corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.10.19
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
John 14

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

XIV.

(1) Let not your heart be troubled.—The division of chapters is unfortunate, as it breaks the close connection between these words and those which have gone immediately before. The prophecy of St. Peter’s denial had followed upon the indication of Judas as the traitor, and upon the announcement of the Lord’s departure. These thoughts may well have brought troubled hearts. The Lord had Himself been troubled as the darkness drew on (John 12:27; John 13:21), and He calms the anxious thoughts that He reads in the souls of the disciples.

Ye believe in God, believe also in me.—It is more natural to take both these clauses as imperative—Believe in God, believe also in Me. Our English version reads the first and last clauses of the verse as imperative, and the second as an indicative, but there is no good reason for doing so; and a sense more in harmony with the context is got by reading them all as imperatives. As a matter of fact, the present trouble of the hearts of the disciples arose from a want of a true belief in God; and the command is to exercise a true belief, and to realise the presence of the Father, as manifested in the person of the Son. There was a sense in which every Jew believed in God. That belief lay at the very foundation of the theocracy; but like all the axioms of creeds, it was accepted as a matter of course, and too often had no real power on the life. What our Lord here teaches the disciples is the reality of the Fatherhood of God as a living power, ever present with them and in them; and He teaches them that the love of God is revealed in the person of the Word made flesh. This faith is the simplest article of the Christian’s creed. We teach children to say, we ourselves constantly say, “I believe in God the Father.” Did we but fully grasp the meaning of what we say, the troubles of our hearts would be hushed to silence; and our religion would be a real power over the whole life, and would be also, in a fulness in which it never has been, a real power over the life of the world.


Verse 2

(2) In my Father’s house are many mansions.—The Greek word used for “house” here is slightly different from that used of the material temple on earth in John 2:16. The exact meaning will be at once seen from a comparison of 2 Corinthians 5:1, the only other passage in the New Testament where it is used metaphorically. The Jews were accustomed to the thought of heaven as the habitation of God; and the disciples had been taught to pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” (Comp. Psalms 23:6; Isaiah 63:15; Matthew 6:9; Acts 7:49; and especially Hebrews 9)

The Greek word for “mansions” occurs again in the New Testament only in John 14:23, where it is rendered abode.” Wiclif and the Geneva version read “dwellings.” It is found in the Greek of the Old Testament only in 1 Maccabees 7:38 (“Suffer them not to continue any longer”—“give them not an abode”). Our translators here followed the Vulgate, which has “mansiones “with the exact meaning of the Greek, that is; “resting-places,” “dwellings.” In Elizabethan English the word meant no more than this, and it now means no more in French or in the English of the North. A maison or a manse, is not necessarily a modern English mansion. It should also be noted that the Greek word is the substantive answering to the verb which is rendered “dwelleth” in John 14:10, and “abide” in John 15:4-10. (see Note there).

“Many” is not to be understood, as it often has been, simply or chiefly of different degrees of happiness in heaven. Happiness depends upon the mind which receives it, and must always exist, therefore, in varying degrees, but this is not the prominent thought expressed here, though it may be implied. The words refer rather to the extent of the Father’s house, in which there should be abiding-places for all. There would be no risk of that house being overcrowded like the caravanserai at Bethlehem, or like those in which the Passover pilgrims, as at this very time, found shelter at Jerusalem. Though Peter could not follow Him now, he should hereafter (John 13:36); and for all who shall follow Him there shall be homes.

If it were not so, I would have told you.—These words are not without difficulty, but the simplest, and probably truest, meaning is obtained by reading them as our version does. They become then an appeal to our Lord’s perfect candour in dealing with the disciples. He had revealed to them a Father and a house. That revelation implies a home for all. Were there not “many mansions” the fulness of His teaching could have had no place. Had there been limitations He must have marked them out.

I go to prepare a place for you.—The better MSS. read, “For I . . ,” connecting the clause with the earlier part of the verse. He is going away to prepare a place for them; and this also proves the existence of the home. There is to be then no separation; He is to enter within the veil, but it is to be as Forerunner on our behalf (Hebrews 6:20). “When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.”


Verse 2-3

The Preparation and the Reception

I go to prepare a place for you. 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.—John 14:2-3.

One does not wonder that the disciples were troubled when told that their Master was about to die. There is no anguish so sharp and desolating as that which bereavement causes. He who had been to them infinitely more than friend or brother, whom they had loved with a love having all the reverence of worship and all the intensity of passion, whose life had been their ideal of goodness, whose love had been their blessedness, whose Divine teaching and working had been their glory—He was about to be taken from them; they are to be bereaved of more than affection ever lost before. Never had sorrow so great an occasion. The grief of bereavement is measured by the greatness of possession. Only those who had known Him could know what it was to lose the man Christ Jesus. Therefore “sorrow had filled their hearts,” the depth of which was attested alike by the vehemence of St. Peter and the tenderness of St. John. His comfort for them was, trust in Him as the immortal Christ, who would go to prepare a place for them, and come again to receive them to Himself.

I

The Preparation

“I go to prepare a place for you.”

These words are so simple that a child or an unlettered peasant might understand them. Christ has gone to prepare a place for us in the house of His Father; what more need we know? This is enough to give us the exhilarating hope and joy which are necessary for righteousness; this is enough to invigorate the faith which is agitated by the mysteries that environ us; this is enough to sustain the fortitude which is likely to give way under the recurring shocks of earthly trouble.

1. The Going.—It is not so much the going as the preparation that is in His mind. Yet what a way was that by which He had to go. It was the way of Gethsemane, and the judgment-hall, and Calvary; it was the way of the cross and of the grave; the way of the resurrection and the ascending on high. It was thus He opened the Kingdom of heaven to all believers, and thus He rendered possible for us life in the Father’s house.

(1) He goes because He first came. Christ came into this world not as a native but as a visitor, a messenger from another sphere. “I go my way,” He cries, “to him that sent me.” He returns to His rightful place, as a voyager setting sail to his native shore, as a son wending his way joyfully homewards when the task on which he set out is finished. What poets and philosophers have sometimes imagined concerning man, that he has descended by the passage of birth from some diviner realm of which he brings dim recollections with him, that

Trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home,—

this was true in a sense deeper and grander than they had imagined, in the case of the Son of Man, our Lord Jesus Christ. He came from the bosom of the Father.

Nothing is more evident from the narrative of the Gospels than that Jesus made this claim; nothing is more certain than the fact itself, if His words are in any wise true. Listen to Him: “I came out from the Father, and am come into the world; again I leave the world, and go to the Father.” Language cannot be plainer or more positive than this. The gates of birth and of death alike are transparent to Jesus Christ; through both He sees His Father’s heaven.

(2) He goes because for our sakes He must go. It was necessary to part, necessary to leave them behind; nothing else would have snapped the chain which held them to this visible life which they knew, and in which they had known their Master; nothing but losing Him, and knowing why they had lost Him—that He had gone to prepare their place, the place where at last they should be with Him, and where He was with the Father for over. He went up on high: and then with tears and with great joy they understood the lesson that to give Him up was not to lose Him. Then they knew that to have Him out of sight was to have Him none the less. Then they knew that they parted with Him on earth to have One whom they had followed and conversed with, on the throne of heaven. Then they perceived that though their work and their sufferings might be for a while on earth, they themselves belonged to where their Master was gone; the place prepared for them was nothing less than the unutterable and never-changing glory into which He was withdrawn.

Wherever He would have His disciples go, He goes first Himself, and through the door which He has opened He draws them by His love. That is the whole philosophy of Christian culture. And that is the meaning of the Incarnation. God entered into human life; made Himself one with it as He only could have done with a nature that was originally one with His own. He became man as He could not have become brute or stone. Then in that human nature He outwent humanity. He opened yet unopened gates of human possibility. He showed what man might be, how great, how godlike! And by the love and oneness He has always been claiming man for the greatness whose possibility He showed.1 [Note: Phillips Brooks, The Mystery of Iniquity, 179.]

2. The Preparation.—“If I go,” He said. But “go” is a cold word. It tells of parting. There is a sigh of desolation in it, like the moaning of the wintry wind as it sweeps through the leafless branches of the trees in the dead of night. It was a word which filled the heart of the disciples with sorrow. They thought it the coldest word that they had ever heard from Him. It seemed to hang like an icicle upon the lips of the Christ. Only the satisfaction that He was going to prepare a place for them made the word bearable. “I go to prepare” are His words. To go, then, does not mean to forget. Christ’s exaltation is an exaltation to service. No trouble will be too great for Him in our interests. “Prepare.” God believes in preparation. He did not place man on earth without having first prepared the earth for him; and as the ages move we are more and more impressed with the extent of the preparation. From this we can understand better the meaning of the word “prepare” as applied to heaven. And, more, we can see better why our Lord should speak of “abiding places.” A home which takes so long in preparing must not be a transient one. In the Divine economy there is always a sublime relation between the means and the end.

When a guest is coming to the house, the hostess prepares. The rooms are there, the furniture is there, but the thoughtful, tender-hearted woman has something to do beyond making them ready. She prepares for the guest. This, she says to herself, is his favourite flower, his favourite book, and that little touch of kindness makes the welcome perfect. It may not be much that she is able to do, but the little means that she would fain do all. So Christ prepares for Peter, prepares for John, prepares for Thomas. He knows what they like, and He does not forget. So He prepares for His people through the generations till the end arrives.1 [Note: W. Robertson Nicoll, The Lamp of Sacrifice, 169.]

I remember how once travelling in Syria the guide upon whom we wholly depended disappeared. By and by he came back to us as we rode along and told us where he had been: that in the village which we were approaching, and where we were to spend the night, his family lived; that he had ridden on to see that they were ready to receive him and to prepare quarters in their house for us, the travellers under his charge, and now came back to conduct us thither; and by and by he brought us where he belonged, and where through him provision had been made and a welcome was waiting for us.2 [Note: Phillips Brooks, The Mystery of Iniquity, 173.]

(1) There are two remarkable things about this statement. The first is that the master should prepare for the servant. This upsets the ordinary course of procedure. You are expecting to entertain some chosen friends. All your appointments are made; you have sent before your face servants in whom you have confidence, and have told them to do as you have commanded, that all things may be in readiness for the invited guests. This is customary; this is considered right. But Jesus Christ says to His servants,—such poor, incomplete, and blundering servants, too,—“I, your Lord and Master, go to prepare a place for you.” This is quite in keeping with the method which Jesus Christ adopted in His ministry. This is no exceptional instance of condescension, self-ignoring, self-humiliation. He took a towel, girded Himself, and washed His disciples’ feet and dried them, and having finished this lowly exhibition, He said, “If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another’s feet.” I have given you an example. So His whole life was a humiliation.

Suppose we had a near relative and friend who had long been away in far-distant lands. At length he determined to return home, and settle down quietly after his long, and tiresome, and wandering life. He wrote to us to provide a house for him, to prepare it, to furnish it completely, and even to lay out the grounds, all ready for his arrival and immediate occupation. That preparation would cost us very grave anxieties. How carefully we should endeavour to recall his old disposition, his old fancies and partialities! We should provide everything that we imagined could be pleasing to him. We should be all the while thinking about him. And yet, when we had it all ready, if a mutual friend should come to look over the house and grounds, he would see a great many signs of our own peculiar taste, our own individual preferences. We could not help making the house a little expression of ourselves, and a little expression of our friend. So it must be with the Lord Jesus. He is preparing a place for us, and He is thinking of us; of our real wants, and of our varied wishes. But all the while He is impressing His own character upon it; He is filling it with indications of His own likings and sympathies. And the exceeding charm of our Heaven will be to us this: it will be so largely, and so evidently, Christ’s Heaven, but at the same time it will be so manifestly our own Heaven—Christ’s preparation, but prepared for us.1 [Note: R. T. Light for Life’s Eventide, 27.]

