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I know that you are Abrahams descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.
John 8:37  NASB
You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning …”
John 8:44  NASB
The Jews answered him [Pilate], We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.
John 19:7  NASB

 

Jesus death
The crucifixion of Jesus is a sensitive historical topic. On the one hand it is at the heart of  Christian belief, on the other hand it has given rise to the painful accusation that the Jews had crucified the Messiah.

 

Children of the devil
How painful was it for many Jews hearing the Gospel of John “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.” (John 8:44) 
How often have Jews, hearing these words, felt hurt deep inside. Was this the Gospel, the Good News? And they closed their hearts against it.

 

Jews or Judeans 
The meaning of the Greek word “Ioudaios” in the Gospels should not be taken as “Jew” (the meaning of the word outside the country), but as “Judean” (inside the country). After the fall of Jerusalem (70 AD) only the meaning “Jew” persisted to describe someone of the Jewish people and of the Jewish religion. But before the fall of Jerusalem the dominant meaning of “Ioudaios” in Israel was: someone from Judea, in contrast with someone from Galilee. Galileans were poorer and less well educated than the Judeans, moreover they could not proudly refer to a temple in their midst as the Judeans could. 

 

Anti-Semitic date
Historically theologians date the Gospel of John late, in 95 AD, and gave the book a flavor of anti-Semitism, as if John was writing about the Jews as a whole rejecting Jesus. And that is far from the truth. The Gospels clearly show that many people in Israel had a deep respect for Jesus, as a whole they certainly did not reject Him. Happily today many tend to date the Gospel of John early, before 70 AD, with the consequence that the meaning of the word “Ioudaios” is to be taken as “Judean” in contrast to “Galilean” (compare CJB, Complete Jewish Bible).

 

Galileans
Now we understand how John throughout his Gospel expressed his surprise that Jesus chose to work among the poor Galileans and not among the Judeans who seemed much more blessed with the temple, the Law and traditions since Ezra. This is evident right from his prologue (John 1:11-12): Jesus came to his own (Judeans, as Jesus also was from the tribe of Judah) “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God,” A little bit further about the Galileans: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, …” (John 1:14)

 

Extremists
In John 8:4 Jesus did not blame all the Judeans for being descendants of the devil. Only a few who were present and argued with him and who were ready to finish a religious disagreement with “murder and killing” (8:37, 59). They were just extremists and it was absolutely against the standards of traditional rabbinical teaching to kill because of a different theological opinion (compare Gamaliel's counsel Acts 5:33-39), despite the complaint “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her!” (Luke 13:34) This was seen as the work of extremists even if they were in high positions.
For that reason Jesus could accuse his extremist opponents of chapter 8 as being descendants of the devil. Not because they were sinful men, but because they wanted to kill him at the very moment (8:37, 59). He didn’t label all the Jews as children of the devil, despite it appearing so in many translations. In 1 John 3:10-12 and 5:16 we discover the same distinction: sin to death (the way of Cain who killed his brother Abel: dangerous extremism).

 

The real question  
New Testament interpretation has made the Gospel of John into a seeming anti-Semitic book by dating it in the year 95 AD. At that time the restricted meaning of “Judean” (for Ioudaios) had long since disappeared. Only the meaning “Jew” remained with the result that the Church fathers read the Gospel of John as blaming the entire Jewish nation “the Jews” for rejecting Jesus. Many translators and theologians continued on the road the Church fathers had set. They didn’t trouble a lot about the consequences of anti-Semitic feelings they spread, which contributed seriously to the great disasters for the Jewish people later on in history, in the Middle Ages and even in Modern Times.  
The real question is: Is John’s Gospel anti-Semitic or are the interpreters to blame who so uncritically followed the road of translation that was set in early Church history?