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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
John 14

 

 

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Verse 1

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

'We now come,' says Olshausen admirably, 'to that portion of the Evangelical History which we may with propriety call its Holy of Holies. Our Evangelist, like a consecrated priest, alone opens up to us the view into this sanctuary. It is the record of the last moments spent by the Lord in the midst of His disciples before His passion, when words full of heavenly thought flowed from His sacred lips. All that His heart, glowing with love, had still to say to His friends, was compressed into this short season. At first the contact took the form of conversation; sitting at table, they talked familiarly together. But when the repast was finished, the language of Christ assumed a loftier strain; the disciples, assembled around their Master, listened to the words of life, and seldom spoke a word. At length in the Redeemer's sublime intercessory prayer, His full soul was poured forth in express petitions to His heavenly Father on behalf of those who were His own. It is a peculiarity of these last chapters, that they treat almost exclusively of the most profound relations-as that of the Son to the Father, and of both to the Spirit; that of Christ to the Church, of the Church to the world, and so forth. Moreover, a considerable portion of these sublime communications surpassed the point of view to which the disciples had at the time attained: hence, the Redeemer frequently repeats the same sentiments in order to impress them more deeply upon their minds, and, because of what they still did not understand, points them to the Holy Spirit, who would remind them of all His sayings, and lead them into all truth.'

Let not your heart be troubled. What myriads of souls have not these opening words cheered, in deepest gloom, since first they were uttered!

Ye believe in God, believe also in me , [ pisteuete (Greek #4100) eis (Greek #1519) ton (Greek #3588) Theon (Greek #2316), kai (Greek #2532) eis (Greek #1519) eme (Greek #1691) pisteuete (Greek #4100)]. This may with equal correctness be rendered four different ways.

(1) As two imperatives-`Believe in God, and believe in Me.' (So Chrysostom, and several both Greek and Latin Fathers; Lampe, Bengel, DeWette, Lucke, Tholuck, Meyer, Stier, Alford.) But this, though the interpretation of so many, we must regard, with Webster and Wilkinson, as somewhat frigid.

(2) As two indicatives-`Ye believe in God, and ye believe in Me.' So Luther, who gives it this turn-`If ye, believe in God, then do ye also believe in Me.' But this is pointless.

(3) The first imperative and the second indicative; but to make sense of this, we must give the second clause a future turn-`Believe in God, and then ye will believe in Me.' To this Olshausen half reclines. But how unnatural this is, it is hardly necessary to say.

(4) The first indicative and the second imperative, as in our version-`Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.' (So the Vulgate, Maldonat, Erasmus, Calvin, Beza-who, however, gives the first clause an interrogatory turn, 'Believe ye in God? Believe also in Me' - (Cranmer's and the Geneva English versions, Olshausen prevailingly, Webster and Wilkinson.) This alone appears to us to bring out the natural and worthy sense-`Ye believe in God, as do all His true people, and the confidence ye repose in Him is the soul of all your religious exercises, actings and hopes: Well, repose the same trust in Me.'

What a demand this to make, by one who was sitting familiarly with them at the same supper table! But it neither alienates our trust from its proper Object, nor divides it with a creature: it is but the concentration of our trust in the Unseen and Impalpable One upon His Own Incarnate Son, by which that trust, instead of the distant, unsteady and too often cold and scarce real thing it otherwise is, acquires a conscious reality, warmth, and power, which makes all things new. This is Christianity in brief.


Verse 2

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

In my Father's house are many mansions - and so, room for all and a place for each.

If it were not so, I would have told you - and not have deceived you all this time.

I go - or, according to what is undoubtedly the true reading, 'because I go'

To prepare a place for you , [ hoti (Greek #3754), before poreuomai (Greek #4198) has decisive authority, and is inserted by all critical editors.] The meaning is, 'Doubt not, that there is for all of you a place in My Father's house, for I am going on purpose to prepare it.' In what sense? First, To establish their right to Be there; Second, To take possession of it in their name; Third, To conduct them there at last.


