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Bible Commentaries

Godet's Commentary on Selected Books

John 14


On the conversations in chap. 14.

The subject on which this chapter turns is indeed that which the situation calls for: the approaching separation. Jesus calms His disciples, who are profoundly troubled by this prospect, by promising them a twofold meeting again, the one more remote in the Father's house, at the end of their earthly career, the other altogether inward and spiritual, but very near. The historical fitness of these two great thoughts is perfect.

As to the questions of Thomas, Philip and Judas, Reuss finds that they proceed from such strange misunderstandings and such gross mistakes that it is impossible to accord to them any historical truthfulness. But exegesis has ascertained, on the contrary, that they are completely appropriate to the apostles' point of view at that moment. So long as Jesus was with them, notwithstanding their attachment to His person, they still shared in the ideas which were generally received. It was the death of their Master, His ascension, and finally Pentecost, which radically transformed their idea of the kingdom of God. There is, accordingly, nothing surprising in the fact that Thomas, like the Jews in ch. 12, should complain of understanding nothing about a Christ who leaves the earth; or that Philip, like the Jews who demanded a sign from heaven, should, in place of His visible presence, ask for a sensible theophany; or, finally, that Judas should ask anxiously what a Messianic coming could be of which the world should not be a witness. Two conceptions, that of the disciples and that of Jesus, do not cease to come into collision in these dialogues, and in order to have reproduced them so naturally and dramatically, at a period already advanced, when light had come on all these problems which at that moment occupied the disciples' minds, one must certainly have been present at these conversations, and have himself taken a lively part in them. This appears, moreover, from the manner in which the evangelist initiates us in this story into the intimate and familiar relations of Jesus with the disciples and the character of the personages who form the apostolic circle. Either all this these proper names, these questions attributed to each one, these personal addresses of Jesus is a play unworthy of a serious man, or it is the narrative of a witness who himself participated in the emotions of this last evening.

Verses 1-2

Vv. 1, 2. Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2. In my Father's house there are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you;I go to prepare a place for you.

The division of the chapters here is very faulty; for the following words are in close relation with the preceding conversation, and particularly with the words of Jesus: Thou shalt follow me afterwards. Extending this same promise to all the disciples (comp. Joh 13:33 ), Jesus explains to them in what way they will be able to rejoin Him. He is going away for the moment to prepare for them their place in heaven ( Joh 14:2 ); then He will return to seek them in order to transport them thither ( Joh 14:3 ). We must place ourselves at this particular point of view in order to thoroughly understand the exhortation to confidence, which Joh 14:1 contains. Very far from bringing trouble to their hearts, His departure should fill them with the sweetest hope. They should have confidence in God, who directs this work and does not leave their Master to perish through weakness, and in Jesus Himself, who executes the work on His part, and who, far from being separated from it by death, is going to continue and complete it above. I think, with most, that the two πιστεύετε , believe, are more in harmony with the imperative ταρασσέσθω , let it not be troubled, if they are both taken as imperatives. Others take them both ( Luther) as indicatives ( you believe), or only the first ( Erasmus, Calvin, Grotius), or only the second ( Olshausen). Jesus would, in order to dispel their trouble, remind them of the faith which they already have in Him or in God or in both. This would be quite useless. In the second member, the limiting word in me is placed before the verb; this is in order better to set forth the antithesis of the two limiting phrases in God and in me: “Have confidence in God; in me also have confidence.”

A first motive for confidence is given in John 14:2; it refers rather to confidence in God. Jesus points out to them that the house of the Father, to which He returns, is wide enough to receive them all and many others with them. The image is derived from those immense oriental palaces in which there is an apartment, not only for the sovereign and for the heir to the throne, but for all the king's sons, however numerous they may be. The term πολλαί , many, does not by any means refer to a diversity among these mansions (as if Jesus would allude to the different degrees of heavenly felicity), but only to their number: there are as many as there are believers; each one will possess his own in this vast edifice.

This heavenly dwelling is above all the emblem of a spiritual state: that of communion with the Father, the filial position which is accorded to Christ in the divine glory, and in which He will give believers a share. But this state will be realized in a definite place, the place where God most illustriously manifests His presence and His glory heaven. Lange thinks that when uttering these words Jesus pointed His disciples to the starry heaven; but Joh 14:31 proves that they were still in the room.

According to the Alexandrian reading, ὅτι , that or because, must be read after the words I would have told you: “I would have told you that I go away,” or “ because I go away.” The first of these meanings is incompatible with John 14:3, where Jesus says precisely that He is going away and for the purpose of preparing.

The Fathers who, in general, adopt this meaning, have not been successful in getting rid of the contradiction to that which follows, which it implies. Weiss and Keil, with their systematic preference for the Alexandrian authorities, try the second meaning, because; the former, by making this conjunction bear on the verb I would have told, but without being able to derive from it an intelligible thought; Keil, by referring the because to: there are many mansions, which forces us to make a parenthesis of the intermediate words: “There are many mansions... if not...I would have told you because I am going to prepare a place for you there.” But wherein is the stated proof: I go to prepare, more certain than the fact affirmed: there is room? And this parenthesis, which is not indicated by anything, is unnatural. In this case again it must be acknowledged that the reading of the Alexandrian authorities is indefensible; the ὅτι is an addition arising from the fact that it was desired to make the following words the contents of the verb I would have said. Some, whether rejecting or preserving the ὅτι , take the preceding words in the interrogative sense: “ Would I have said to you (that I am going to prepare a place for you)?” But He had nowhere said anything of this kind.

Others translate: “ Would I say it to you (at this moment)?” But, in this case, the imperfect ( ἔλεγον ἄν ) would be necessary. We must, therefore, return to the simplest interpretation: “If it were not so, I would have told you.” That is to say: “If our separation were to be eternal, I would have forewarned you; I would not have waited until this last moment to declare it to you;” or, as Grotius says, Ademissem vobis spem inanem.

Their faith in God must make them understand that the Father's house is spacious. But it is also needful that the access to it should be opened to them, and that they should have their dwelling there assured. Here it is that faith in Jesus intervenes, as the complement of faith in the Father. He is their πρόδρομος , their forerunner, to heaven ( Heb 6:20 ). Under this image He causes them to view both His death, which, through reconciliation, will open for them the entrance to heaven, and His exaltation, by means of which there will be created in His person a glorious state in which He will afterwards give them a share. And the following is the way in which He will prepare it.

Verses 1-11


Vv. 1-11.

1. The discourse which occupies the fourteenth chapter is apparently suggested by the thought expressed in John 13:36: “Thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” The announcement of His approaching death, which Jesus had given to His disciples, and all things that had come before their minds in the recent days, had filled them with surprise and grief. They were bewildered, as well as sorrowful. The thought of His death and separation came upon them with terrible suddenness, for they had not comprehended His meaning when He had spoken to them previously of the fate which He was to meet. The words addressed to Peter were really addressed to them all, and they needed strength and support in view of the coming separation. To this end Jesus now speaks, and He presents to their minds, in this chapter, three grounds of consolation and encouragement: first, the promise of a future reunion with Him in Heaven ( Joh 14:1-11 ); secondly, the assurance of great success in their work for Him after His departure ( Joh 14:12-14 ); thirdly, the promise of the Holy Spirit as a Helper ( Joh 14:15-24 ). The last two points relate to what would be experienced by them in their future earthly life; the first, to what would come after its ending. But this which refers to the remoter future is placed at the beginning, because it was the first thing which they needed for their comfort as they heard the words, You cannot follow me now; you must wait until a future time. That their hearts might not be troubled, they must have the certainty of that future.

2. The two verbs πιστεύετε are probably imperatives: “Believe in God and believe in me.” This confidence in God and in Jesus Himself was that which would raise their hearts above trouble. The positive demand thus stands in contrast with the negative. For the understanding of this chapter and those which immediately follow, the standpoint which Jesus takes should be carefully noticed. He seems clearly to assume the position of one who has come from His own home to a foreign land for a temporary sojourn and work there. While there, in the midst of this work, He has formed intimate and tender friendships with certain friends. The time has now come for Him to return to His home. They have still to remain where they are, continuing the work which He has begun, but His part of it, as Himself personally present among them, is ended. After a time their work also will be finished, and then they may follow Him. Now, as such a friend, at such a moment, He says to them: I am going back to my Father's house and to leave you alone; but do not let your hearts be distressed by this; on the other hand, have confidence in my Father and in me, that in the end all will be well.

3. The assurance given with regard to the future reunion contains three elements: the declaration that there is room enough for all in the Father's house, the statement that He is going thither to prepare a place for the disciples, and the promise that He will come again and take them to Himself. Two points of special interest may be noticed in John 14:2-3, which present this assurance: ( a) The evidence which is incidentally involved in the words, “If it were not so, I would have told you,” that the book is written from the remembered personal experience of the author as one of the apostolic company. On this point see Vol. I., pp. 508, 509. ( b) The word ἔρχομαι of John 14:3. To what does this refer? Four answers have been given to this question.

In the first place, the verb has been supposed to refer to the Parousia. In this sense it is possibly or probably used in John 21:23. The objection to this view is that which Godet suggests namely, that the event was too remote to offer the consolation which they needed. It would have been like the thought of the final resurrection to the mind of Martha, when she desired to have her brother presently restored to her. The disciples did not live to see the Parousia; and that event is even yet in the future.

In the second place, it has been referred to the return of Jesus to the disciples at His resurrection. But He did not take them to heaven then, nor receive them to any permanent reunion with Him. Thirdly, it has been understood in the sense of ἔρχομαι of John 14:18, and as referring to the coming of Christ to His followers in and through the Holy Spirit. But evidently, according to the statement of John 14:23, the coming there referred to is a spiritual coming of Christ to be with the believer where the latter is that is, on earth, and not a coming to take the believer to be with Christ where He is that is, in heaven.

