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III. JESUS’ PRIVATE MINISTRY CHS. 13-17
The Synoptics integrate Jesus’ ministry to the masses and His training of the Twelve, but John separated these two aspects of His ministry. There is obviously some overlapping in the fourth Gospel, but the present section contains ministry that Jesus directed almost exclusively to the Twelve. The Synoptics contain more of Jesus’ teaching of the Twelve during His public ministry whereas John gave us more of His teaching in the upper room. This instruction was specifically to prepare the Twelve for leadership in the church. Jesus gave it after Israel’s official and final rejection of Him resulted in the postponement of the messianic kingdom.
In the first major section of this Gospel Jesus customarily performed a miracle and then explained its significance. In this section He did the reverse. He explained the significance of His death and then went to the cross and arose from the dead.
Jesus was troubled because of what lay before Him, and the Eleven were troubled (Gr. tarassestho) because they did not understand what lay before them. Jesus had just told them that He was going to leave them (John 13:33), but they had forsaken all to follow Him. Jesus had said that Peter would deny Him implying that some great trial was imminent (John 13:38).
God’s revelations about the future should have a comforting and strengthening effect on His people (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:18). This verse introduces a short section of revelation that has given much comfort to God’s people as they think about the future (John 14:1-4). It is a favorite passage at funerals.
Jesus explained how to calm their troubled hearts. The verb "believe" or "trust" (Gr. pisteuo), which occurs twice, can be either in the indicative or the imperative mood in each case. The spelling of the words in both moods is identical in the Greek text. Probably in both clauses Jesus meant to give an imperative command: "Believe in God; believe also in me." This makes the most sense in the context, as most of the modern English translations have concluded. He meant, "Stop being troubled." Jesus was telling the disciples (plural "your") to trust in God and to trust in Him just as they trusted in God. This was a strong claim to deity and a great comfort. They could rely on what He was about to tell them as coming from God.
The NASB translates the singular "heart" (Gr. kardia) that Jesus used collectively whereas the NIV interpreted it to mean each of their hearts individually. The heart is metaphorically the center of personality.
The promise of a heavenly home 14:1-4
3. Jesus’ comforting revelation in view of His departure 14:1-24
Peter’s question was only the first of several that the disciples proceeded to ask Jesus. This shows their bewilderment and discouragement. They should have been comforting Him in view of what lay ahead of Him (John 12:27; John 13:21), but instead Jesus graciously proceeded to comfort them by clarifying what lay ahead of them.
Jesus next explained the reason the disciples should stop feeling troubled at the thought of His leaving them. He was departing to prepare a place for them, and He would return for them and take them there later (John 14:3; John 14:28).
The Father’s house is heaven. This is the most obvious and simple explanation, though some commentators understood it to mean the church. However the fourth Gospel never uses the house metaphor for the church elsewhere, and the phrase "the Father’s house" occurs nowhere else in Scripture as a figure of the church. Neither can it refer to the messianic kingdom since Jesus said He was about to go there. The messianic kingdom did not exist and will not exist until Jesus returns to the earth to set it up (cf. Daniel 2:44; et al.)
There are many dwelling places (Gr. mone, cognate with the verb meno, meaning "to abide" or "remain") in heaven. The Latin Vulgate translated the noun mansiones that the AV transliterated as "mansions." The NIV "rooms" is an interpretation of mone. The picture that Jesus painted of heaven is a huge building with many rooms or suites of rooms in which people reside. The emphasis is not on the lavishness of the facility as much as its adequacy to accommodate all believers. Other revelation about heaven stresses its opulence (e.g., Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:5).
"The imagery of a dwelling place (’rooms’) is taken from the oriental house in which the sons and daughters have apartments under the same roof as their parents." [Note: Tenney, "John," p. 143.]
"This truth may reflect the marriage custom of the bridegroom, who would go to the bride’s house and bring her to his father’s house, where an apartment would have been built for the new couple." [Note: Bailey, p. 184.]
Jesus assured His disciples that if heaven were otherwise He would have told them just how it was. This assurance recalls John 14:1 where Jesus urged them to trust Him.
