Specifics

John 8:31-32 English Standard Version

The Truth Will Set You Free

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Let us return to the basics of scriptural understanding.

Who is speaking? Jesus

Who is hearing? Jews who believe Him.

What are their circumstances? Jews are a conquered people living under Roman rule.

There are many aspects of life for these Jews at this time. Herod was their Tetrarch, one of four appointed to control the people of the region. What the people wanted was for the Messiah to come and set them free from Roman rule and rid them of Herod. They wanted a King.

Now we must decide what Jesus meant for these Jews to understand. His intentions are more important than their understanding. What did Jesus mean when he said “abide in my word”?

Abide takes on three distinct aspects. A place, of time, and of qualities that would be produced in those people who believed in Jesus. These qualities are generalized as faith, hope and love. It is these character traits developed within the believer that identifies them as disciples.

Now Jesus has not been crucified. He has not risen from the grave. His atonement is on the horizon but has not taken place at this time. His words are no less true for these Jews who believe. Understanding the need for atonement to set us free from the penalty of sin is important. Truth is about to set them free? What will they be set free from in this place and at this time?

This goes back to the circumstances of the times. What did their Tetrarch say to them? What did their religious leaders tell them? Manipulation and control comes from words and commands which are based on self-interest of the speakers. The Tetrarch’s office was to control the Jews, manipulation. The Pharisees had their own agenda. Both of them were confronted by the presence of Jesus in their midst.

Their lies were being exposed.

Tribulations

2 Kings 6:1 English Standard Version

The Axe Head Recovered

1 Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See, the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us.

This section of 2nd Kings 6 is an interesting read but in it you will not see the word tribulation translated here but it is here. It is the Hebrew Word tsar which is used to describe tribulations in other passages. Here in the ESV it is translated too small, in the KJV it is too strait.

The issue is emotional. It is the same attitude revealed when one is told about the narrow gate in Matthew 7:13-14. It is an emotional response to conditions. Elisha took up the mantle of Elijah and lived a life on the straight and narrow. It was a life too restrictive for his followers.

It should also be noted that these were not prophets but the sons of prophets. The restrictive life of Elisha was too narrow for them, emotionally it was a tribulation, too restrictive. It is one of those emotional issues when we follow a leader who is totally sold out to God. We see the dangers in being funneled into a narrow gap, with no escape. We fear an ambush, an attack coming from the enemy. It is emotional and does not mean that the enemy is going to attack, nor successful if he does.

These are not the Great Tribulations of biblical prophecy where the enemy of Christ is making his last stand.

Acts 14:21-23 English Standard Version

21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Tribulations are not just for the end times.