A fourth reference has been given by some writers namely, a return of Christ at the death of each believer, to receive him to Himself. The objection to this view is founded upon the fact that this sense of ἔρχομαι is not found elsewhere, either in this Gospel or in the rest of the New Testament writings. The writer of this note would suggest, however, the possibility of explaining the matter in connection with the position taken by Jesus in these discourses (see 2 above). May not the return, the coming again, be used here, not in its ordinary or technical sense, but in connection with the figurative representation, as it may be called, of the whole discourse? As the departing friend goes back to the house of his father and prepares a place for those whom he leaves behind, in order that they may have a home there when the time appointed shall arrive, and as he then returns to take them with him to his home, so Jesus here says that, at the end of the work of each one of His disciples, He will come, as the friend comes, and receive them to Himself. The coming thus belongs to the figure, and may be properly used in this sense because of the figure. In this way the reference may be to the death of each believer, without assuming a new technical sense of the words to come again.

4. The word ὁδόν of John 14:4, if interpreted by the preceding context, will naturally mean the way of death by which Jesus went to His Father's house. If interpreted by the following context, it will mean Jesus Himself or faith in Him. The more probable interpretation would seem to the writer of this note to be the former. The following words of Jesus turn the mind of Thomas to the way for him to reach the Father thus directing the inquirer away from the point on which he was curious to inquire to a spiritual suggestion or teaching for himself which lay near to his question. We see many examples of this kind in John's Gospel.

5. In Joh 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way” that is, He is the one through whom ( δἰ ἐμοῦ , at the end of the verse) the soul comes to the Father. He then adds, “and the truth and the life.” These words set forth, what has been declared in substance in carlier chapters of the Gospel, that in Jesus is the full revelation of the Divine truth and of the eternal life. In the sense in which the words are here used, and according to the thought now before the mind, Jesus is the way because in Him is the truth and the life.

6. Philip asks for some special manifestation of God beyond what had been given them perhaps he did not himself have a definite idea as to what it should be. In answer to his request, Jesus points to the two great proofs of His being Himself the manifestation of God, which have been presented throughout the Gospel the words and the works and places them again in their right order, the words first, and, if these fail to convince, then the works. That the expression “believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me” refers to the words as evidence, can hardly be questioned.

7. Joh 14:7-11 have somewhat of a transition character, as leading the way from Joh 14:4-6 to John 14:12 ff. But the connection of their general thought with that of Joh 14:6 gives them a more special relation to the preceding context, and, in dividing the chapter into its sections, they may properly be assigned to the first section, which thus extends from Joh 14:1 to John 14:11.

Verses 1-31

I. The separation; its necessity: 13:31-14:31.

After some words uttered by Jesus under the immediate impression of the departure of Judas ( Joh 13:31-35 ), Jesus replies to different questions relative to His approaching removal which He has just announced to them; that of Peter (ver. Joh 13:36 to Joh 14:4 ), that of Thomas ( Joh 13:5-7 ), that of Philip ( Joh 13:8-21 ), and that of Judas ( Joh 13:22-24 ); He closes with some reflections with which the present situation inspires Him ( Joh 13:25-31 ).

Verses 1-31

I. The separation; its necessity: 13:31-14:31.

After some words uttered by Jesus under the immediate impression of the departure of Judas ( Joh 13:31-35 ), Jesus replies to different questions relative to His approaching removal which He has just announced to them; that of Peter (ver. Joh 13:36 to Joh 14:4 ), that of Thomas ( Joh 13:5-7 ), that of Philip ( Joh 13:8-21 ), and that of Judas ( Joh 13:22-24 ); He closes with some reflections with which the present situation inspires Him ( Joh 13:25-31 ).

Verse 3

Ver. 3. “ And if I shall have gone and prepared a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

The place being once assured and prepared for them, they must be brought to reach it. It is He who will also charge Himself with this office. The rejection of καί , and, before ἑτοιμάσω in some MSS. (“and when I shall have gone, I will prepare”) would introduce an unnatural and even absurd asyndeton between the idea of preparing and that of returning which follows, and would at the same time lead to a complete tautology with the preceding sentence. The reading ἑτοιμᾶσαι , to prepare, is a further correction which was rendered almost indispensable by the rejection of the καί .

To the two verbs: “ when I shall have gone and shall have prepared,” correspond the two verbs of the principal clause: I will come again (literally, I come again) and I will take you to myself. The present I come again indicates imminence. Notwithstanding this, Origen and other Fathers, Calvin, Lampe, and, among the moderns, Hofmann, Luthardt, Meyer, Weiss, and Keil, refer this term to the final and glorious coming of the Lord. Undoubtedly this promise is addressed to believers in general, but it has in view, nevertheless, first of all, the disciples personally, whom Jesus wishes to strengthen in their present disheartenment; and He consoles them, it is said, by means of an event which no one of them has seen and which is still future at this hour! In thus explaining the word I come, it is forgotten that Jesus never affirmed the nearness of His Parousia, and that, indeed, He rather gave an indication of the opposite: “ As the bridegroom delays his coming ” ( Mat 25:5 ); “ If the master comes in the second watch, or if he comes in the third ” ( Luk 12:38 ); “ At evening or at midnight or at the cock-crowing or in the morning ” ( Mar 13:35 ); comp. also the parables of the leaven and the grain of mustard seed. Moreover, we have the authentic explanation of this word come in John 14:18, where, as Weiss acknowledges, it cannot be applied to the Parousia.

Ebrard thinks that the point in question is the resurrection of Jesus. But the true reunion, after the separation caused by the death of Jesus, did not yet take place at the resurrection. The appearances of the Lord were transient; their design was simply, through faith in the resurrection, to prepare for the coming of the Spirit. Grotius, Reuss, Lange, Hengstenberg, and Keil refer the word come to the return of Jesus at the death of each believer; comp. the vision of Stephen. But in Joh 14:18 this sense is altogether impossible, and no example can be cited, not even John 21:23, where it would lead to an intolerable tautology. This coming refers, therefore, as has been recognized by Lucke, Olshausen, Neander, to the return of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, to the close and indissoluble union formed thereby between the disciple and the glorified person of Jesus; comp. all that follows in John 14:17; John 14:19-21; John 14:23; especially John 14:18, which is the explanation of our: I come again. Weiss alleges against our view that the question here is of a personal return. We defer this to John 14:18. The following verb: I will take you to myself, indicates another fact, which will be the result of this spiritual preparation.

This is the introduction of the believer into the Father's house, at the end of his earthly career, either at the moment of his death, or at that of the Parousia, if he lives until that time. Καί , and, has the sense of and consesequently, or of, and afterwards, as is indicated by the contrast between the present ( I come) and the future ( I will take). This will be the entrance of the believer, prepared by spiritual communion with Jesus, into the abode secured for him by the mediation of this same Jesus. Πρὸς ἐμαυτόν , to myself ( Joh 12:32 ); He presses him to His heart, so to speak, while bearing him away. There is an infinite tenderness in these last words. It is for Himself that He seems to rejoice in and look to this moment which will put an end to all separation: “ That where I am, there you may be also; ” comp. John 17:24. The community of place (“ there where ”) implies that of state. Otherwise the return of Jesus in spirit would not be necessary in order to prepare in each particular case this reunion. What touching simplicity and what dramatic vivacity in the expression of these ideas, so profound and so new! The Father's house, the preparation of the dwelling-place, the coming to find, finally the taking to Himself, this familiar and almost childlike language resembles sweet music by which Jesus seeks to alleviate the agony of separation in the minds of the apostles. Thus ends the first conversation, called forth by the question of Peter: “Why cannot I follow thee?” Answer: “Even thy martyrdom would not be sufficient to this end; my return in the Spirit into thy heart: this is the condition of thy entrance into my heavenly glory.” Comp. John 3:5.

But Jesus observes that many questions were still rising in their minds, that their hearts were a prey to many doubts, and, in order to incite them to ask Him, He throws out to their ignorance a sort of challenge, by saying to them:

Verse 4

Ver. 4. “ And whither I go you know, and the way you know.

We translate according to the received reading, which has in its favor 14 Mjj., the Peschito and most of the manuscripts of the Itala. According to it, Jesus attributes to the disciples the knowledge both of the end and of the way. According to the Alexandrian reading: “And whither I go, you know the way,” He attributes to them only the knowledge of the way. The difference is not great. For if, according to the second reading, the knowledge of the end is not declared, it is certainly implied, and this by reason of John 14:2, where the end ( the Father's house) had been clearly pointed out. But did the apostles know the way to reach it? Yes and no; yes, since this way was Jesus and Jesus was what they knew better than anything else. No, in the sense that they did not know Him as the way. This is the reason why, if Jesus can say to them with truth: You know the way, Thomas can answer him with no less truth: We know it not. Preoccupied until then with another end, the earthly kingdom of the Messiah, their imagination had not transferred their hopes from the world to God, from the earth to heaven; they were thinking, in fact, like the Jews ( Joh 12:34 ): “ We have heard that the Christ abides forever (on the earth, which is glorified by Him); how then dost thou say, The Son of man must be lifted up? ” Comp. Acts 1:6. And this false end to a certain extent veiled the truth from them. It is Thomas, the disciple who was particularly positive in his spirit, who becomes here, as at other times, the organ of doubting thoughts and discouraged feelings which exist more or less in them all; comp. John 11:16, John 20:25.

Verses 5-6

Vv. 5, 6. “ Thomas says to him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest, and how do we know the way? 6. Jesus says to him, I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.

Peter desired to follow Jesus immediately; this request having been rejected, Thomas wishes at least to understand clearly what is to take place, whither Jesus is going and by what way, and the more because the disciples are one day to follow Him. Thus far, the departure of Jesus leaves him nothing but obscurity. End and way, everything is lost for him in vacancy. Jesus, in His reply, lays hold especially upon the idea of the way while recalling to mind clearly the end in the second part of the verse. From the connection of these words with the question of Thomas it follows that the dominant idea of the three following terms is that of way, and that the other two must serve to explain it. From the second part of the verse it is also clear that the way which is in question is that which leads to the Father and His house, and not the way by which one can come to the truth and the life, as Reuss formerly supposed.

