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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
John 14

 

 

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Verses 1-7

I will come again

John 14:1-7

John 14:1. The Saviour had told his disciples that one of them would betray Him, that they would all be offended because of him (Matthew 26:31), that he would go where they could not come at this time, and that Peter would deny him. These things lay heavily upon their hearts and greatly depressed their minds (John 16:6). Now in the multitude of these thoughts of grief, fear, and unbelief, our Lord comforts them and exhorts them to exercise faith. The best way to get rid of heart depression and fear is to believe God (1 Peter 5:6-7; Psalms 37:5). ‘You do believe in God; you put your trust in God.’ He says, ‘Believe also in me.’ ‘For I and the Father are one. I am of the same nature and essence with him.’ The Saviour knew that their faith in him as Messiah, Mediator, and God-man was yet weak; so he exhorts them to exercise faith in him. ‘You have nothing to fear nor to be troubled about. As your Mediator and Redeemer, 1 will take care of all your concerns’ (Colossians 2:9-10; Romans 9:33).

John 14:2. The Lord Jesus now assures them that his going away to the Father's house is not a permanent separation; but the purpose of his coming into the world, dying on the cross, and ascending to the Father was to effect a perfect, permanent reunion with all of his elect. He would have them cease to think of an earthly kingdom and think of a spiritual, heavenly kingdom (Ephesians 1:9-10). The Father's house is not one palace but many dwelling places. The word ‘mansion’ does not indicate different degrees of glory; for all saints are loved with the same love, bought with the same price, and are equally the sons of God. Their glory will be the same. ‘Many mansions’ denotes sufficiency of room. ‘It is certain; it is my purpose and mission to go to the cross, to the tomb, and to glory to prepare a place for you. If this were not true, I would have told you.’ Christ prepares us for the place, and he prepares the place for us.

John 14:3. Rather than using the word ‘if,’ many writers prefer the word ‘when.’ ‘And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again.’ There is no uncertainty connected with our Lord's purpose. This is the third reason he gives for rejoicing and peace of heart. Believe in me, I go to prepare a place and you, and I will return for you and receive you unto myself. ‘I will come again, for you, either by your death or in person the second time to take you with me to heaven, that where I am eternally in glory and perfection, there you will be also.’ Redemption is through Christ, salvation is IN Christ, and heaven is to be with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:21-23).

John 14:4-5. The Lord had told them again and again that he must die, that he must be buried and rise again, that he must go to the Father. ‘I go to my Father and to your Father.’ In these verses he talked of the Father's house; he had also told them that by faith in him they would have eternal life and glory. ‘You know where I go and you know that the way there is by faith in me.’ Though they had heard him speak often of these things, and they knew him to speak the truth, yet their knowledge was imperfect, and they were filled with anxiety and questions. Thomas, whether speaking for himself or for them all, blurted out, ‘Lord, we don't even know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’

John 14:6. This is one of the seven great ‘I am's’ of John's gospel. (John 6:48) ‘I am the bread of life.’ (John 8:12) ‘I am the light of the world.’ (John 10:9) ‘I am the door.’ (John 10:11) ‘I am the good shepherd.’ (John 11:25) ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ (John 14:6) ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ (John 15:1) ‘I am the true vine.’

He is saying to the disciples that he is the way to God. He does not merely show us the way by example, he is not merely a prophet to teach us the way, nor does he merely guide us in the way by strong help and assistance – he is himself the way! He is the way from God to men in that all divine blessings come from the Father through the Son (Ephesians 1:3). He is the way from man to God in that he is our righteousness, our High Priest, and our sin offering. By his holy life he honored the law of God, and by his death he enabled God to be just and justify those who believe (Romans 3:25-26; Hebrews 10:9-22).

He is the truth itself. He is not only the true God and true man, but he is truth itself; he is the sum and substance of all the truth of the gospel, of all the types and shadows; and he is the true way in, opposition to every false way. Pilate asked, ‘What is truth?’ Our Lord answers here, ‘I am the truth.’