Jesus had previously spoken of His departure as including His death, His resurrection, and His ascension (John 13:31-32; John 13:36). Consequently He probably had all of that in view when He spoke about going to prepare a place for believers. His death and resurrection, as well as His ascension and return to heaven, would prepare a place for them. [Note: Edersheim, 2:514.] The place, the Father’s house or heaven, already existed when Jesus spoke these words. He would not go to heaven to create a place for believers there. Rather all that He would do from His death to His return to heaven would constitute preparation for believers to join Him there ultimately. The idea that Jesus is presently constructing dwelling places for believers in heaven and has been doing so for 2,000 years is not what Jesus meant here. Jesus’ going itself prepared the place.
The commentators noted that Jesus spoke of several returns for His own in this Gospel. Sometimes Jesus meant His return to the disciples following His resurrection and before His ascension (John 14:18-20; John 21:1). Other times He meant His coming to them through the Holy Spirit after His ascension and before His bodily return (John 14:23). [Note: R. H. Gundry, "’In my Father’s House are many Monai’ (John 14 2)," Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 58 (1967):68-72.] Still other times He meant His eschatological return at the end of the inter-advent age. Some interpreters view this return as the Rapture and others believe Jesus was referring to the Second Coming. Another view is that Jesus was really speaking about the believer’s death figuratively. [Note: E.g., R. H. Lightfoot, pp. 275-76.] Many interpreters believe some combination of the above views is most probable. [Note: E.g., Barrett, p. 457; R. H. Strachen, The Fourth Gospel: Its Significance and Environment, p. 280; and Westcott, The Gospel . . . Greek Text . . ., 2:168.]
Since Jesus spoke of returning from heaven to take believers there, the simplest explanation seems to be that He was referring to an eschatological bodily return (cf. Acts 1:11). Though these disciples undoubtedly did not realize it at the time, Jesus was evidently speaking of His return for them at the Rapture rather than His return at the Second Coming.
"John 14:3 is the only verse in the Gospels that is commonly accepted by contemporary pretribulationists and posttribulationists alike as a reference to the rapture." [Note: Wayne A. Brindle, "Biblical Evidence for the Imminence of the Rapture," Bibliotheca Sacra 158:630 (April-June 2001):139.]
Other Scripture clarifies that when Jesus returns at the Rapture it will be to call His own to heaven immediately (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). John 14:1-3 is one of three key New Testament passages that deal with the Rapture, the others being 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. In contrast, when Jesus returns at the Second Coming it will be to remain on the earth and reign for 1,000 years (Revelation 19:11 to Revelation 20:15).
". . . it is important to note that Jesus did not say that the purpose of this future coming to receive believers is so that He can be where they are-on the earth. Instead, He said that the purpose is so that they can be where He is-in heaven." [Note: Renald E. Showers, Maranatha: Our Lord, Come! A Definitive Study of the Rapture of the Church, p. 158. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:17. His entire eighth chapter, pp. 154-75, deals with this passage and various interpretations of it.]
". . . here in John xiv the Lord gives a new and unique revelation; He speaks of something which no prophet had promised, or even could promise. Where is it written that this Messiah would come and instead of gathering His saints into an earthly Jerusalem, would take them to the Father’s house, to the very place where He is? It is something new. . . . He speaks then of a coming which is not for the deliverance of the Jewish remnant, not of a coming to establish His kingdom over the earth, not of a coming to judge the nations, but a coming which concerns only His own." [Note: Arno C. Gaebelein, The Gospel of John, p. 268.]
The emphasis in this prediction is on the comfort that reunion with the departed Savior guarantees (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:18). Jesus will personally come for His own, and He will receive them to Himself. They will also be with Him where He has been (cf. John 17:24). Jesus was stressing His personal concern for His disciples’ welfare. His return would be as certain as His departure. The greatest blessing of heaven will be our ceaseless personal fellowship with the Lord Jesus there, not the splendor of the place.
Jesus could say that the Eleven knew the way to the place where He was going because He had revealed that faith in Him led to eternal life (John 3:14-15). This had been a major theme of His teaching throughout His ministry. However, they did not understand Him as they should have (John 14:5).
These four verses answered Peter’s initial question about where Jesus was going (John 13:36). They also brought the conversation back to the subject of the glorification of the Father and the Son (John 13:31-32).