(2) The second remarkable thing about the text is that the Divine being, God the Son, should ever have occasion to “prepare” anything. To prepare may signify to get ready, to put things in order, to look after arrangements, appointments, and the like, so as to have all things in due proportion and relation, that the eye may be pleased, that the ear may be satisfied, and that all our desires may be met and fulfilled. Jesus Christ talks in the text as if there were a good deal of work for Him to do somewhere, and He must make haste and get it done. Go to prepare? Can He who fills infinitude and breathes eternity have anything to do in the way of arranging and ordering and getting things ready for His servants. He accommodates Himself to our modes of thinking. He does not always “throw the infinite at us.” He often steps out of His tabernacle of glory and talks our own speech,—makes a child of Himself that He may be understood in this little rickety nursery of a world. He knows we are all in the cradle still, that the mightiest speaker among us is only a lisping babbler, and that He must continually break up His words, in order that He may convey the very dimmest hint of His unutterable meaning!

There are some things which only the Master can do. Will you go and prepare summer for us? You might try. You have seen half a hundred summers: now you go and try to make the fifty-first! Come! You are an artificer: you have the organ of form largely developed; you have an eye for beauty; you can buy oils and paints and colours and canvas and brushes of all kinds. Why don’t you go and prepare summer for us? The great Master, looking down upon this little under-world of His—this basement-storey of His great building—says, “I am going to prepare the summer for you.” And He makes no noise, He makes no mistakes in His colours, never gets things into discord. He continually renews the face of the earth, and not a man in all the busy, boastful world can do it! If the servant cannot prepare the summer, how could he prepare heaven? If the saint exhausts himself when he lights a candle, how could he fill the great heavens with the morning that should never melt into sunset?1 [Note: J. Parker.]

II

The Reception

“I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

“If I go, I come again” (He uses the present tense, not the future), “that where I am, there ye may be also.” There is the Father’s house, there is the place prepared, and there is the coming of the Christ to take us to our place. He will not leave His disciples to find their own way; He will come again and receive them to Himself, that they may abide with Him for ever. The going was preparatory. It was with a view to returning, and the returning, again, is with a view to the final reunion of all with Himself. “If I go, I come again.”

1. The Coming.—There are many comings of Christ to the world, and to the individual. The words no doubt refer to the Second Advent, but the promise must not be limited to that one coming which is the consummation of all comings. In many ways and times Christ has come and is coming. From the day He ascended to His Father, He has been continuously coming, manifesting Himself as the risen Lord and the life-giving Spirit to the Church and the world. The signs of His advent are everywhere around us. Christ has come again already, and come to dwell. His is an abiding presence. “Lo,” He said, “I am with you all the days, even unto the consummation of the age.” Especially is there one coming of Christ to us which we all await with mingled feelings of awe and fear and hope. May we not say that death is for each individual a true coming of Christ, that through it Christ’s words, “I receive you unto myself,” have a true fulfilment?

When our Lord departed, to confirm our assurance He returned again for a little while, with the keys of death and the grave hung at His girdle; He “shewed himself alive after his passion,” Master of both worlds, “Lord of both the dead and the living,” and moving as He would this side or that the veil. By the resurrection of Jesus Christ we know that there is an exit from the grave, and that our holy dead live unto God. Paradise is no fable then; the celestial hills gleaming beyond the dark river are no cloudland born of our wishes and our fancies. When Jesus speaks of His Father’s house, He does not invite us to a castle in the air, to some palace in the fairyland of childhood, but to that which is the most certain and solid as it is the most glorious of realities. It is this world that is unsubstantial, that is the realm of dreams and shadows. “The things which are seen are temporal: but the things which are not seen are eternal.” The earth beneath our feet is but a little flying dust, the everlasting mountains fade and dissolve as the morning mists that cover them; we look for “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

He will come again!

Sometime He will surely stand once more

On the earth which His own hand hath made—

Only never as before,

Weary, lonely, and in pain,

As the Lamb on whom our sin was laid—

Stretching out His hands in vain,

All the day,

To a people gone astray.


He will come again!

O, the word

Which our joyful ears have heard

Cannot fail, nor pass away.

He hath spoken! It shall be!

Our expectant eyes shall see

Him for whom we watch and wait,

Coming soon to claim

All whose trust is in His name—

For the hour is growing late;

Time wears on,

And the little while is almost gone.


He will come again!

In the hope our hearts grow strong—

Strong to bear the watching and the strain

Of the time between—

Strong to bear His cross—to undertake,

For His sake,

All the burdens of the day—

All the roughness of the way—

Reaching out toward the things unseen—

Finding not our rest below—

Counting all the joys of earth,

All things here,

Sometime dear,

Of but little worth,

Since we know

That at His appearing we shall see

All the glory, and the light—

Hidden now from human sight—

Of the risen One,

And, beholding, in His likeness be,

While eternal ages run.1 [Note: E. H. Divall, A Believer’s Rest, 68.]

2. The Reception.—One of the best tests of the truth and reality and vigour of our Christian life lies in this, that when we anticipate the great life to come, however far speculation may endeavour to trace its course in the province of that mysterious land, we return to this thought, which satisfies completely all the deepest and best desires of our hearts,—that where Christ is, we are to be also. But there is a personal delight in these words of Christ’s: His joy would be incomplete if we were not with Him in the Father’s house. It would diminish our gladness, our anticipation of supreme bliss, if we did not know that our presence with Him would heighten His own happiness. He is not so absorbed in the splendours of His Eternal Throne, or in the great tasks which belong to Him as the Lord of the heaven and the earth, as to be indifferent to the affection that binds Him to us and to God. Nor is He so absorbed even in the blessedness of His eternal fellowship with the Father. If on the one side of His nature He is eternally one with God, on the other side of His nature He is eternally one with us; and fellowship with us, in the perfection of our righteousness and the perfection of our blessedness, is as necessary to the heavenly glory of Christ as His fellowship with the Father Himself. The joy that was set before Him when He endured the Cross, despising the shame, was this,—that He might redeem us from sin; and knowing as only He knows the blessedness of living in the eternal love of God, He wanted us in our measure to know that blessedness likewise.

Heaven is the Father’s house, where we shall be young again, the ideal home life here revived and sanctified, where friend will meet with friend, where the many mansions will extend their ample hospitality to people of every kindred and tongue and nation; yet even this is not the chief feature of that life to come. Its chief feature is the fellowship not of friend with friend, but of all with Christ—“That where I am, there ye may be also.” The Father’s house is not a perfect place to Christ until He gathers into its mansions all those for whom He died. Not until He has His loved ones beside Him where He is, and has made them what He is, will He be satisfied. That is heaven,—to be with Christ, to see Him as He is, to be as He is. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

The Tannese called Heaven by the name Aneai; and we afterwards discovered that this was the name of the highest and most beautifully situated village on the island. Their best bit of Earth was to them the symbol and type of Heaven; their Canaan, too, was a kind of prophecy of another country, even a heavenly Canaan. The fact that they had an Aneai, a promised land, opened their minds naturally to our idea of the promised land of the future, the Aneai of the Gospel hope and faith.1 [Note: John G. Paton, i. 121.]

I used to think of heaven and its golden streets and pearly gates, and it was the place I thought of; but as I grew older and my loved ones passed on before, my thoughts of heaven changed altogether. I no longer think of the place, but of the great company I shall meet there, of my Poly. boys who have gone home, of the mother who loves me none the less because her love has been made perfect in her Saviour’s presence. I believe that when our opening eyes first pierce the mysteries of that land beyond the river, our first feeling will be a deep inward sensation of being at home; the surroundings that are so often antagonistic to our better nature will be gone: there will be no more sea.2 [Note: Quintin Hogg, 309.]

Let not thy heart be troubled; in the vast spaces there is a home for thee. The Son of Man has gone before; there is a region prepared for humanity. There is a spot in this stupendous universe where human nature dwells. That spot is thy one comfort, thy one glory. No other glory would make up for it. There may be golden streets and pearly gates and sapphire thrones. There may be rivers clear as crystal, and trees rich in foliage, and flowers full of bloom. There may be suns that never set, and hands that never weary, and lives that never die. But about these many things thy heart is not troubled. One thing is needful, without which all were vain—the sympathy of a brother’s soul. Content mayest thou be to have no revealing of the many lights in the upper chamber, since thou hast been allowed to gaze on one glimmering light of love—“I go to prepare a place for you.”3 [Note: G. Matheson, Searchings in the Silence, 212.]

Dr. Story, speaking of his last interview with Mrs. Oliphant, then on her death-bed, says: Her voice was still strong with its old, familiar tone; her wonderful eyes were as lambent as ever; and her mind was as calm and clear as a summer’s sea. “I am dying,” she said, “I do not think I can last through the night.” Thinking of the “Little Pilgrim” and the “Seen and the Unseen,” and the many touching efforts her eager imagination had made to lift the impenetrable veil, I said, “The world to which you are going is a familiar world to you.” “I have no thoughts,” she replied, “not even of my boys; but only of my Saviour waiting to receive me, and of my Father.”1 [Note: Memoir of Robert Herbert Story, 288.]

The city’s shining towers we may not see

With our dim earthly vision;

For Death, the silent warder, keeps the key

That opes the gates Elysian.


But sometimes, when adown the western sky

A fiery sunset lingers,

Its golden gates swing inward noiselessly,

Unlocked by unseen fingers.


And while they stand a moment half ajar,

Gleams from the inner glory

Stream brightly through the azure vault afar,

And half reveal the story.


O land unknown! O land of love Divine!

Father, all-wise, eternal!

O guide these wandering, way-worn feet of mine

Into those pastures vernal!2 [Note: Nancy Priest Wakefield.]

The Preparation and the Reception

Literature

Alford (H.), Quebec Chapel Sermons, i. 365.

Allon (H.), The Indwelling Christ, 321.

Brooks (P.), The Mystery of Iniquity, 171.

Church (R. W.), Village Sermons, iii. 176.

Dale (R. W.), Christ and the Future Life, 33.

Fairweather (D.), Bound in the Spirit, 151.

Findlay (G. G.), The Tilings Above, 188.

Ingram (A. F. W.), The Mysteries of God, 135.

Lewis (F. W.), The Unseen Life, 119.

MacColl (M.), Life Here and Hereafter, 71.

Matheson (G.), Searchings in the Silence, 210.

Moody (D. L.), Heaven, 61.

Mozley (J. B.), Sermons Parochial and Occasional, 268.

Nicoll (W. R.), The Lamp of Sacrifice, 155.

Parker (J.), Studies in Texts, v. 86.

Parkhurst (C. H.), A Little Lower than the Angels, 214.

Parkhurst (C. H.), The Pattern in the Mount, 227.

Smith (D.), The Pilgrim’s Hospice, 97.

Christian World Pulpit, xxix. 10 (Davies).


Verse 3

(3) And if I go and prepare . . .—For the form of the expression, comp. Notes on John 12:32, and 1 John 2:28. It does not imply uncertainty, but expresses that the fact is in the region of the future, which is clear to Him, and will unfold itself to them.

I will come again, and receive you unto myself.—This clause has been variously explained of the resurrection; of the death of individual disciples; of the spiritual presence of our Lord in the Church; of the coming again of the Lord in the Parousia of the last day, when all who believe in Him shall be received unto Himself. The difficulty has arisen from taking the words “I will come again,” as necessarily referring to the same time as those which follow—“I will receive you unto Myself,” whereas they are in the present tense, and should be literally rendered, I am coming again. They refer rather, as the same words refer when used in John 14:18, to His constant spiritual presence in their midst; whereas the reception of them to Himself is to be understood of the complete union which will accompany that spiritual presence; a union which will be commenced in this life, advanced by the death of individuals, and completed in the final coming again. (Comp. John 17:24.)


Verse 4

(4) And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.—The better reading is, And whither I go, ye know the way, i.e., “Ye know that I am the way to the Father, whither I am going.” (Comp. John 14:6, and John 13:33.) They did not, indeed, fully know this, but the means of knowing it was within their reach, and His own words had declared it. (Comp., e.g., John 10:1; John 11:25.) They ought to have known it, and His words now are meant to contrast what they ought to have known with what they really did know, in order that He may more fully instruct them. To know our ignorance, is the first step to its removal.