The figurative expression way is therefore explained without a figure by the two terms: truth and life. Truth is God revealed in His essence, that is to say, in His holiness and love ( Joh 14:9 ). Life is God communicated to the soul and bringing to it a holy strength and perfect beatitude ( Joh 14:23 ). And as it is in Jesus that this revelation and communication of God to the soul are effected, so it is through Jesus also that the soul comes to the Father and obtains through Him the entrance into the Father's house. The three terms, way, truth and life, are not, therefore, co-ordinated ( Luther, Calvin: beginning, middle, end); no more do they express a single notion: vera via vitae ( Augustine). Jesus means to say: I am the means of coming to the Father (the way), in that I am the truth and the life.

Reuss justly observes with reference to the word I am, that this expression excludes every other means parallel to this. Gess: “A man can at the most show to others the right way; he cannot be either the way or the truth or the life.”

In the following clause, the words: to the Father, set forth a nearer end than the figurative expression of John 14:2. The question here is of communion with the Father here on earth, which is the condition of communion with Him in heaven ( His house).

Verse 7

Ver. 7. “ If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; and from henceforth you know him and have seen him.

This verse reproduces the idea of the last clause of the preceding verse, that of coming to the Father through Jesus. If Jesus is really the manifestation of God ( Joh 14:6 ), to have well known Him Himself would be enough for the arriving through Him at the knowledge of God (pluperfect ἐγνώκειτε ). This is the sense of the received reading which is perfectly suitable; it is also that of the reading of some Alexandrian authorities which read ἤδειτε for the second ἐγνώκειτε . It seems that Jesus hereby denies to them this twofold knowledge; and in fact it is only after having received the Spirit that they will possess it fully ( Joh 14:20 ). Yet He afterwards partially concedes it to them, because they possess the beginning of it already. Meyer takes the term from henceforth literally: “since my preceding declaration” (that of Joh 14:6 ). This sense is too restricted and even insignificant. Chrysostom and Lucke find here an anticipatory indication of the approaching illumination at Pentecost; but how can the from henceforth and the pluperfects allow this sense? Jesus alludes to all that has just occurred in the course of this last evening. The washing of the feet and the dismissal of Judas, with all that He had said to them since then, were well fitted to bring to light the true character of God and the spiritual nature of His kingdom. The germ of the true knowledge of God had from henceforth been deposited in them. By showing Himself to them, as He had just done, even the inmost depths of His heart, Jesus had revealed to them forever the essence of God. The reading of א D, adopted by Tischendorf (8th ed.): “If you have known me, you will know my Father also,” comes doubtless from the scruple which the copyists felt at making Jesus say that His disciples had not known Him up to that moment (see Luthardt). Weiss, accepting the reading of some Alexandrian authorities which omit the καί ( and) before ἀπ᾿ ἄρτι , from henceforth, makes γινώσκετε an imperative, in this sense: “Know Him from henceforth as He is revealed to you in me, and thereby you will have seen Him; you will be in possession of the life.” But this imperative scarcely suits the adverb: from henceforth; and we do not say: Know God, as we say: “Believe in God” ( Joh 14:1 ).

This last word: you have seen Him, seems intended, as already John 14:4, to call forth the expression of some opposite thought. It is, as it were, a new challenge offered to this inward trouble which Jesus perceives in them. To have become beholders of God (perfect, ἑωράκατε ) was it not the greatest thing which the apostles could desire? This privilege had, to a certain degree, been granted to Moses and to Elijah, under the old covenant. Certainly, if Jesus could cause them to enjoy it, their faith would for the future be immovable. Isaiah had positively made this promise for the Messianic times: “ The glory of the Lord shall be manifested, and all flesh shall see it ” ( Isa 40:5 ). Thus is the demand of Philip naturally explained: “Thou sayest: you have seen; we answer: show us!”

Verses 8-9

Vv. 8, 9. “ Philip says to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it suffices us. 9. Jesus says to him, So long a time am I with you, and thou hast not known me! Philip, he who has seen me, has seen the Father; and how sayest thou, Show us the Father?

On occasion of these interruptions which the disciples allow themselves to make, Gess observes how fully at ease they feel with the Lord, and how fully this sort of relation justifies the words: “ I have called you my friends,” John 15:15. Peter had asked to follow Jesus. Thomas had desired at least to know whither He was going, and by what way. Since they can neither follow nor understand clearly, Philip would at least have a pledge of the glorious future which is reserved for them; and what pledge more sure than an appearance of God Himself! Is not the desire for the immediate sight of God an aspiration which dwells in the deepest recess of the heart of man? Comp. the request of Moses, Exodus 33:18. It was the same point of view as that of the Jews when they asked of Jesus a sign from heaven. This desire would be well founded if the essence of God consisted in power; the true theophany might in that case consist in a resplendent manifestation. But God is holiness and love; the real manifestation of these moral perfections can only consist in a moral life such that in it, in its acts and words, the moral perfection of the divine character shall shine forth.

Now this unique spectacle, this perfect theophany, the visible resplendence of God, the disciples have had before their eyes for more than two years; how is it that they have not better appreciated the privilege which has been accorded to them? What majesty in this reply! The foundation of the human consciousness of Jesus is so thoroughly the feeling of His divinity, that He scarcely understands that the knowledge of His true nature has not formed itself in the hearts of His disciples.

The word of address: Philip, serves to recall this disciple to himself as he forgets himself at the point of making such a demand. We may, like Luthardt, write this vocative with the preceding sentence which is addressed to the disciple individually, or connect it with the following, which, as a general maxim, serves to bring back the apostle to the truth. The perfect tenses, ἔγνωκας , ἑωρακώς , ἑώρακε , hast known, has seen, contrast the permanent state with the sudden and isolated act expressed by the aorist δεῖξον , show us.

The idea of the simple moral union of Jesus with God cannot exhaust the meaning of these words. A Christian, even a perfected one, would not say, “He who has seen me has seen the Christ.” How much less could a man, even a perfect man, say, “He who has seen me, has seen the Father.” This expression is understood only as the Son continues here below, under the form of the human life, the revealing function which He possesses, as the Word, in His condition of divine life.

Verses 10-11

Vv. 10, 11. “ Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself; and the Father, who dwells in me, he does the works. 11. Believe me when I say to you that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me; and, if not, believe me because of the works.

Jesus indicates to Philip two signs by which he ought to have recognized and may even at this moment recognize in Him the true appearance of God. He does not say that the Father and Himself are one and the same person. He constantly prays to the Father, saying: Thou. But it is a union by which they live the one in the other (comp. Gess), and this relation has as its background the life of the Logos. The words Believest thou not? show Philip that his prayer must be regarded as inconsistent with his faith.

There are in the union of Jesus with the Father two aspects: I in the Father: Jesus emptying Himself in order to transfer Himself to God; and the Father in me: God communicating to Jesus all His wealth of strength and wisdom. On one side, Jesus making a void in Himself; on the other, God filling this void.

After this, Jesus characterizes each of the two sides of this relation by that one of the manifestations of His life which is most fitted to bring it to light: the first by His words; the second, by His works. Not one of His words that He derives from Himself and does not receive from God! Not one of His works that is not wrought through Him by God Himself! Of His own wisdom, nothing! By the strength of God, everything. The negative clause is better suited to wisdom; the active form, to power. The following verse explains why the words are placed here before the works: comp. the reverse order in John 8:28, where Jesus is speaking to the unbelieving Jews. The first sign of the community of life and action between Jesus and God, for prepared hearts, is His teachings; for those less disposed, it is His works. We may hesitate between the readings λαλῶ and λέγω , in the first clause. In the second, the term λαλῶ , in any case, is perfectly suitable. Jesus is only the organ of the Father: God speaks; Jesus announces.

In John 14:11, Jesus demands from His disciples faith in His union with the Father on the authority of the testimony which He has borne to Himself. In the second clause, the imperative believe is without an object according to the reading of א B L: “Believe,” speaking absolutely, which seems logical.

Nevertheless, the reading me in the other authorities may also be defended: “Believe me, if not on the ground of my word, at least because of my works;” comp. John 10:38. Jesus evidently means by these His supernatural works, His miracles. The miracles are a proof for him who does not believe in the words, because this divine testimony, not passing through the mouth of Jesus Himself, has an objective character. By these words, Jesus assigns to miracles their true place in apologetics.

In the first editions of this work, I regarded the following passage as designed to add to the objective revelation of God, accomplished in the person of Jesus ( Joh 14:8-11 ), the subjective, internal theophany, the work of the Spirit, which is about to be described in John 14:12-24. It seems to me now that another connection must be adopted (see on Joh 14:12 ).

Verses 12-14

Vv. 12-14. “ Verily, verily, I say unto you; He that believes on me, he also shall do the works which I do, and he shall do still greater things than these, because I go to the Father, 13. and whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

The question of Thomas respecting the way had brought Jesus to speak of the work by which He leads His own to communion with the Father; that of Philip had brought Him back to what He had already been here on earth, as the perfect revelation of the Father. He had thus been turned aside from the essential object of the conversation: the encouragement to be given to the disciples, in view of the separation which was distressing them ( Joh 14:1 ). He now resumes this subject, and adds to the promise of a future reunion in the Father's house that of a much nearer meeting, that in which He will return to dwell in them through the Holy Spirit and will continue through them here on earth the work which He has Himself begun here. Such is the thought of the whole following passage, John 14:12-24. The question of Judas does not introduce a new subject; it affords Jesus the occasion of finishing the preceding development.

