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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 14


Verse 1

John 14:1 . But as they sat astounded and perplexed, He continues, Μὴ ταρασσέσθω ὑμῶνκαρδία . Let not your heart be tossed and agitated like water driven by winds; cf. Liddell and S. and Thayer. He not only commands them to dismiss their agitation, but gives them reason: πιστεύετεπιστεύετε . “Trust God, yea, trust me.” Trust Him who overrules all events, He will bring you through this crisis for which you feel yourselves incompetent; or if in your present circumstances that faith is too difficult, trust me whom you see and know and whose word you cannot doubt. It is legitimate to construe the first πιστεύετε as an indicative, and the second as imperative: but this gives scarcely so appropriate a sense.

Verses 1-31

John 13:31 to John 14:31 comprise one continuous conversation, introduced by Jesus’ announcement (John 13:31-35 ) of His speedy departure.

Verse 2

John 14:2 . As an encouragement to this trust, He adds, ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳὑμῖν . He is going home to His Father’s house, but had there been room in it only for Himself He would necessarily have told them that this was the case, because the very reason of His going was to prepare a place for them, ὅτι assigns the reason for the necessity of explanation: the reason being that His purpose or plan for His future would require to be entirely altered had there been no room for them in His Father’s house. “My Father’s house” is used in John 2:16 of the Temple: here of the immediate presence of the Father and of that condition in which His love and protection are uninterruptedly and directly experienced. This is most naturally thought of as a place, but with the corrective that “it is not in heaven one finds God, but in God one finds heaven”. Cf. Godet. In this house, as in a great palace, cf. Iliad , vi. 242, μοναὶ πολλαί εἰσιν . μονή ( μένειν ), only here and in John 14:23 , means a place to abide in, and was used of a station on a journey, a resting place, quarters for the night, and in later ecclesiastical Greek a monastery. See Soph., Lexicon . “Mansions” reproduces the Vulgate “mansiones”. See further Wright’s Bible Word-Book . εἰ δὲ μὴ … “were it not so, I would have told you,” “ademissem vobis spem inanem,” Grotius. Had there been no such place and no possibility of preparing it, He necessarily would have told them, because the very purpose of His leaving them was to prepare a place for them. ἑτοιμάσαι τόπον , a figure derived from the custom of sending forward one of a party to secure quarters and provide all requisites. Cf. the Alcestis , line 363: ἀλλʼ οὖν ἐκεῖσε προσδόκα μʼ , ὅταν θάνω , καὶ δῶμʼ ἑτοίμαζʼ , ὡς συνοικήσουσά μοι . What was involved in the preparation here spoken of is detailed in Hebrews. Cf. Selby’s Ministry of the Lord , 275.

Verse 3

John 14:3 . Neither will He prepare a place and leave them to find their own way to it. καὶ ἐὰν πορευθῶἦτε . “ If I go”; that is, the commencement of this work as their forerunner was the pledge of its completion. And its completion is effected by His coming again and receiving them to Himself, or “to His own home,” πρὸς ἐμαυτόν . Cf. John 20:10 . πάλιν ἔρχομαι καὶ παραλήμψομαι , “I come again and will receive”. The present is used in ἔρχομαι as if the coming were so certain as to be already begun, cf. John 5:25 . For παραλήμψομαι see Song of Solomon 8:2 . The promise is fulfilled in the death of the Christian, and it has changed the aspect of death. The personal second coming of Christ is not a frequent theme in this Gospel. The ultimate object of His departure and return is ἵνα ὅπου εἰμὶ ἐγώ , καὶ ὑμεῖς ἧτε . Cf. 1Th 4:17 , 2 Corinthians 5:8 , Philippians 1:23 . The object of Christ’s departure is permanent reunion and the blessedness of the Christian.

Verse 4

John 14:4 . καὶ ὅπου ἐγὼ ὑπάγω οἴδατε τὴν ὁδόν . The ἐγώ is emphatic: the disciples knew the direction in which He was going.

Verses 4-7

John 14:4-7 . A second interruption occasioned by Thomas .