Verse 5

(5) Thomas saith unto him.—Comp., for the character of Thomas, John 11:16; John 20:24; John 21:2.

Lord, we know not whither thou goest.— Our Lord’s words had laid stress upon the “way.” Thomas lays stress upon the “whither.” His mind seeks for measured certainty. In all that he has heard of the Father’s house of many mansions, of being with the Lord, there is much that he cannot understand. The Messiah, they thought, was to reign upon earth. Where was this vast royal home, with dwelling-places for all, to which Christ was going first, and to which they were to follow? They know not whither, and without that knowledge they cannot even think of the way.


Verse 6

(6) I am the way.—The pronoun is emphatic. “I, and none besides Me.” “The way” is again made prominent, reversing the order which Thomas had used. He and He only is the means through which men can approach to the Father. (Comp. Notes on John 1:18, and on 1 Timothy 2:5.)

The truth, and the life.—Better, and the Truth, and the Life. The thought of His being the Way through which men come to the Father is the reverse side of the thought, that in Him the Father is revealed to men, that He is Himself the Eternal Truth, that He is Himself the Source of eternal life. (Comp. John 1:14; John 1:17; John 6:50-51; John 11:25-26.) Had they known what His earlier words meant, they would have had other than temporal and local thoughts of the Father’s house, and would have known Him to be the Way.

No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.—This was the answer to the doubt of Thomas. This was the true “whither” which they knew not. The thought of heaven is not of a place far above, or of a time far before, but of a state now and hereafter. To receive the Truth and the Life revealed in the presence of the Son is to come to the Father by the only Way. To be with the Father is home. (Comp. Notes on John 1:18; John 3:13.)


Verse 7

(7) If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.—The thought here is made quite plain by what has preceded; but the form in which it is expressed demands attention. The emphasis of the first part of the sentence is not upon “Me” as is generally supposed, but upon “known.” In the second part the emphatic words are “My Father.” The English word “known” represents two Greek words in the better text which are not identical in meaning. The former means, to know by observation, the latter to know by reflection. It is the difference between connaître and savoir; between kennen (ken, k(e)now), and wissen (wit, wisdom). We may express the meaning more exactly thus, “If ye had recognised Me, ye would have known My Father also.” If ye had recognised who I really am; ye would have known that I and My Father are one.

And from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.—Comp. John 13:31, where the glorifying of the Son of Man is regarded as in the future which is immediately present. He can, therefore, say that from this time onwards, after the full declaration of Himself in John 14:6; John 14:9 et seq., they know and have seen the Father.


Verse 8

(8) Philip saith unto him.—Comp. for the character of Philip John 1:44 et seq.; John 6:5 et seq.; John 12:21 et seq. He is joined with Thomas at the head of the second group of the Apostles, in Acts 1:13.

Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.—He catches at the word “seen “and thinks of some revelation of the glory of God as that vouchsafed to Moses, or it may be of a vision like that which three of their number had seen, and of which others had heard, in the Mount of Transfiguration. One such vision of the Father, he thinks, would remove all their doubts; and would satisfy the deepest longings of their hearts.


Verse 9

(9) Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?—More exactly, . . . hast thou not recognised Me, as in John 14:7. Comp. the reference in John 14:8, from which it will be seen that Philip was one of the first-called disciples, and had occupied a prominent position in the band of Apostles. There is in our Lord’s words a tone of sadness and of warning. They utter the loneliness of a holiness and greatness which is not understood. The close of life is at hand, and Philip, who had followed Him from the first, shows by this question that he did not even know what the work and purposes of that life had been. They speak to all Christian teachers, thinkers, workers. There is a possibility that men should be in the closest apparent nearness to Christ, and yet have never learnt the meaning of the words they constantly hear and utter; and have never truly known the purpose of Christ’s life.

He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.—Comp. Note on John 14:7, and Philip’s own answer to Nathanael, “Come and see” (John 1:46). The demand of Philip is one which is constantly being read, and the answer is one that constantly holds good. Men are ever thinking and saying, “Shew us the Father and it sufficeth us.” “Give us something in religion upon which the soul can rest. We are weary of the doubts, and strifes, and dogmas which are too often called religion. We want something which can be real food for the soul. We cannot feed upon the husks which the swine do eat; and we believe that in the Father’s house there is, even for the hired servants, bread enough and to spare. We are not irreligious, but we are impatient of what is put before us as religion. Give us truth! Give us life! Let it be free and open as the air of heaven, and we will gladly accept it, embrace it, live it.” All this is the heart of the child seeking the presence of the Father. That Father has been manifested in the person of the Son. In the Life and Truth revealed in Him is the full revelation of God. In Him is the Bread of Life to satisfy every want of every man. He that hath seen Him hath seen the Father. How then can men say, Shew us the Father? (Comp. Note on John 12:44-45.)


Verse 10

(10) Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?—Comp. Note on John 10:38. He had there taught this truth to the Jews; but Philip’s words seem to show that even the disciples did not fully receive it. The order of the clauses is reversed here, in accordance with the thought of the context, which is of knowledge of the Son, and of the Father through the Son.

The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself.—This refers not to His present teaching only or chiefly, but to the whole of His manifestation of the character and attributes of God. All His words had been a revelation of the Father whom Philip now asks to see. (Comp. John 8:38.)

But the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.—The better reading is, but the Father that dwelleth in Me doeth His own works. This is the proof that He does not speak of Himself; and both clauses are together the proof of the indwelling of the Son in the Father and the Father in the Son. The works manifested in time in the power of the Incarnate Word are not His works, but those of the Father, who abides in the Son, and is revealed through Him. (Comp. John 8:28, and Note there.)


Verse 11

(11) Believe me that I am in the Father.—He passes now from Philip, and addresses Himself to the whole body of the apostles. He claims from them a personal trust in Himself, which should accept His statement that He and the Father were immanent in each other.

Or else believe me for the very works’ sake.—If they cannot receive the truth on the testimony of His word, He will take lower ground with them. He will place before them the evidence He had placed before the Jews. Let them, if they will not hear Him, believe on account of the very works which He had done. (Comp. Note on John 5:19-20; John 10:37-38.)


Verse 12

(12) Verily, verily, I say unto you.—Comp. Note on John 1:51.

He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also.—He that by faith becomes one with the Son shall have the Son, and therefore also the Father, dwelling in him (John 14:11; John 14:20; John 14:23), and shall himself become an instrument through which God, who dwelleth in him, shall carry into effect His own works. He shall, therefore, do works of the same kind as those which the Son Himself doeth.

And greater works than these shall he do.—Comp. Notes on John 5:20, and on Matthew 21:21-22. The explanation of these greater works is not to be sought in the individual instances of miraculous power exercised by the apostles, but in the whole work of the Church. The Day of Pentecost witnessed the first fulfilment of this prophecy; but it has been fulfilled also in every great moral and spiritual victory. Every revival of a truly religious spirit has been an instance of it; every mission-field has been a witness to it. In every child of man brought to see the Father, and know the Father’s love as revealed in Jesus Christ, has been a work such as He did. In the world-wide extent of Christianity there is a work greater even than any which He Himself did in the flesh. He left His kingdom as one of the smallest of the influences on the earth; but it has grown up as a mighty power over all the kingdoms of the world, and all that is purest and best in civilisation and culture has found shelter in its branches.

Because I go unto my Father.—The better reading is, because I go unto the Father. The words are to be connected not with one clause only, but with all the earlier parts of the verse. They are the reason why the believer shall do the works that Christ does, as well as the reason why he shall do greater works. The earthly work of Christ will have ceased, and He will have gone to the Father. The believers will be then His representatives on earth, as He will be their representative in heaven. Therefore will they do His works, and the works shall be greater because He will be at the Father’s right hand, and will do whatsoever they shall ask in His name.


Verse 13

(13) And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.—Comp. John 15:16; John 16:23. The prayer is thought of as addressed to the Father; but the answer here, and still more emphatically in the following verse, is thought of as coming from the Son, who is one with the Father. The width and limitation of the promise are both to be noted. It is “whatsoever ye shall ask,” and it is “ask in My name.” This means, as My representatives on earth (comp. Notes on previous verse), as persons doing My work, living in My spirit, seeking as I have sought to do the will of the Father. It follows from this that personal petitions are not contemplated here, except as far as they are for the glory of God; and that petitions asked in ignorance may be most truly answered when they are not granted. The prayer of Gethsemane—“If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done,” should teach what prayer in the name and spirit of Christ means. We commonly attach to our prayers, “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We do not always bear in mind that this implies an absolute self-sacrifice, and is a prayer that our very prayers may not be answered except in so far as they are in accordance with the divine will. (Comp. Note on 2 Corinthians 12:8-9.)

That the Father may be glorified in the Son.—Comp. Notes on John 11:4; John 12:28; John 13:31.


Verse 14

(14) If ye shall ask any thing in my name.—This is an emphatic repetition of the width of the promise and of its condition. In the second clause of the verse the pronoun “I” bears the stress. “I (on My part) will do it.” In the parallel passage in John 15:16; John 16:23 the Father is thought of as answering the prayer. The passage from one thought to the other is possible because the Father and Son are thought of as one.


Verse 15

(15) If ye love me, keep my commandments.—Comp. Notes on John 14:17; John 13:34; John 15:10. The connection here is through the condition “in My name,” which includes willing obedience to His commands. The word “My” is emphatic—“The commandments which ye have received from Me.” Those of this last discourse are perhaps prominent in the thought.


Verses 15-17

The Giving of the Comforter

If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments. 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.—John 14:15-17.

1. There is no such profoundly moving scene in all history as this last evening of our Lord before His death. We need not, and we may not, add one touch to the simple narrative of St. John; in his words the scene stands out in its absolute simplicity. As we read these last chapters of his Gospel we seem to be admitted to the very scene itself; to the sorrow, the bewilderment, the helplessness of the Twelve; to the far-reaching Divine mind and infinite loveliness of the Master.

We stand before some great picture and strive to read the mind of the artist, and one of us will see one subtle meaning and another another; or we contemplate the many-sided aspect of nature, and each of us reads into it some reflex of his own mind; and so it is with a great historic scene like this; according to our spirituality, to our insight, and devotion, and purity, and truth, will be the lessons we shall draw from it. This Scripture is of no private interpretation; it is wider and larger than any of our little formulas in which we may try to bind it. It is the task of a life to interpret all that is involved in this farewell address of Christ.

2. The disciples were in something like a panic over the announcement made to them by Christ that He was going away. At the bare word the world seemed to become a blank for these men. All the sunshine of life seemed to suffer immediate and total eclipse. For Jesus was everything to them. In a sense they had nothing in the world but Jesus. He was more than their best friend. He was their all in all. For Him they had sacrificed fathers and mothers and home and friends and business and every earthly prospect. And now He was going! In response to His call they had embarked upon a new life. They had taken up their cross and followed Him. It was not an easy life; it was a hard life, a toilsome life, a sacrificial life. Already they had been called upon to suffer trial and persecution for His Name’s sake. But with Jesus at their side they had never faltered. With His presence to cheer and strengthen them, they had bravely held on their way. But now He was going. The whole edifice of their life seemed to fall crashing in ruins about their ears. And then to these panic-stricken disciples Jesus explained what His departure meant. He had been as God to them. In Him God had touched the very springs of their life and entered into their souls. His going did not mean that God would forsake them. If He went, they would not be left desolate; God would send them another Advocate, another Helper, who would be to them all that Jesus Himself had been and more; who would bring them just the same sense of God’s nearness and presence; who would inspire and help them just as effectively as Jesus Himself had done.

3. The subject, then, is the giving of the Comforter, and the passage divides itself easily into two parts:—

I. On what Conditions the Comforter is given.

II. For what Purposes the Comforter is given.

I

On what Conditions the Comforter is given

There are two conditions expressly named that have to be fulfilled before the Comforter comes. The first condition is that the disciples must he obedient. “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments, and …” The other is that Jesus prays the Father to give them the Comforter: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you.” From these two conditions there flow two results: first, that the Comforter is a gift—“he will give you another Comforter”; and second, that He is given to the disciples who are obedient, and not to the disobedient “world.”

i. Obedience

“If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.”

