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Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

John 14

 

 

Other Commentaries
Verse 1

The supper with its tragic revelations was over. Judas had departed, and all of the disciples were in a state of shock and grief following the announcement that even Peter would deny the Lord. The greatest tide of evil ever known on earth was already rising around that little company huddled in the upper room. The forces of darkness, with God's permission, were in command; and there was no moon in the blackness of that spiritual night which settled like some evil fog over the Holy City. It was a time of doubts and fears and falling tears. The unaided strength of natural man was no match for the desperate frustrations and shattered hopes of that critical hour; but Jesus was more than a match for that satanic storm moving so ominously upon them. In words of supernatural calm and confidence, the Lord reassured his chosen ones, loving them, encouraging them, and protecting them in every way possible. Before leaving the scene of the supper, he spoke the words of this chapter concerning: (1) the Father's house, (2) the Way, the Truth, and the Life, (3) the Comforter, and (4) the eternal necessity of what he was about to do.

Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. (John 14:1)

Let not your heart be troubled ... is the theme of this chapter, the same words being repeated in John 14:27.

Believe in God ... in me ... One of the difficulties of translating the Greek New Testament is that certain sentences are capable of more than one rendition, as here. These words mean either: "Ye believe in God" (indicative affirmation of fact), or "Believe (ye) in God" (imperative commandment to be obeyed). The English Revised Version (1885) rendition is preferred because the indicative that the disciples truly believed in God would seem to have been more than Jesus would have credited to them in the circumstance of their doubts and fears. Reynolds noted that:

This (the English Revised Version (1885) rendition) is approved by the great majority of interpreters from the early Fathers to Meyer and Godet ... the different order of the words in the Greek, bringing the two phrases, "in God" and "in me," together, gives potency to the argument of the verse, which is that of the entire Gospel.[1]

Thus, one of the overtones of this passage is that believing in God and believing in Jesus are one and the same thing.

ENDNOTE:

[1] H. R. Reynolds, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1962), II, p. 220.

Verse 2
In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you: for I go to prepare a place for you.

Hunter has a very perceptive comment on this, thus:

The day before, Jesus had sent two of his disciples to secure a "large room upstairs" for the Last Supper (Mark 14:12f). They did not know the way but had to follow the owner. Arriving, they found everything "prepared." It looks as if Jesus here made the disciples' journey of the day before a parable of eternity, in which the upper room foreshadows the home of God with its many habitations.[2]

Speculations regarding the "many mansions" are fruitless. It is enough for us to know that they are indeed a reality, despite their existence beyond the perimeter of mortal vision. The souls which are of the faith of Jesus Christ shall truly inherit the upper and better habitations, and the Lord is even now preparing for the reception of the redeemed in the eternal world.

Here in these beautiful words of Jesus lies the secret of the Christian's triumph over every mortal disaster. When things on earth have issued in their superlative worst; when even life itself ebbs and the soul contemplates that ultimate terminus in the grave, then let the worshiper lift his eyes to see the City Foursquare coming down out of heaven from God. Such a refuge only Zion's children know.

ENDNOTE:

[2] A. M. Hunter, The Gospel according to John (Cambridge University Press, 1965), p. 141.

Verse 3
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

And if I go ... is not a statement of uncertainty but an argument that, as certainly as the Lord shall go, that certainly will he return and receive his own.

I come again ... The second coming of Jesus is dogmatically affirmed here and throughout the New Testament. As Dorris said:

Some refer this to the resurrection of Christ, others to the death of a believer as in the case of Stephen, and still others to the coming of the Holy Spirit. We think these positions inadmissible. The reference is not to Christ's return from the grave, but to his return from heaven, the second coming of the Lord, which is a part of the Christian faith.[3]

THE SECOND ADVENT

Not only here but in Acts 1:11; 3:21; 2 Thessalonians 4:13-17, etc., the doctrine of the second coming of Christ is emphatically taught, the same being one of the foundational teachings of Christianity.