Verse 5

John 14:5 . But this statement bewilders the despondent Thomas, who gloomily interjects: Κύριεεἰδέναι ; Thomas’ difficulty is that not knowing the goal they cannot know the way. In the reply of Jesus both the goal and the way are disclosed.

Verse 6

John 14:6 . ἐγώ εἰμιἐμοῦ . “I am the way and the truth and the life: no one comes to the Father save through me.” I do not merely point out the way and teach the truth and bestow life, but I am the way and the truth and the life, so that by attachment to me one necessarily is in the way and possesses the truth and the life. “The way” here referred to is the way to the Father. He is the goal of all human aspiration: and there is but one way to the Father, “no one comes,” etc. καὶἀλήθεια , “and the truth,” primarily about God and the way to Him, but also as furnishing us with all knowledge which we now require for life. Thomas craved knowledge sufficient to guide him in the present crisis. Jesus says: You have it in me. καὶζωή , “and the life”; the death which casts its shadow over the eleven and Himself is itself to be swallowed up in life. Those who are one with Jesus cannot die. They are possessed of the source of the source of life. Further see Hort’s The Way , etc., and Bernard’s Central Teaching . οὐδεὶς ἔρχεται , “no one comes to the Father save through me” as the way, the truth, the life. It is not “through believing certain propositions regarding me” nor “through some special kind of faith,” but “through me”.

Verse 7

John 14:7 . He is the essential knowledge, εἰ ἐγνώκειτέ με … Some press the distinction between ἐγνώκειτε and ἤδειτε , “the first representing a knowledge acquired and progressive; the second a knowledge perceptive and immediate”. But this discrimination is here inappropriate. The clause explains the foregoing. The Father is in Jesus, and to know Him is to know the Father. They had unconsciously been coming to the Father and living in Him. Now they were to do so consciously: ἀπʼ ἄρτι γινώσκετεαὐτόν . The repeated αὐτόν brings out the point, that it was the Father that was henceforth to be recognised by them when they saw and thought of Jesus: “ye know Him and have seen Him ”.

Verse 8

John 14:8 . Λέγειἡμῖν . Philip, seizing upon the ἑωράκατε αὐτόν of John 14:7 , utters the universal human craving to see God, to have the same indubitable direct knowledge of Him as we have of one another. Perhaps Philip supposed some appearance visible to the eye would be granted. Always there persists the feeling that more might be done to make God known than has been done.

Verses 8-14

John 14:8-14 . A third interruption by Philip; to which Jesus replies, appending to His answer a promise which springs out of what He had said to Philip .

Verse 9

John 14:9 . Jesus corrects the error, and guides the craving to its true satisfaction. Τοσοῦτον χρόνονπατέρα [ τοσοῦτον χρόνον may be a gloss for the dative which is found in [85] [86] [87] . The manifestation which Philip craves had been made, and made continuously for some considerable time; for so long that it was matter of surprise and regret to Jesus that Philip needed still to be taught that he who saw Jesus saw the Father. It is implied that not to see the Father in Jesus was not to know Him.

[85] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[86] Codex Bezae

[87] Codex Regius--eighth century, represents an ancient text, and is often in agreement with א and B.

Verse 10

John 14:10 . οὐ πιστεύειςἐστι ; This unbelief was involved in Philip’s question, but when the question of the mutual indwelling of the Father and Jesus was thus directly put to him, he would have no doubt as to the answer. Cf. John 10:38 . The fact of the union is indisputable; the mode is inexplicable; some of the results are indicated in the words: τὰ ῥήματατὰ ἔργα . See John 7:16-18 and John 5:19 . The mutual indwelling is such that everything Jesus says or does is the Father’s saying or doing. This was so obvious that Jesus could appeal to the works He did in case His assertion was disbelieved.

Verse 11

John 14:11 . πιστεύετέ μοιπιστεύετε . “Believe me,” i.e. , my assertion, not my manifestation, “or if you find that difficult, believe on account of the works themselves”. The mention of His works and the evidence they afford that He is in the Father suggests to Him a ground of comfort for His disciples in view of His departure. And from this point onwards in this chapter it is to the comforting of the disciples our Lord addresses Himself. First, in John 14:12-14 ; second, in John 14:15-17 ; third, in John 14:18-21 . The mention of the Paraclete in connection with this third item of encouragement gives rise to a fourth interruption, this time by Judas, John 14:22-24 ; and at John 14:25 . Jesus resumes His explanation of the Paraclete’s function, and closes with several considerations calculated to remove their fears.

