8:31 Then Jesus said to those Judeans 1 who had believed him, “If you continue to follow my teaching, 2 you are really 3 my disciples 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 4
17:17 Set them apart 5 in the truth; your word is truth.
[8:31] 1 tn Grk “to the Jews.” In NT usage the term ᾿Ιουδαῖοι (Ioudaioi) may refer to the entire Jewish people, the residents of Jerusalem and surrounding territory (i.e., “Judeans”), the authorities in Jerusalem, or merely those who were hostile to Jesus. (For further information see R. G. Bratcher, “‘The Jews’ in the Gospel of John,” BT 26 : 401-9; also BDAG 479 s.v. ᾿Ιουδαῖος 2.e.) Here the phrase refers to the Jewish people in Jerusalem who had been listening to Jesus’ teaching in the temple and had believed his claim to be the Messiah, hence, “those Judeans who had believed him.” The term “Judeans” is preferred here to the more general “people” because the debate concerns descent from Abraham (v. 33).
[8:32] 4 tn Or “the truth will release you.” The translation “set you free” or “release you” (unlike the more traditional “make you free”) conveys more the idea that the hearers were currently in a state of slavery from which they needed to be freed. The following context supports precisely this idea.
[8:32] sn The statement the truth will set you free is often taken as referring to truth in the philosophical (or absolute) sense, or in the intellectual sense, or even (as the Jews apparently took it) in the political sense. In the context of John’s Gospel (particularly in light of the prologue) this must refer to truth about the person and work of Jesus. It is saving truth. As L. Morris says, “it is the truth which saves men from the darkness of sin, not that which saves them from the darkness of error (though there is a sense in which men in Christ are delivered from gross error)” (John [NICNT], 457).
[17:17] sn The Greek word translated set…apart (ἁγιάζω, Jagiazw) is used here in its normal sense of being dedicated, consecrated, or set apart. The sphere in which the disciples are to be set apart is in the truth. In 3:21 the idea of “practicing” (Grk “doing”) the truth was introduced; in 8:32 Jesus told some of his hearers that if they continued in his word they would truly be his disciples, and would know the truth, and the truth would make them free. These disciples who are with Jesus now for the Farewell Discourse have continued in his word (except for Judas Iscariot, who has departed), and they do know the truth about who Jesus is and why he has come into the world (17:8). Thus Jesus can ask the Father to set them apart in this truth as he himself is set apart, so that they might carry on his mission in the world after his departure (note the following verse).