Thomas voiced the disciples’ continuing confusion about Jesus’ destination. Apparently the "Father’s house" did not clearly identify heaven to them. Without a clear understanding of the final destination they could not be sure of the route there. Thomas’ question was a request for an unambiguous explanation of Jesus’ and their destination and how He and they would get there.
The question about the way 14:5-7
Jesus again gave an enigmatic answer. He had already said plainly that He would die and rise again at least three times (cf. Mark 8:31-32; Mark 9:30-32; Mark 10:32-34). Nevertheless the disciples’ preconceptions of Messiah’s ministry did not allow them to interpret His words literally.
The words "way," "truth," and "life" are all coordinate in Jesus’ answer; Jesus described Himself as the way, the truth, and the life. The "way" is slightly more dominant in view of Thomas’ question and its position in relation to the "truth" and the "life." Jesus is the way to God because He is the truth from God and the life from God. He is the truth because He embodies God’s supreme revelation (John 1:18; John 5:19; John 8:29), and He is the life because He contains and imparts divine life (John 1:4; John 5:26; John 11:25; cf. 1 John 5:20). Jesus was summarizing and connecting many of the revelations about Himself that He had previously given the Eleven.
"He not only shows people the way (i.e., by revealing it), but he is the way (i.e., he redeems us). In this connection ’the truth’ . . . will have saving significance. It will point to Jesus’ utter dependability, but also to the saving truth of the gospel. ’The life’ (see on John 1:4) will likewise take its content from the gospel. Jesus is both life and the source of life to believers." [Note: Morris, p. 569.]
Jesus was not saying that He was one way to God among many. He was not saying that He pointed the way to God either. He said that no one comes to God the Father but through faith in Himself. This means that religions that assign Jesus a role that is different from the one that the Bible gives Him do not bring people to God or eternal life. This was an exclusive claim to being the only way to heaven (cf. John 10:9; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5). It is only because of Jesus Christ’s work on the cross that anyone can enter heaven. Since He has come it is only through faith in the promise of God that His cross work satisfied the Father that anyone experiences regeneration (John 1:12; John 3:16; 1 John 2:2; et al.). Since He has come, rejection of God’s revelation through Him results in eternal damnation (John 3:36).
This is the sixth of Jesus "I am" claims (cf. John 6:48; John 8:12; John 10:9; John 10:11; John 11:25; John 15:1).
"We should not overlook the faith involved both in the utterance and in the acceptance of those words, spoken as they were on the eve of the crucifixion. ’I am the Way,’ said one who would shortly hang impotent on a cross. ’I am the Truth,’ when the lies of evil people were about to enjoy a spectacular triumph. ’I am the Life,’ when within a matter of hours his corpse would be placed in a tomb." [Note: Ibid., p. 570.]
The construction of the first clause in the Greek text suggests that the condition was true for the sake of the argument. We could translate this "first class condition" as "Since . . ." The Eleven had come to know by personal experience (Gr. ginosko) who Jesus really was. This knowledge was the key to their coming to know God the Father as well.
Since they had come to know who Jesus really was, they had come to know God. Their knowledge of God virtually amounted to seeing God. John used "knowing God" and "seeing God" synonymously in 1 John as well (cf. 1 John 2:3-11; 1 John 3:2-3). "From now on" (Gr. ap arti) also means "assuredly." Since the Eleven had come to know who Jesus really was, they had assuredly come to know the Father as well. Jesus was probably assuring the Eleven with this sentence rather than rebuking them, as some translations suggest.
The Eleven regarded Jesus very highly. Notwithstanding they did not yet realize that He was such an accurate and full revelation of God the Father that to see Jesus was to see the Father. Philip asked for a clear revelation of the Father that would satisfy the Eleven. He apparently wanted Jesus to give them a theophany (Exodus 24:9-10; Isaiah 6:1). People throughout history have desired to see God as He really is (cf. Exodus 33:18). Jesus in His incarnation made that revelation of the Father more clearly, fully, and finally than anyone else ever had (John 1:14; John 1:18; John 12:45; cf. Hebrews 1:1-2).