I. What Christ will not do upon his return. A. He will not offer himself a second time for the sins of the world (Hebrews 9:26-28). B. He will not restore any phase of fleshly or national Israel. The Scripture makes it absolutely clear that race is nothing with God (Galatians 3:27). C. He will not set up a kingdom, having already done that, the church being his kingdom. It has existed continuously since the first Pentecost after the resurrection, and wherever the Lord's Supper is, there is the kingdom (Luke 22:30). D. He will not extend a second chance for unbelievers to repent (Hebrews 9:27).

II. What Christ will do upon his return. A. All the dead shall be raised to life (John 5:24-29). B. The judgment will occur (John 5:24-29; Matthew 25:31-36). C. The wicked shall be destroyed and the righteous rewarded (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). D. The crown of life shall be given to the faithful (2 Timothy 4:7,8). E. Christ will stop reigning, delivering up the kingdom to God (1 Corinthians 15:28).

III. What Christ is now doing. A. He is reigning until all of his enemies have been put under foot (1 Corinthians 15:25f). B. He is interceding for the redeemed (Hebrews 7:25). D. He is administering all authority in heaven and upon earth (Matthew 28:18-20). E. He is providentially overseeing the fortunes of his church on earth (Matthew 28:19,20). F. He is preparing a home for the faithful (John 14:3).

ENDNOTE:

[3] C. E. W. Dorris, A Commentary on the Gospel by John (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Co., 1939), p. 200.

Verse 4
And whither I go, ye know the way. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; how know we the way?

Ye know the way ... means that the disciples in knowing Jesus did indeed know the way to eternal life; but the full realization of what they did, in fact, already know would not come until after the resurrection of Christ. Thomas was speaking for them all in this disclaimer.

Verse 6
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Another of the great "I am's" of John, this is one of the profoundest teachings ever uttered. It presents Jesus as the unique means of access to God. Buttrick devoted most of an entire book to the mountain truth of this text, presenting Jesus Christ as the sole answer to the human problems of sin, ignorance, and mortality. As the way, Jesus is the answer to man's sin; as the truth, he is the answer to man's ignorance; and as the life, he is the answer to man's mortality.[4]

Man is constitutionally ignorant, endemically wicked, and irrevocably mortal ... There is no book logic to refute or uphold these contentions, only the logic of life ... Man is not delivered from his lower life by his own power but remains helpless without the Great Companion.[5]

I AM THE WAY; AND THE TRUTH; AND THE LIFE

Jesus is the way. Apart from him there is no solution of the problem of sin. Part of the problem is the universal tendency to deny that sin exists. Every crime, however vicious, is rationalized. The major thesis of humanism is that there is really nothing much wrong with man as he already is. True, certain restrictions are admitted; but men fancy that if they can only shake off the chains that bind them they will be all right. Strike off their political chains, their economic chains, their psychological inhibitions, etc., and presto! the new age will appear. All such human air-castles fall in one awful consideration, that of the universal wickedness of mankind. Every utopian ship of all history has split open and sunk upon the submerged reef of unregenerated human nature. In trying to find out how to live, men try to evaluate and compare various concepts and systems, and by deduction hope to find what is best; but the universal experience of humanity has demonstrated that whatever of the good, the pure and the beautiful that men have discovered - all of it derived from him who is the way. The sin problem is solved only in Christ. He alone reveals man's sin, ransoms him from the tyranny of it, removes him from the practice of it, remits it, and even overrules it for his benefit - provided only and always that the sinner must yield himself to the Lord and walk in his way; for he is the way.

