John 8:21-30 Warning

21 So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” 25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.


Jesus is warning both his ‘friends’ and his enemies.  He is letting them know that he is the judge and that they are misinterpreting him.  He lets them know that they will die in their sins.  N. T. Wright allows that this has spiritual value and talks of an eternal death, but he also refers to the immediate context.  Jesus is telling the people that they will physically die at the hands of Rome without having turned as a nation from their sin.  This reintegrates the reality of physical and spiritual existence.   We can see that sin is prevalent in the world.  Ukraine, Hong Kong, Syria, Iraq and Liberia are international reminders that all is not right globally.  However, in America and Britain we have unrest, unwanted children, rape, murder and divorce.  The environment is treated poorly and greed directs our economic choices.  We die in our sin if we die without Christ in this fallen world.

Jesus redeems the individual, but he redeems them as change agents who effect the community that they are in.  Firstly there must be constant change in the life of each individual.  We must see the sin that entangles us and we must throw it off in order to become the creations that Christ has paid for us to be.  As we are transformed we need to share the transformation with those in our families and sphere of influence.  Also, we must change how we drive, how we date, how we educate, and how we work in order to harmonize it with God’s design.  Then, when we die, we do not die in our sin.  Jesus redeems it all – in this life and the next.

Crossroads Warning Sign


We can be discouraged as agents of change when the world does not see you as we see you.  Children are taught to be silent about you in our public education systems because you are absent from the curriculum.  Adults are silent about you because they don’t see your role in their work.  Help us to be change agents in every area of life so that people would not have to die in so much sin.


  1. How does Jesus warn his listeners?
  2. Do you think that N. T. Wright is correct in saying that Jesus’ warning is both relating to spiritual eternity and temporal circumstances? Why?  Why not?
  3. When does Jesus say they will understand?
  4. Are people in the world today dying in their sin?  Describe what you mean?
  5. How are you an agent of redemption for people and their world?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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21 Responses to John 8:21-30 Warning

  1. Had a conversation about redemption with your son on the way to school today. He brought it up. 🙂

  2. Sara Cavitt says:

    1) Jesus warns them by explaining that they will die in their sins and will not be with Him if they do not believe in Him.
    2) I think that Jesus’ warning was more focused on spiritual eternity, but in some ways I think it could also relate to circumstances on earth.
    3) He says they will understand when the Son of Man has been lifted up.
    4) Yes, people are dying in their sin, because of their unbelief in Jesus.
    5) I am an agent of redemption through living a life for Christ and through pointing people to Him.

  3. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. How does Jesus warn his listeners?
    He says that they will die in their sins apart from knowing who He is and therefore who has sent Him.
    2. Do you think that N. T. Wright is correct in saying that Jesus’ warning is both relating to spiritual eternity and temporal circumstances? Why? Why not?
    It seems to be that in this passage Jesus is speaking about knowing the Father and the judgment that will come from not knowing Him, therefore spiritual. But they are already dead in their sins, so when Jesus says you will die in your sins, it seems to me that Jesus is also saying they will physically die with still not knowing God. This could be reference to death by the Romans.
    3. When does Jesus say they will understand?
    When they lift up the Son of man- this I believe is a reference to when they lift Him up on the cross to die.
    4. Are people in the world today dying in their sin? Describe what you mean?
    Yes! I think of Chicago, people, in their sins, shooting one another, and dying in their sin. Sin results in spiritual death, but I believe sin also leads to physical death. Cain killing Abel.
    5. How are you an agent of redemption for people and their world?
    I bear the light of Jesus Christ and only that can bring redemption.

  4. Kathleen says:

    Jesus says that sin leads to death if you do not know him. The people will believe when the Son of Man is lifted up. Yes, I would say that people are dying in sin. You do not have to search far to see how sin destroys lives and families. I am an agent of redemption by allowing Christ to shine through my life. I want people to realize i am different and want to know why.

  5. Lacy says:

    1. Jesus warns his listeners by telling them of his identity and role as judge.
    2. It would seem only to make sense that Jesus is talking about both spiritual and physical death. If one dies in his sins physically, he faces spiritual death as well.
    3. He says they will understand better after his crucifixion.
    4. People are definitely dying in their sin today. Every day more die without coming to know Christ, and every day even physically live people live as if spiritually dead, harming themselves and others.
    5. I want to be an agent of redemption to the world by spreading the gospel of Christ’s love and reconciliation.

  6. Janice Lee says:

    Jesus warns His listeners by telling them that unless they believe in Him, they will die in their sins. People in the world are dying in their sin today. They are lost without the hope of a Savior. Thus, we must share the hope we have in Christ with them.