According to Keil, Joh 14:12 has as its purpose to reassure the disciples with regard to their future apostolic activity, respecting which they were anxious. According to Weiss, Jesus desires to show them how their own works will take the place of His, which are about to fail them and by reason of which, nevertheless, they are attached to Him. But there is no longer a question of these ideas in what follows. The question is now of the spiritual reunion which will follow the impending separation, and which will prepare the way for the final reunion promised in John 14:1-3. Joh 14:12 forms the transition to this new promise. Jesus begins by setting forth the effect (the works which they will do), in order to go back to the cause (His power acting in them). The expression: shall do the works which I do, refers to miracles similar to those of Jesus, which were wrought by the apostles, and the following expression: he shall do even greater things, refers, not to more extraordinary outward works the greatness of miracles is not thus measured ( Weiss) but to works of a superior nature even to corporeal healings. What St. Peter did at Pentecost, and St. Paul did throughout the world, what a simple preacher, a simple believer effects in causing the Spirit to descend into a heart Jesus could not do during His sojourn on earth. For, in order that such things should be realized, it was necessary “that the wall of separation between God and men should have been destroyed and the Holy Spirit have been given to mankind” ( Gess); in other words, that, as the end of the verse says, the glorification of Jesus should have been accomplished: “ because I go to the Father; ” comp. John 7:39. The branch, united to the vine, can bear fruits which the vine itself cannot bear. Greater does not, therefore, mean here: more stupendous, but more excellent; and this term does not refer merely to the extension of the apostolic ministry beyond the limits of the theocracy, as Lucke, Tholuck, Olshausen, de Wette understand it this difference is here only secondary but to the nature of the works accomplished.

This superiority of spiritual productiveness promised to the disciples will be founded upon the exaltation of Christ's own position: “ Because I go to the Father. ” We see clearly here that the expression: to go to the Father, denotes not death only, but death and the ascension together. Jesus says, according to the Alexandrian authorities: to the Father, not: to my Father. Indeed, God shows Himself, in thus acting, as the Father of the disciples no less than of Jesus Himself.

We must not close the explanation which the because leads us to look for with John 14:12, by making John 14:13, as Westcott would still have it, a principal clause. Joh 14:13 necessarily belongs to this explanation. It is not sufficient that Jesus should be exalted; it is necessary that He should still act from the midst of His glory: because I go...and...I will do it. Καί : and thus. Whatsoever you shall ask indicates the disciple's part in these works; it must not be passed over in silence; otherwise Jesus could not say they will do them ( Joh 14:12 ).

This part will be simply prayer. The believer asks, and the all-powerful Christ works from the midst of His glory. But the question here is not of prayer in general. It is to prayer of a special kind that Jesus attributes this efficacious co-operation with Him, to prayer in His name. To ask in the name of any one is, in ordinary life, to ask in place of a person, as if on his part, and applying to oneself, in virtue of His recommendation, all his titles to the favor demanded. If we had only this passage in which the expression: to pray in the name of Jesus, were used, we should accordingly think that to pray thus is to ask something in the assured consciousness of our reconciliation with God and our adoption in Christ, to pray to God as if we were the representatives, and, in some sort, the mouth of Jesus. But is this explanation, in itself very natural and the one which I adopted in the preceding editions, applicable to the passage John 14:26: “The Holy Spirit whom my Father will send in my name”? It does not seem to me so. The other explanations do not appear to satisfy this requirement any more fully; thus those of Chrysostom, “pleading my name;” of Calov, “on the foundation of my merits;” of Lucke, Meyer, Gess, etc., “praying in communion with me, from the midst of the spiritual element of my own life;” of de Wette, “in view of my cause;” or of Weiss, “in so far as it is a matter of works done for the accomplishment of the mission which I give you.”

All these explanations are true, certainly, but they touch only one side of the idea, not the centre. I think, therefore, that we must rather abide by that of Hengstenberg, Keil and Westcott (with differing shades): to ask a thing of God as Father on the foundation of the revelation which Jesus has given us of Himself and of His work, or, as Keil says, “plunging by faith into the knowledge which we have received of Him as Son of God humbled and glorified.” By acting thus we necessarily address to God a prayer which has all the characteristics set forth in the preceding explanations. This sense answers also to that of the term the name in the Scriptures. For the name sums up the knowledge which we possess of a being; it is his reflection in our thought. This sense applies very satisfactorily to the formula of John 14:26. I will do it, says Jesus; He thus sets forth the greatness of His future position as the organ of omnipotence acting in the service of the fatherly love of God. Had He not said in John 14:1: “Believe in God, and believe also in me.

And all this will take place, Jesus adds, for the glory of the Father in the person of the Son, for the Son does not dream of founding a kingdom here on earth which shall belong to Him alone.


Vv. 12-14.

1. The word μείζονα is not improbably to be taken as an independent neuter adjective; but, whether thus taken or as agreeing with an ἔργα to be supplied, it must be understood as having a more extended meaning than the ἔργα of the previous clause. The miracles wrought by the apostles were not greater than those which Christ performed. The reference here is to the success which they would have in their work as preachers of the Gospel in the extending of the Divine kingdom.

2. The verb ποιήσω of Joh 14:13 is probably to be joined immediately with πορεύομαι of John 14:12, and made, like the latter verb, dependent on ὅτι . The grounds of assurance of their success are: that He is going to the Father (His exaltation to heaven), and that, in connection with and as resulting from this, their prayers will be answered. Whether this is the true construction of the passage or not, however, the close union of the sentences shows that the answer to prayers here referred to is that which is connected with the labors of the apostles in the carrying forward of the Messianic work. With regard to these prayers two points must be noticed: first, that they are in the name of Christ, and, secondly, that they are in the line of spiritual things. The idea that every prayer of every individual believer will certainly be answered by a granting of the particular request which is made, is one which is not set forth in the New Testament, and one which would make the mind of the petitioner determine the order of events. The Christian idea of prayer cannot be inconsistent with the submission of all requests to the will of God; infinite, not finite wisdom must govern the world.

Verse 14

Vv. 14 is a reaffirmation of that astonishing promise; this is indicated already by the asyndeton: “Yes, it will indeed be so!” By the words: ὅτι ἄν , whatsoever, Jesus opens an immeasurable field to the Christian ambition of His disciples. The received reading ἐγὼ ποιήσω , “ I will do it,” is certainly the true reading. Some Alexandrian authorities have mechanically reproduced verbatim the expression of John 14:13. But Jesus purposely modifies it, by substituting ἐγώ for τοῦτο : “ I, who have never deceived you, and who am to be clothed with omnipotence with my Father, I pledge myself to do it.” Thus, while His disciple shall pray in His name on the earth, He will act from heaven, on God's part, to execute the work, so intimate will be the union effected in Him between heaven and earth.

It seems to me absolutely impossible to keep in the text the με , me, which the Alexandrian authorities give as the object of αἰτήσητε : “Whatsoever you shall ask me in my name.” It is inadmissible that one should ask anything of a person in his own name, except in the sense: for his own cause, which cannot be that of this phrase. Tischendorf, Weiss and Westcott endeavor vainly to defend this reading. Comp. besides, John 15:16, John 16:23-24. To weigh the words which are constantly found at the beginning of all the epistles of St. Paul: “I cease not to make mention of you in my prayers,” is, as Stier has said, sufficient to give us an understanding that it is by prayer in the name of Jesus that the apostles gave existence to the Church. From the means by which they will perform these works superior to His own prayer in His name, Jesus now passes to the divine source which shall give birth to such prayer in their hearts the Holy Spirit.

Verses 15-17

Vv. 15-17. “ If you love me, keep my commandments. 16. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another support, that he may abide with you eternally, 17. the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not neither knows him;but you know him, because he abides with you; and he shall be in you.

Here is the supreme gift, because it is the source of all the rest, through the prayers which it inspires in the believer. And first, John 14:15, the moral condition necessary to the end that this gift should be granted to man. A preparation is needed: “Love me! Fulfil my will! ” Joh 14:17 will justify this moral condition. The commandments of which Jesus speaks are the charges which He has given them while He has been with them, and particularly the instructions which He has given them on this last evening (John 13:14-15; John 13:34, Joh 14:1 ). The T. R., with almost all the Mjj., the Itala and the Peschito, reads the imperative τηρήσατε , keep, while B L read τηρήσετε , you will keep. The first is a direct summons to obedience in the name of the love which they have for Him. The second contains a reflection on the necessary relation between the two things. It seems to me that there is no reason to hesitate between these two readings. The second probably arises from the following future: and I will pray.

To the moral condition Jesus adds the objective condition, or the efficient cause of the divine gift, His own intercession. This intercession will have for its object the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The words of John 16:26, where it is said: “ I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you,” refers to the time which follows after this gift.

The term παράκλητος , literally, called towards, was taken by Origen and Chrysostom in the active sense: comforter παρακλήτωρ ( Job 16:2 in the LXX). It was under the influence of the Vulgate that this false sense passed into our French versions. It is acknowledged at the present day that the word παράκλητος , of the passive form, must have a passive sense: he who is called as a sustaining help, as a support; it is precisely the meaning of the Latin term advocatus, and of our word advocate: the defender of the accused before the tribunal. Perhaps the term used by Jesus was Goel, champion, defender. The Greek term has this meaning also in profane Greek, as in Demosthenes, Diogenes Laertius, Philo. John himself gives it this meaning in his first Epistle John 2:1, “ We have a paraclete (advocate) with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. ” The meaning teacher ( Theodore of Mopsuestia, Ernesti, Hofmann, Luthardt) has no foundation philologically, and the expression the Spirit of truth ( Joh 14:17 ) is not sufficient to justify it.

What Jesus will ask of the Father on their behalf is, therefore, another supporter, ever within their reach, ever ready to come to their aid, at the first call, in their conflict with the world. From this fundamental signification the following applications easily proceed: support in moments of weakness; counsellor in the difficulties of life; consoler in suffering. Thereby He will do for them what the beloved Master, who was now leaving them, had done during these last years. By saying another, Jesus implicitly gives Himself the title of Paraclete; it is an error, therefore, to find here a difference of idea from that in the first Epistle ( Joh 2:1 ). This gift which the Father will make to them, will come not only at the request of Jesus, but, as He says in John 15:26, through His mediation: “ The Paraclete whom I will send to you from my Father. ” As it is He who asks for Him on our part, so also it is He who sends on God's part. And He will not come, soon to withdraw Himself, as Jesus does; but His dwelling in them will be eternal. Meyer understands εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα : “ even to the coming age. ” But the word αἰών , in the N. T. as in the classics ( ἐξ αἰῶνος , δἰ αἰῶνος , εἰς αἰῶνα ) denotes an indefinite duration, and, with the article, eternity.