He is the life. Christ speaks of life as opposed to death – all death and all kinds of death. He has life in himself (John 1:4; John 5:26). He is the source and giver of life for his own (John 6:33; John 10:28). He is the light of life, the word of life, and he came that we might have life. Since men in Adam lost the way to God (your sins have separated you and your God), lost the truth of God (let God be true and every man a liar), and lost the life of God (for in Adam all died), no man can come to God, know God, nor live before God except in Christ. Christ Jesus is the only way of access to God (Acts 4:12; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

John 14:7. In one sense of the word the disciples knew him and knew what he had said. But in another sense they did not know him like they would know him when all that he had said and done would be taught them by the Spirit (John 16:12-15). If their minds had been freer of their traditions, of thoughts of an earthly kingdom, and if they had listened and learned to know Him, they would have known the Father; for knowledge of Christ and the Father go together, he who believes one believes the other, he who sees one sees the other, and the knowledge of both is necessary to life (John 17:3). ‘In a short time, when the Spirit is poured upon you, you will have an enlarged knowledge both of me and of my Father.’


Verses 8-15

He that hath seen me hath seen the Father

John 14:8-15

John 14:8. Philip took upon himself to speak for all of the disciples and addressed the Lord (as Thomas had in John 14:5) in a very humble and reverent manner. ‘Lord, show us a visible manifestation of the Father, as Moses and Israel had; and we will be satisfied and less disturbed about your departure, the Father's house, the way, and our eternal hope’ (Exodus 33:18-20).

John 14:9. Was there any one fact that our Lord emphasized so repeatedly to the disciples and others as the truth of his oneness with the Father? (John 5:17-21; John 6:41-42; John 8:58; John 10:30-33; John 12:44-45). Surely Philip and the others had heard these words. This is why our Lord tenderly rebuked him by saying, ‘Have I been with you so long, have you seen the miracles, have you heard my words, and still you do not know that I am God in human flesh? He that hath seen me (not with natural eyes, but with eyes of spiritual understanding) hath seen the Father’ (Matthew 1:21-23; Hebrews 1:1-3). It is also true that he who has NOT seen the Son has NOT seen the Father. Why do you ask to see what you have already seen? In the Son we have God's final revelation. Redemptive revelation apart from Jesus Christ is impossible.

John 14:10. The Lord our God is one God, yet three persons (1 John 5:7; John 14:16-17). The Father and the Son are one in essence, in divine attributes, in purpose, and in perfection. The Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father. ‘Do you not believe this, Philip?’ It must be the very foundation of your faith! ‘You believe in God, believe in me’ (John 14:1). ‘If you know me, you know the Father’ (John 14:7). ‘If you see me, you see the Father’ (John 14:9). And now ‘If you hear me, you hear the Father’ (John 14:10); ‘for the words I speak are the words, works, and doctrines of the Father who sent me and who dwells in me.’ The words Christ spoke and the works Christ did were not of himself AS MAN, but of the Father who dwelt in him.

John 14:11. The faith of the disciples (which had seldom been strong) was wavering, and the Lord Jesus tenderly and patiently encouraged them. ‘Believe my words, which never any mere man spoke, and with an authority no man ever had, revealing the Old Testament scriptures as they have never been revealed – or else believe me for the works you have seen me do, such works as none but God can do.’ ‘The words I speak and the works I do, reveal that I am come from the Father.’

John 14:12. The Lord refers mainly to these disciples who, believing on Him, would be filled with the Holy Spirit and perform miracles in the physical realm (Mark 16:17-20; Hebrews 2:3-4) for the confirmation of the truth of their gospel. These disciples did indeed duplicate the great miracles of their Lord. When he says, ‘Greater work than these shall he do,’ the greater works are spiritual works! This is the preaching of the gospel (even to the Gentile world) and the conversion of sinners. Miracles in the physical realm served only to confirm the claims of the apostles, as proof of the presence of God with them and as proof of their doctrine being from God until the New Testament was completed. These miracles gradually disappeared when they were no longer necessary. We have the word of God, full and complete, and do not need any other credentials. The regeneration, conversion, and salvation of a sinner is a greater work than any physical healing.

John 14:13-14. There is a connection between these two verses and John 14:12. The Master is still talking to and about these apostles. No miracle nor feat was beyond their power as long as it was desired and done in the name of Christ, for the accomplishment of his purpose and glory, and that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Tongues, gifts, and miracles were never signs for believers but for unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:22). As long as what they prayed for in his name served his greater glory, it would be done (Acts 3:6; Acts 3:16-18; Acts 4:10). Every miracle served to preach and glorify Christ.