Verse 3

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again - strictly, at His Second Personal Appearing; but, in a secondary and comforting sense, to each individually, when he puts off this tabernacle, sleeping in Jesus, but his spirit "present with the Lord."

And receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. Mark here again the extent of the claim which Jesus makes-at His Second Coming to receive His people to Himself (see the notes at Ephesians 5:27; Colossians 1:22; Jude 1:24), that where He is, there they may be also. He thinks it quite enough to re-assure them, to say that where He is, there they shall be.


Verse 4

And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

And where I go ye know, and the way ye know.


Verse 5

Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?

Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not where thou goest; and how can we know the way? [The reading of this last clause, according to Lachmann and Tregelles, 'how know we the way?' or with the "and" prefixed by Tischendorf-is hardly so well supported as the received text.] It seems strange that when Jesus said they knew both where He went and the way, Philip should flatly say they did not. But doubtless the Lord meant thus rather to stimulate their inquiries, and then reply to them: q.d., 'Whither I go ye know-do ye not? and the way too?' Accordingly,


Verse 6

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Jesus saith unto him, I AM THE WAY - in what sense is explained in the last clause: but He had said it before in these words, "I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved" (John 10:9).

And THE TRUTH - the Incarnate Reality of all we find in the Father, when through Christ we get to Him; because "in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 1:19). And THE LIFE - the vitality of all that shah ever flow into us from the Godhead thus approached and thus manifested in Him: for "this is the true God, and eternal life" (1 John 5:20).

No man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Of this three-fold statement of what He is, Jesus explains here only the first-His being "the Way;" not as if that were in itself more important than the other two, but because the Intervention or Mediation of Christ between God and men is the distinctive feature of Christianity. His being the Truth and the Life gives us what may be called the Christen aspect of the Godhead, as the Object of the soul's aspirations and the center of its eternal bliss: but that God, even as thus viewed, is approachable and enjoyable by men only through the mediation of Christ, tells of that sinful separation of the soul from God, the knowledge and feeling of which constitute the necessary preparative to any and every saving approach to God, and to the believing reception and use of Christ as the Way to Him. Hence, it is that oar Lord comes back upon this, as in the first instance what needs most to be impressed upon us.


Verse 7

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth , [ ap' (Greek #575) arti (Greek #737)] - 'from now,' or from this time forth, that I have explained it to you,

Ye know him, and have seen him. Here also our Lord, by what He says, intends rather to gain their ear for further explanation, than to tell them how much they already knew.


Verse 8

Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Philip's grossness of conception gives occasion to something more than explanation; but O how winning is even the slight rebuke!


Verse 9

Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

Jesus saith unto him Have I been so long time with you and yet hast thou not known me Philip? he Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father - hath seen all of the Father that can or ever will be seen; hath seen the Incarnate Manifestation of the Godhead;

And how sayest thou. Show us the Father? To strain after expected but impossible discovery can only end in disappointment. Jesus, therefore, shuts up Philip-and with him all who waste their mental energies on such fruitless alms and expectations-to Himself, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.


Verse 10

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of [or 'from' apo (G575)] myself: but the Father, that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Observe here how in the expression of this Mutual Inbeing of the Father and the Son, our Lord passes insensibly so to speak, from the words He spake to the works He did-as the Father's words uttered by His mouth and the Father's works done by, His hand. What claim to essential equality with the Father could surges this?


Verse 11

Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake: -

q.d., 'By all your faith in Me, Believe this on My simple word: but if so high a claim is more than your feeble faith can yet reach, let the works I have done tell their own tale, and it will need no more.' Can anything more clearly show that Christ claimed for His miracles a higher character than those of prophets or apostles? And yet this higher character lay not in the works themselves, but in His manner of doing them. (See the notes at Mark 6:30-56, Remark 1 at the close of that section, page 163.)