1. Before the promises there is a proviso. It is premised that there is a state of heart and a character of life to which they belong. As the works and the gifts of power were made dependent on faith and prayer, so the experiences now foretold presuppose the life of love and duty. This appropriation is laid down to begin with, and is insisted on more largely as the promises unfold.

The preferable reading, “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments,” gives the future instead of the imperative of the Authorized Version, rather describing a process than imposing a condition; but the meaning is the same—namely, that these are promises which belong only to him who loves and obeys.1 [Note: T. D. Bernard, The Central Teaching of Jesus Christ, 159.]

2. In “If ye love me” we hear a confiding rather than a doubtful tone. The love is supposed, as elsewhere it is expressly recognized. But it proves true love only in one way, “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments”; and again, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.” There is a voice of Divine authority in the phrase, “my commandments.” They claim obedience, but the obedience of love; and love will render it. Love is the spring of action, and is in its nature free; but it is not left to its own impulses; it acknowledges authority; it is placed under rule, and includes the element of obligation.

The connexion between love and commandment dwelt on the mind of St. John, and reappears more than once in his Epistle. It is not according to the tendencies of human nature, as we all know, and as St. Paul has set forth in the seventh chapter of his Epistle to the Romans in recording his experience of the law and its effects. It is, in fact, distinctive of Christian duty and of the morality of the Gospel. In Christ the claims of authority and the affections of the heart agree in one. Here, as ever, the teaching of Jesus fixes our minds on the practical side of religion—on doing what we know, on living and walking by His words.2 [Note: Ibid.]

3. Obedience is the one test of sincerity, the one mode of retaining the warmth of love. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.” The Bible says very little of what we call religion; but very much of God, and of Christ, and of love. Christ does not say, “If ye love me, then ye will meet often to worship me”; He does say, “ye will keep my commandments”; and the chief and summary of all the commandments are the love of God and the love of our neighbour. The true worship of God is obedience and love. It is an idolatrous notion that God is pleased with mere worship. Just as thousands of burnt-offerings and ten thousands of rivers of oil availed nothing without the love and obedience of the worshipper, so not all our gifts or our services are precious to Him except in so far as they are the offering of our love and obedience, and as they help us in our daily life.

God cannot, will not, does not, bless those who are living in disobedience. But only set out in the path of obedience, and at once, before one stone is laid upon another, God is eager, as it were, to pour out His blessing. “From this day will I bless you.”1 [Note: Hudson Taylor’s Sayings, 43.]

4. But do we not need the Spirit to make us obedient; do we not long for the Spirit’s power, just because we mourn so much the disobedience there still is, and desire to be otherwise? And yet Christ claims obedience as the condition of the Father’s giving and our receiving the Spirit. The answer is that Christ Jesus had come to prepare the way for the Spirit’s coming. Or rather, His outward coming in the flesh was the preparation for His inward coming in the Spirit to fulfil the promise of a Divine indwelling. The outward coming appealed to the soul, with its mind and feeling, and affected these. It was only as Christ in His outward coming was accepted, as He was loved and obeyed, that the inward and more intimate revelation would be given. Personal attachment to Jesus, the personal acceptance of Him as Lord and Master to love and obey, was the disciples’ preparation for the baptism of the Spirit.

It is as we prove our love to Jesus in a tender listening to the voice of conscience, and a faithful effort to keep His commands, that the heart will be prepared for the fulness of the Spirit. Our attainments may fall short of our aims, we may have to mourn that what we would we do not—if the Master sees the whole-hearted surrender to His will, and the faithful obedience to what we already have of the leadings of His Spirit, we may be sure that the full gift will not be withheld.1 [Note: A. Murray, The Spirit of Christ, 72.]

ii. Prayer

“And I will pray the Father.”

1. There are two telephones across the abyss that separates the ascended Christ from us. One of them is contained in His words, “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it”; the other is contained in these words, “If ye keep my commandments, I will ask.” Love on this side of the great cleft sets love on the other side of it in motion in a twofold fashion. If we ask, He does; if we do, He asks. His action is the answer to our prayers and His prayers are the answer to our obedient action.

2. “I will ask” seems a strange drop from the lofty claims with which we have become familiar in the earlier verses of this chapter. “Believe in God, believe also in me”; “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”; “If ye shall ask anything in my name I will do it”; “Keep my commandments.” All these distinctly express, or necessarily imply, Divine nature, prerogatives, and authority. But here the voice that spake the perfect revelation of God, and gave utterance authoritatively to the perfect law of life, softens and lowers its tones in petition; and Jesus Christ joins the ranks of the suppliants. Now common sense tells us that apparently diverse views lying so close together in one continuous stream of speech cannot have seemed to the utterer of them to be contradictory; and there is no explanation which does justice to these two sides of Christ’s consciousness—the one all Divine and authoritative and lofty, and the other all lowly and identifying Himself with petitioners and suppliants everywhere—except the belief that He is “God manifest in the flesh.” The bare humanistic view which emphasizes such utterances as these does not know what to do with the other ones, and cannot manage to unite these two images into a stereoscopic solid. That is reserved for the faith which believes in the Manhood and in the Deity of our Lord and Saviour.

In all utterances of Jesus Christ which express the lowest humiliation and completest identification of Himself with humanity, there is ever present some touch of obscured glory, some all but suppressed flash of brightness which will not be wholly concealed. Note two things in this great utterance; one, Christ’s quiet assumption that all through the ages, and to-day, nineteen centuries after He died, He knows, at the moment of their being done, His servants’ deeds. “Keep my commandments, and, knowing that you keep them, I will then and there pray for you.” He claims in the lowly words an altogether supernatural, abnormal, Divine cognizance of all the acts of men down the ages and across the gulf between earth and heaven.1 [Note: A. Maclaren.]

3. Christ’s prayer is the expression of the eternal Will respecting those for whom He prays. There is no thought of the Son for man that is not the thought of the Father. There is no dissonance of feeling, no discordance of desire, no conflict of will. The promise that Christ will pray is the assurance that the thing He asks for will be given. It is the utterance of that which is in the heart of God.

We are not to think of Christ’s advocacy in heaven as if it were of the nature of supplication on our behalf. It is much more than that, although it is to be feared that the modern ideas which have usurped the ground which the word “intercession” covers have nearly evacuated the word of its fuller and more glorious signification. The word used by Christ in this very verse implies that His Personal mediation is an “appeal” of a higher kind than we understand by prayer. So, again, in John 17:9; John 17:15; John 17:20. And notice that this word is used by Him before His glorification. He never uses of Himself the word “ask” which He so often uses when He bids us pray. We have to ask in His Name, and the ground of our reliance when we so pray is His universal intervention for His Church, the result of His sacrificial “appeal.” He intervenes in heaven (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25), personally, presenting His merits as our High Priest on behalf of all His members who come unto God through Him. The other Paraclete intervenes on earth (Romans 8:27), not by intermediate advocacy, but by the elevating power of Divine inspiration, lifting us up to speak with God our Father in the fulness of Christ’s merits, by the living fellowship wherein He unites us with Him.2 [Note: R. M. Benson, The Final Passover, ii. (pt. i.) 359.]

4. As our Saviour prayed to the Father for them, so now they would pray for themselves by the grace of the Advocate. Much of our Saviour’s work among men was teaching them to help themselves. He taught them to pray, not simply by putting a form of words into their mouths, but by leading them into the presence of the Father, by instructing and encouraging them to maintain a humble boldness in that presence, and by assuring them that their prayers offered in His name would have as much power as His own prayers offered by Himself.

The disciples seem to have made the mistake of thinking that they must always have His intercession to lean upon. They were thankful for it, but it was becoming a hindrance to their own devotions; as all help becomes a hindrance the moment it discourages personal effort instead of drawing it forth. The mother’s finger is useful to the little child learning to walk, as long as it is needed to impart courage and give steadiness; but as soon as it tempts to idleness and thoughtlessness, it must be withdrawn. And so any religious help is good as long as our ignorance, or coldness, or want of faith requires a kind of external support, but that should only be preparatory to our walking, working, and praying by virtue of an inner impulse. Our Lord was the advocate outside His disciples, praying for them sometimes while they slept, reading their wants and interpreting them to God, doing for them what they must do for themselves if they are to become strong men. And the time for the withdrawal of His aid was at hand; and instead of it was to be substituted the advocacy of the Holy Ghost in their hearts; through His grace they would be enabled to plead for themselves as earnestly and successfully as Christ had done for them; which would be a clear spiritual gain. “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 unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.”

iii. The Gift

“He will give.”

1. The Father sent His Son into the world. He does not send His Spirit into the world, but He gives Him to the faithful.

The word “giving” is larger than the word “sending.” Although the latter is also used respecting the Holy Ghost whom the Father gives, yet the more adequate word is that which Jesus uses here. The mission would not imply any covenanted circle of recipients. A mission may be towards enemies. When we were enemies God sent His Son, that we might be reconciled by His death (Romans 5:10). The Son was not given to all mankind. He was “sent” to them. God sent His Son (John 8:16). God “commissioned” Him (1 John 4:10). God sent His Son into the world. He gave Him not to the world, but for the world as a sacrifice (John 3:16). The Spirit is “given” to the faithful, to dwell in them. A gift implies a permanent bestowal. The Presence of the Holy Ghost with the Church is a permanent bestowal. He is not to be withdrawn. This is “the gift of God,” respecting which our Lord spoke to the woman of Samaria. Similarly our Lord says of His flesh, “The bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world” (John 6:51). This promised gift of Christ’s flesh is by the power of His Spirit. So the gift of the Spirit of life is prior and preparatory to the gift of the food of life.

2. The Spirit is the gift of the Father, because the Father is the Fountain of all Godhead. The Manhood of Christ is represented by our Lord as setting before the Father the necessities of the case, the human needs of His brethren, those whom the Father has given to Him. The Father, as the Source of all Divine life, gives the Spirit; not a created agency, but an essential communication of the indivisible Godhead which is in the Father. The gift of God must be worthy of God, and therefore cannot be less than God.

3. This gift had never yet been given. The Holy Ghost had indeed been sent from God to the prophets by whom He spoke, but He had not been given to the prophets. He was not given to any one previously; much less could there be any “ministration of the Spirit” by human agency in a covenanted society such as it would be when Christ was glorified as the Head of the Body, the Church. The Father’s gift would be a continuous presence pledged to that society which Christ had called out of the world.

Twice have I erred: a distant God

Was what I could not bear;

Sorrows and cares were at my side;

I longed to have Him there.


But God is never so far off

As even to be near;

He is within: our spirit is

The home He holds most dear.1 [Note: F. W. Faber.]

iv. The World

“Whom the world cannot receive.”

1. The world cannot receive the Spirit of truth, because it lives content with the superficial knowledge of things around. It does not contemplate God so as to gain a loving familiarity with Divine truth. Instead of looking at the phenomenal from the standpoint of Divine faith, so as to see in outward things the operation of Divine relationships, it is content with registering them as they appear to the outward senses. The contemplation of God’s moral government will go a long way towards solving many of the difficulties which we find in creation. If we refuse to accept that amount of Divine truth which has come down to us by the primitive traditions of our race, and has been developed by the teaching of prophets and the contemplations of the faithful in subsequent ages, we are not in a position to receive the Spirit of truth. Nature becomes to us what a geometrical figure would be to those who disregarded the elementary problems of geometry necessary for its elucidation.

If the movements of a planet can prove the existence of another planet by whose proximity it is affected, how much more ought the varied operations of nature to lead a thoughtful mind, which has a love of truth, to recognize the creative mind by which all the functions of the universe are regulated and maintained in unity! If, on the contrary, the interest which superficial occurrences excite becomes so absorbing as to make men give up the deeper devotional acknowledgment of that which is hidden, then they are rejecting the eternal truth, however assiduously they may seek to record and illustrate those data which constitute our science—so shallow after all, although to us so seemingly profound. They unfit themselves for the reception of the Eternal Spirit of truth.1 [Note: R. M. Benson, The Final Passover, ii. (pt. i.) 368.]