The Holy Spirit, a divine being, sent from the Father, to take the place of a mere man supposing that Jesus were only this is this conceivable?

The appositional words, the Spirit of truth ( Joh 14:17 ), serve to explain the term Paraclete, which was still obscure to the disciples. This expression can neither signify who is the truth it is Jesus who is the truth, nor who possesses the truth, this would be useless. The teaching of the Spirit is here contrasted with that of the word, as in John 16:25. The teaching by means of the word can never give anything more than a confused idea of divine things; however skilfully this means may be used, it can only produce in the soul of the hearer an image of the truth; so Jesus compares it to a parable ( Joh 16:25 ). The teaching of the Spirit, on the contrary, causes the divine truth to enter into the soul; it gives to it a full reality within us by making us have experience of it; it alone makes the word a truth for us.

But, as Jesus has already intimated in John 14:15, in order to be fitted to receive this divine teacher, a moral preparation is necessary. The soul in which He comes to dwell must be already withdrawn from the profane sphere. This is the reason why Jesus says: Keep my instructions; and the reason why He here adds: whom the world cannot receive. It was not owing to any arbitrary action that, on the morning of the day of Pentecost, the Spirit descended on one hundred and twenty persons only, and not on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: the former only had undergone the indispensable preparation. Jesus explains wherein this preparation which is wanting in the world consists: it is necessary to have seen and known the Spirit, in order to receive Him. The Spirit identifies Himself too intimately with our personal life to allow the possibility of His being imposed upon us; that He may come to us, He must be desired and called, and for this end we must already have, in some manner, formed acquaintance with Him. But how can this be, if one has not yet received him?

The example of the disciples teaches us. During the years which they had passed in the society of Jesus, His word, His acts, constant emanations of the Spirit, had furnished them the means of beholding this divine agent in His most perfect manifestation and of knowing what was most holy and exalted in Him, and their hearts had rendered homage to the perfection of this inspiration from above which constantly animated their Master. This had not been done by the world, the Jews, who, on hearing Jesus speak, said: “He has a demon,” and who, on seeing His miracles, ascribed them to Beelzebub. They thus remained strangers to the action of the Spirit, they even became hostile to it; this is the reason why they were not in a condition to receive Him. It is impossible for me to understand what meaning Weiss can give to the two verbs: to see and to know, outside of this explanation and without falling into the petitio principii: in order to receive the Spirit, it is necessary to see Him; and in order to see Him, it is necessary to have Him. If a reply is made by saying that these two present tenses: to see and to know, are presents of anticipation, which refer to the time when the disciples will have received the Spirit, the fact is forgotten that the question here is of the moral conditions for receiving Him.

The preparatory action of the Spirit on the disciples is expressed by the words: He dwells with you; and the more intimate relation which He will form with them from the day of Pentecost by the words: “He shall be in you. ” We must not, therefore, read either, in the first clause, μενεῖ (in the future), shall dwell, with the Vulgate, nor, in the second, ἐστί , is, with the Vatican and Cambridge MSS. The whole meaning of the sentence lies precisely in the antithesis between the present dwells (comp. μένων , Joh 14:25 ) and the future shall be. This contrast of time is completed by that of the two limiting words: with you (comp. παῤ ὑμῖν of Joh 14:25 ) and in you.

To make the last clause: And he shall be in you, depend on the ὅτι , because, which precedes, leads to no reasonable meaning: You know Him now because He will be in you! This last phrase expresses, on the contrary, a new fact, an advance of the highest importance: “ And thus, in virtue of the knowledge which you have gained of Him by beholding Him in my person, He will be able to come into you. ” This distinction between the preparatory action of the Spirit on man (by means of His historical manifestations in Christ, and then in the Church) and His real dwelling in the individual, is, as it were, at the present day effaced in the consciousness of Christianity, and the confounding of two such different positions involves incalculable consequences. “Until now Jesus, living with them, had been their support; now they will have the support in their own hearts” (Gess); and this support will be the Holy Spirit, that is to say again, Jesus Himself in another form; it is this last idea so delightful to the hearts of the disciples which the following words, John 14:18-23, develop.

Verses 15-24


Vv. 15-24.

1. The meaning of the word παράκλητος has been much discussed. It is evidently founded upon the verb παρακαλεῖν as a verbal adjective, and the fundamental sense of the word is called to one's side, or aid. That it has, in the classical usage, the special sense of advocate that is, of a person called to one's aid in this particular line is to be admitted. This is also the meaning of the word in 1 John 2:1. But there is nothing in the word itself which necessarily limits it to this signification. Certainly, the offices of the Spirit as they are set forth in these chapters must be considered in determining the idea of Jesus as He used the word. Bishop Lightfoot, in his essay on the Revision of the English Version of the New Testament, claims that the word advocate answers to these offices. It seems to the writer of this note, on the other hand, that this is the one idea which is not presented in these chapters. Jesus is set forth by John in the first Epistle ( Joh 2:1 ) as the advocate, acting for the believer. But while the relation of the Spirit as a helper, a teacher, even a comforter, is brought out by the different statements of these chapters, that of advocate does not seem to be set forth. The designation, Spirit of truth, John 14:16, the words “He shall teach you all things,” John 14:26, the statement that He is to bear witness of Christ, John 15:26, are descriptive of a teacher, not of a legal advocate. The declaration that He shall convince or convict the world, John 16:7, is not of such convincing as specially belongs to an advocate, but the figure is rather of one who is carrying on a discussion with another, and who in the discussion convinces the other of the error of his view and the correctness of his own. Lightfoot claims that Paul has the same idea in Romans 8:16; Romans 8:26; but it would seem that, when the Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God, He is fulfilling another function than that of an advocate; and even when He is spoken of as helping us in our infirmities by making intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, it is questionable whether the idea of advocate includes all that is meant. The Spirit, Jesus says, would teach them, would lead them into the knowledge of the truth, would declare to them things which were to come, would take of the things of Christ and make them known to the disciples, would aid them in their work of bearing witness to the truth, would so take the place which He had Himself filled as to manifest to them His love and the Father's love, and, in this way, keep them from a state of orphanage, would give them an abiding joy. But all this is the work of a teacher, or a comforter and strengthener. The word Helper belongs to the fundamental meaning of the word, and includes the different ideas which are suggested in the several verses of chs. 14-16. It may be observed, also, that the discourse which Jesus is here giving is one of consolation with reference to His approaching departure from them. The Spirit is to fill for them the place which He had been filling. He was to be ἄλλος παράκλητος . But the place which Jesus had specially filled thus far was that of helping, teaching, comforting, strengthening, rather than that of the advocate.

2. The word ἔρχομαι , in John 14:18, from its immediate connection with what is said of the Spirit, as well as from the following context, must be regarded as referring to the coming of Christ to the disciples in and through the coming of the Spirit. There can be but little doubt that this passage, and the verses of the sixteenth chapter, which follow the statements respecting the Spirit (John 16:16 ff.), have the same reference, and are to be explained in connection with each other. These passages are inconsistent with the idea of the return for the period of the forty days following the resurrection of Jesus, because of the permanency of His abiding with the disciples which they suggest. They are also inconsistent with the idea of the second coming, because the indications both of ch. 14 and ch. 16 are that Christ is not to be personally with the disciples during the period here alluded to. This latter reason also bears against the reference to the forty days. The sense of the verb ἔρχομαι in this verse is thus peculiar, differing from any use of the verb which we find elsewhere. As it is contrasted with the idea of orphanage or bereavement, the suggestion of the word seems to be connected with the figure of the departing friend which has been spoken of as lying at the basis of the entire discourse. In this view of the matter, the peculiar use of ἔρχομαι in this verse may serve to show that the explanation suggested with regard to its meaning in Joh 14:3 may be the correct one.

3. The evidence that the μικρόν of Joh 14:19 and the corresponding passage in ch. 16 refer forward to the time of the coming of the Spirit is as follows: ( a) that it is described as a time when the world will not see Christ, and when the disciples alone will behold Him, and they apparently with a spiritual sight, not with the bodily eye (John 14:19 b, John 14:20); ( b) that the manifestation made to the disciples will be a manifestation of love and an abiding of God and Christ with the disciples, not of the disciples with God and Christ ( Joh 14:21-24 ); ( c) that the new sight is connected with the fact of Jesus' departure to the Father ( Joh 16:17 ); ( d) that it is to be a state of permanent joy, as contrasted with what was temporary, like the forty days ( Joh 16:20-22 ); ( e) that it is apparently described as a period of communion with the Divine Being through prayer, as distinguished from personal intercourse with Jesus; ( f) these evidences are to be considered in connection with the fact that, in both chapters, the whole passage immediately follows the promise of the coming of the Spirit.

Verses 18-19

Vv. 18, 19. “ I will not leave you orphans: I come again to you. 19. Yet a little while, and the world shall see me no more; but you shall see me; because I live, you shall live also.

The term orphans is in harmony with the address my little children ( Joh 13:33 ); it is the language of the dying father. The asyndeton between Joh 14:18 and the preceding verse is sufficient to prove the essential identity of thought between these words and those of John 14:16-17. This form, as we have seen, indicates in general a more emphatic affirmation of the thought already expressed. This observation consequently sets aside every other explanation of the words: I come again to you, than that which refers them to the return of Jesus through the Holy Spirit ( Joh 14:16-17 ). This is the explanation of almost all the modern writers (even of Meyer and Luthardt, 2d ed.). Moreover, this explanation is the only possible one, because of the entire following passage, John 14:19-23, which can only be the development of the 18th verse (see especially John 14:21; Joh 14:23 ).