Verse 12

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father - rather, 'the Father,' as the true reading appears to be. "The works that I do" and which they "should do also," were those miraculous credentials of their apostolic office which Christ empowered the Eleven to perform. But the "greater works than His" were not anymore transcendent miracles-for there could be none such and certainly they did none such-but such as He referred to in what He said to Nathanael (John 1:51) - that glorious ingathering of souls after His ascension-or "because He went to the Father" - which it was not His own Personal mission to the earth to accomplish. See on the promise. "From henceforth thou shall catch men," Luke 5:10, and Remark 4 at the close of section. The substance, then, of these five rich John 14:8-12 is this: that the Son is the ordained and perfect manifestation of the Father; that His own word for this ought, to His disciples, to be enough; that if any doubts remained His works ought to remove them; but yet that these works of His were designed merely to aid weak faith and would be repeated nay exceeded by His disciples, in virtue of the power He would confer on them after His departure. His miracles, accordingly, apostles performed, though wholly in His name and by His power; while the "greater" works-not in degree but in kind-were the conversion of thousands in a day, by His Spirit accompanying them.


Verse 13

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name - as Mediator, that will I do - as Head and Lord of the Kingdom of God. This comprehensive premise is repeated emphatically in the following verse.


Verse 14

If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. Observe here, that while they are supposed to ask what they want, not of Him, but of the Father in His name, Jesus says it is He Himself that will "do it" for them. What a claim is this not only to be perfectly cognizant of all that is poured into the Father's ear by His loving disciples on earth, and of all the Father's counsels and plans as to the answers to be given to them, the precise nature and measure of the grace to be given them, and the proper time for it-but to be the authoritative Dispenser of all that these prayers draw down, and in that sense the Hearer of prayer! Let any one try to conceive of this statement apart from Christ's essential equality with the Father, and he will find it impossible. The emphatic repetition of this, that if they shall ask anything in His name, He will do it, speak both the boundless prevalency of His name with the Father, and His unlimited authority to dispense the answer. But see further on John 15:7.

This portion of the discourse is notable, as containing the first announcement of the Spirit, to supply the personal presence of the absent Saviour.


Verse 15

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

If ye love me, keep my commandments. Christ's commandments are neither substituted in place of God's commandments in the moral law, nor are they something to be performed over and above that law. But they are that very law of God, laid on His disciples by the Lord Jesus, in the exercise of His proper authority, and to be obeyed as their proper service to Himself as their Lord and Master-from new motives and to new ends; for we "not without law to God, but under the law to Christ" (1 Corinthians 9:21). This demand, on the principles of the two foregoing verses, is intelligible: on any other principles, it were monstrous.


Verse 16

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

And I will ... The connection between this and what before is apt to escape observation. But it deems to be this that as the proper temple for the indwelling Spirit of Jesus is a heart filled with an obediential love to Him-a love to Him which at once yields itself obediently to Him and lives actively for Him-so this was the fitting preparation for the promised gift, and He would accordingly get it for them. But how?

I will pray the Father. It is perhaps a pity that the English word "pray" is ever used of Christ's askings of the Father. For of the two words used in the Gospels, that signifying to pray as we do-suppliantly, or as an inferior to a superior [ aitein (Greek #154)] - is never used of Christ's asking of the Father, except once by Martha (John 11:22), who knew no better. The word invariably used of Christ's askings by Himself [ erootan (Greek #2065)] signifies what one asks, not suppliantly, but familiarly, as equals do of each other. Bengel notes this, but the subject is fully and beautifully handled by Trench ('Synonyms of the New Testament')

And he shall give you ANOTHER COMFORTER , [ allon (Greek #243) parakleeton (Greek #3875)]. Since this word is used in the New Testament exclusively by John-five times in this discourse of the Holy Spirit (here; John 5:26; John 15:26; John 16:7), and once in his first Epistle, of Christ Himself (1 John 2:1) - it is important to fix the sense of it. Literally, the word signifies one 'called beside' or 'to' another, to 'aid' him. In this most general sense the Holy Spirit is undoubtedly sent 'to our aid,' and every kind of aid coming within the proper sphere of His operations. But more particularly, the word denotes that kind of aid which an Advocate renders to one in a court of justice. So it was used by the Greeks; and so undoubtedly it is used in 1 John 2:1, "If any man sin, we have an Advocate [ parakleeton (Greek #3875)] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." But it also denotes that kind of aid which a Comforter affords to one who needs such. The question, then, is, Which of these is here intended-the general sense of a Helper; the more definite sense of an Advocate; or the other definite sense of a Comforter? Taking all the four passages in which the Spirit thus spoken of in this discourse, that of a Helper certainly lies at the foundation; but that of a Comforter seems to us to be the kind of help which suits best with the strain of the discourse at this place. The comfort of Christ's personal presence with the Eleven had been such, that while they had it they seemed to want for nothing; and the loss of it would seem the loss of everything-utter desolation (John 14:18). It is to meet this, as we think, that He says He will ask the Father to send them another Comforter; and in all these four passages, it is an all-sufficient, all-satisfying Substitute for Himself that He holds forth this promised Gift. But this will open up more and more upon us as we advance in this discourse.