Jesus is the truth. In this, our Lord is the answer to man's ignorance; but, in this sector also, man professes no need, pretending to be wise. In the dictionary that he wrote himself, is he not listed as "homo sapiens"? Look at the letters he has written after and before his name: Ph.D., M.D., Hon., Pres., etc., etc.; but, if man can bear to hear it, he would be just as accurately listed as "homo ignoramus"! Human wisdom is foolishness with God (1 Corinthians 1:20); and only a little reflection will reveal that God is right. Apart from God, man is ignorant of his origin, destiny, and the meaning of life. He cannot see one split-second into the future, but builds a house the day before an earthquake, elects scoundrels to public office, and in all social and political considerations moves with the intelligence (!) of a buffalo herd on stampede. Even in the areas of his greatest achievements, man is embarrassed by the fact that every truth he has ever discovered only raised a hundred other questions harder than the one he solved. The discovery of the power of the atom is only the most recent example of this. He cannot know what caused time, space, or matter, and does not have the slightest idea of the extent or duration of such things. He is an infant crying in the night with no language but a cry, until he shall turn to him who is the truth.

Man's vaunted knowledge has only multiplied his ignorance. He surveys from his tiny ant hill the morning star and the band of Orion; he cries for light, wisdom, and knowledge; but, as he pursues this will-o'-the-wisp, he is mocked by his own ignorance. The silent stars go by, and the whirling suns brush him into the grave. But in Christ who is the truth, all that is changed. He is the answer to man's ignorance. In Jesus, the soul is secure in the fact that ultimate truth is not another gadget, or a new formula, but a person, God in Christ, man's friend from above, who is at once the Cause and the explanation of all things.

Jesus is the Life. In this, he is the answer to man's mortality. Death is an ugly problem for man, but how does he face up to it? He will not even speak of it. Even when the last agony is upon him, his physician will hardly tell him the truth; his wife assures him that he is better; and even his minister speaks of what he will do when he gets well. What a tragic blindness it is that forces the great, the intelligent, the prominent and powerful on earth to go on living as if death had no claim upon them. The greatest falsehood of the age is the allegation that Christianity is a psychological escape hatch for defeated and frustrated souls. In Christ only do men face up to the fact of death and go down to the grave shouting, "Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57).

All of man's efforts to negate the problem of mortality are pathetic. With what fanfare and enthusiasm he greets every new medicine or surgical skill; but has he abolished death? Here and there he might indeed have plucked a feather from the wings of the angel of death; but the shadow of those wings still darkens every threshold. Only in Christ does the redeemed soul march onward in the security of him who is the resurrection and the life. Jesus broke up every funeral he ever attended, promised to raise from the dead all who ever lived, and taught his disciples not to fear them that may kill the body. His is the glorious religion that teaches men how to live with all the facts of life and of death. His is the only name that means anything when spoken over the cold form of the dead. This is the sublime truth that has sent his church shouting down two thousand years, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

[4] George A. Buttrick, Christ and Man's Dilemma (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1945), p. 29.

[5] Ibid.

Verse 7
If ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also: from henceforth ye know him and have seen him.

There is hardly a paragraph in this whole Gospel where the deity of Jesus is not either stated dogmatically, or, as here, emphatically implied. Here is another example of it. Knowing Jesus is equivalent to knowing God. Jesus' revelation to men, as far as verbal teaching goes, had here been completed.

From henceforth ... From that point onward, the apostles had in their full possession the sufficient knowledge of God as revealed in Jesus Christ to enable them to find eternal life. Although not yet fully realized by them, the verbal statement of it was complete. However, the Lord would add other significant statements of the great truth before the evening ended.

Verse 8
Philip saith unto him Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

Philip ... For discussion of this apostle, see under John 1:43. It seems that Philip was slow in comprehending the world-shattering truth of God in Jesus Christ; but his limitation was that of all men. Moreover, he did not have the advantage possessed by those who view the events of Jesus' ministry in the light of subsequent history.

Verse 9
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father: how sayest thou, show us the Father?

Something in the mind of natural man is reluctant to accept the evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was actually Almighty God in human form. This reluctance on Philip's part might have been the thing that prevented his becoming a very distinguished apostle. About all that has come down to us concerning him is his name and the reluctance evidenced by passages like this.