Verse 12

John 14:12 . ἀμὴνποιήσει . The first encouragement is the assurance that through Christ’s absence the disciples would be enabled to do greater works than Jesus Himself had done. These “greater” works were the spiritual effects accomplished by the disciples, especially the great novel fact of conversion. See this developed in Parker’s The Paraclete . Such works were to be possible ὅτιπορεύομαι . It was by founding a spiritual religion and altering men’s views of the spiritual world Christ enabled His followers to do these greater works. Here this is explained on the plane of the disciples’ thoughts and in this form: “I go to my Father, the source of all power, and whatever you ask in my name I will do it”.

Verse 13

John 14:13 . τοῦτο ποιήσω , so what they do is still His doing; one condition being attached to their prayers, that they ask ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου . The name of a person can only be used when we seek to enforce his will and further his interests. This gives the condition of successful prayer: it must be for the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom. For the end of all is ἵνα δοξασθῇπατὴρ ἐν τῷ υἱῷ , that is, that the fulfilment of God’s purpose in sending forth His Son may be manifest in Christ’s people and in their beneficent work in the world.

Verse 14

John 14:14 . In John 14:14 the promise is repeated, as Euthymius says, for confirmation: τὸ αὐτὸ λέγει βεβαιῶν μάλιστα τὸν λόγον . Perhaps, too, additional significance is given to His agency by introducing ἐγώ . Cf. Bengel and Meyer.

Verse 15

John 14:15 . ἐὰντηρήσατε . The fulfilment of the promise He is about to give depends upon their condition of heart and life. This therefore He announces as the preamble to the promise. On their side there would be a constant endeavour to carry out His instructions: on His side κἀγὼ ἐρωτήσω … During His ministry Jesus has said little of the Spirit. Now on the eve of His departure He directs attention to this “alter ego”. He designates Him ἄλλον παράκλητον , implying that Jesus Himself was a Paraclete. See 1 John 2:1 . παράκλητος is literally advocatus , called to one’s aid, especially in a court of justice. [ Cf. παραστάτης in Arist., Thesm. , 369; Ecclesiastes , 9 .] See especially Hatch, Essays in Bibl. Greek , p. 82, and Westcott’s “Additional Note”. “Comforter” in A.V [88] is used in its original sense of “strengthener” (con, fortis); as in Wiclift’s version of Philippians 4:13 , “I may all thingis in him that comfortith me” (see Wright’s Bible Word-Book ). This, Paraclete should remain with them for ever, and He is specifically designated (John 14:17 ) τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας , cf. John 16:13-14 ; He would enable them to understand the new truths which were battling with their old conceptions, and to readjust their beliefs round a new centre He would explain the departure of Christ, and the principles of the new economy under which they were henceforth to live. This spirit was to be peculiarly theirs, ὃ ὁ κόσμος οὐ δύναται λαβεῖν , the characteristically worldly cannot receive that which can only be apprehended by spiritually prepared persons. It has been proposed to render λαβεῖν , “seize” or “apprehend,” as if a contrast to the world’s apprehension and dismissal of Jesus were intended. But λαμβάνειν τὸ πνεῦμα is regularly used in N.T. to express “receiving the Spirit,” Galatians 3:2 ; 1 Corinthians 2:12 . The world cannot receive the Spirit ὅτι οὐ θεωρεῖ αὐτὸ , … Outward sense cannot apprehend the invisible Spirit; and the world has no personal experience of His presence and power; but ye, ὑμεῖς , have this experimental knowledge, “because He is even now abiding with you (has already begun His ministry; or, rather, has this for His characteristic that He remains with you, making you the object of His work), and shall be within you”. With the entire statement cf. 1 Corinthians 2:8-14 .

[88] Authorised Version.