That he may abide with you forever - never to go away from them, as in the body Jesus Himself was about to do.


Verse 17

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

Even the Spirit of truth - so called for the reason mentioned in John 16:13.

Whom the world cannot receive (see the note at 1 Corinthians 2:14); because it seeth [or 'beholdeth' him not theoorei (G2334)], neither knoweth him - having no spiritual perception and apprehension: but ye know him.

For he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. [The reading - estin (Greek #1510) - 'is with you,' though adopted by Lachmann and Tregelles, and approved by Tholuck, Stier, and Luthardt, is insufficiently supported. Tischendorf abides by the Received Text, which is approved by DeWette, Meyer, and Alford. Lucke is doubtful.] Though the proper fullness of both these was yet future, our Lord, by speaking both of present and future time, seems plainly say that they already had the substance, though that only, of this great blessing.


Verse 18

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

I will not leave you comfortless , [ orfanous (Greek #3737)] - 'orphans,' as in the margin; in a bereaved and desolate condition.

I will come to you , [ erchomai (Greek #2064)] - rather, 'I am coming to you;' that is, by the Spirit, since it was His presence that was to make Christ's personal departure from them to be no bereavement.


Verse 19

Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

Yet a little while, and the world seeth ('beholdeth') me no more; but ye see - `behold' me. His bodily presence being all the sight of Him which the world was capable of, they were to behold Him no more on His departure to the Father: whereas by the coming of the Spirit the presence of Christ was not only continued to His spiritually enlightened disciples, but rendered far more efficacious and blissful than His bodily presence had been before.

Because I live, ye shall live also. He does not say, 'When I shall live, after My resurrection from the dead,' but "Because I do live;" for it is of that inextinguishable divine life which He was even then living that He is speaking-in reference to which His approaching death and resurrection were but as momentary shadows passing over the sun's glorious disc. See Luke 24:5; Revelation 1:18. And this grand saying Jesus uttered with death immediately in view. What a brightness does this throw over the next clause, ye shall live also!


Verse 20

At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

At [or 'In' en (G1722)] that day (of the Spirit's coming), ye shall know (or have it made manifest to you) that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. See the notes at John 17:22-23.


Verse 21

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me. See the note at John 15:16.

And he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

Mark the sharp line of distinction here, not only between the Divine Persons, but the actings of love in Each respectively, toward true disciples.


Verse 22

Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

Judas saith unto him, (not Iscariot). Delightful parenthesis this! The traitor being no longer present, we needed not to be told that this question came not from him; nor even if he had been present would any that knew him have expected any such question from him. But the very name had gotten an ill savour in the Church ever since that black treason, and the Evangelist seems to take a pleasure in disconnecting from it all that was offensive in the association, when reporting the question of that dear disciple whose misfortune it was to have that name. He is the same with Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus, in Matthew's catalogue of the Twelve. (See the note at Matthew 10:3.)

Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? - a question, as we think, most natural and pertinent, though interpreters (as Lucke, Stier, Alford, etc.) think it proceeded from a superficial, outside, Jewish misconception of Christ's kingdom. Surely the loving tone and precious nature of our Lord's reply ought to have suggested a better view of the question itself.