He that hath seen me hath seen the Father ... Could Jesus have stated the fact of his deity any more clearly than here? All that he had said of himself as the door, the good shepherd, the living water, the Son of God, the Son of man, the light of the world, the bread of life, the way, the truth, and the life coupled with his mighty signs - all of this had still left Philip unable to make the great step of faith in Jesus as God; and there seems to be in the Saviour's words here an element of wonder that Philip had somehow failed to take it in.

Show us the Father ... We do not know just what Philip meant by this request, but Hunter thought he desired to see a theophany:

He asks for such a revelation of God as Moses enjoyed (Exodus 24:9-1; 33:18) ... He would like Jesus to pull aside the veil separating the seen from the unseen - to disclose a great Father-figure. But such a theophany is quite unnecessary.[6]

ENDNOTE:

[6] A. M. Hunter, op. cit., p. 142.

Verse 10
Believest: thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I say unto you I speak not from myself: but the Father abiding in me doeth his works.

This recapitulation of Jesus' teachings earlier (John 12:49,50) was for Philip's benefit.

Verse 11
Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

Exactly the same teaching had been given previously. See John 5:36 and John 10:37,38.

Verse 12
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.

Verily, Verily ... With these words Jesus turned from replying to Philip and included them all (Judas absent) in the glorious promises about to be given.

Greater works than these shall he do ... It is difficult to know exactly what Jesus meant by this, for no miracle could be greater than raising Lazarus from the dead, and no work could be greater than that of the enabling act of redemption on the cross. Thus, as Guthrie noted:

Greater works would then relate to the wider opportunities which the disciples would have when Jesus returned to the Father. It would then be possible for Jesus to work through his people. The book of Acts is a commentary on this promise.[7]

Lipscomb has this:

During the life of Jesus on earth, his work was restricted to the limitations of his physical presence; but, after he ascended to the Father and the Holy Spirit came in his name, a greater and more extended work would be done by the fuller inspiration of the apostles, and the more extended mission they would fill.[8]

The very nature of Jesus' appearance on earth required miraculous manifestations of his power; but those miracles, wonderful as they were, had an inherent limitation. Jesus' miracle of feeding the five thousand was as nothing compared to the feeding of all the populations of earth throughout history through the operation of God's natural laws. Similarly, the miracle of creating Adam and Eve was as nothing compared to the perpetuation of humanity through the ages by means of the natural laws of procreation. Just so, the miracles attending the establishment of the church, or kingdom of heaven, on earth, and even including the miracles wrought by Jesus, are as nothing compared to the salvation of countless millions of men through the operation of God's spiritual laws which were set in motion by Jesus. The superiority of the spiritual over the physical is evidenced by Jesus' words here. As Hendriksen said:

According to this great saying of our Lord, the greater works are the spiritual works ... Does Jesus, by this means of comparison, which places the spiritual so far above the physical, hint that miracles in the physical sphere would gradually disappear when they would no longer be necessary?[9]

Three thousand souls were converted from death to life on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ, a feat far surpassing anything that was possible before Jesus returned to the Father.

Because I go to the Father ... The great works wrought by the apostles did not take place in spite of Jesus' going to the Father but because he DID go to the Father. Thus, the "greater works" the apostles were to do were still truly the works of Jesus our Lord.

[7] D. Guthrie, The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 958.

[8] David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 224.

[9] William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel according to John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1961), II, p. 273.

Verse 13
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that wilt I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

In my name ... For discussion of Christ as the one mediator, see my Commentary on Romans, p. 14.

Verse 14
If ye shall ask (me) anything in my name, that will I do.

The insertion of "me" in this verse, as in many manuscripts, suggests that prayers might be offered directly to Jesus, as well as addressed to the Father in Jesus' name. Note the prayer of Stephen (Acts 7:59). Dummelow cited Acts 9:14,21,1 Corinthians 1:2, where "calling upon the name of the Lord" was construed by him as examples of the same thing.[10]

ENDNOTE:

[10] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 799.