Verses 15-17

John 14:15-17 . The second encouragement: the promise of another Paraclete .

Verse 18

John 14:18 . Great as was the promise of this other helper, this spirit of truth, it did not seem to compensate for the departure of Jesus. “Another,” any other, was unable to fill the blank; it was Himself they craved. Therefore He goes on, οὐκ ἀφήσω ὑμᾶς ὀρφανούς · ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς , “I will not abandon you as orphans,” ὀρφανός (orbus) “bereaved,” used of fathers bereft of children (1 Thessalonians 2:17 , Dionys. Hal., i.); as well as of children bereft of parents. See Elsner. πατρικῆς εὐσπλαγχνίας τὸ ῥῆμα , Euthymius. Cf. Psalms 9:14 , ὀρφανῷ σὺ ἦσθα βοηθός . Wetstein quotes Rabbi Akiba as lamenting the death of Rabbi Eleazar, “Vae mihi … quia totam hanc generationem reliquisti orphanam”. The utter helplessness of the disciples without their Master is indicated, ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς . From the absence of ἐγώ it may be gathered that Jesus means to point out not so much that it is He who is coming through the spirit to them, as that His apparent departure is really a nearer approach.

Verses 18-21

John 14:18-21 . The third encouragement: that Jesus Himself will come to them and make Himself known to them .

Verse 19

John 14:19 . In a short time, ἔτι μικρόν , the world would no longer see Him, but His disciples would be conscious of His presence, ὑμεῖς δὲ θεωρεῖτέ με , present for immediate future. His presence would be manifested in their new life which they would trace to Him, ὅτι ἐγὼ ζῶ , καὶ ὑμεῖς ζήσεσθε . This is confirmed by Paul’s “No longer I, but Christ liveth in me”. Galatians 2:20 . The grand evidence of Christ’s continued life and presence is the Christian life of the disciple.

Verse 20

John 14:20 . ἐν ἐκείντῇ ἡμέρᾳ , “in that day,” which does not mean Pentecost, but the new Christian era which was to be characterised by these experiences. Cf. Holtzmann. The sense of a new life produced by Christ would compel the conviction ὅτι ἐγὼ ἐν τῷ πατρί … “that I am in the Father” in vital union with the source of all life, “and that you are in me,” vitally connected with me so as to receive that life that I live, “and I in you,” filling you with all the fulness that is in myself, living out my own life in and through you, and finding in you room for the output of all I am.

Verse 21

John 14:21 . The conditions on which depended the manifestation of the departed Christ are then exhibited, ὁ ἔχωνἐμαυτόν . The love to which Christ promises a manifestation of Himself is not an idle sentiment or shallow fancy, but a principle prompting obedience, ὁ ἔχων τὰς ἐντολάς μου , cf. 1 John 2:7 ; 1Jn 4:21 , 2 John 1:5 ; it means more than “hearing,” and is yet not equivalent to τηρῶν ; it seems to point to the permanent possession of the commandments in consciousness. This finds its appropriate expression in τηρῶν αὐτάς “keeping them,” observing them in the life. This is the expression and proof of love, and this love finds its response and reward in the love of the Father and of the Son, and in the manifestation of the Son to the individual. The appropriateness of introducing the Father and His love appears in John 14:24 . The love of Christ is that which prompts the manifestation. ἐμφανίσω , the word is used by Moses in Exodus 33:13 . Reynolds says: “This remarkable word implies that the scene or place of the higher manifestation will be in ( ἐν ) the consciousness of the soul”. The word however is currently used for outward manifestation; although here the manifestation alluded to is inward. Cf. Judas’ words. The nature of the manifestation has already been explained, John 14:19 .

Verse 22

John 14:22 . All that Jesus has said has borne more and more clearly in upon the mind of the disciples the disappointing conviction that the manifestation referred to is not to be on the expected Messianic lines. Accordingly Judas, not Iscariot, but Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus (Matthew 10:3 ; Luke 6:16 ), says: τί γέγονεν κ . τ . λ . “What has happened that,” etc.? or, “What has occurred to determine you,” etc.? Kypke quotes from Arrian apposite instances of the use of this expression. Judas expresses, no doubt, the thought of the rest. Was there to be no such public manifestation of Jesus as Messiah, as would convince the world?