The request to reveal the Father 14:8-14
Philip and the other disciples had not yet completely realized who Jesus was. They did not understand what John revealed in the prologue of this Gospel, namely, that the Son is the exact representation of the Father (cf. John 1:18). Long exposure to Jesus should have produced greater insight in these disciples. Still that insight is only the product of God’s gracious enlightenment (cf. Matthew 16:17; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16).
"No material image or likeness can adequately depict God. Only a person can give knowledge of him since personality cannot be represented by an impersonal object." [Note: Tenney, "John," p. 145.]
This was another clear claim to deity.
Jesus repeated again that He and the Father were one (cf. John 5:19; John 8:28; John 10:30; John 10:38; John 12:49). The mutual abiding terminology that Jesus used expressed this unity without destroying the individual identities of the Father and the Son. Jesus did not just represent God to humankind as an ambassador would. He did everything the Father gave Him to do, and He did everything the Father did (John 5:19). Moreover ambassadors do not refer to those who send them as their father or claim that whoever has seen them has seen the one they represent. They do not affirm mutual indwelling with the one who sent them either.
Jesus cited another proof of His union with the Father beside His words, namely, His works (Gr. erga). Specifically He meant His miracles (cf. John 5:36; John 10:25; John 10:37-38; John 11:47; John 12:37; John 20:30-31). Jesus’ miracles were signs that signified His divine identity (cf. John 2:11). What we regard as a miracle was nothing more than a normal work for Jesus. [Note: For a discussion of Jesus’ "works," see Morris, pp. 607-13.]
Jesus prefaced another startling and important revelation with His customary phrase that John noted often in his Gospel. He stressed the importance of believing what He revealed about His divine identity by unveiling the consequences of believing that He was the divine Messiah.
The interpretation of the works that those who believe on Jesus would do, which commentators have found difficult, depends on how Jesus described them. He said that the basis for these and greater works would be His going to the Father. After Jesus ascended into heaven, the Father sent the Holy Spirit to indwell every believer (Acts 2:3; cf. Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13). This divine enablement empowered believers to do miracles that only Jesus Himself could do previously. The Book of Acts records the apostles doing many of the same miracles that Jesus had done in the Gospels.
The disciples would do even greater works than Jesus in the sense that their works would have greater effects than His works had. During Jesus’ earthly ministry relatively few people believed on Him, but after His ascension many more did. The miracle of regeneration multiplied after Jesus ascended to heaven and the Father sent the Holy Spirit. Three thousand people became believers in Jesus on the day of Pentecost alone (Acts 2:41). The church thoroughly permeated the Roman Empire during the apostolic age whereas Jesus’ personal ministry did not extend beyond Palestine. The whole Book of Acts is proof that what Jesus predicted here happened (cf. Acts 1:1-2; Acts 1:8). The mighty works of conversion are more in view here than a few miracles of healing.
Jesus probably did not mean that His disciples would do more stupendous miracles than He did. Feeding multitudes from a small lunch and raising people from the dead are hard miracles to supersede. We should not assume either that Jesus meant that these miracles would continue throughout church history as they existed in the apostolic era. Church history has shown that they died out almost entirely after the apostolic age, and the New Testament, while it does not specifically predict that, implies that they would (1 Corinthians 13:8; Ephesians 2:20; Hebrews 2:3-4).
Jesus next extended His promise beyond miracles to anything that the disciples might desire. This apparently blank check type promise has a condition that many often overlook. It is "in my name." We overlook this condition because many Christians think it means simply making our request and then adding the phrase "in Jesus’ name" at the end.
Praying in Jesus’ name means coming to the Father in prayer as Jesus’ representative. Jesus introduced the idea of representing Him in John 14:12. When we pray in Jesus’ name, we claim to be acting for Him. Someone who prays that way will always ask only what is God’s will or what is subject to God’s will since that is always how Jesus related to His Father. It is impossible to pray in Jesus’ name and to ask something contrary to God’s will. These two acts are mutually contradictory.
"In both cases [Jesus’ two promises in John 14:13-14] prayer ’in the name of Jesus’ denotes petition with invocation of his name or appeal to his name; while there are evident differences of nuance, accordingly as prayer is addressed to Jesus or the Father, the fundamental factor is the role of Jesus as mediator between God and his people." [Note: Beasley-Murray, p. 255.]