Verse 15
If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.

The great tragedy of modern Christianity is that of the elevation of faith above love in the economy of salvation. Love is the sine qua non of redemption. He who does not love cannot be saved. Love, not faith, is the fulfilling of all the commandments, as stated here. Paul went so far as to declare that one might possess "all faith" and yet find it worthless without love (1 Corinthians 13:2). The reason why "faith alone" cannot save is that "faith alone," by any definition, is faith without love. Also, there is no special brand of faith exempted from Paul's all-inclusive "all faith." Faith without love or even with the love of the wrong things, can never justify or save. See under John 12:42.

Verse 16
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you.

This is the first of the five Paraclete sayings in John, concerning which Hans Windisch published a thin tract upholding the thesis that these sayings form no part of John's original Gospel but are interpolations! After listing a few so-called arguments, he asserted:

This confirms our thesis: the five Paraclete sayings do not belong in the original text of the farewell discourses. They are alien entities in the course of both dialogues (John 13-14, and John 15-16).[11]

And what is the evidence that supports such a thesis? Absolutely none whatever, as a glance at Windisch's so-called reasons will prove. Here are the particular prejudices presented by him as "evidence."

1. "They can be removed from the context without leaving a gap."[12] Is this a reason? One might remove any of the beatitudes without leaving a gap, or take a whole paragraph out of the Declaration of Independence without leaving a gap.

2. "The idea that Jesus comes back to his own is nowhere to be found, apart from the Paraclete references."[13] The argument (!) of this is that: after removing the five passages from John's Gospel, the idea that Jesus will come to his own in spirit form is nowhere to be found. This is like saying, "When we take out a, e, 1o, u, and y, there are no vowels in the alphabet!" or "If we take out all references to it, the thing is nowhere visible!" Windisch is inaccurate in his allegation that these passages alone teach the coming of the Holy Spirit. See under John 7:37-39.

3. "The sending of the Holy Spirit is an entirely new idea which is not prepared for in what comes before it and is not referred to in what follows."[14] Only a person shutting his eyes against one of the most conspicuous elements in Christianity could make a statement like that. The preparation for this discussion of the Paraclete was laid as early as John 7:38-39 (which see) and was fully anticipated by the statement in John 14:12 that Jesus was going to the Father.

Abideth with you ... refers to the unlimited identification of Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit, as evidenced by the descending dove at his baptism. Further, as related by all the synoptics, and which John had in view throughout, the concept of the Spirit being in the disciples was dogmatically affirmed from the very first.

And when they bring you to trial and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand for what you are to say; but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak but the Holy Spirit (Mark 13:11; Matthew 10:19ff; and Luke 12:11ff).

In this light, it cannot be logically said that the reception of the Holy Spirit as an indwelling force in Christians (especially the apostles) is "an entirely new idea." We might ask, "New to whom?"

Now the above three alleged reasons were presented as the sole support of Windisch's ridiculous thesis; and they have been presented and exposed here to show how groundless and unreasonable are the efforts of "scholars" to butcher the Gospel of John. We shall now give attention to the blessed words of the promise itself.

He shall give you another Comforter ... Note that the Holy Spirit, called here the Comforter, will come as a result of Jesus' action in praying the Father; and this is consistent with the thought that Jesus himself sent the Spirit. His actions and the Father's actions are one, as repeatedly affirmed throughout John. Ferm's definition of the term "Paraclete" is:

A term applied in John to the Holy Spirit, though in 1John it is used of Christ himself. It means literally, "called to one's side," for the purpose of assistance, and thus corresponds exactly to the Latin "advocatus". In the newer versions of the New Testament, it is translated "Advocate," but this unduly narrows the meaning. It implies not merely intercessory help but help of every kind; and the old rendering, "Comforter," is still the best one, when taken in its original sense of "strengthener."[15]

Another Comforter ... identifies Jesus himself as the Comforter of the disciples up until that time, but he was preparing them for his departure to the Father.