  7. Jenna says:

    1. He warns them that, without Him, they will die in their sins.
    2. I’d never thought about this verse that way, but what NT Wright asserts is definitely true – the Jews reject Jesus and they are destroyed by the Romans.
    3. The Jews will understand when they “lift up” Jesus – I’m guessing that refers to the cross.
    4. Yes! Some people are literally dying because of their sin (for example, people who die from reckless driving under the influence of alcohol), and everyone is dying in sin if they are not believers.
    5. I am trying to love people as unconditionally as God has loved me.

  8. karas says:

    How does Jesus warn his listeners? Jesus speaks to them. However, they don’t understand.
    Do you think that N. T. Wright is correct in saying that Jesus’ warning is both relating to spiritual eternity and temporal circumstances? Why? Why not? I think so, because it applies to both. We die physically in and because of our sin, but also spiritually.
    When does Jesus say they will understand? When He completes His work, and all see Him exalted, first on the cross and then at the right hand of God.
    Are people in the world today dying in their sin? Describe what you mean? Definitely. Our sin is the cause of so much pain and violence and suffering and death. Whether we are dying physically or spiritually, we are definitely as a world dying in our sin if we do not know Jesus as our Savior.
    How are you an agent of redemption for people and their world? The best thing I can do is point them to Jesus, the Savior. That is a large part of why I want to teach–so that I can teach my students about the salvation and life that is in Christ.

  9. Amy McCashen says:

    1. Jesus warns them that unless they believe in Him they will die in their sins.
    2. Yes. I had never considered it, but it makes sense.
    3. Once they have crucified Jesus. (Isn’t that sad that they won’t understand until they THINK its too late!)
    4. Absolutely! People are living their lives apart from Jesus and therefore apart from God. Where God is not, there is darkness and sin and death. Death is separation from God.
    5. I am in the process of becoming a teacher. I will be able to share Jesus daily for 6 hours a day to a group of children. I really really want my future students to come to know the Lord personally. I should start praying for them now!

  10. Mary says:

    Here we go again, round 2 with the Pharisees: where Jesus is going they cannot come, Jesus is the Son of God and speaks on the Father’s authority, the Father sent him. I think maybe they have their fingers in their ears…

    Jesus tells them they won’t understand until after they have “lifted up the Son of Man.” This is the same conversation (in reverse) that Jesus had earlier with Nicodemus in Ch. 3 when he references Moses in the wilderness, and then goes on to say that he is the light of the world (Jn. 3:14). I wonder what the significance might be. Is Nicodemus here again, hiding in the background? Hmmm. I think he is (thank you Mr. Worrall for pointing out that the Woman Caught in Adultery story was plopped into the middle of this one). Nicodemus just stood up for Jesus, saying that he deserved a trail in Jn. 7:50-51. This appears to be that said trial (again as Mr. Worrall pointed out), beginning in 8:12, and continuing here. Interesting…

    Ok, only one light bulb went off. Maybe another will go off later when I get to the end of the book and see Nicodemus again.

    Application: Thank you Lord for pulling me out of my wretched sinful life and claiming me as your own. Thank you for promising to never let me go. I love you.

  11. zacbodine says:

    I read this earlier today and to be honest I just wanted to read and not engage with it. Forgive me for that. Here’s an attempt to engage:
    It is so interesting that Jesus repeats himself over and over and yet people still don’t get it. I think it is crazy that even back then things Jesus said challenged people and made them question. It almost seems frustrating for Jesus when they ask who he is. I find that very interesting sometimes we just need to sit and listen to Jesus tell us who he is and stop trying to get a word in. Just listen.

  12. Beth Coale says:

    1. that they’ll die in their sins if they continue what they’re doing, if they refuse to take serious His words
    2. Yes, I think so much of what Christ said related to both (like when he forgave the sins of the paralyzed man before healing him and after healing the women who had been sick for years)
    3. after Christ’s death, it kind of makes sense that He can’t be too blunt about it because the Pharisees wouldn’t want to fulfill a prediction of Christ
    4. yes, from their sin or the sin done to them by others. I think many people who aren’t even Christians would agree.
    5. intentionally trying to serve the world (and support/serve people who are serving the world) in ways that help people (following Christ’s example) both physically and spiritually

  13. Chelsea P. says:

    Those who do not believe in Jesus will die in their sin and be condemned to Hell. This is a very sobering and scary thought. I am reminded of my two brothers, who I think and pray for daily. Until they bow their knees in repentence, they live a life of hopelessness. I pray the Lord will open their hearts and give them life. I pray that I would be a faithful witness, a faithful agent, of the gospel.

  14. Bethany says:

    People are dying in their sin because that is all that’s left behind when they leave. Those who do not know Jesus are not living for what we were made for. All they leave behind is a string of experiences rather than a fulfilling life dedicated to serving the Lord. When they die they have nothing to hope for.