The purpose of our praying must always be God’s glory (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31) as it always was and always will be the Son’s purpose (John 5:41; John 7:18; John 8:50; John 8:54; John 12:28). Thus Jesus promised here to grant petitions prayed in His name that the Father might receive glory from the Son.
Jesus repeated this promise probably because it is so great that it is almost unbelievable (cf. John 15:16; John 16:23-24). One of John’s stylistic characteristics was to restate with only slight variations. In these cases the meaning is not significantly different. John expounded this promise in his first epistle where he clarified that "in my name" means "according to His (God’s) will" (1 John 5:14-15).
The New Testament teaching on prayer is that believers normally address the Father in prayer in the Son’s name with the Spirit’s help. However this is not a rigid requirement. In view of the unity of the Godhead we can understand occasional instances of prayers addressed to the Son and to the Spirit in the New Testament (e.g., Acts 7:59). However these prayers are atypical.
This is Jesus’ first reference in this Gospel to the believer’s love for Himself. Typically Jesus first reached out in love to others and then expected love as a reasonable response (cf. John 13:1; Romans 12:1-2). The conditional sentence in the Greek text is "third class," which assumes neither a positive nor a negative response. Love for Jesus will motivate the believer to obey Him (cf. John 14:21; John 14:23; John 15:14; 1 John 5:3). In the context Jesus’ commands are His total revelation viewed as components, not just His ethical injunctions (cf. John 3:31-32; John 12:47-49; John 13:34-35; John 17:6).
The greatness of our love for God is easy to test. It corresponds exactly to our conformity to all that He has revealed.
The promise of the Spirit 14:15-21
At the end of His answer to Peter’s question (John 13:36), Jesus moved the conversation back to the general theme of preparation for His departure (John 14:4). He did the same thing after answering Philip’s question (John 14:8). Obedience to the will of God is not only a condition for getting answers to prayer. It is also an evidence of love for God. Love for God is the controlling idea in the following verses (John 14:15-21).
Love for Jesus would result in the disciples’ obedience to His commands. It would also result in Jesus’ requesting another (Gr. allon, another of the same kind) Helper to take His place in His absence from them (cf. John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7-15; 1 John 2:1). The Greek word translated "Helper" or "Counselor" is parakletos. Both of these English words have connotations that are absent from the Greek word. Helper connotes an inferior, which the Holy Spirit is not. Counselor can call to mind a camp counselor or a marriage counselor whereas a legal counselor is more in harmony with the Greek idea. [Note: For further study of the term "paraclete," see Morris, pp. 587-91.] In secular contexts parakletos often referred to a legal assistant, an advocate, or simply a helper (e.g., a witness or a representative in court). [Note: H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, s.v. parakletos.] The verbal form of this word, parakaleo, literally means to call alongside and, therefore, to encourage or to strengthen. Muslims typically believe that Mohammed is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that He would sent another counselor.
Jesus spoke of the Trinity in the following relationships. The Son would request that the Father send the Spirit to take the Son’s place as the believer’s encourager and strengthener. It was hard for these Jewish believers who had grown up believing that there is but one God to grasp that Jesus was God. It must have been even more difficult for them to think of the Spirit of God as a person rather than as God’s influence. Nevertheless New Testament revelation is clear that there are three Persons within the Godhead (e.g., 2 Corinthians 13:14). Most non-Christian religions deny the triunity of God (e.g., Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, et al.).
The Spirit of God had come on Old Testament believers temporarily to give them strength, but normally He did not remain with them (cf. Psalms 51:11). What Jesus spoke of here was an abiding relationship in which the Spirit remained with believers for the rest of their lives (cf. Romans 8:9). This new relationship to the Holy Spirit is one of the distinctive differences between the church age and former dispensations. It is a blessing few Christians appreciate as we should.
Jesus now identified the Helper as the Spirit of truth (cf. John 15:26; John 16:13), that is, the truthful Spirit who would bear witness to and communicate the truth (cf. John 14:6; John 1:32-33; John 3:5-8; John 4:23-24; John 6:63; John 7:37-39).
"To be filled with the Spirit is the same as to be controlled by the Word. The Spirit of Truth uses the Word of truth to guide us into the will and the work of God." [Note: Wiersbe, 1:352.]