Verse 23

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words , [ logon (Greek #3056)] - rather, 'My word:'

And my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. Astonishing disclosure! Observe the links in this golden chain. First, "If a man love Me." Such love is at first the fruit of love: "We love Him because He first loved us." Then this love to Christ makes His word dear to us. Accordingly, "If a man love Me, he will keep My word." Further, such is My Father's love to Me, that when any man loves Me, and My word is dear to him, My Father will love that man. Finally, such a man-with heart so prepared and so perfumed-shall become the permanent habitation of both My Father and Me-the seat not of occasional and distant discoveries, but of abiding and intimate manifestations of both My Father and Me, to his unspeakable satisfaction and joy. He shall not have to say with the weeping prophet, "O the Hope of Israel, the Saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest Thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night?" but from his own deep and joyous experience shall exclaim, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." He shall feel and know that the Father and the Son have come to make a permanent and eternal stay with him!


Verse 24

He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings. Hence, it follows that all obedience not springing from love to Christ is in his eyes no obedience at all.

And the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (See the note at Matthew 10:40.) It will be observed that when Christ refers back to His Father's authority, it is not in speaking of those who love Him and keep His sayings-in their case it were superfluous-but in speaking of those who love Him not and keep not His sayings, whom He holds up as chargeable with the double guilt of dishonouring the eternal Sender as well as the Sent.


Verse 25

These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.

These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present, [ menoon (G3306)] with you - or 'while yet abiding with you.'


Verse 26

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things - see the notes at John 14:16-17.

And bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. As the Son came in the Father's name, so the Father was to send the Spirit in the Son's name, with like divine authority and power-to do two great things. First, to "teach them all things," and second, to "bring to remembrance all things whatsoever Christ had said to them." So imperfectly did the apostles apprehend what Jesus said to them, that to have recalled it all to them merely as it fell on their ears from their Master's lips would have left them the same half-instructed and bewildered, weak and timid men, as before-all unfit to evangelize the world either by their preaching or their writings. But the Spirit was to teach as well as to remind them-to reproduce the whole teaching of Christ, not as they understood it, but as He meant it to be understood. But does not the promise of the Spirit to "teach them all things" mean something more than "to bring all things to their remembrance?" This promise at least does not; because the sense plainly is, "He shall teach you, and bring to your remembrance all things whatsoever I have said unto you" - the teaching and the recalling relating to the same things, namely, all that Christ had said to them.

Thus have we here a double promise with reference to our Lord's actual teaching-that through the agency of the Holy Spirit it should stand up before their minds, when He was gone from them in all its entireness, as at first uttered, and in all its vast significance as by Him intended. Before the close of this same discourse, our Lord announces an extension even of this great office of the Spirit. They were not able to take in all that He had to tell them, and He had accordingly withheld some things from them. But when the Spirit should come, on His departure to the Father, He should "guide them into all the truth," filling up whatever was wanting to their complete apprehension of the mind of Christ. (See the notes at John 16:12-15.) On these great promises rests the CREDIBILITY, in the highest sens e of that term, OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY, and so, its DIVINE AUTHORITY.


Verse 27

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Peace I leave with you my peace I give unto you. If the two preceding verses sounded like a note of preparation for departure what would they take this to be but a farewell? But O how different from ordinary adieus! It is a parting word, but of richest import. It is the peace of a parting friend, sublimed in the sense of it, and made efficacious for all time by those Lips that "speak and it is done." As the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6) He brought it into flesh in His own Person; carried it up and down as His Own - "My peace," as He here calls it; died to make it ours, through the blood of His cross; left it as the heritage of His disciples here below; and from the right hand of the Majesty on high implants and maintains it by His Spirit in their hearts. Many a legacy is "left" that is never "given" to the legatee, many a gift destined that never reaches its proper object. But Christ is the Executor of His own, Testament; the peace He "leaves" He "gives." Thus all is secure.

Not as the world giveth, give I unto you What hollowness is there in many of the world's givings: but Jesus gives sincerely. How superficial even at their best, are the world's givings: but Jesus gives substantially. How temporary are all the world's givings: but what Jesus gives He gives forever! Well, then, might He add,

Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid - for the entrance of such words into any honest and good heart necessarily casteth out fear.