Verses 22-24

John 14:22-24 . A fourth interruption, by Judas .

Verse 23

John 14:23 . To this Jesus replies ἐάν τιςποιήσομεν . The answer explains that the manifestation, being spiritual, must be individual and to those spiritually prepared. “It contemplates not a public discovery of power, but a sort of domestic visitation of love.” Bernard, πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐλευσόμεθα , “to him we will come”; Jesus without scruple unites Himself with the Father. μονὴνποιησόμεθα , a classical expression see Thuc., i. 131, μονὴνποιούμενος . “We will make our abode with him, will be daily his guests, yea, house and table companions.” Luther in Meyer, μονή is here used in a sense different from that of John 14:2 , where it means a place to abide in.

Verse 24

John 14:24 . The necessity of love as a condition of this manifested presence is further emphasised by stating the converse, ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶν μεπατρός . The κόσμος of John 14:22 is here more closely defined by ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶν με . See Holtzmann.

Verse 25

John 14:25 . Ταῦτα λελάληκαμένων , implying that this abiding and teaching were now at an end.

Verses 25-31

John 14:25-31 . The conversation closed by bequest of peace . The genuineness of this report of the last words of Jesus is guaranteed by the frequency with which He seems to be on the point of breaking off. The constant resumption, the adding of things that occur on the moment, these are the inimitable touch of nature. At this point the close seems imminent.

Verse 26

John 14:26 . But His teaching would be continued and completed by the Paraclete: ὁ δὲ παράκλητοςὑμῖν . The Paraclete is now identified with τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον , and His connection with Christ is further guaranteed by the clause ὃ πέμψειπατὴρ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου , “which the Father will send in my name,” that is, as representing me and promoting my interests. And this He will accomplish by teaching: ἐκεῖνος “He,” and no longer the visible Christ, “will teach you all things,” πάντα in contrast to the ταῦτα (John 14:25 ) with which Christ had to be satisfied; but πάντα must itself be limited by the needs and capacities of the disciples. καὶ ὑπομνήσει … “and will bring to your remembrance all that I said to you,” that is, the teaching of the Spirit should so connect itself with the teaching of Christ as to revive the memory of forgotten words of His, and give them a new meaning. Cf. especially John 16:12-14 .

Verse 27

John 14:27 . εἰρήνην ἀφίημι ὑμῖν , “peace I bequeath to you”. The usual farewell was given with the word “peace”. And Jesus uses the familiar word, but instead of uttering a mere wish He turns it into a bequest, intimating His power not only to wish but to give peace in the further description εἰρήνην τὴν ἐμὴν δίδωμι ὑμῖν , “my peace I give unto you”; the peace which He had attained by means of all the disturbance and opposition He had encountered. Leaving them His work, His view of life, His Spirit, He necessarily left them His peace. οὐ καθὼςκόσμος δίδωσιν , ἐγὼ δίδωμι ὑμῖν , “not as the world gives give I to you”. This is referred by Grotius to the difference between the empty form of salutation and Christ’s gift of peace. (“ Mundus , i.e. , major pars hominum, salute alios impertit sono vocis, nihil saepe de re cogitans; et si cogitet, tamen id alteri nihil prodest.”) So too Holtzmann and Bernard. Meyer considers this “quite out of relation to the profound seriousness of the moment,” and understands the allusion to be to the treasures, honours, pleasures which the world gives. There is no reason why the primary reference should not be to the salutation, with a secondary reference to the wider contrast. This gift of peace, if accepted, would secure them against perturbation, and so Jesus returns to the exhortation of John 14:1 , μὴ ταρασσέσθω … “Observing that the opening sentence of the discourse is here repeated and fortified, we understand that all enclosed within these limits is to be taken as a whole in itself, and that the intervening words compose a divine antidote to that troubling and desolation of heart which the Lord’s departure would suggest.” Bernard. He now adds a word, μηδὲ δειλιάτω , which carries some reproach in it. Theophrastus ( Char. , xxvii.) defines δειλία as ὕπειξίς τις ψυχῆς ἔμφοβος , a shrinking of the soul through fear. With this must be taken Aristotle’s description, Nic. Eth. , iii. 6, 7, ὁ δὲ τῷ φοβεῖσθαι ὑπερβάλλων δειλός . It may be rendered “neither let your heart timidly shrink”.