  15. Austin Brose says:

    Jesus warns his listeners that if they continue to live in sin, then they will die. I believe that N.T. Wright is correct in saying that this warning relating to spiritual and temporal circumstances, because they will face eternal death and also the lack of life here on earth if they do not live through the Father. Jesus said they will understand when they lift Him up, meaning when He is crucified. People today are dying of their sin, they live according to the flesh and what the Devil tells them to do. Therefore, the only life is through Christ, which they do not have.

  16. Dylan says:

    1. Jesus warns his listeners saying unless they believe in him, they will die in their sins.
    2. Absolutely! Even after being saved we must continually believe in Jesus or we will surely sin and feel it’s deadly effects.
    3. Jesus says the skeptics and persecutors will understand when he is on the cross.
    4. People today are indeed dying in their sin. A guy I work with told me today, “I think you just get more tired every day, then you die.” When I replied, “I think the will to live has something to do with it too” he responded “No, I lost that a long time ago, I just want to die when it’s socially acceptable. I don’t want people to make a big deal about it.” He feels the weight of the world but doesn’t know who can take it off. I’m praying for him. Anyone else can too, his name’s Ryan.
    5. The way of Jesus is not only counter cultural, it goes against the will of the human heart. That stands out. And deep down, I think everyone senses it’s a more blessed and truthful way to live.

  17. Ashley says:

    1. Jesus warns his listeners by telling them that they will die in their sin.
    2. I do believe that when Jesus is refers to dying in sin, he is also speaking of temporary conditions. However, I don’t think this only pertains to a physical death. I think he is also telling us that when we give in to sin, we die in this life also. It is empty, meaningless, and exhausting to indulge in sin.
    3. They will understand when the Son of Man has been lifted up.
    4. Yes, people today are dying in there sin. (See #2)
    5. My prayer is that I radiate with Jesus’ light. I want people to see the hope that I have in Christ and that while I still sin, I am no longer a slave to sin. Therefore I can have abundant, full life!

  18. Rachel says:

    Jesus is warning the crowds that death is certain and sin is the curse that will ultimately cause eternal damnation. People today are dying in their sin. Sin here can be better understood as “wrong-ness” in the world instead of the small acts of rebellion against God. Over all, God’s creation is lashing out in rebellion, destroying ourselves and each other in the process. This is sin. I have come face to face with the effects of this sin in my life and the lives of those I love. This world is not as it should be. I long for Christ’s return, the righteous judge.

  19. nataliaria says:

    Jesus warns his listeners that He is going away very soon, and their refusal to listen to Him will result in their death.

    It is interesting to hear about N.T. Wright in the light of this post; some time in our Romans class has been devoted to identifying areas in which Wright is incorrect in his interpretation of Scripture. Because of this, my first inclination is to disagree with his understanding of Jesus’ words. While I do not have research upon which to base my views, it seems to me that Wright has the advantage of hindsight, which can be used to support the context that he wants to read into Jesus’ words. I am trying to think of other times where Jesus is interpreted by others as predicting political situations, but I can’t think of any.

    Jesus tells the people that they will understand His identity after they have “lifted Him up,” which I understand as a reference to the cross.

    Yes, I believe that people today are dying in their sins. I believe that this has multiple meanings; first, people are living as spiritually dead individuals without the redemption of Christ in their lives. Second, people are literally dying as a result of the physical sins of themselves and others. Third, people are physically dying with the stain of sin upon them, and are going to eternal death in hell because of this.

    To think of myself as an agent of redemption is a little convicting because it brings to mind all the many times I have not allowed my heart to be open to the work that God would have me do in this world, and have not allowed Him to use me in all the ways He might. However, I believe that every action of mine, in every place that I might be, can be used by God as an agent of His redemption. While sometimes this is done through actual witnessing, I believe much of it is living in every aspect with God as the center of my life. Living as such completely devoted to Him and in love for Him, He renews and uses my every word and deed to bring His peace, joy, comfort and grace to wherever I go.

  20. Nick says:

    He warns them that apart from him, they will die in their sins. He says that they will understand when they lift him up, potentially referring to the cross. All people are sinners, and everyone who does not believe in Jesus is dying in that sin.

  21. Rebekah Thompson (Bekah) says:

    1. That they will die in an eternity of hell if they do not accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior
    2. Yes to both because if you do not have you do not have the other
    3. When he dies on the cross
    4. Yes, they are dying of their fleshly pleasures each day and falling closer and closer to hell unless they are saved.
    5. Because I believe in Jesus as my Lord and savior and he saved me from this death in hell…I am one who has experienced and was lost but now am found…i understand where they are at because I was there myself

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