Nevertheless, some refer this promise to the appearances of the risen Jesus ( Chrysostom, Erasmus, Grotius, Hilgenfeld). Even Weiss joins them, abandoning thus his own explanation of ἔρχομαι , I come, in John 14:3. But these appearances had a momentary character and were not a true return of Jesus; comp. the remarkable expression, Luke 24:44: “while I was yet with you.” The purpose of these appearances was only to establish the faith of the disciples in the resurrection of Jesus, and thereby to prepare for His return in spirit into their hearts, but not to accomplish it. How could these appearances be His return, since His ὑπάγειν , His departure, includes at once His death and His ascension (John 14:28, Joh 13:1 )? The return must be, therefore, posterior to the latter.

The application of Joh 14:18 to the Parousia ( Augustine, Hofmann, Luthardt, 1st ed.) is also impossible; comp. John 14:19; John 14:23: in John 14:19, the seeing of Jesus again coincides with His disappearance for the world; and according to John 14:23, the return to believers is described as purely inward, while of the final coming it is said: “ And every eye shall see him. ” All that can and must be granted is, that the appearances of the Risen One served to prepare for and render possible His return through the Holy Spirit, and that this spiritual coming of Christ will have its consummation in the coming of the glorified Saviour.

The Spirit is, no doubt, another support in that His action differs from that of Jesus as visible; but His coming is, nevertheless, the return of Jesus Himself. The Spirit is not the substitute for Jesus, as Weiss asserts: otherwise the promise of the Paraclete would answer only imperfectly to the need of the disciples, whose hearts demanded the return of the Master Himself. If then Weiss alleges that the word I come can only denote a personal coming, we say in reply that it is indeed Christ in person whom the Holy Spirit gives to us. As to John 16:22, which Weiss also alleges, see on that passage. Tholuck has concluded from the expression I come, that the Holy Spirit is only the person of Jesus Himself spiritualized, and Reuss affirms that “although the literal exegesis argues for the distinction of persons (between Christ and the Spirit), practical logic refuses to admit it.” He “even hazards the opinion that in the discourses of Jesus the abstract notion of the Word is replaced by the more concrete notion of the Spirit.” John is innocent of such serious confusion. As no writer of the old covenant would have used the terms Spirit of God and Angel of the Lord one for the other, so the confounding of the Word with the Spirit is inadmissible in a writer of the new covenant. No doubt, St. Paul says: “ The Lord is the Spirit ” ( 2Co 3:17 ).

But he does not for this reason confound the person of the glorified Lord with the Holy Spirit. This is a region in which it is of importance to take account of shades of thought. According to John 16:14, the Spirit is, not the Lord, but the power which glorifies Him, which makes Him appear, live and grow within us, and that by taking what is His and communicating it to us. The parts of each are perfectly distinct. They are as distinct in the work of Pentecost as in that of the incarnation. In begetting Jesus in the womb of Mary, the Holy Spirit did not become the Christ. After the same manner, the Holy Spirit, by glorifying Jesus and making Him live in us, does not for this reason become Jesus. The Word is the principle of the outward revelation, the Spirit that of the inward revelation. Jesus is the object to be assimilated; the Spirit is the power by which the assimilation is accomplished. Without the objective revelation given in Jesus, the Spirit would have nothing to fertilize in us; without the Spirit, the revelation granted in Jesus remains outside of us and is like a parable which is not understood. Hence it follows that the Spirit who comes is, in a sense, Jesus who comes again; from one without us, Jesus becomes one within us. The consummated work of the Spirit is Christ formed in the believer, or, what expresses the same idea, it is the believer having reached the perfect stature of Christ (Galatians 4:19, Eph 4:13 ). How can Weiss say that this idea is Pauline, not Johannean? Jesus' being in the believer is of the same nature as God's being in the person of Christ, according to John 17:22-23. This idea includes that which we have just developed. It is contained in the expression ἐν χριστῷ , which has no other meaning in Paul than it has in John.

The words: Yet a little while ( Joh 14:19 ), are in accordance with the present I come. They reduce to nothing, so to speak, the duration of the separation.

The asyndeton leads us to see in what follows a development of the promise of John 14:18.

The sight of which Jesus speaks is to be permanent, as is indicated by the present θεωρεῖτε , you see me; it is that constant inward contemplation which St. Paul describes in the words which are so similar to the ones before us, 2 Corinthians 3:18: “ We who behold the glory of the Lord with unveiled face. ” While the world, which has only known Jesus after the flesh, sees Him no more after He has physically disappeared, He becomes, from that moment, visible to His own in the spiritual sphere into which they are transported by the Spirit and in which they meet Him. The difference in the application of the word θεωρεῖν , see, in the two clauses proves nothing against this meaning; it is precisely on this intentional difference that the meaning of the phrase rests; comp. John 14:22-23. This intimate intercourse is the source of all the strength of the Christian in his conflict with himself and with the world. This is the reason why, in what follows, the idea of living is, without any transition, substituted for that of seeing.

In the following phrase, the two clauses may be made dependent on ότι : “You see me because I live and because you also shall live.” This is what is done by Meyer, Luthardt, Weiss, either in that they apply the whole to the new life produced by the Holy Spirit (Christ and the believers seeing each other again inasmuch as they are transported into the same sphere of life); or, as Weiss, by referring the seeing again to the appearances of the Risen One: “You see me again because you and I then live again.” But the contrast between the present I live and the future you shall live is not sufficiently explained in these two interpretations. And in that of Weiss how are we to explain the word: You shall live? The appearances of the Risen One did not make the disciples live ( ζῆν ); they renewed their courage.

Life, throughout our entire gospel, is communicated by the Holy Spirit ( Joh 7:39 ). A second construction consists in making the first clause alone depend on ὅτι , and explaining: “ You see me (then), because I live; and (as a consequence of this sight of me living) you also shall live. ” Our spiritual sight of Jesus results from His heavenly life, and this sight produces life in us. But the strongly accentuated opposition between the ἐγώ , I, and the καὶ ὑμεῖς , and you or you also, causes us to prefer a third construction: that which makes the ὅτι depend on the following verb ζήσεσθε , you shall live: But you see me (in opposition to the world sees me no more); because I live, you shall live also. ” They see Him; and, as He whom they thus behold is living, this beholding communicates life to them.

By the present I live, Jesus transfers Himself, as in John 14:3; John 14:18, to the approaching moment when death shall be finally vanquished for Him and when He will live the perfect, indestructible life; and by the future, you shall live, to the still more remote time when His glorified life will become theirs. Thus is the relation between I live and you shall live naturally explained; comp. the similar relation between I come and I will take, in John 14:3. The present designates the principle laid down once for all, the future the daily, gradual, eternal consequences.

Verses 20-21

Vv. 20, 21. “ In that day you shall know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. 21. He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him.

The absence of a particle between these words and the preceding and following ones betrays the emotion with which Jesus contemplates and foretells the decisive day of Pentecost. It is, in a new form, the reaffirmation of the same promise.

The expression that day indicates a precise moment, not a period, as Reuss thinks. And as the great circumstances of Jesus' ministry connect themselves naturally with the Jewish feasts, and as the feast of the Passover, which was about to be the time of His death, was to be followed soon by that of Pentecost, there is nothing to prevent us from thinking, whatever Lucke, de Wette, Weiss, etc., may say, that the day of which He is here speaking was already in their view the day of Pentecost; comp. the ἔτι μικρόν , in a little while, John 14:19. However this may be, Jesus contrasts this day of the coming of the Spirit, whatever it is, with the present moment, when the disciples have so much difficulty in forming an idea of the relation of their Master to the Father ( Joh 14:9-10 ). ῾Υμεῖς , you: “from your own experience, and not only, as to-day, from my words.” Comp. John 16:25. The object of this spiritual illumination of believers will be, first, the relation of Jesus to the Father; they will have a consciousness of Jesus as of a being who lives and acts in God, and in whom God lives and acts as in another self. This immediate consciousness of the relations between Jesus and God will spring from the living consciousness which they will receive of their own relation to Jesus; they will feel Him living in them and will feel themselves living in Him; and in the experience of this relation to Him ( they transported into Him and He transported into them), they will understand that which He had said to them, without succeeding in making Himself understood, of what God is to Him and what He is to God. Then, finally, the transcendent fact of the communion between Jesus and God will become for them the object of a distinct perception through the immediate experience of their own communion with Jesus. These are the μεγαλεῖα τοῦ θεοῦ , the wonderful things of God, which Peter and the disciples celebrate in new tongues on the day of Pentecost.

Verse 21

Vv. 21 states with preciseness the manner of this illumination. Jesus had said summarily, John 14:15: “ Keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father. ” Here he enumerates in detail all the links of the chain of graces which will be connected with this practical fidelity of His followers: It is necessary to hold inwardly ( ἔχειν ) His word, and to observe it practically ( τηρεῖν ); this is not done by the world, which has heard it, but rejected it; for this reason it is not fitted to receive these higher graces.

By means of this moral fidelity,

1. Such an individual ( ἐκεῖνος , that exceptional man) assumes the character of a being who truly loves Jesus ( ὁ ἀγαπῶν με ).

2. Hence he becomes the beloved of the Father, who, loving the Son, also loves whoever makes Him the object of his love. This love of the Father is not that which is spoken of in John 3:16: “ God so loved the world. ” These two loves differ as the compassion of a man for his guilty and wretched neighbor and the tender affection of a father for his child, or a husband for his wife, differ.

3. The Son, seeing the eye of the Father turning with tenderness towards the disciple who loves Him, feels Himself united with the latter by a new bond (“ and I will love him ”); He loves him still more tenderly in proportion as He sees the love of the Father enveloping him.

4. Finally, from all this follows the supreme miracle of the love of the Father and the Son: the perfect revelation which Jesus gives to the disciple of Himself: I will manifest myself to him.

This is the condition of the you shall know, John 14:20. This altogether extraordinary term ἐμφανίζειν refers to the inward manifestation of the Messiah. It will not by any means suit the external and passing appearances of the Risen One, to which even Weiss gives up referring it; but to substitute what? Certain manifestations of the nearness of Jesus granted to His disciples in the course of their life, like that of the Lord to Moses (Exodus 33:13; Exo 33:18 ); “but in any case not by means of the Spirit,” adds this interpreter. And yet the asyndeta after Joh 14:17 prove, by themselves alone, that Jesus is here developing the promise of the gift of the Spirit; and Joh 14:23 shows clearly enough what Jesus means to speak of in John 14:21. It is precisely this wholly inward character of the manifestation described in Joh 14:21 which calls forth the question of Judas in John 14:22.