2. The Lord does not say that the world cannot receive many good things, for it does receive them; nor does He say that it cannot appreciate them, for it is alive to their excellence. Many of the world’s people see and appreciate the beautiful; and beauty is a good, whether in nature, art, or literature. They see the value of honour and probity in all the affairs of the present life, and they denounce falsehood and overreaching; but they do not know the Holy Spirit. They have no consciousness of His working, for they are unyielding. There may be movements of the Spirit of truth towards something better in not a few of their minds, but they are resisted; the Spirit is not discerned or recognized; and thus neglected and insulted He withdraws.

I once stood far up on the Becca di Nona in Piedmont, the valley in which the old Roman city of Aosta lies being below, and on the other side, not far off, two great peaks of the mountains, part of the Alpine range. There were two clouds, about equal in size, floating and abiding above the two peaks, whose course I watched. The one cloud kept in a compact mass together, seemingly repelled by the hardness and non-receptivity of the granite peak beneath it. The other, after a little while, apparently drawn and attracted by its peak beneath, gradually opened out its fleecy beauties and gracefully descended, bathing the happy mountain peak in its exquisite softness and beauty. So, thought I, is it with the influences of the blessed Spirit. They are near us, ready to descend upon us in their sweetest blessings; but the world is as the granite peak which did not attract the cloud, while the humble, God-fearing soul does not repel, and the Divine Spirit descends and fills it with His grace.2 [Note: H. Wilkes, The Bright and Morning Star, 125.]

3. The two reasons which our Lord gives for the fact that the world does not receive the Spirit are (1) that the world beholds Him not, and (2) that it knows Him not.

(1) “It beholdeth him not.”—This is the real secret of men’s laughter at the idea of the existence of the Holy Ghost—they see Him not. Tell the worldling, “I have the Holy Ghost within me.” He says, “I cannot see it.” He wants it to be something tangible: a thing he can recognize with his senses.

Have you ever heard the argument used by a good old Christian against an infidel doctor? The doctor said there was no soul, and he asked, “Did you ever see a soul?” “No,” said the Christian. “Did you ever hear a soul?” “No.” “Did you ever smell a soul?” “No.” “Did you ever taste a soul?” “No.” “Did you ever feel a soul?” “Yes,” said the man—“I feel I have one within me.” “Well,” said the doctor, “there are four senses against one: you have only one on your side.” “Very well,” said the Christian, “Did you ever see a pain?” “No.” “Did you ever hear a pain?” “No.” “Did you ever smell a pain?” “No.” “Did you ever taste a pain?” “No.” “Did you ever feel a pain?” “Yes.” “And that is quite enough, I suppose, to prove there is a pain?” “Yes.” So the worldling says there is no Holy Ghost because he cannot see Him. Well, but we feel Him. You say that is fanaticism, and that we never felt Him. Suppose you tell me that honey is bitter, I reply, “No, I am sure you cannot have tasted it; taste it, and try.” So with the Holy Ghost; if you did but feel His influence, you would no longer say there is no Holy Spirit, because you cannot see Him. Are there not many things, even in nature, which we cannot see? Did you ever see the wind? No; but you know there is wind, when you behold the hurricane tossing the waves about and rending down the habitations of men; or when in the soft evening zephyr it kisses the flowers, and makes dewdrops hang in pearly coronets around the rose. Did you ever see electricity? No; but you know there is such a thing, for it travels along the wires for thousands of miles, and carries our messages. So you must believe there is a Holy Ghost working in us, both to will and to do, even though He is beyond our senses.1 [Note: C. H. Spurgeon.]

(2) The other reason why worldly men do not receive the Holy Spirit is because they do not know Him. If they knew Him by heart-felt experience, and if they recognized His agency in the soul; if they had ever been touched by Him; if they had been made to tremble under a sense of sin; if they had had their hearts melted; they would never have doubted the existence of the Holy Ghost.

No explanation is of any value in matters which do not grow out of experience. Until a deaf man hears music, it is wasted breath to describe it, and there is no proof of colour to the blind. When Jesus spoke to the disciples the words recorded in the fourteenth chapter of John, He offered them truth for experience without explanation. He promised them manifestation of Himself. He knew that the one who should enter into this experience would never be perplexed by Divine reticence in explanation, or by the imperfection of human philosophy.1 [Note: M. D. Babcock, Thoughts for Every-Day Living, 17.]

II

For what Purposes the Comforter is given

The first purpose is to comfort. But as He is spoken of as the Spirit of truth, a special form of the comfort is the leading of the disciples into the truth. A third purpose is that He may abide for ever.

i. The Comforter

The true Christian has three Comforters, and each of them is Divine. God the Father is styled by St. Paul, in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, “the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation.” God the Son, in the words of the text, speaks of Himself as one Comforter; and St. Paul tells us that “our consolation” or comfort “aboundeth by Christ.” God the Holy Ghost is specifically named by Jesus Christ in several instances as “the Comforter,” and His peculiar office as such is fully unfolded in the last discourse of our Lord to His disciples before His crucifixion. Thus each person of the ever-blessed Trinity is a Comforter, Divine in character, infinite in fulness, eternal in duration. There is, then, no true comfort or consolation that the heart can desire which may not be found in God the Father as the God of all comfort; in God the Son as the Paraclete with the Father; and in God the Holy Ghost as “the Comforter” who proceedeth from the Father and the Son.

1. The word “Comforter.”—The word translated “Comforter” is found only in the writings of St. John. You look in vain for it in all other portions of Scripture. We have it four times in the Gospel according to St. John, as coming from the lips of Jesus. We find it once in the First Epistle of St. John (John 2:1). In the Gospel, where the word is used by Christ and is applied to the third person of the Trinity, it is translated Comforter; in the Epistle, where it is applied to Jesus, it is translated Advocate. In both instances the word is the same; it is the Divine Paraclete.

It was the custom in the ancient tribunals for the parties to appear in court attended by one or more of their most influential friends, who were called in Greek paracletes, in Latin advocatus. These paracletes, or advocates, gave their friends—not from fee or reward, but from love and interest—the advantage of their personal presence and the aid of their judicious counsel. They thus advised them what to do, what to say, spoke for them, acted on their behalf, made the cause of their friends their cause, stood by them and for them in the trials, difficulties, and dangers of their situation. In this sense our Lord is said by St. John to be our Paraclete—where he says, “We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”—One in heaven before God, who appears there on our behalf, patronizes our cause, urges our plea, ever living to “make intercession for us.”

While on earth, our Lord had counselled, advised, spoken for, and on behalf of, His disciples. They had looked to Him for aid, succour, comfort, truth, grace; and thus, ever at their side, He had been to them a Paraclete, or Advocate. He had most thoroughly identified Himself with them, had taught them to pray, to preach, to live, to work miracles, and the mysteries of the Kingdom. But He was now to leave them. His bodily form was to be removed. Yet, with a sweetness of compassion peculiarly touching, He says, “I will not leave you comfortless,” orphans, undefended, unadvocated, unsustained. “It is expedient for you that I go away: and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”1 [Note: W. B. Stevens.]

Many are the emergencies of human life, and many are the forms of help which they require, and all are included in this great comprehensive name. If we wish to distinguish, we may range them in two divisions, the advocacy of our cause before others, the support of companionship to ourselves. When we think of the one office, we speak of an advocate; when of the other, of a comforter. But the same person will fulfil either office as need requires; and both are included in the word “Paraclete.” Therefore the choice of the English equivalent in any particular case may be dictated by the nature of the occasion and the general feeling of the situation. If so, the Revisers have done well in retaining the old rendering “the Comforter” in the four passages in which “Paraclete” here occurs, as they were plainly right in retaining that of “Advocate” in the only other passage where it is found (1 John 2:1). The situation presented in the Gospel more naturally suggests the first rendering, while that contemplated in the Epistle certainly prescribes the second.1 [Note: T. D. Bernard.]

2. “Another Comforter.”—The word “another” signifies that Jesus Himself was an advocate, helper, paraclete, comforter. But it does not mean that He was now to be superseded, or that, going out of sight, He was also to be out of mind. Scarred with wounds and enthroned as the Head of the Church, He was to be more in His people’s minds and hearts, better represented in their lives, than hitherto. For—let us be clear about this—Jesus, and He alone, is our life; it was He and He alone who bore our stripes and carried our death down into His grave, transfiguring our departure, with whatever distress and humiliation may attend it, into a promotion and home-going. “He that hath the Son hath life.” If we can say with a true and thankful heart, “I am Thine own, O Christ”; “My beloved is mine, and I am his”; “To me to live is Christ,”—then we possess the everlasting Life, and will never see Death.

Although Jesus spoke of another Comforter, two facts are clear—the one, that He would continue, and more fully than ever, to be the life of the believing soul and the believing Church; and the other, that the Holy Spirit would be the vehicle of that life, uniting Christ and the soul, and so bringing it to pass that the Church should not so much mourn an absent Lord as rejoice in a present Spirit.

God forbid that our thoughts should for one moment be turned away from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as the Incarnate Head of His ransomed Church. It is as His executive that the Holy Spirit acts, and in Him there is nothing approaching to either abdication or desertion. There is no such thing as abdication; for we are told that God “hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.” Nor is there desertion, for in the self-same chapter in which He gives the promise of another Paraclete He gives also the promise of His own presence in the words, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18); and in the assurance given to those that love Him, He says (John 14:23), “My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” It may be asked, How is such language consistent with those other words of His, in which He said, “It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you”? But the answer is simple. As the localized incarnate Son of man, He is gone away, and is now where Stephen saw Him, at the right hand of God; but as the eternal Person of the undivided Trinity, He is omnipresent and ever acting; nor is it within the capacity of finite beings like ourselves to put any limit on His Divine action.1 [Note: E. Hoare, Great Principles of Divine Truth, 234.]

3. How does the Comforter comfort?—We know by the fruits of His comfort. To the disciples everything about the working of that Divine Comforter was wrapt in mystery except the fruits. How He made His temple in man, how He imparted His light and His truth to His creatures, how He strengthened the vacillating, and spoke without words to the inward ear, and raised the fallen, and won back the wanderer, none could trace, none could know. The wind bloweth where it listeth: the ways of the Spirit are unsearchable. It is vain to imagine how that Heavenly Person associates Himself with our spirit, becomes to us the source of light and strength, and of the desire of good, making His work our work too, overshadowing, protecting, guarding our souls, giving us thoughts above our own thoughts, surprising us into an earnestness so unlike our common selves. Why should we expect to be conscious of His Presence? Why should we expect, such as we are, to recognize and discern clearly what is of God? But the effects of His Presence were soon recognized in the world, and have never ceased to be recognized since. They were seen in those two contrasted lists in the Epistle to the Galatians, of the works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit—of what the moral world had been and was, without Him, and of that new phenomenon and substantial fact of character which had shown itself beyond denial since He had come.

(1) Let us take the word “comfort” first in its modern sense, a sense covered by the Greek word, though not its chief meaning. Then we may say that He comforts us in our sorrow, providing consolation and affording relief.

When I think over the troubles of which I have heard even this week, I know that this is a world that needs comfort. One boy of brilliant promise lies struck down by sudden illness in a nursing-home; another man in the prime of life, doing a brilliant work, has a sickness on him to-day which I fear will never leave him, or, if it leaves him, will take away all power of work. There are two young women lately married; one is a widow after eight months, and the other after three. Another woman has her child born dead. And as these sorrows roll on me, at the centre of this great diocese—and I rejoice that people should pour their troubles on to me, inadequate as I feel myself to help them—I look up to heaven and I say, “If there were not a Comforter sent from heaven, where should we be?” And it was because our Saviour knew this that during that sad Holy Week, before He left, He made us this beautiful promise: “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter besides Me, another Comforter who shall abide with you for ever; there shall be with you the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.”1 [Note: Bishop A. F. W. Ingram, A Mission of the Spirit, 192.]