Verse 28

Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. This is one of the passages which have in all ages been most confidently appealed to by these who deny the supreme divinity of Christ, in proof that our Lord claimed no proper equality with the Father: here, they say, He explicitly disclaims it. But let us see whether, on their principles, it would yield any intelligible sense at all. Were some holy man on his deathbed to say as he beheld his friends in tears at the prospect of losing him, 'Ye ought rather to rejoice than weep for me, and if ye loved me ye would'-the speech would be quite natural and what many dying saints have said. But should these weeping bystanders ask why joy was more suitable than sorrow, and the dying man reply, "because my Father is greater than I," would they not start back with astonishment, if not with horror? Does not this strange speech, then, from Christ's lips presuppose such teaching on His part as would make it hard to believe that He could gain anything by departing to the Father, and render it needful to say expressly that there was a sense in which He could and would do so? Thus this startling saying, when closely looked at, seems plainly intended to correct such misapprehensions as might arise from the emphatic and reiterated teaching of His proper equality with the Father-as if joy at the prospect of heavenly bliss were inapplicable to Him-as if so Exalted a Person were incapable of any accession at all, by transition from this dismal scene tea cloudless heaven and the very bosom of the Father, and, by assuring them that it was just the reverse, to make them forget their own sorrow in His approaching joy.

The Fathers of the Church in repelling the false interpretation put upon this verse by the Arians, were little more satisfactory than their opponents; some of them saying it referred to the Sonship of Christ, in which respect He was inferior to the Father, others that it referred to His Human Nature. But the human nature of the Son of God is not less real in heaven than it was upon earth. Plainly, the inferiority of which Christ here speaks is not anything which would be the same whether He went or stayed, but something which would be removed by His going to the Father-on which account He says that if they loved Him they would rather rejoice on His account than sorrow at His departure. With this key to the sense of the words, they involve no real difficulty; and in this view of them all the most judicious interpreters, from Calvin downward, substantially concur.


Verse 29

And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.

And now I have told you before it come to pass - referring to His departure to the Father, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to follow thereon,

That, when it is come to pass, ye might believe - or have your faith immoveably established.


Verse 30

Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

Hereafter I will not talk much with you: - `I have a little more to say, but My work hastens apace, and the approach of the adversary will cut it short.'

For the prince of this world cometh (see John 12:31) - cometh with hostile intent, cometh for a last grand attack. Foiled in his first deadly assault, he had "departed" - but "till a season" only (see the note at Luke 4:13). That season is now all but come, and his whole energies are to be once more put forth-with what effect the next words sublimely express.

And hath nothing in me - nothing of his own in Me, nothing of sin on which to fasten as a ryghteous cause of condemnation: 'As the Prince of this world he wields his sceptre over willing subjects; but in Me he shall find no sympathy with his objects, no acknowledgment of his sovereignty, no subjection to his demand.' Glorious saying! The truth of it is the life of the world. (Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21.)


Verse 31

But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. The sense must be completed thus: 'But though the Prince of this world, in plotting My death, hath nothing to fasten on, I am going to yield Myself up a willing Sacrifice, that the world may know that I love the Father, whose commandment it is that I give My life a ransom for many.'

Arise, let us go hence. Did they then, at this stage of the discourse, leave the Supper-room, as some able interpreters judge? If so, we cannot but think that our Evangelist would have mentioned it: on the contrary, in John 18:1, the Evangelist expressly says that not until the concluding prayer was offend did the meeting in the upper-room break up. But if Jesus did not "arise and go hence" when He summoned the Eleven to go with Him, how are we to understand His words? We think they were spoken in the spirit of that earlier saying, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished." It was a spontaneous and impressible expression of the deep eagerness of His spirit to get into the conflict. If it was responded to somewhat too literally by those who hung on His blessed lips, in the way of a movement to depart, a wave His hand would be enough to show that He had not quite done. Or it may be that those loving disciples were themselves reluctant to move so soon, and signified their not unwelcome wish that He should prolong His discourse. Be this as it may, that disciple whose pen was dipt in a love to his Master which made His least movement and slightest word during thee last hours seem worthy of record, has reared this little hastening of the Lamb to the slaughter with such artless life-like simplicity, that we seem to be of the party ourselves, and to catch the words rather from the Lips that spake than the pen that recorded them.