The unbelieving world cannot receive Him because it cannot see Him and knows nothing of Him. The disciples, on the other hand, knew Him because He empowered Jesus. He had been with them in this way as well as strengthening them occasionally as they needed help when they preached and performed miracles. However in the future, after Jesus returned to the Father, the Spirit would not just be with them but in them. This is another distinctive ministry of the Spirit in the present age. He indwells believers (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13). That ministry began on Pentecost when the church began (Acts 2:4; cf. Acts 1:5; Acts 11:15). [Note: See Johnstone G. Patrick, "The Promise of the Paraclete," Bibliotheca Sacra 127:508 (October-December 1970):333-45.] The Spirit does have a ministry to the world, but Jesus explained that later (John 16:7-11).
Jesus changed the figure from the disciples being without a Helper to their being without a parent. He would not leave them in this traditionally destitute and vulnerable position. He would come to them. Which coming did He have in mind here (cf. John 14:3)?
In view of the context that describes the Spirit’s coming (John 14:16-17; John 14:25-26), we might conclude that His coming in the Spirit is in view (cf. John 14:23). However the passage seems to present Jesus as offering the disciples His personal presence. He had described the coming of the Spirit, but what about His personal return to them (cf. John 14:3)? This question, which would have been in the disciples’ minds, is what Jesus appears to have been addressing here. He seems to have been referring to a post-resurrection appearance to the disciples (John 21:1-14). Support for this view is Jesus’ assurance that His resurrection would be a pledge of their resurrection. Physical resurrections seem to be in view.
Jesus post-resurrection appearances would convince the Eleven of His deity. He described this condition as mutual abiding with the Father (cf. John 14:10-11). Moreover these appearances would also convince them of their union with Jesus. They would do so by confirming Jesus’ promises of their union with Him (John 14:13-14). Jesus expounded both abidings later (John 14:23-24; ch. 17).
Some interpreters take the day in view as referring to Pentecost. [Note: E.g., Tenney, "John," p. 147; and Blum, p. 324.] However because of the flow of the argument "that day" seems to refer to Easter rather than Pentecost.
Love for God makes the believer more obedient to God. Moreover obedience results in a more intimate relationship with God that God’s love for the believer and His self-disclosure to the believer identify.
The believer’s obedience does not make God love him or her more than He would otherwise. God’s love for all people is essentially as great as it can be. However in the family relationship that Jesus was describing the believer’s obedience results in God expressing His love for him or her without restraint. When there is disobedience, God does not express His love as fully because He chooses to discipline the believer (cf. Hebrews 12:4-13).
In the context (John 14:18-20), this was a promise that Jesus would disclose Himself to the Eleven after His resurrection and an encouragement for them to continue obeying Him and loving Him. However that disclosure was only typical of many others that would come to believers who obey and love Jesus, including the one that happened on Pentecost.
Some believers love Jesus more than other believers do. This results in some believers obeying Him more than others and enjoying a more intimate relationship and greater understanding of Him than others enjoy. The way to become a great lover of Jesus is by learning to appreciate the greatness of His love for us (cf. Matthew 18:21-35; 1 John 4:19).
There were two members of the Twelve named Judas. The one who voiced this question was Judas the son or brother of James (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13). He is probably the same man as Thaddaeus (cf. Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19).
Judas’ question reflects the disciples’ understanding that as Messiah Jesus would manifest Himself publicly, which He had taught them (cf. Matthew 24:30). The disciples did not understand that Jesus would rise again bodily (John 20:9) much less that the Holy Spirit would come to indwell them. Therefore it is unlikely that Judas was asking Jesus to clarify the manner of His appearing. Judas wanted to know what Jesus meant when He said that He was not going to disclose Himself publicly but just privately to the Eleven. He and his fellow disciples failed to realize that Jesus would reveal Himself to them privately after His resurrection before He revealed Himself publicly at His second advent.
The clarification of Jesus’ self-disclosure 14:22-24
Jesus did not clear up Judas’ misconception, apparently because He wanted to stay on the subject of the importance of loving and obeying Him. He did not deny an eschatological return, but He restated what He had just said about His post-resurrection appearance to the Eleven. Jesus stressed the principle that loving obedience always results in intimate fellowship. He was speaking here about the relationship that believers could have following Pentecost. In the process He again stressed His union with the Father.