Verse 28

John 14:28 . On the contrary quite other feelings should possess them: joy in sympathy with Him in His glorification and in expectation of the results of His going to the Father: ἠκούσατεπατέρα . “If ye loved me,” an almost playful way of reproaching their sadness. There was no doubt of their love, but it was an unintelligent love. They failed to consider the great joy that awaited Him in His going to the Father. This going to the Father was cause for rejoicing, ὅτιπατήρ μου [ μου is not well authenticated and should be deleted] μείζων μου ἐστί , “because the Father is greater than I”; and can therefore fulfil all the loving purposes of Christ to His disciples. “The life which He has begun with them and for them will be raised to a higher level.” They had seen the life He had lived and were disturbed because it was coming to an end: but it was coming to an end because absorbed in the greater life He would have with the Father. The theological import of the words is discussed by Westcott, who cites patristic opinions and refers to Bull and Pearson. In all that Jesus did, it was the Father’s will He carried out, and with powers communicated by the Father: the Father is the Originator and End of all His work in the world. Throughout the ministry of Jesus the Father is represented as “greater” than the Son. That it should require to be explicitly affirmed, as here, is the strongest evidence that He was Divine.

Verse 29

John 14:29 . καὶ νῦνπιστεύσητε . “I have told you now before it came to pass,” i.e. , He has told them of His departure, that they might not be terrified or depressed by its occurrence, but might recognise it as foretold by Him as the consummation of His work and so might have their faith increased. Cf. John 13:19 .

Verse 30

John 14:30 . οὐκ ἔτιὑμῶν . “I will no longer speak much with you”; “temporis angustiae abripiunt verba,” Grotius. ἔρχεταιοὐδέν . “The ruler of this world” is Satan, see John 12:31 . He “comes” in the treachery of Judas (John 13:27 ) and all that followed. But this coming was without avail, because ἐν ἐμοὶ οὐκ ἔχει οὐδέν , “in me he hath nothing,” nothing he can call his own, nothing he can claim as his, and which he can use for his purposes. He is ruler of the world, but in Christ has no possessions or rule. A notable assertion of sinlessness.

Verse 31

John 14:31 . Jesus goes to death not crushed by the machinations of Satan, “but that the world may know that I love the Father and as the Father has commanded me,” οὕτω ποιῶ , “thus I do,” applies to His whole life, which was throughout ruled by regard to the Father’s commandment, but in the foreground of His thought at present is His departure from the disciples, His death. ἐγείρεσθε , ἄγωμεν ἐντεῦθεν , “arise, let us go hence,” similar to the summons in Matthew 26:46 , but the idea of referring so common an expression to a reminiscence of the Synoptic passage is absurd. On the movement made in consequence of the summons, see on John 15:1 .

In chapters 15 and 16 Jesus (1) explains the relation He holds to those who continue His work, John 15:1-17 ; (2) the attitude the world will assume to His followers, John 15:18-25 ; (3) the conquest of the world by the Spirit, 26 16:11; and (4) adds some last words, encouragements and warnings, John 16:12-33 . In this last conversation, which extends from chap. 13 to chap. 16 inclusive, the closing words of chap. 14, ἐγείρεσθε ἄγωμεν ἐντεῦθεν , form the best marked division. At this point Jesus and His disciples rose from table. Whether the conversation was continued in the house or after they left it may be doubtful; but probabilities are certainly much in favour of the former alternative. A party of twelve could not conveniently talk together on the street. In John 18:1 we read that when Jesus had uttered the prayer recorded in 17 ἐξῆλθε σὺν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ πέραν τοῦ χειμάρρου τῶν Κέδρων . This, however, may refer to their leaving the city, not the house. Bengel thinks they may have paused in the courtyard of the house.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 14". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.