John 14:15. ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments, my instructions, my words; and you will go forth as my witnesses and feed my sheep’ (John 21:15-17). Since they had sat down at the table, the Lord Jesus had taught them humility, love, inner attitudes, and outward conduct. He had exhorted them to believe and to continue in faith, to pray in his name, and to continue his work. Now he says, ‘If your love for me is genuine, you will do what I say’ (1 John 5:1-3).


Verses 16-21

The Holy Spirit, our comforter

John 14:16-21

John 14:16. Christ speaks as mediator and promises to intercede for them (Luke 22:32; 1 Timothy 2:5; Romans 8:34). Here is another reference to the trinity of persons in the Godhead--the Father prayed unto, the Son in human nature praying, and the Holy Spirit prayed for. The ‘Comforter’ is the Holy Spirit, who takes the things of Christ and reveals them to his people (John 16:13-14). He regenerates, sheds abroad God's love in the heart, teaches, guides, is the Spirit of adoption, seals the believer, and abides with us always as the pledge or earnest of our future glory.

John 14:17. He is called ‘the Spirit of truth’ because he is truth (1 John 5:6), he guides men into all truth (John 16:13), and he revealed all the truth contained in the scriptures (Acts 1:16; 2 Peter 1:21). The world of natural men cannot receive the Holy Spirit nor the truth of the gospel revealed by the Holy Spirit because their eyes are blind, their ears are deaf, and they have no heart understanding of God (Matthew 13:13-16; 1 Corinthians 2:9-14). As a result of the fall, all men are spiritually dead (Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5) and must be regenerated or born again to see (understand) the kingdom of God (John 3:3-8), to know and love God, and to partake of eternal life. The believer knows God, he knows the Redeemer (John 17:3), and he knows the Spirit of God, who dwells with him and in him.

John 14:18. ‘I will not leave you orphans,’ as when a father dies and his children are left orphans for others to care for and to raise. ‘I will come to you.’ The reference here is not to the return of Christ but to the presence of his Spirit with them, for to have the Spirit of Christ is to have Christ and the Father (Romans 8:9 : 1 Corinthians 2:12). Our Lord ascended to heaven; but when the Holy Spirit came upon them, Christ truly returned to them (Acts 1:4-5; Acts 1:8).

John 14:19. The world saw the man Jesus Christ with fleshly eyes. They never really saw him nor knew him. Soon he would be crucified, buried, risen, and exalted to the right hand of God. The world then would see him no more in any revelation. But the believer sees Christ! Some saw him in the flesh before he died and again after he arose. But this ‘seeing Christ’ is with eyes of faith – Christ eternal, Christ incarnate, Christ our righteousness, Christ our redemption, Christ our mediator, and Christ our Lord. We (who never saw him in the flesh) see him in the scriptures. Because he lives as God (the giver of life) and as our Redeemer (the purchaser of eternal life), we shall also live and never die. Christ is our life (Colossians 3:4); and being one with Him, we shall live eternally.

John 14:20. When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will recognize and understand this spiritual union between the believer and the Lord God. ‘I am in the Father, you are in me, I am in you, and we are all one’ (John 17:21-23). Christ, by his Spirit, actually lives in the believer (Galatians 2:20). He is the head and we are the body. He is the vine and we are branches. To harm a believer is to harm Christ, and to bless a believer is to bless Christ (Acts 9:4; Matthew 25:40).

John 14:21. The believer who has the precepts and commandments of Christ has them not in a book, but written on his mind to think upon them, and on his heart to love them. By the grace of God and the power of the Spirit, he keeps them. His commandments are not grievous to those who love him. ‘He it is that loveth me.’ Others may talk of loving and believing on Christ, but one cannot separate faith and conduct. ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he!’ Obedience to Christ is evidence of love for Christ. Our love for Christ is not the cause or condition of the Father's love to his people, for ‘we love him because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:10). ‘He that loveth me will have a clearer discovery of the Father's love for him and of my love for him and I will more and more manifest myself to him.’ Everything that we are and have spiritually in union with Christ is capable of growth as he is pleased to reveal himself and his word to us (1 Peter 2:1-3; 2 Peter 3:18; 2 Peter 1:4-8). So our Lord is saying that those who have seen him and love Him, he will all their lives favor them with his presence and manifestations of his fullness, his grace, and his glory.