Jesus began this instruction by referring to abiding places (Gr. monai, plural) that He would prepare for His disciples in heaven (John 14:2). He now revealed that He and His Father would make their home (Gr. monen, singular) in believing disciples on the earth first. These are the only two occurrences of this word in the New Testament. They bracket this section of Jesus’ discourse and indicate its unity.
"Salvation means we are going to heaven, but submission means that heaven comes to us!
"This truth is illustrated in the experiences of Abraham and Lot, recorded in Genesis 18, 19. When Jesus and the two angels visited Abraham’s tent, they felt right at home. They even enjoyed a meal, and Jesus had a private talk with Abraham. But our Lord did not go to Sodom to visit Lot, because He did not feel at home there. Instead, He sent the two angels. . . .
"Charles Spurgeon said, ’Little faith will take your soul to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your soul.’ Your heart can become a ’heaven on earth’ as you commune with the Lord and worship Him." [Note: Wiersbe, 1:353.]
In conclusion, Jesus restated the ethical point He had made in John 14:15; John 14:23 a negatively. Lack of love for Jesus will result in lack of obedience to His teachings, which are the revelations of God the Father (cf. John 12:49; John 14:10).
In summary, Jesus revealed that He would depart from the Eleven shortly. He would do so to go and prepare a place for His believing disciples to dwell with Him eventually in heaven. He would prepare this place by going to the cross, rising from the dead, and ascending to heaven. Then He would return for them and take them to that place. However in the meantime He would dwell in them by His Spirit. He would also come to them before He departed for heaven.
Jesus had made these revelations to His disciples while abiding with them, but when the Holy Spirit came to abide in them, the Spirit would enable them to understand them.
Jesus now identified the Helper whom He had promised earlier as the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14:16-17). He is the Spirit characterized by holiness as well as by truth (John 14:17).
The Father would send the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name (i.e., as Jesus’ emissary and with exactly the same attitude toward God’s will that Jesus had). The Son had come as the Father’s emissary, and now the Spirit was about to come as the Son’s emissary.
The Spirit would teach them all things, which in the context refers to all things that were presently obscure, about which the various disciples kept raising questions (John 13:36; John 14:5; John 14:8; John 14:22). He would do this partially by bringing to their memories things that Jesus had said that would become clear in the light of His "glorification" (cf. John 2:19-22; John 12:16; John 20:9).
Notice that the particular ministry of the Spirit that is in view is teaching. The illumination that Jesus promised here was specifically to the Eleven and their contemporaries. It was a promise to those who had heard His teaching before the Cross but did not understand it until after the Resurrection. However this promise did not find complete fulfillment in the apostolic age. The Holy Spirit continues His teaching ministry today by enlightening disciples as they study Jesus’ teachings. In this sense the Holy Spirit is the true teacher of every Christian, and human teachers serve a secondary role (cf. 1 John 2:27). The role of the Scriptures in the process is fundamental since they contain all that Jesus personally taught and approved.
4. The promise of future understanding 14:25-31
Jesus realized that the Eleven did not fully understand what He had just revealed. He therefore encouraged them with a promise that they would understand His words later.
The disciples’ uneasiness at the prospect of Jesus leaving them without clarifying what they did not yet understand elicited this word of comfort from their Teacher.
"Peace" (Gr. eirene, Heb. shalom) was a customary word of greeting and farewell among the Jews. Jesus used it here as a farewell, but He used it as a greeting again after the Resurrection (John 20:19; John 20:21; John 20:26). Jesus probably meant that He was bequeathing peace to the Eleven as an inheritance that would secure their composure and dissolve their fears (cf. Philippians 4:7; Colossians 3:15).
The world cannot give true peace. That can only come from the "Prince of Peace," a messianic title (Isaiah 9:6-7). He is the only source of true personal and social peace. The world cannot provide peace because it fails to correct the fundamental source for strife, namely, the fallen nature of humankind. Jesus made peace possible by His work on the cross. He will establish universal peace when He comes to reign on earth as Messiah. He establishes it in the hearts and lives of those who believe on Him and submit to Him now through His representative, the indwelling Spirit (John 14:26). Later in this discourse Jesus promised His love (John 15:9-10) and His joy (John 15:11) as well as His peace.