That he may be with you forever ... Unlike his own brief ministry, that of the Holy Spirit would be coextensive with the whole Christian dispensation.

The Spirit of truth ... This is another name of the Comforter and stresses his function of guiding the apostles into all truth.

Whom the world cannot receive ... The life founded upon materialism and sense alone cannot partake of the indwelling strength available to Christians.

Ye know him, for he abideth with you ... The Holy Spirit "without measure" (John 3:34) dwelt in Christ during his ministry. Therefore, the apostles did "know him," whether "him" is referred to the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, the latter being meant here.

And shall be in you ... refers to the Spirit's indwelling, especially of the apostles.

[11] Hans Windisch, The Spirit-Paraclete in the Fourth Gospel (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1968), p. 3.

[12] Ibid., p. 2.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Vergilius Ferm, An Encyclopedia of Religion (New York: Philosophical Library, 1945), p. 560.

Verse 18
I will not leave you desolate: I come unto you.

Desolate ... actually means "orphans"; and from this premise, "I come unto you" is not speaking of the second advent but of an interim coming of the Lord in the person of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and afterward. The second advent was in view in John 14:3, but here the coming of Christ's Spirit is meant. Hendriksen ably defended this interpretation thus, "The immediately preceding context refers to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and so does the following context."[16]

ENDNOTE:

[16] William Hendriksen, op. cit., II, p. 279.

Verse 19
Yet a little while, and the world beholdeth me no more; but ye behold me: because I live, ye shall live also.

Because I live ... is a prophetic reference to the resurrection, because Jesus was clearly speaking of a time when the world should no longer see him. This is a second "because," like that in John 14:12, and shows the necessity of Jesus' return to the Father. The divine plan of establishing a worldwide spiritual kingdom could only have been hindered by the continued physical presence of Jesus on earth. Advocates of a literal return of Christ to a literal throne should take this into account.

Verse 20
In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

Here is the whole prospectus of God's kingdom in embryo, making this verse rank with Genesis 3:15 as a statement of the whole plan of salvation. Here is the achievement of God's righteousness, the secret of justification, and the basis of the redeemed's avoidance of judgment - the whole works; it's all here!

Ye in me ... God's way of accounting men righteous is that of totally identifying them with Jesus Christ who is righteous. The righteousness God imputes to men is a genuine righteousness, a total and absolute perfection, achieved by Jesus Christ and made available to men "in him." Any so-called "righteousness" based upon anything else is spurious. Nothing that a sinner might either believe or do could make either his faith or his actions the grounds of his being accounted righteous in the sight of God. "All spiritual blessings are in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). God therefore makes a sinner righteous by bringing him into Christ, identifying him with Christ and as Christ, thus enabling all the righteousness of the Holy One to be in fact the righteousness of the redeemed soul in Christ (Galatians 2:20). For full discussion of justification in Christ, see my Commentary on Romans, pp. 108-113.

No man can be saved as John Doe, Joe Bloke, or whoever he is. The only way any man can be saved is as Christ and in Christ. The identification of believers with Christ is revealed in this verse to be exactly the same as the identification of Christ with God. God is in Christ; Christ is in God; Christ is in Christians; and Christians are in Christ. The loss of personal identity for purposes of procuring justification was what Jesus referred to in "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 10:39).

Verse 21
He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him.

The thought here is like that of John 14:15 (which see); also, the oneness of Christ with the Father is the constantly recurring theme of the Gospel, and is apparent here in Christ's loving whom the Father loves, and in the Father's loving them that love Christ.