(2) But the Spirit’s function is not merely, or chiefly, to soothe sorrow and wipe away the tear. The word really does not suggest so much the quiet room as the battle-field. It is an energetic, forceful, militant word. It implies conflict and struggle, and for the conflict and the struggle the Spirit is a fortifier—He lifts men above fear; He reinforces them; He gives them triumph in battle—and that is exactly what the Spirit proved to be to these first disciples.

We borrowed the term from a language, the makers of which set great store by these things. “Only be thou strong and very courageous,” was the Lord’s message to Joshua, the leader of the host of Israel. “As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee.” Confortare is the rendering of the first phrase in the Vulgate Version of the Old Testament, and in the Septuagint it reads literally, “Be strong and play the man.” In Isaiah 41:10 our noble Authorized Version gives us, “Fear thou not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee.” Confortare is once again the equivalent for this promise of strength. We observe, therefore, that the word which our fathers considered the best English equivalent of the Greek, “Paraclete,” is one with a history, in which sweetness and strength are united. There is a sympathy which enervates and a sympathy which braces, a love which weakens and a love which inspires. In our Lord’s promise of the Comforter it is Divine sympathy and love of the latter kind that are suggested.

Did not the Apostle pray on behalf of his Ephesian friends that they might be strengthened with might by God’s Spirit in the inner man? Did not our Lord give His disciples to expect that they should “be endued with power from on high”? Did He not associate this expectation with the promise of the Spirit? I think we may feel the idea of this strengthening to be an ingredient in the meaning of the word comfort as employed in the New Testament; as, for instance, when we are told that the Church in Judæa, Galilee, Samaria, had rest, and, “walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, was multiplied.” And I should say this element of strengthening entered more or less into the meaning intended to be conveyed by the word comfort or Comforter in various places in our Prayer-Book: in the prayer at Confirmation, “Strengthen them … with the Holy Ghost the Comforter,” and in the invitation, “Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort.” In truest comfort, in God-given comfort—and of this the New Testament speaks—there is power; it may prove to be an essential element or condition of real power.1 [Note: J. W. Bishop, The Christian Year and the Christian Life, 247.]

Just over a century ago Robert Morrison set sail for China; it seemed a quixotic business. “Do you think,” said the captain of the ship in which he sailed, “that you are going to convert China?” “No,” replied Morrison, “but I believe that God will.”2 [Note: J. D. Jones, Things Most Surely Believed, 141.]

ii. The Spirit of Truth

1. Three times in these verses is the Spirit called the Spirit of truth. And, in the original, each time the title occurs, it is the Spirit of the truth. This must be taken to mean the truth which is in Jesus, the truth which is Christ Himself, which was incarnate in Him. For shortly before giving forth this promise of the Spirit He had proclaimed Himself to be “the way, and the truth, and the life.” “I am … the truth:” “the Spirit is the truth.” “He shall [both] teach you all things, and [more especially] bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.” “He shall bear witness of me.” “He shall guide you into all the truth.” “He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you.” The Spirit for whose coming, for whose replenishing or baptism, foretold by the Baptist, the disciples would have still a little while to wait, would make clear to them something of the meaning of Jesus’ earthly life, and of His teaching concerning God and man and duty, so that they might make it clear to others.

He is the “Spirit of truth,” not as if He brought new truth. To suppose that He does so, opens the door to all manner of fanaticism; but the truth, the revelation of which is all summed and finished in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, is the weapon by which the Divine Spirit works all His conquests, the staff on which He makes us lean and be strong. He is the Spirit by whom the truth passes into our personal possession, by no mere imperfect form of outward teaching, which is always confused and insufficient, but by the inward teaching that deals with our hearts and our spirits.

The method used by the Spirit of truth is not driving or forcing, but “leading,” “guiding,” by winning ways and by persistently pointing to the truth and commendingly interpreting it. When we gaze upon a picture we may for ourselves see much that is beautiful and attractive in its mode of exhibiting colour, form, and expression. But to understand the inner meaning of the picture and appreciate its main purpose and idea, we may need some skilled interpreter to open our eyes to its most vital and inherent excellencies. The Holy Spirit is such a guide to the Saviour and such an interpreter and revealer of the true grace and glory of Jesus Christ in His purpose and mission into this world.1 [Note: A. H. Drysdale, Christ Invisible our Gain, 186.]

2. Christ is the Truth. The Comforter, the Holy Ghost, is the Spirit of truth. He is the Spirit of truth in two ways. He is communicated from Jesus, who is the Truth, and He is the living power of the Triune Energy, by which Jesus Himself is the Truth. In Him the Son of God is begotten eternally as the Image of the Father. By Him the Son of God was conceived in the womb according to the fulness of the Divine purpose. The truth of Christ’s Godhead in the unity of the Holy Ghost necessitated the truth of His Manhood assumed by the power of the Holy Ghost.

3. The Spirit of truth, communicated to the Church, is the living Presence, in wisdom, power, and love, of that Divine energy which formed the worlds. They were formed for the habitation of God purposing to become incarnate. The Spirit of the Incarnate God fits the Church as the Body of Christ, to exercise dominion over all the creation which He has framed with a fitness for this final occupation. There is nothing superfluous, so as to be beyond the eventual purposes of God for His Church. There is nothing wanting, so that the Church of God, the Body of Christ, may feel within herself a Divine capacity for which the created universe gave no practical scope.

The truth of the creature is not separable from the truth of the Creator. Creation is true to itself, while it is true to the mind of the Creator. The first laws of creation are the impress of the Eternal Mind. If they were not so, they would be purely accidental and mutable. Doubtless there are harmonies in creation far deeper and grander than we can trace out. Harmonies of sight and sound, of number and weight, of mechanical power and chemical combination, of microscopic delicacy and astronomical magnificence, of universal distribution and temporal sequence, may be the objects of our guess-work at present, but at the best we can know them now only as one standing on the shore can know the waves whose ripple washes over the sand, all ignorant of the vast ocean far away. But all the universe is true, because the worlds of matter and spirit are the projection of the infinite intelligence of Him who is in His own true essence the law of beauty and truth to which all His creatures must be conformed.1 [Note: R. M. Benson, The Final Passover, ii. (pt. i.) 364.]

4. How does the Spirit of truth operate?

(1) He enlightens our mind that we may know Christ Jesus.—He opens the eyes to the true meaning and aims of Christ’s words and work by furnishing insight into them, and enabling us to realize not only their true inwardness, but their vital importance—giving an attractiveness to them and a fascinating interest in them to our yearning and wondering heart and mind.

We can see the process of enlightenment going on in the New Testament. Take the one matter of the universality of the Kingdom. When Christ left the disciples, they were as narrow in their notions as any Jews in the land; they saw no place for Gentiles in the Kingdom: but see how gradually the Spirit led them to an understanding of Christ’s purpose. First of all, the Samaritans receive the word. Then, at the impulse of the Spirit, Philip preaches to the Ethiopian eunuch and baptizes him. Then, at the direct and imperious bidding of the Spirit, Peter goes to Cornelius, the Roman centurion, and baptizes him. And then, finally, the Spirit thrusts forth Barnabas and Saul into the work of evangelizing the world, and so the truth is gradually brought home to the disciples and Apostles that they shall come from the North and the South and the East and the West, and sit down in the Kingdom of God.

When Jesus says of this Spirit that “he shall guide you into all truth,” He does not mean that the Holy Ghost will guide us into natural truth, or scientific truth, or metaphysical truth; but into those great central truths—the atoning death, the justifying righteousness of Jesus Christ; those poles on which turn as on an axle the whole round scheme of redemption and grace. As it was by this Spirit of truth that the prophecies concerning Christ were uttered which fill the Old Testament; as it was by the Spirit of truth that Jesus was conceived by the Virgin Mary; as it was by this Spirit of truth that He was anointed for His ministry after His baptism: so is it declared that His office is to take of the things of Christ and show them unto men.

Nor is it a new revelation which the Spirit gives, but rather a more perfect understanding of that which has already been given in Christ. Here, then, is the test by which to try all that claims the authority of spiritual truth. Does it “glorify” Christ? Does it lead us into a fuller knowledge of Him “in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden”? “Whosoever goeth onward,” says St. John, in a remarkable passage, for which English readers are indebted to the Revised Version, “and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God.” In other words, no true progress is possible except as we abide in Christ.

I sometimes sit at my study window on a bright morning, and combine with my work the pleasure of looking at my share of God’s beautiful world. It is a wonderful blend of landscape and marine, colour and form: trees and flowers in the foreground, dark roofs and tiled chimneys beyond, and behind all the grey and azure of the mighty sea. Not simply once, but many times, do I lift my eyes to it, yet the picture is always the same. Floating clouds overhead may modify the light and shadow, but they do not change the permanent features in the least. And yet I know the picture is not out there: it is within me; it is not the eye but the mind that sees. The effect of the landscape is being impressed upon my consciousness, by the light of day—itself invisible. And every ray of light contains the perfect picture. I may look up a thousand times—it will always be there, while the light can fall upon the eye. And you may come with me and view the same picture. If you have eyes to see you shall have the perfect picture too. And a million persons may, if they choose, stand and gaze. The whole scene is theirs, as much as yours or mine. There is but one scene and one sun, but every ray of the energies of the latter reveals the whole of the former to every eye that is turned upon it. So it is with the work of the Divine Spirit, the other Paraclete. He reveals the Christ to those who seek Him, writes His name, and forms His likeness within the human soul. The living Christ, the indwelling Christ, becomes a rich personal spiritual experience in the power of the Holy Ghost.1 [Note: R. J. Campbell.]

(2) He encourages us to appropriate Christ.—We feel entitled, without being chargeable with any vain confidence, to appropriate and apply to ourselves such words of personal conviction as, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” “Thou knowest that I love thee,” or, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.” The very sting of death is extracted, and its terrors no longer keep the soul in thrall. So the dying saint, falling back at last as at first into the arms of a glorified Redeemer, breathes out his soul in fidelity, meekness, and hope, saying in fearless triumph, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

The immortal Bengel died in 1752. One of his friends was travelling, and spent all night at Bengel’s house. The great commentator was very busy with his Bible, and worked till nearly midnight. But the friend still waited. He knew the rich Christian character of the scholar, and wished to hear his evening prayer. At length the books were put on one side; Bengel arose, and knelt down beside his chair. He had been studying the words of Christ, and he knew that the blessed Master was near him all the time. So now there was no lengthened agony of supplication. Sweetly and simply the words of the scholar rose to heaven, “Lord Jesus, things are just the same between us,” and then he laid himself down to rest. Perfect peace! perfect confidence! For he had appropriated Christ as his personal Saviour, and he knew Christ was his.1 [Note: J. A. Clapperton, Culture of the Christian Heart, 36.]

(3) He enables us to overcome sin and grow in true holiness.—Our Lord prays, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Men of science have at length discovered what is the character of the world so far as it consists of animated things. “It is a struggle for existence;” it is “the survival of the fittest.” So it is with the Christian life. The old man conquered, but not thoroughly subdued, contends with the new life which has been superinduced. It is a contest between the lower principles of man’s nature and the higher, quickened and sanctified by the Spirit of God. It is a struggle between the animal man and the spiritual man; between pleasure and duty; between selfishness and benevolence; between appetite and conscience; between lust and reason; between love of ease and zeal for good; between cowardice and courage; between deceit and candour; between selfishness and love; between the fear of man and the fear of God; between earth and heaven. But they that be with us are far stronger than they that can be against us. The believer is not perfect in this world, but he is going on towards perfection in obedience to the command, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

The connexion between justification and sanctification is not merely human gratitude for Divine grace as the motive of a new life; it is not only a conscious personal communion with a Divine Saviour and Lord, a communion that must be potent in conforming man to His moral perfection; but it is a habitation and operation in man of God by His Spirit, the very life of God become the life of Prayer of Manasseh 1:2 [Note: A. E. Garvie, Studies of Paul and his Gospel, 190.]