Verses 22-31

Peace I leave with you

John 14:22-31

John 14:22. Most likely the disciples still had thoughts of a great kingdom of the Messiah, visible to the whole world (Acts 1:6). Therefore, when the Lord Jesus talked of the world seeing him no more, of returning only to them and to other believers, and of dwelling with them, the Apostle Jude (surnamed Thaddaeus, author of the epistle which bears his name) asked, ‘How can we see you, know you, and walk with you and the world not see you?’ It may be, as some suggest, that Jude was asking not HOW but WHY display his power and kingdom to them alone and not to the public in general.

John 14:23. Our Lord answered Jude's question and also confirmed what he said before in John 14:21, ‘Because you love me and keep my words.’ No love, no works of ours (seen or foreseen) are the CAUSE of his eternal love and mercy toward believers (1 John 4:10; 1 John 4:19). Yet our love for him and our obedience to his word are proof of his grace in us and of our part in his spiritual kingdom; and this will result in our eternal good (Romans 8:28), further manifestation of his grace, and the living God, Father, Son, and Spirit, dwelling in us (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16).

John 14:24-25. Those who do not sincerely love the Lord Jesus Christ do not love his words, his doctrine, nor his ordinances and will not obey them. These words apply not only to the profane world but also to professors of religion, who do their works to be seen of men and not out of love for Christ. Therefore, Christ will not manifest himself to them nor dwell with them (John 2:23-25; 1 Corinthians 16:22). This declaration is not mine only (or not mine as a man); but this is my Father's decree. It is not from earth but from heaven. ‘All these things I have spoken to you, being yet present. After my departure I, through the Spirit, will make them much clearer to you’ (John 16:12-13).

John 14:26. Between the time that our Lord spoke these words and the time when the Holy Spirit came upon them, think of the significant events that occurred and the vast amount of scriptures and promises of Christ that were fulfilled–the crucifixion, the rent veil, the resurrection, his appearances to them, and the ascension. The indwelling Holy Spirit will more fully and perfectly instruct them in all these things and also will bring to their remembrance all that Christ said to them, things which they could not, under the circumstances, enter into. There are no new truths, only newly revealed truth. We learn the truth as God is pleased to reveal it and as we are able to receive it (1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27).

John 14:27. ‘Peace be to you,’ was the Jewish salutation (1 Samuel 25:5-6). Under that word they comprehended all manner of good to their friends, both when they greeted them or when they departed from them. Christ, about to depart from the disciples, said, ‘Peace I leave with you.’ But this peace Christ leaves with you is ‘My peace,’ which the world can never bestow, no matter how often they say, ‘Peace be to you’ (Jeremiah 6:13-14). The peace of this world is at best external and temporary; but the peace of Christ is internal, lasting, based on the sure promises of his word and the merits of his blood, and will strengthen and sustain his people through any trial. Therefore, he tells them, ‘Do not be troubled at my departure nor be afraid of the dangers you face; for in the midst of it you shall have my presence and my peace!’

John 14:28-29. The Lord Jesus had told them again and again that he must suffer these things, that he must die to fulfill all that was written of him and necessary for our salvation, that he must depart, and that he would come again to them. If the disciples had loved him as they ought and if they had believed him as they should, rather than being depressed and troubled, they would have rejoiced at his words. Their thoughts were too much on themselves and not for his greater glory. Love rejoices that he has finished his work, he is glorified at the Father's right hand, he has a name above every name, our redemption is complete, and he lives to die no more. ‘My Father is greater than I’– not in essence (John 10:30); but as a mediator between God and men, himself man, he is inferior (1 Timothy 2:5). He told them all these things before they came to pass so that when they saw them happen, they would not be overwhelmed with sorrow but would believe.

John 14:30. He had been talking with them for hours and would talk with them much more after his resurrection, for he was with them for forty days. But he means there will not be much time for teaching and conversation before his death; for Satan, the prince of this world, had already inspired Judas, the soldiers, and the Sanhedrin to arrest him; and they were on their way. Satan comes: but he would find no fault in Christ, nothing in agreement with his evil designs, nothing in our Representative and God's anointed but complete holiness and submission to the Father's will (John 18:38).

John 14:31. Christ offers no resistance (Isaiah 53:7) to show all that he perfectly loves the Father and that he came only to do the will of the Father (Hebrews 10:7-10). He calmly arises and bids the disciples to follow him. ‘No man takes my life from me; I lay it down’ (John 10:18).

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on John 14:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/john-14.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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