Verse 22
Judas (not Iscariot) saith unto him, Lord, what is come to pass that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

Judas (not Iscariot) ... Goodspeed identified this Judas thus:

Thaddeus, as Judas the son of James is called in Matthew 10:13 and Mark 3:18, is credited to this day in Armenian tradition with having brought the gospel to Armenia with notable success.[17]

Thou wilt manifest ... and not unto the world ... The belief that Christ would be some kind of overpowering earthly Messiah persisted even among the Twelve, and even after the resurrection (Acts 1:6). Thaddeus' question here was strongly flavored with the ideas of Jesus' brothers (John 7:3,4), regarding a "manifestation" in Jerusalem. He did not understand that the death on the cross would be a manifestation before the whole world.

ENDNOTE:

[17] Edgar J. Goodspeed, The Twelve (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1939), p. 30.

Verse 23
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

See under John 14:15 and John 14:20 for discussion of thoughts repeated here. Christ was ever interested in the salvation of men's souls, and that is why he shifted the emphasis back to what had already been taught concerning salvation. Thaddeus' dream of an earthly kingdom was of no concern at all to Jesus.

Verse 24
He that loveth me not keepeth not my words; and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's who sent me.

He that loveth me not ... This first double clause is a negative statement of John 14:15 and John 14:23. See under those verses.

Not mine, but the Father's ... This repeats the thought of John 12:48-50. The confusion of the apostles, necessitating Jesus' repetition of things previously taught, was due to their misunderstanding the true nature of Christ's kingdom, a misunderstanding that would not be cleared up until after Pentecost.

Verse 25
These things have I spoken unto you, while yet abiding with you.

Recognizing the limitations of disciples like Thaddeus, the Lord again returned to his promise of the Holy Spirit, stressing the fact that the Spirit would bring to their "remembrance" all of those things they were finding it so difficult to understand. Thus there is an imperative connection between this second of the Paraclete sayings and the total context in which it lies, thus showing how groundless are such fantastic guessings as those of Windisch (see under John 14:17, above).

Verse 26
But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said unto you.

Teaching the apostles all things and bringing to their remembrance all that Jesus taught are parallel. Christ's message to men was perfect and complete; and the function of the Holy Spirit even in the apostles, was not that of continuing an incomplete revelation but of aiding their remembrance of the complete revelation already delivered. This promise of guiding into "all truth" pertained only to the apostles. Jesus never promised that the Holy Spirit would guide the Christians of all ages into the truth, except in the limited context of this original promise, ENABLING them to REMEMBER what Jesus taught; and this is still the work of the Spirit.

The Spirit of God enabled the memory of the apostles to deliver to humanity THE THINGS JESUS SAID, those being the things they HEARD him say. The notion that the Spirit guides men in spiritual things in any manner of contradicting or going beyond the Scriptures is wrong. The apostles themselves taught Christians "not to go beyond the things which are written" (1 Corinthians 4:6). This truth needs emphasis today. As Lipscomb said:

The ground of our certainty of the word of God is that the Spirit guided into the truth stated. All departure from the word of God concerning entrance into the church and into Christ comes from the idea that the Spirit teaches men outside the word of God ... TO give up the word of God as the only direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit is to give loose rein to dreams, imaginations, reasonings, and philosophies of men.[18]

Concerning the theory that the Spirit speaks "of himself" and apart from the word of God, see under John 16:13.

All things that I have said unto you ... What Jesus taught is the one true foundation of Christianity. Other passages bearing on this are: "these sayings of mine" (Matthew 7:24-26), "first spoken by the Lord" (Hebrews 2:3), and "whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20). See my Commentary on Matthew, en loco.

ENDNOTE:

[18] David Lipscomb, A Commentary on the Gospel of John (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1960), p. 232.

Verse 27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The full appreciation of these remarkable words derives from their having been spoken within the very eye of the greatest storm of evil ever to appear on earth. Only Paul ever approached such tranquillity with his recurring theme "rejoice" written from a dungeon in Rome. As Reynolds said:

This verse shows how the ordinary salutation may become invested with immense significance. There are moments when into one human word may be condensed the love of a lifetime. Christ does but pour through these common words the fire of his eternal and infinite love.[19]

Peace ... This is the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Let not your heart be troubled ... These were the opening words of the chapter, and they are appropriately repeated here.

