Is the unbeliever/sinner a child of the devil?

John 8:37-47 records a discussion Jesus had with the unbelieving Jews in which he calls the devil their “father” (see vv. 41, 44). This has thus been used to refer to EVERY unsaved man as “the child of the devil.”

In Bible Interpretation, a word must NEVER be assigned an omnibus or general meaning. Words are best understood within the CONTEXT in which they were used.

The word “son” and “father” are used both literally and figuratively in the Biblical texts. The Jews especially understood a figurative usage of “son” as one who follows in the footsteps of another, acts exactly like he does. For example, in 1 Corin. 4:14-17, Paul reminds the Corinthians that he had “begotten” (or “fathered”) them through the Gospel. This simply means that Paul had brought them over to his manner of reasoning, system of belief (which in context, refers to the Gospel). It is not a literal parentage.

In the Jewish custom, those who taught their neighbour’s children the Torah were called their “fathers” i.e. they derive their behaviour from them. So we see a figurative usage of the word ‘father” which does not refer to a literal birth, but SAMENESS in behaviour. Reading John 8 in context reveals that it is in this sense that Jesus used the word “father.”

He is not saying that the devil literally fathers the sinner (that’s impossible). Rather, his audience (the Jews) were ACTING like the devil (following after his footsteps in hatred and murderous thoughts).

So the word “father” was used to describe character portrayal, not childbearing or literal sonship. The unbeliever is NOT the son of the devil. He is one who thinks and acts like he does. The devil has no children.


(For a detailed treatment of this subject, get the teaching “What Is Man?” by Pastor Josh Banks)


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2020.


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