1. John 8:34a is the typically Johannine version of the gospels'
sayings formula: Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν. Many scholars argue that
this is used to introduce a traditional saying, fewer that it reflects
Jesus' own words. In favor of authenticity is the fact that Amen
is Aramaic and is therefore unlikely to have originated in Greek Christian
circles. Moreover, its initial placement is at best odd for an Aramaic
speaker. In both John and the synoptics only Jesus speaks thus, so it
is distinctive. Few Johannine sayings introduced with these words have a
clear synoptic parallel and even those that do betray no direct dependence
on a synoptic text. So there is multiple attestation of the prevalence
of this formula at the oral stages of Jesus sayings tradition behind the
gospels. But this only proves that it is primitive. It could
just as well have been invented by anyone who claimed to speak for Jesus as
by Jesus himself. Here it is used to introduce two wisdom sayings.
2. John 8:34b. Jesus did not invent this observation as there is a
clear Stoic parallel in Epictetus 2.1.23 stating that no one who sins is
free. The closest parallels in early Christian sources are in Paul
(Gal 3:21-26, Rom 6:16-20). In neither instance does Paul's argument
indicate possible dependence upon a source. And Paul is more likely
than Jesus to be the prime source of Stoic influence upon Christianity.
Indeed, the phrase "slave of sin" is at home in Paul's theology but out of
place among the sayings of Jesus, who was himself criticized for associating
3. John 8:35. The contrast between the persons who do or do not
μένει...εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα is characteristically Johannine, but
the pairing of "the son" with "the slave" is not. In itself the
contrast of a son's inherent right to residence with a slave's conditional
stay "in the house" is a general observation that is true, regardless of any
association with Jesus. It expresses everyday wisdom within a
first-century context. Hence it is a proverb without any verbal twist
like genuine parables and aphorisms to confirm the Johannine claim that it
is an offspring of the mind of Jesus.