(4) He gives strength for witness and for service.—The Holy Spirit who comes to give fulness to the work of Jesus must communicate new power proportionate to the new revelation. The new kingdom is to be marked by profounder spiritual life, by a clearer vision of eternal things, by a more vivid consciousness of sin, by mightier energies of holiness, by a diviner dynamic of spiritual love. In the might of inward spiritual force men and women are to occupy the heavenly places with Christ. To this end they must be endued with new power, with a vaster momentum of spiritual energy.

There need be no hesitation in affirming that the communication of inward spiritual power is the fundamental office of the Holy Spirit of the New Covenant. It is through this new influx of spiritual power that the new illumination is given. “The spiritual man judgeth all things, but he himself is judged of no man.” At Pentecost and throughout the records of the Apostolic Church, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is fundamentally the giving of holy power. The keynote of the Spirit’s presence is given by our Saviour in such words as these: “Tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high.” “But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” This is the new spiritual power demanded by the new revelation. For, in view of the reception of this power, the Lord continued: “And ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

“Ye shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming on you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me.” The copula links together the power and the witness-bearing. Few facts of history are more convincing, as to the need of the Holy Ghost’s power for Christian service, than that these first disciples, who had lived in our Lord’s immediate society for three years and more, were yet not equipped by that long intimacy of fellowship and observation for the great task which He intended them to carry out. No. They had to tarry in the city of Jerusalem till they had been “endued with power from on high”; until they had received Him who was designated by the great title: “the promise of the Father.” From this we may learn that a distinct gift, other than personal knowledge of Christ, and experience of His wonderful ways, confidence in His grace and power, remembrance of His words and works, and much besides, which these men possessed, is needed if we are to bear an effective witness for our loved and trusted Master.1 [Note: R. C. Joynt, Liturgy and Life, 208.]

iii. The Abiding

1. The Comforter is to abide with us for ever. He is the instrument whereby the glory of Christ is communicated to His members, and so His Presence with the Church is coextensive in duration with the glory of Christ the Head. The ministry of humiliation was to cease. The ministry of righteousness was to be an eternal glory.

2. The Presence, the ever-continued assistance of the Holy Ghost, unearthly as it is, is yet a thing of the immediate present—of the present shaping and improvement of life, of present growth in depth and reality, and elevation of character. If ever we rise above what is of the earth, earthy; above what is of time, transitory; above what is of this world, fugitive, unsatisfying, corruptible—it is to Him that we shall owe it.

3. Two phrases, significant in variety, are used to describe the relation of the Spirit of truth to believers. First, that relation is spoken of as a Fellowship—“He abideth with you”; and next, it is represented as an Indwelling—“and shall be in you.”

Webster once said: “The greatest thought that ever entered my mind was that of my personal responsibility to a personal God.” A great thought truly, and yet a greater is beneath it: my personal relation to a personal God.1 [Note: Bishop A. Pearson, The Claims of the Faith, 24.]

(1) Fellowship.—“He abideth with you.” While Jesus was with His disciples below, the Holy Ghost dwelt with them in His person. They saw in Him the presence of the Divine Spirit. His mighty works, His wonderful words, His perfect holiness and charity and self-denial and truth, all these things, daily witnessed by them and profoundly reverenced, were results of the Spirit given to Him not by measure. Though He was very God, yet He acted below within the limits (as it were) of a perfectly inspired humanity. It was of the essence of His humiliation, that He lived and acted, spoke and wrought, during His earthly sojourn, as though He were only a Man full of the Holy Ghost. Thus, when He dwelt with them, the Holy Spirit dwelt with them; dwelt with them in a sense and with a fulness never realized in the case of any others. And the Spirit who was in Jesus kept them also in the truth by virtue of a controlling influence put forth upon them from Him. “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name.”

This fellowship of the Spirit is ours also. The Comforter dwells with us in Church ordinances. Every time that we meet for worship there is a coexistence with us of the Holy Ghost. And He dwells with us in the haunts of common life. He dwells with us in Christian lives; in the daily sight and hearing of the conduct and language, of the acts and the words, of true Christian people

(2) Indwelling.—“And shall be in you.” It would be esteemed a rare privilege to have a great and truly noble person dwell with us, a Paul, a Chrysostom, an Augustine; to have such an one as our perpetual monitor, and adviser, and exemplar; to have him show us how to act, how to speak, how to live; to have the benefit of his oversight, his wisdom, his favour. But then the person thus favoured might never fully copy the devotion of an Augustine, the eloquence of a Chrysostom, or the holiness of a Paul. How different, however, would the case be if there were a process by which the spirit of those great men, in its wholeness could be infused into the minds and hearts of others, so that instead of dwelling with an Augustine, Augustine should by his spirit dwell in them; instead of living with a Chrysostom, Chrysostom should live his life in them; instead of copying a Paul beside us, Paul should dwell in us as the abiding spirit. What a difference there would be! The indwelling spirit of an Augustine would make a second Augustine; the infused spirit of a Chrysostom would make another golden-mouthed preacher; and a Paul living in us would reproduce the spirit and the deeds of the great Apostle in our own life and work. The Comforter, as the Spirit of truth, not only dwells with us as a guest, but dwells in us as the inner controlling, shaping, enlightening, sanctifying Spirit, evolving out of Himself through the functions and faculties of our being, the fruits and graces of a holy life, and the beautiful character of a true Christian.

The artist who paints a picture, or chisels a statue, impresses a certain amount of his own genius on flat canvas or cold marble. It is not a beauty developed from within, working outward; but something put upon the passive canvas or marble, by an outside process that never goes beneath the surface, never imparts life within. But the artist power of the Holy Ghost is seen in that, taking up His abode in the heart, He renews and sanctifies that heart, and the outward life is but the development of the inward grace.1 [Note: W. B. Stevens.]

To all the world mine eyes are blind;

Their drop serene is—night,

With stores of snow piled up the wind

An awful airy height.


And yet ’tis but a mote in the eye:

The simple faithful stars

Beyond are shining, careless high,

Nor heed our storms and jars.


And when o’er storm and jar I climb—

Beyond life’s atmosphere,

I shall behold the lord of time

And space—of world and year.


Oh vain, far quest!—not thus my heart

Shall ever find its goal!

I turn me home—and there thou art,

My Father, in my soul!2 [Note: George MacDonald.]

The Old Testament is full of the thought of the presence of God with His people. With very few exceptions—which are found chiefly in the Psalms—it is always “with.” “My presence shall go with thee.” “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee.” This thought—and it is a very grand and comforting one—characterizes the whole of the ancient dispensation. Neither is it forgotten in the New. “Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” But the new and determining feature of the Second Testament is the “in,” the “in you.” “I am in you.” “Christ in you.” “The Holy Ghost which is in you.” “God is in you of a truth.” “I will dwell in them, and walk in them.”3 [Note: James Vaughan.]

The Giving of the Comforter

Literature

Aitken (J.), The Abiding Law, 11.

Benson (R. M.), The Final Passover, ii. (pt. i.) 353.

Bernard (T. D.), The Central Teaching of Jesus Christ, 157.

Bishop (J.), The Christian Year in Relation to the Christian Life, 243.

Bourdillon (F.), Short Sermons, 189.

Brown (J. B.), The Divine Mystery of Peace, 65.

Butler (W. J.), Sermons for Working Men, 289.

Church (R. W.), Cathedral and University Sermons, 182.

Dick (G. H.), The Yoke and the Anointing, 160.

Drysdale (A. H.), Christ Invisible our Gain, 175.

Hoare (E.), Great Principles of Divine Truth, 218.

Ingram (A. F. W.), A Mission of the Spirit, 190.

Jackson (G.), The Teaching of Jesus, 65.

Jerdan (C.), For the Lambs of the Flock, 346.

Jones (J. D.), Things most surely believed, 126.

Joynt (R. C.), Liturgy and Life, 204.

McCosh (J.), Gospel Sermons, 150.

Maclaren (A.), Expositions: John ix.–xiv., 320.

Murray (A.), The Spirit of Christ, 60.

Pearson (A.), The Claims of the Faith, 14.

Russell (A.), The Light that lighteth Every Man, 138.

Smellie (A.), In the Secret Place, 339.

Spurgeon (C. H.), New Park Street Pulpit, i. 4.

Stevens (W. B.), Sermons, 28.

Thomas (J.), The Mysteries of Grace, 192.

Vaughan (C. J.), Doncaster Sermons, 463.

Vaughan (J.), Sermons (Brighton Pulpit), New Ser. xiii. No. 1005.

Wilson (J. M.), Sermons preached at Clifton College Chapel, i. 165.

Christian World Pulpit, ix. 332 (W. Roberts); lxi. 294 (R. J. Campbell).


Verse 16

(16) And I will pray the Father.—Comp. Note on John 16:26. The pronoun is again emphatic—“I have given you your part to do. I on My part will pray the Father.” The word used for “pray” is one which implies more of nearness of approach and of familiarity than that which is rendered “ask” in John 14:14. It is the word which John regularly uses when he speaks of our Lord as praying to the Father, and occurs again in John 16:26; John 17:9; John 17:15; John 17:20. The distinction is important, but it has sometimes, perhaps, been unduly pressed. Both words occur in 1 John 5:16. (See Note there.)

And he shall give you another Comforter.—The better rendering is probably another Advocate. The word is used of the third person in the Holy Trinity here, and in John 14:26, and in John 15:26 and John 16:7. In each of these instances it is used by our Lord. It is found once again in the New Testament, and is there applied by St. John to our Lord Himself (1 John 2:1). In the Gospel the English version uniformly translates it by “Comforter.” “In the Epistle it is rendered by “Advocate.” But the whole question is of so much interest and importance that it will be convenient to deal with it in a separate Note. (Comp. Excursus G: The Meaning of the word Paraclete.) The word “another” should be observed as implying that which the Epistle states—the advocacy of the second Person in the Trinity, as well as that of the third.

That he may abide with you for ever.—The thought of the permanent abiding is opposed to the separation which is about to take place between them and the person of our Lord. He would come again to them in the person of the Paraclete, whom He would send to them (John 14:18), and this spiritual presence should remain with them for ever. (Comp. Note on Matthew 28:20.)


Verse 17

(17) Even the Spirit of truth.—Comp. John 15:26; John 16:13, and 1 John 5:6. He is called the Spirit of Truth, because part of His special office is to bring truth home to the hearts of men, to carry it from the material to the moral sphere, to make it something more than a collection of signs seen or heard—a living power in living men.

Whom the world cannot receive.—The Holy Spirit can be received only by those who have the spiritual faculty. It cannot be otherwise. The unbelieving world, caring only for things of the senses, has lost its spiritual perception. It has no eye to see and no heart to know spiritual things, for they are spiritually discerned. (Comp. Note on 1 Corinthians 2:14.)

But ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.—The better text is,. . . . and is in you. The verbs are in the present tense, describing the receptivity of the disciples as opposed to the moral blindness of the world. They had, during our Lord’s work and teaching in their midst, exercised and strengthened their spiritual faculties. They had in part received the Spirit, and by that reception were prepared for the fuller gift. They knew Him. He was in their midst. He was then, and therefore should be in the future, a living power, dwelling in their inmost life.


Verse 18

(18) I will not leave you comfortless.—Better with the margin, I will not leave you orphans, which exactly represents the Greek word. “Comfortless” is unfortunate, as it suggests a connection with “Comforter” which does not exist in the original. Our translators have rendered the word by “fatherless” in James 1:27, which is the only other passage where it occurs in the New Testament, and Wiclif has “faderless” here. He thinks of them as His children whom He is leaving in the world (comp. John 13:33), but He will not leave them destitute and bereaved.

I will come to you.—This coming, as is shown by the whole context, is the spiritual presence in the person of the Paraclete.


Verse 19

(19) Yet a little while.—Comp. John 13:33; John 16:16.

But ye see me—i.e., in the spiritual presence of the Paraclete. The words may indeed have their first fulfilment in the appearances of the forty days (comp. Acts 10:41), but these appearances were themselves steps in the education which was leading the disciples from a trust in the physical to a trust in the spiritual presence. (Comp. John 20:17.) To the world the grave seemed the closing scene. They saw Him no more; they thought of Him as dead. To the believers who had the power to see Him He appeared as living, and in very deed was more truly with them and in them than He had been before.