Remark: Referring the reader to the general observations, prefixed to this chapter, on the whole of this wonderful portion of the Fourth Gospel, let him recall for a moment the contents of the present chapter. It is complete within itself. For no sooner had the glorious Speaker uttered the last words of it than Ho proposed to "arise and go." All that follows, therefore, is supplementary. Everything essential is here, and here in what a form! The very fragrance of heaven is in these out-pourings of Incarnate Love. Of every verse of it we may say,

`O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet south, That breathes upon a bank of violets,

Stealing and giving odour.' - (SHAKESPEARE)

Look at the varied lights in which Jesus holds forth Himself to the confidence and love and obedience of His disciples. To their fluttering hearts-ready to sink at the prospect of His sufferings, His departure from them, and their own desolation without Him, to say nothing of His cause when left in such incompetent hands-His opening words are, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me." 'Though clouds and darkness are round about Him, and His judgments are a great deep, yet ye believe in God. What time, then, your heart is overwhelmed, believe in Me, and darkness shall become light before you, and crooked things straight.' What a claim is this on the part of Jesus-to be in the Kingdom of Grace precisely as God is in that of Nature and Providence, or rather to be the glorious Divine Administrator of all things whatsoever in the interests and for the purposes of Grace; in the shadow of Whose wings, therefore, all who believe in God are to put their implicit trust, for the purposes of salvation! For He is not sent merely to show men the way to the Father, no, nor merely to prepare that way; but Himself is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.

We go not from Him, but in Him, to the Father. For He is in the Father, and the Father in Him; the words that He spake are the Father's words, and the works that He did are the Father's works; and He that hath seen Him hath seen the Father, because He is the Incarnate manifestation of the Godhead. But there are other views of Himself, equally transcendent, in which Jesus holds Himself forth here. To what a cheerless distance did He seem to be going away, and when and where should His disciples ever find Him again! ''Tis but to My Father's home,' He replies, 'and in due time it is to be yours too.' In that home there will not only be room for all, but a mansion for each. But it is not ready yet, and He is going to prepare it for them. For them He is going there; for them He is to live there; and, when the last preparations are made, for them He will at length return, to take them to that home of His Father and their Father, that where He is, there they may be also.

The attraction of heaven to those who love Him is, it seems, to be His Own presence there, and the beatific consciousness that they are where He is-language intolerable in a creature but in Him who is the Incarnate, manifested Godhead, supremely worthy, and to His believing people in every age unspeakably reassuring. But again, He had said that in heaven He was to occupy Himself in preparing a place for them; so, a little afterward, He tells them one of the ways in which this was to be done. To "hear prayer" is the exclusive prerogative of Yahweh, and one of the brightest jewel in His crown. But, says Jesus here, "Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, THAT WILL I DO" - not as interfering with, or robbing God of His glory, but on the contrary - "that the Father may be glorified in the Son: If ye shall ask anything in My name, I WILL DO IT." Further, He is the Life and the Law of His people. Much do we owe to Moses; much to Paul: but never did either say to those who looked up to them, "Because I live, ye shall live also; If ye love Me, keep My commandments; If a man love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and WE will come unto him, and make OUR abode with him."

Such is Jesus, by His own account; and this is conveyed, not in formal theological statements, but in warm outpourings of the heart, in the immediate prospect of the hour and power of darkness, yet without a trace of that perturbation of spirit which he experienced afterward in the Garden: as if while the Eleven were around Him at the Supper- table their interests had altogether absorbed Him. The tranquillity of heaven reigns throughout this discourse. The bright splendour of a noontide sun is not here, and had been somewhat incongruous at that hour. But the serenity of a matchless sunset is what we find here, which leaves in the devout mind a sublime repose-as if the glorious Speaker had gone from us, saying, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 14:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-14.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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