In the face of these interruptions of the disciples, Gess compares Jesus to a skilful pilot who does not suffer himself to be turned aside by the rushing waves, but by a prompt stroke of the helm gives each time to the ship the desired direction.

Verse 22

Ver. 22. “ Judas, not Iscariot, says to him, Lord, and what is come to pass, that thou art to show thyself to us, and not to the world?

The mode of the revelation of which Jesus had just spoken entirely perplexed the minds of the disciples, which were ever directed towards the outward manifestation, visible for all, of the Messiah-King and His glorious kingdom. It was especially in the lower group of the apostolic company, influenced by the carnal spirit of Iscariot, that such thoughts persistently continued. The Judas or Jude here mentioned bears this name only in Luke (Luke 6:16, Act 1:13 ). In the catalogues of Matthew ( Mat 10:3 ) and Mark ( Mar 3:18 ) he is designated by the names (surnames) Lebbeus and Thaddaeus: the bold or the cherished one. He occupies one of the lowest places among the apostles. The explanation: not Iscariot, is intended to remove the supposition of a return of Judas after his going out, John 13:30.

By saying: What is come to pass? Judas asks for the indication of a new fact causing the change of the Messianic programme, the proof of which he thinks he observes in the words of Jesus in John 14:21. The καί , and, before τί γέγονεν , is the expression of surprise; it was omitted in some MSS., as superfluous. To us signifies here: “To us only.

Verse 23

Vv. 23 justified the to us in the question of Judas; Joh 14:24 answers to: and not to the world. Between the two clauses of John 14:24, this idea must be understood: “It is not a small thing to reject my teaching; and indeed ( καί ) it is the teaching of God Himself” (John 12:49, etc.). Conclusion understood: “How, with such a disposition, hostile to the word both of the Son and the Father, could one be fit to become their abode!” Comp. what was said of the world in John 14:15; John 14:17.

Thus have the reasons for encouragement presented by the Lord been gradually raised one upon another: “You shall have a place secured for you with me in the Father's house....Through me, the way, you cannot fail to reach the end....Already here on earth, you have seen the Father....You shall be able to continue my work on the earth....Another divine support will give you strength for it....In this inward support, it is I myself who will join you again....The Father Himself will with me come to dwell with you....” Is there not here what may justify the: Let not your heart be troubled ( Joh 14:1 )? The following passage, which closes this first outpouring, returns to its starting-point, in that it even makes the Be not troubled, a Rejoice.

Verses 23-24

Vv. 23, 24. “ Jesus answered and said to him, If any one loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him and we will come to him, and make our abode with him. 24. He who does not love me, does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father's who sent me.

Jesus continues His discourse, as if He had not heard the question of Judas; for the first part of Joh 14:23 is only the reproduction of Joh 14:21 developed and stated with greater precision. And yet He answers the question proposed, by more energetically reaffirming the promise, as well as the moral condition which had called forth the objection; comp. the same mode of replying in Luke 12:41 ff. To love Jesus, to keep His word, to be loved by the Father, these are the conditions on which the promised revelation will be made ( Joh 14:23 ); now the world does not fulfil them; it is animated by dispositions of an opposite character ( Joh 14:24 ).

As to the conditions and nature of this revelation, Jesus develops them grandly. The revelation of Himself which He will give to the believer will be nothing less than His own dwelling in his soul, and this will be one with the dwelling of God Himself within him. How can we think here only of the appearances of the Risen One, or even of temporary aid granted to the disciples by the glorified Lord in the work of their ministry? It is incomprehensible how Weiss can persist in such an interpretation to the very end.

Here, as in John 10:30, Jesus says we in speaking of God and Himself; this expression, if it is not blasphemous or absurd, implies the consciousness of His essential union with God. The conception of the kingdom of God which we find here is not foreign to the Synoptics; comp. Luke 17:20: “ The kingdom of God comes not with observation; it is within you ” ( ἐντὸς ὑμῶν ); and Matthew 28:18-20. A very similar figure is found in Revelation 3:20: “ If any one opens the door, I will enter in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Joh 14:2 proves that the term μονή , dwelling, can designate not only an inn, but the permanent domicile (see Passow). This expression perhaps places the idea of this verse in connection with that of John 14:2. Here on earth, it is God who makes His abode with the believer; in heaven, it will be the believer who will make his abode with God. The first of these facts ( Joh 14:23 ) prepares for the second ( Joh 14:3 ).

Weiss rests upon the παῤ αὐτῷ , properly near him, to support the view that the question is not of an inward dwelling. The unio mystica between Christ and the believer, must have been designated, according to him, by ἐν αὐτῷ , in him. But the preposition παρά , with, is necessarily introduced by reason of the figure of a dwelling ( μονὴν ποιεῖν ) and cannot in any way serve to determine the mode of this union. And it follows from the terms ἐμφανίζειν and πρὸς αὐτόν , as from the parallel Revelation 3:20, that this mode is internal and spiritual.

Verses 25-26

Vv. 25, 26. “ I have spoken these things to you while I am yet with you. 26. But the support, the Holy Spirit, whom my Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will bring all things to your remembrance which I have said to you.

We might endeavor to connect these words with the preceding; for it is through the gift of the Holy Spirit, who is about to be spoken of again, that the great promise of Joh 14:22-24 will be accomplished. But the perfect λελάληκα , I have spoken to you, rather indicates a conclusion; the conversation reaches its end and returns now to its starting point. Joh 14:25 therefore is not to be connected with John 14:24; it recalls the contents of the entire discourse. What Jesus has just said to the disciples of the future reunion, above ( Joh 14:1-3 ), and here below ( Joh 14:12-24 ), is all that He can reveal to them on this subject for the moment. If this future is still enveloped in obscurity for them, the teaching of another master will dissipate the mists, and will explain to them all His promises by realizing them. Ταῦτα , these things, at the beginning, in contrast with πάντα , all things ( Joh 14:26 ): “This is what I am able to tell you now; another will afterwards tell you the whole.

The epithet holy given to the Spirit, John 14:26, recalls the deep line of separation which Jesus had just drawn, in John 14:17; John 14:24, between the profane world and the disciples already sanctified by their attachment to Jesus. As holy, the Spirit can only come to dwell in these last.

The expression: in my name, is to be explained, as in John 14:14, with this difference, that it refers here to an act of God ( shall send), and no longer to the human act of prayer ( shall ask). On the side of God, it is sending in virtue of the perfect revelation which He has given of the person and work of His Son; while on man's side, it is asking in virtue of the more or less imperfect possession which he has gained of this revelation. Weiss, in despair of finding any satisfactory sense in the words in my name, if they are made to refer to the act of sending, applies them to the object of the mission: God will send the Holy Spirit to be in the place of Christ, as His substitute with believers. But the Spirit is not the substitute for Christ; Christ Himself comes again in Him; then, the grammatical relation of the limiting words in my name to the verb send, does not authorize this sense.

The pronoun ἐκεῖνος , he, he alone, brings into strong relief the person of this new teacher who will tell everything, in contrast with the earthly person of Jesus who is going to be taken away from them ( Joh 14:25 ). The Spirit will do two things: teach everything; bring to remembrance everything which Jesus has taught. These two functions are closely connected; He will teach the new by recalling the old, and will recall the old by teaching the new. The words of Jesus, the remembrance of which the Spirit will awaken in them, will be the matter from which He will derive the teaching of the complete truth, the germ which He will fertilize in their hearts, as, in return, this internal activity of the Spirit will unceasingly recall to their memory some former word of Jesus, so that in proportion as He shall illuminate them, they will cry out: Now, I understand this word of the Master! And this vivid clearness will cause other words long forgotten to come forth from forgetfulness. Such is, even at this day, the relation between the teaching of the written Word and that of the Spirit. Καί : and specially.

Naturally the first πάντα , all things, embraces only the things of the new creation accomplished in Jesus Christ, the plan and work of salvation. The first creation, nature, is not the subject of the revelation of the Holy Spirit; it is that of scientific study.

Verses 25-31

Vv. 25-31.

1. The phrase ταῦτα λελάληκα is repeated several times in these chapters, and evidently refers, in each case, to the entire section which precedes. Here, the reference is to the whole discourse of this chapter. After presenting the three grounds of consolation and encouragement, Jesus closes with a few parting words a kind of benediction of friendship.

2. The promise given here with regard to the Paraclete is, that He will teach them all things and bring to their remembrance all things which Christ had spoken to them. How far this latter phrase may indicate an exact verbal recalling of Christ's words and teachings may be open to question; but there can be no doubt that a special influence of the Spirit upon the memory is promised, which should guard the apostles against error in their calling to mind and setting forth to others the doctrine which Jesus had taught them.

3. The words of Joh 14:27 are the parting salutation, evidently founded upon the common “Peace be with you” of the hour of separation. Meyer quotes from Luther the comment: “These are last words, as of one who is about to go away, and says good-night, or gives his blessing.” We cannot doubt, in view of this closing passage of the chapter, that the position which Jesus takes is that of the friend who is leaving his intimate associates behind him in a foreign land and returning to his home. 4. Joh 14:28 is also to be explained in connection with this idea; and the thought of the Father as greater than Himself is probably introduced here as indicating the joy and blessedness which would come to Him when He should return to heaven. They should rejoice in the joy of the friend who was leaving them, instead of simply sorrowing over their own loss and bereavement.

5. The simplest and most natural explanation of Joh 14:30 is that the last clause, “he has nothing in me,” means there is nothing common to him and me the sphere in which he moves is that of hostility; he is the ruler of the world, which is at enmity with me and my truth and hence there is no time now for further conversation in this sphere of intimate and loving friendship. But now is the time to go forth and, by meeting that which is to come, to show to the world that Jesus loves the Father and obeys His command.