Neither let it be afraid ... Literally, this means "neither let it be terrified," suggesting that Jesus saw in the disciples some rising symptoms of that carnal weakness which would prostrate them all before the night was over.

Fear not ... is one of the central admonitions of Christian faith. Angels bore the same admonition to Joseph (Matthew 1:20), to Zacharias (Luke 1:13), to Mary (Luke 1:30), and to the shepherds (Luke 2:10).

ENDNOTE:

[19] H. R. Reynolds, op. cit., II, p. 230.

Verse 28
Ye heard how I said unto you, I go away, and I come unto you. If ye loved me, ye would have rejoiced, because I go unto the Father: for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe.

Jesus' constant purpose that night was to strengthen the disciples against the ordeal through which they would pass. This was the purpose of his foretelling the treachery of Judas and the denial by Peter. Here he stressed the fact of his going away unto the Father by means of his death, resurrection and ascension.

The Father is greater than I ... is not a denial of the deity and Godhead of Jesus Christ but a contrast of the Father's state in glory with that of the Lord in the depths of his humiliation. If the apostles had understood what a glorious thing it was for Jesus to leave the wretched scenes of his humiliation and return to the glory he had enjoyed with the Father from times eternal, they would have rejoiced. Westcott agreed that no denial of Jesus' Godhead is in this verse. He wrote:

The superior greatness of the Father must therefore be interpreted in regard to the absolute relations of the Father and the Son without violation of the one equal Godhead ... if we may so speak of mysteries which transcend human knowledge.[20]

ENDNOTE:

[20] B. F. Westcott, The Gospel according to St. John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971), p. 210.

Verse 30
I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world cometh: and he hath nothing in me; but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so do I. Arise, let us go hence.

The prince of the world ... is another reference to Satan as in John 12:31.

Hath nothing in me ... There is a hint here that Satan might have expected to have something in Christ; but the Saviour calmly announced that he would do what the Father had commanded, that is, die on the cross; and how, it may be wondered, had Satan hoped to thwart that? Satan had already exhausted every resource in vain efforts to kill Jesus; but with the announcement that Jesus would lay down his life of his own accord (John 10:17,18), and that it was impossible for any man to take his life away from him, Satan changed his strategy, thereafter exhausting every satanic resource in making Jesus' death such a shameful, repugnant, and humiliating thing, that the Lord might finally abort the mission of redemption by refusing to die such a repulsive death for such a people. That such a temptation came to Jesus is certain from Matthew 26:53. Jesus here announced that Satan's strategy had failed. The price of human redemption would be paid by the Saviour. For extended discussion of Satan's strategy in these tremendous events, see my Commentary on Matthew, Matthew 26:39, and my Commentary on Romans, p 118.

Arise and let us go hence ... Some believe that Jesus and his disciples immediately rose up and left the scene of the last supper; but Hendriksen believed it likely that the next three chapters, which might easily have been spoken in ten or fifteen minutes, were uttered while they were standing and prior to leaving. As he stated it:

This context implies there are still some things Jesus wished to say to his disciples (John 14:30) ... How often it happens even among us Westerners that between exhortation, "Now, let us be going," and the actual departure there is a period of ten minutes? ... Speaking calmly and deliberately, with no attempt to rush himself, Jesus might have uttered the contents of John 15 through John 17 within a period of TEN MINUTES. When a company has been together several hours, what are ten minutes? ... Accordingly, we shall proceed upon the assumption that the contents of John 14-17 comprise a unit, and that all of this was spoken that night in the upper room.[21]

ENDNOTE:

[21] William Hendriksen, op. cit., II, pp. 290-291.

 


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 14:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". "http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/view.cgi?book=joh&chapter=014". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

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