, and a power which strengthens all the motives to a holy and devoted life. (Comp. Luke 16:19-31; Hebrews 12:1.)
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
- Genesis 22:18; Luke 2:28-30; 10:24; Galatians 3:7-9; Hebrews 11:13,39; 1 Peter 1:10-12