6. The construction of ἐγείρεσθε , ἄγωμεν ἐντεῦθεν whether it is to be taken as an independent sentence or as connected by ἀλλά with what precedes, so as to be the leading verb of this part of the contrast is uncertain. To the writer of this note it seems probable that the latter construction is the one intended by the author, and that the ἄγωμεν ἐντεῦθεν is contrasted by ἀλλά with λαλήσω .

7. The question whether Jesus actually went out from the room with His disciples at this time is probably to be answered in the negative. This appears from the following considerations: ( a) that there is no distinct statement that they went out until John 18:1; ( b) that the other Gospels represent the going out which followed the Supper as being a departure for the Mount of Olives, etc., which corresponds with what John says at the beginning of ch. 18; ( c) that as He certainly did not leave the city before John 18:1, it follows that if He left the room at the end of ch. 14, the discourses of chs. 15 and 16, and the prayer of ch. 17, must have been uttered in the city streets but this seems quite inconsistent with such utterances.

Verses 27-29

Vv. 27-29. “ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give it to you; let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28. You have heard how I said to you, I go away, and come to you. If you loved me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father; for my Father is greater than I. 29. And now I have told you these things before they come to pass, that when they have come to pass, you may believe.

The promise of Joh 14:25-26 had as its aim to tranquillize the disciples in relation to the obscurities which still hovered over their Master's future and their own. Joh 14:27-29 tend to reassure them with reference to the dangers to which they see themselves exposed in this future which is opening before them. Jesus evidently alludes to the Israelite salutation: Peace be unto thee (Schalom leka)! Meyer and Reuss take the word εἰρήνη in an objective sense: salvation ( שָׁלוֹם , H8934, full prosperity). But the adjective “ my peace” and the end of the verse where the question is of causing trouble to cease, should have prevented this false interpretation. On leaving them, Jesus would make them enjoy a perfect inward quietness, such as that which they behold in Himself. This peace arises in Him, in the presence of death, from His absolute confidence in the love of the Father. This confidence it is which He wishes to inspire in them, and by means of which His peace will become theirs. This is the legacy which He gives them ( ἀφίημι , I leave), and this legacy He draws from His own treasury: my peaee.

The verb δίδωμι , I give, is in connection with τὴν ἐμήν ( mine): one gives of his own. In Luke 10:5-6, Jesus confers on His disciples the power which He exercises here Himself: that of imparting their peace. The contrast between the peace of Jesus and that of the world is ordinarily referred to the nature of the two: the peace of the world consisting in the enjoyment of blessings which are only such in appearance; that of Jesus in the possession of real and imperishable blessings. Luthardt and Keil find here another contrast: that between true and false peace. But it follows from the omission of the object: peace, in the second clause (“ I do not give as the world gives ”), and from the conjunction καθώς ( according as), that the contrast relates rather to the act of giving than to the object of the gift: “When I give, it is really giving, it is giving with efficacy, while, when the world says farewell to you in the ordinary form: Peace be unto you! it gives you only empty words, a powerless wish.” I cannot understand wherein this sense is below the seriousness of the situation, as Meyer claims. This peace, which He communicates to them by this very word, should banish from their hearts the trouble which Jesus observes there still ( μὴ ταρασσέσθω ), and preserve them, even by this means, from the danger of being afraid ( δειλιᾷν ), which would result from this troubled state.

But it is not enough for Jesus to see them reassured, strengthened; He would even see them joyous ( Joh 14:28 ). And they would really be so, if they well understood the meaning of this departure which is approaching. The ἠκούσατε , you have heard, refers to John 14:2; John 14:12; John 14:18; the quotation, as so often, is made freely.

Jesus adds: and I come, because without this He could not ask them to find in His departure a subject of joy. The words: “ If you loved me,” signify here: If you loved Me in an entirely disinterested way, loving Me for Myself, and not for yourselves. These words are of an exquisite delicacy. Jesus thereby finds the means of making joy on their part a duty of affection. He turns their attention to the approaching exaltation of His position (comp. John 13:3; Joh 13:31-32 ); and what true friend would not rejoice to see his friend raised to a state more worthy of him? Jesus does not here give expression to the idea of the more powerful activity of which this exaltation will be for Him the means ( Joh 17:12 ). He appeals only to their friendly hearts.

We must reject, with the Alexandrian authorities, the word εἶπον (the second) and read: because I go away, and not: “because I said to you, I go away.”

The reason why they should rejoice for Him on account of this change is that His Father is greater than He. In returning to God, therefore, He is going to find again a form of existence more free, more exalted, more blessed. Jesus felt the burden of the earthly existence, while patiently bearing it. Did He not say: “How long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?” (Luke 9:41.) His surrendering of divine existence, His acceptance of human existence was for Him an ordeal which was to cease through His exaltation to the presence of God; comp. the πρὸς τὸν θεόν , John 1:1; John 1:18. The explanation of Lucke, de Wette, etc., “God will be a better protector for you than I could be by my visible presence,” ignores the natural meaning of the words and what there is of the personal element in this appeal to their affection: if you loved me.

Since the second century of the Church exegesis has understood in two different ways the explanation which follows respecting the relation between the Father and the Son (see Westcott's excellent dissertation). Some have understood: “greater than the Logos as such,” inasmuch as the Father is very naturally superior to the Son, while others have referred this superiority of the Father merely to the human nature of Jesus. This second explanation does not seem to me possible, in the first place because, if the state of the Son can change, His person, His ego, remains ever identical with itself; the subject who is speaking at this moment cannot, therefore, be any other than the one who speaks in passages such as John 8:58, John 17:5; John 17:24. Then, applied merely to the human nature of Jesus, as apart from His divine nature, these words become almost blasphemous, or at least ridiculous.

As Weiss says, “such a comparison between God and a created being would be a folly bordering upon blasphemy.” We have already recognized the fact, in studying the Prologue ( Joh 1:1 ), that the Logos, as such, is subordinate to God. As Marius Victorinus said (365): “As having everything from the Father, He is inferior to Him, although, as having everything from Him, He is His equal.” Reuss has wrongly seen a disagreement between these words and the divinity of Christ, as it is taught in the Prologue ( Joh 1:1 ). For even in the Prologue we find the notion of subordination expressly declared as it is here, and, on the other hand, our passage breathes, in Him who thus speaks, the most lively feeling of His participation in divinity. God alone can compare Himself with God, and the Arians, in seeking for a support in this text, have at least been guilty of unskilfulness. Here is certainly one of the passages by which the apostle was inspired in formulating his Prologue.

Verse 29

Ver. 29. This disappearance of Jesus, so contrary to their thoughts, might in itself shake their faith; but Jesus applies to this trial what He had said of the treachery of Judas: through the fact that He has foretold it to them, it will, on the contrary, turn to the strengthening of their faith. And now, finally, the summons to depart:

Verses 30-31

Vv. 30, 31. “ I will no more speak much with you; for the prince of this world is coming, and he has nothing in me. 31. But that the world may know that I love my Father and that I act according as the Father has commanded me, arise, let us go hence.

Jesus feels the approach of His invisible enemy. There is here not merely the presentiment of the near arrival of Judas, but also of the conflict which He will have to undergo with Satan in Gethsemane.

Two quite different explanations of these verses may be given, the result of which, however, is fundamentally the same. Either the and, καί , before ἐν ἐμοί , is understood in a concessive sense: “ He comes, and [in truth] he has nothing in me which can be a reason for his power over me;” then Jesus adds: “ but ( ἀλλά ) in order that the world may know the love which I have for my Father, I yield myself to him freely. Arise! ” Or this καί , and, may be taken in the adversative sense, as so frequently in John: “He is coming; but he has no hold upon me; nevertheless ( ἀλλά ), in order that the world may know,... arise and let us go hence, and that I may be delivered to this enemy!” This second meaning seems to me to present a clearer thought; καί is frequently adversative in John, and we have explained the reason of it; comp. e.g. Joh 6:36 and John 15:24. “ No more speak much ” does not exclude the few discoursings which are still to follow. The prince of this world, see John 12:31. Nothing in me: nothing which appertains to his domain and which gives him a right and power over me, the object of his hatred. These words imply in Him who utters them the consciousness of the most perfect innocence. The in order that has often been made dependent on ποιῶ , I do; “In order that the world may love for my Father,...I am going to do according to what He has commanded me.” But the καί , before καθώς , does not allow this construction. Or the ἵνα has been made to depend on a verb understood:

This happens thus in order that the world may know that I love my Father, and that I do what he has commanded me;” so Tischendorf; and this would be better. But how much more lively is a third construction, which makes the in order that depend on the two following imperatives: “In order that the world may know,...arise, let us go hence!” This way of speaking is absolutely the same with that triumphant apostrophe of Jesus, which is preserved by the three Synoptics ( Mat 9:6 and parallels): “ That you may know...arise and walk!”

To arise in order to go to Gethsemane was indeed to yield Himself voluntarily to the perfidy of Judas, who was to seek Him in that place well known by him, and to the power of Satan, who was preparing there for Jesus a last decisive conflict, the complement of that in the desert. Jesus knew well that they would not come to seize Him in the midst of the city, in the room where He was at this moment.

The imperatives: arise, let us go, may not have been immediately followed by a result; this is what Meyer, Luthardt, Weiss, Keil and Reuss think, who suppose that Jesus still remained in the room until after the sacerdotal prayer. They rest upon the He went out in John 18:1, and on the solemn prayer of ch. 17, which cannot have been made outside. We shall see that these reasons are not decisive. On the other hand, we do not understand why John should have mentioned so expressly the order to depart, if it had not been followed by a result; or at least why did he not, in this case, indicate the delay by a word of explanation, as in Joh 11:6 ? Gess says rightly: “Since Jesus, by the order of John 14:31, gave the signal for departing, we must represent to ourselves the following discourses, chs. 15, 16, as uttered on the way to Gethsemane.”

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Bibliographical Information
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 14". "Godet's Commentary on Selected Books".