The peace Jesus spoke of was obviously not exemption from conflicts and trials. He Himself felt troubled by His impending crucifixion (John 12:27). Rather it is a settled confidence that comes from knowing that one is right with God (cf. Romans 5:1). As the believer focuses on this reality, he or she can experience supernatural peace in the midst of trouble and fear, as Jesus did.
Jesus’ impending departure still disturbed the Eleven. He explained that their fear was also a result of failure to love Him as they should. They should have rejoiced that even though His departure meant loss for them it meant glory and joy for Him. We experience a similar conflict of emotions when a believing friend dies. We mourn our loss, but we should rejoice more that our loved one is with the Lord.
It should be obvious by now that Jesus did not mean that He was less then God or an inferior god when He said that God was greater than He was. Jehovah’s Witnesses and other Arians interpret Jesus’ words here this way. Arius was a heretic in the early church who denied Jesus’ full deity. Jesus was not speaking ontologically (i.e., dealing with essential being) since He had affirmed repeatedly that He and the Father were one ontologically (John 1:1-2; John 10:30; John 14:9; John 20:28). Rather He was speaking of the Father’s glory. Jesus had laid His heavenly glory aside in the Incarnation, but the Father had not done so and consequently enjoyed greater glory than the Son during Jesus’ earthly ministry. However now Jesus was about to return to the Father and the greater glory that He would again share with the Father. This glorification should have caused the disciples to rejoice, but they sorrowed instead because they focused on themselves too much.
This interpretation of the Father’s superiority does not negate the functional superiority of the Father over the Son within the Godhead. However, that distinction does not seem to be primary in the logic of this verse.
". . . the Son, being begotten of the Father, is ’inferior’ to Him in the sense that He that is begotten is secondary to Him who begets (see i. 14)." [Note: Tasker, p. 173.]
Jesus’ reason for saying what He did was not to cause the disciples embarrassment but to strengthen their faith. Their faith would grow stronger after the Resurrection and Ascension (cf. John 13:19). The disciples would then view Jesus’ teaching here as fulfilled prophecy.
John stressed the importance of believing throughout his Gospel (cf. John 1:50; John 3:12; John 3:15; John 4:21; John 4:41; John 5:24; John 5:44; John 5:46; John 6:29; John 6:35; John 6:47; John 6:64; John 7:38; John 8:24; John 8:45; John 9:35; John 10:38; John 11:25; John 11:41; John 12:37; John 12:44; John 13:19; John 14:1; John 14:11; John 16:31; John 17:20; John 20:27). Jesus’ statement here returns to that theme. Both Jesus and John wanted to build faith in disciples of Jesus.
Jesus would not speak much longer with the disciples because His passion was imminent. He did not mean that His present discourse was almost over. Satan, the being who under God’s sovereign authority controlled the present course of events, was about to crucify Jesus (cf. John 6:70; John 13:21; John 13:27). "He has nothing in Me" or "He has no hold on me" translates a Hebrew idiom and means Satan has no legal claim on me. Satan would have had a justifiable charge against Jesus if Jesus had sinned. Jesus’ death was not an indication that Satan had a claim on Jesus but that Jesus loved His Father and was completely submissive to His will (Philippians 2:8).
Many commentators interpreted the final sentence in this verse as an indication that Jesus ended His discourse here and that He and the Eleven left the upper room immediately. They viewed the teaching and praying that we find in chapters 15-17 as happening somewhere in Jerusalem on the east side of the Kidron Valley before Jesus’ arrest (cf. John 18:1). However, it seems more probable to many interpreters, including myself, that this sentence did not signal a real change of location but only an anticipated change, in view of John 18:1. Anyone who has entertained people in their home knows that it is very common for guests to say they are leaving and then stay quite a bit longer before really departing.
Why would John have recorded this remark if it did not indicate a real change of location? Perhaps he included it to show Jesus’ great love for His followers that the following three chapters articulate. [Note: Carson, The Gospel . . ., 479.] The time of departure from the upper room is not critical to a correct interpretation of Jesus’ teaching.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 14". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
the Seventh Sunday after Easter