Because I live, ye shall live also.—Better, for I live, and ye shall live. Our Lord speaks of His own life in the present. It is the essential life of which He is Himself the Source, and which is not affected by the physical death through which He is about to pass. They also who believe in Him shall have even here this principle of life, which in them too shall be affected by no change, but shall develop into the fulness of the life hereafter. Because He lives, and because they too shall live, therefore shall they see Him and realise His presence when the world seeth Him no more.


Verse 20

(20) At that day ye shall know—i.e., the day of the gift of the Comforter, in whom Christ shall come to them. In the first reference the Day of Pentecost is meant, but the words hold good of every spiritual quickening, and will hold good of the final coming in the last day. The pronoun “ye” is emphatic—“Ye shall know for yourselves.”

That I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.—Comp. Note on John 10:38. The result of this spiritual illumination would be that they should of themselves know the immanence of the Son in the Father, and their own union with the Father through Him. They ask now (John 14:8) for a manifestation of the Father. The Spirit should so bring the life of Christ to their hearts that they would read in it the manifestation of the Father, and feel that in and through that life their own spirit has communion with God. The Spirit would witness with their spirit that they were the children of God. They would seek no longer for a Theophany from without, but in the depth of their inmost lives would cry, “Abba, Father.”


Verse 21

(21) He that hath my commandments.—Comp. John 14:15 and John 5:36. This verse points out the successive degrees which led up to the full manifestation of Christ. The first step is the moral apprehension and practical observance of our Lord’s commandments, which necessarily result from love to Christ.

He it is that loveth me.—The next step is the special receptivity of the Father’s love which he who loves Christ possesses, and therefore there is a special sense in which the Father loves him. The words express with fulness of emphasis, “He it is, and he only.”

And I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.—The special love of the Son follows from the special love of the Father, and is accompanied by the full manifestation of the Son. This is further explained in John 14:23.


Verse 22

(22) Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot.—That he was “not Iscariot” is mentioned to distinguish him beyond all possibility of confusion from him who had gone out into the darkness, and was no longer one of their number (John 13:30). He is commonly identified with “Lebbæus whose surname was Thaddæus” (comp. Note on Matthew 10:3), and was a brother or son of James (Luke 6:15).

How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?—The word “manifest” has brought to the mind of Judas, as the word “see” had to the mind of Philip (John 14:7), thoughts of a visible manifestation such as to Moses (Exodus 33:13; Exodus 33:18), and such as they expected would attend the advent of the Messiah (Malachi 3:1). But it was contrary to every thought of the Messiah that this manifestation should be to a few only. His reign was to be the judgment of the Gentiles, and the establishment of the Theocracy.

The words rendered, “How is it that . . .?” mean literally, What has happened that . . .? The words of our Lord, speaking of His manifestation, take Judas by surprise. He wonders whether anything has occurred to cause what he thinks a departure from the Messianic manifestation.


Verse 23

(23) If a man love me, he will keep my words.—Our Lord repeats the condition necessary on the part of man in order that the manifestation of God to him may be possible. This is an answer to the question of Judas, the world in its unbelief and rejection of Christ’s words, and without the spirit of love, could not receive this manifestation.

We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.—For the plural, comp. Note on John 10:30. For the word “abode,” comp. Note on John 14:2. The thought of God as dwelling in the sanctuary and among the people was familiar to the disciples from the Old Testament Scriptures (see, e.g., Exodus 25:8; Exodus 29:45; Leviticus 26:11-12; Ezekiel 37:26), and the thought of the spiritual temple in the heart of man was not unknown to contemporary writers. Philo has a remarkable parallel in his treatise, De Cherubim, p. 124, “Since therefore He (God) thus invisibly enters into the region of the soul, let us prepare that place, in the best way the case admits of, to be an abode worthy of God; for if we do not, He, without our being aware of it, will quit us and migrate to some other habitation which shall appear to Him to be more excellently provided” (Bohn’s ed., vol. i., p. 199. See the whole of chap. 29). Schöttgen, in his note, quotes from a Rabbinical writer who says, “Blessed is the man who strives daily to make himself approved unto God, and prepares himself to receive the divine guest.” (Comp. 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19; and Revelation 3:20.)


Verse 24

(24) He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings.—He has shown in the previous verse how the Father and the Son can take up their abode in the hearts of the believers. He now shows how they could not be manifested to the hearts of the world. He that loveth not Christ keepeth not His word, and that word is the Father’s. He has rejected the love of God which is revealed in the Son, and has Himself closed the channels of communion with God. God cannot dwell with him because there is in him nothing which can be receptive of the Divine Presence.


Verse 25

(25) These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.—Better, . . . while abiding with you. He was about to depart from them. He had been speaking to them words which they found it hard to understand. He now pauses in His teaching, and proceeds to tell them of the Holy Spirit who should interpret His words to them.


Verse 26

(26) But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost.—Better, as before, but the Advocate . . . (Comp. Excursus G: The Meaning of the word Paraclete.) For the words “Holy Ghost” comp. John 7:39; John 20:22, which are the only passages where we find them in this Gospel. They are frequent in the earlier Gospels. (See Note on Matthew 12:31.) In four passages in the New Testament (Luke 11:13; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 4:8) our translators have preferred the rendering “Holy Spirit.” The identification here with the Advocate brings out the contrast between the practical obedience and holiness (John 14:23) of those to whom the Holy Spirit should be sent, and the disobedience (John 14:24) of those who rejected the revelation by the Son.

Whom the Father will send in my name—i.e., as My representative. (Comp. John 14:13.) Their Master will depart from them, but the Father will send them another Teacher who will make clear to them the lessons they have already heard, and teach them things which they cannot bear now.

He shall teach you all things.—Comp. John 16:13. The words are here without an expressed limitation, but the “all things” here is equal to the “all truth” in the later passage.

And bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.—The limitation, “whatsoever I have said unto you,” is to be taken with this clause only, and is not to be extended to the words, “He shall teach you all things.” For instances of the recurrence of words spoken by our Lord with a fulness of new meaning revealed in them by the Holy Spirit, comp. John 2:22; John 12:16. The Gospel according to St. John, with its full records of the words spoken by our Lord, is itself a commentary on this text.


Verse 27

(27) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.—The immediate context speaks of His departure from them (John 14:25; John 14:28), and it is natural therefore to understand these words as suggested by the common Oriental formulas of leave-taking. Men said to each other when they met and parted, “Shalom! Shalom!” (Peace! Peace!) just as they say the “Salaam! Salaam!” in our own day. (See 1 Samuel 1:17; Luke 7:50; Acts 16:36; James 2:16; Ephesians 6:23; 1 Peter 5:14; 3 John 1:14.)

He will leave them as a legacy the gift of “peace.” And this peace is more than a meaningless sound or even than a true wish. He repeats it with the emphatic “My,” and speaks of it as an actual possession which He imparts to them. “Peace on earth” was the angels’ message when they announced His birth; “peace to you” was His own greeting when He returned victorious from the grave. “He is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14), and this peace is the farewell gift to the disciples from whom He is now departing. (Comp. John 14:27; John 16:33; John 20:19; John 20:21; John 20:26.)

Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.—The contrast is not between the emptiness of the world’s salutations and the reality of His own gift, but between His legacy to them and the legacies ordinarily left by the world. He gives them not land or houses or possessions, but “peace;” and that “His own peace,” “the peace of God which passeth all understanding.”

Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.—These are in part the words of the first verse, and are now repeated as a joyous note of triumph. Possessing the peace which He gives them, having another Advocate in the person of the Holy Spirit, having the Father and the Son ever abiding in them, there cannot be, even when He is about to leave them, room for trouble or for fear.

The word here rendered “be afraid” occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It points especially to the cowardice of fear. The cognate substantive is used in 2 Timothy 1:7, and the adjective in Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:40; and Revelation 21:8.


Verse 28

(28) Ye have heard how I said unto you.—Better, Ye heard how I said unto you. (See John 14:19-20.)

If ye loved me, ye would rejoice.—True love seeks another’s good and not its own. Their sorrow at His departure was at its root selfish, as all sorrow for those who depart to be with God is, however little we think so. His departure would be the return to the glory of the Father’s throne, and was matter for joy and not for sorrow. For them also it was expedient. (Comp. Notes on John 16:6-7.)

For my Father is greater than I.—These words have naturally formed the subject of controversy in every period of the Church’s history, between those who deny and those who accept the truth that the Son is “very God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before all worlds.” And, as in all controversies, statements have been made on either side which cannot be supported by the words themselves. On the part of those who assert the divine nature, it has been contended that the Father is greater than the Son only as regards the human nature of the Son; but this is not here thought of. In this passage, as in others of the New Testament, it is plainly asserted that in the divine nature there is a subordination of the Son to the Father. (See, e.g., John 14:16; John 17:5; 1 Corinthians 3:23; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 15:27-28; Philippians 2:9; Philippians 2:11; and especially Note on John 5:19 et seq.) On the part of those who deny the divinity of our Lord, it has been contended that this text asserts the inferiority of His nature to that of the Father, whereas the words could only have been uttered by one who meant in them to assert His own divine essence. If we try to imagine a man saying, “God is greater than I,” we feel at once that He who really said them claimed for Himself that He was truly God.


Verse 29

(29) And now I have told you before it come to pass.—Comp. John 13:19. Here, again, He tells them the event before the accomplishment, that it may serve to strengthen their faith. Two interpretations of this verse are possible. (1) That He told them of the coming of the Advocate to teach all truth, and bring all things to their remembrance, in order that in the fulfilment of this they may, with increase of faith, believe in Him. (2) That He told them of His going to the Father, in order that when the hour of departure came they may believe that He had gone to the Father. Upon the whole, and especially considering the close parallel with John 13:19, the first seems the more probable meaning.


Verse 30

(30) Hereafter I will not talk much with you.—Better, I will no more, or, I will not continue to talk much with you. The discourse is broken by the thought that the hour of the conflict is at hand, and that He must go forth to meet it.

For the prince of this world cometh.—Better, is coming. The approach is thought of as then taking place. For the phrase, “prince of this world,” comp. Note on John 12:31. The prince of evil is here regarded as working in and by Judas, who is carrying out his plans and doing his work. (Comp. Notes on John 6:70; John 13:2; John 13:27.)

And hath nothing in me.—The words are to be taken in their full and absolute meaning, and they assert that the prince of this world possesses nothing in the person of Christ. In Him he has never for a moment ruled. For this appeal to perfect sinlessness, comp. Note on John 8:29. It follows from this that His surrender of Himself is entirely voluntary. (Comp. Note on John 10:18.)


Verse 31

(31) The most probable arrangement of this verse is to omit the period after “so I do,” and to consider all down to this point as governed by “that.” We shall read then, “But, that the world may know that I love the Father, and that as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do, arise, let us go hence.” He has asserted, in the previous verse, the sinlessness which makes His act wholly self-determined. He now expresses the subordination of His own to the Father’s will, and summons the Apostles to rise up with Him from the table, and go forth from the room.

But that the world . . .—The words seem to point back to “the prince of this world” who has just been mentioned. The prince cometh, but it is to a defeat; and the very world over which he has ruled will see in the self-sacrifice of Jesus the love of the Father. That love will reclaim them from the bondage of the oppressor and restore them to the freedom of children.

It is an interesting question which we cannot hope with certainty to solve, whether or not in obedience to the command they went from the room at once. In other words, were the discourse of John 15, 16 and the prayer of John 17, uttered in the room after the summons to depart, or on the way to the garden of Gethsemane? The immediate connection of the opening words of the next chapter with the present verse naturally leads to the opinion that they were spoken in the same place, and, in the absence of any hint of a change, it is safe not to assume any. The words of John 18:1 are probably those which express the act to which the words our Lord has just spoken summon them. But comp. Chronological Harmony of the Gospels, p. xxxv.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 14:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-14.html. 1905.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology