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Bible Commentaries

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann
John 14

 

 

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Verses 1-4

Of Christ's Going to the Father.

The comfort of Christ's going:

v. 1. Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me.

v. 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.

v. 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.

v. 4. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

The last speeches of Christ to His disciples, held partly in the upper room of the Passover feast, partly on the way to Gethsemane, are full of the most glorious cheer and comfort, whose value has in no wise suffered with the passing of time. There are few passages of Scriptures that are so replete with the merciful love of the Savior as these Chapters. The very first words give the keynote of the entire discourse. Let not your hearts be troubled, excite themselves and you, fill you with anxiety and worry. The disciples, in that very night, would become witnesses of such agony and distress of soul as would make the stoutest heart quake and quail. And not only would their Master's suffering agitate their hearts, but they would eventually have to follow in His steps, though not in the same degree. So they were in need of comfort and assurance from the mouth of their Lord. "But this is written not for their sakes, but for us, that we may learn to make use of this comfort for present and future trouble, and that every Christian, when he has been baptized and has placed himself in Christ's care, may and should yield to it and certainly expect that he will also meet with terror and fear which will make his heart weak and despondent, whether it be through one or various enmities and oppositions. " But in this emergency the apostles and all disciples should trust God, yea, they should trust Christ as well, and in the same degree. They should put their trust in the almighty Father above, whose providence has ever watched over them. And if He should seem to them too distant and inaccessible, they should rely absolutely upon Him, their Master, who has ever, and in all emergencies, been their true Friend and Helper. Their trust in God would not be misplaced, nor should it lack firmness, for the Mediator between God and man was sitting before them, through whom God is reconciled to all men. "Let others trust in, and boast of, their temporal power and fortune, you, however, comfort yourselves that you have a God, and know Him, and depend upon it that He is with you and can help you, as He has promised through the Word, and surely will not fail you, although everything be against you, but will assist, protect, and help you out, since you suffer all things for His sake. " To emphasize the comfort of these assurances, the Lord reminds His disciples that in His Father's house there is room not only for Himself, but for them all, that they should have no harm on account of His leaving, but know that it was done for their benefit, that He wants to prepare and order their habitations with the Father, and that He wants to come back Himself to fetch them to the mansions, in order that they may occupy these habitations and remain where He is, thus having the certainty of both, of the mansions in heaven and of Christ Himself for all eternity. The mansions are there even now, by the love of the Father; but the trust in the Savior will bring them into the possession of all believers. As children of God, through faith in Jesus, they have a right and a part in the home of the Son. And Jesus, having made all preparations for their reception and eternal entertainment, will not leave His disciples to find their way above as best they can, but will complete His labor of love by coming again and receiving them to Himself and taking them along with Him to the places of their everlasting stay. There is the true home and fatherland of the Christians, in heaven with the Lord, where He wants them to be, in glorious, wonderful communion and union with Him. After the tedious and laborious pilgrimage of earth they there become partakers of the rest of the Lord. Heaven is the home of every Christian, just as soon as he has finished his earthly life. Jesus comes personally and guides the weary wanderer's footsteps to everlasting joy and blessedness. Jesus reminds His disciples that they knew both His goal and the way to that goal, the eternal home. He had given them the necessary information so often and in so complete a manner that they all should have had full knowledge, blessed assurance. Heaven is Christ's eternal home, as it is ours; and the way to heaven leads through Him, since faith in His redemption opens the portals of heaven.


Verses 5-7

An interruption by Thomas:

v. 5. Thomas saith unto Him, Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way?

v. 6. Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.

v. 7. If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also; and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him.

Thomas was but expressing the thoughts of the majority of the disciples; he acted, in a way, as their mouthpiece. So firmly and completely were their hearts and minds bound up with the matters of this world and with their hopes of a temporal reign of the Messiah that even now they did not understand the references of the Lord. It was necessary almost to pry their thoughts loose from this world. Thomas protested that they did not even know the object and goal of the Master's going; and how could they possibly know the way! The question sounds so foolish that it is well to remember what one commentator remarks: The disciples knew, but they did not know that they knew. Sorrow had benumbed their spiritual faculties. With infinite patience, therefore, the Lord gives them a brief summary of all His teaching. Christ is the Way to God and to heaven; not merely a leader and guide; He bears, He carries them that are His, that trust in Him; He brings them safely to the home above. Christ is the Truth: His every Word may be trusted implicitly, for it teaches the knowledge of God, and directs the way; the way which He teaches is the only right way, for He is the absolute Truth. Christ is the Life: He is the Fountain and Giver of all true life, the life that animates all those that believe on Him, and that is to be enjoyed eternally at the end of the way. He that believes on Him has eternal life, is indissolubly united with God, so far as God's will and intention are concerned. These things being true, it follows that no man can come to the Father, attain to the enjoyment of eternal bliss, but by and through Jesus. There is no other way, all those that are devised by men, the ways of good works and self-righteousness, being false paths, that lead to everlasting destruction. Jesus is the only Way to heaven. "This, I believe, is what the second word, 'truth,' means in all simplicity, that Christ is not only the Way in the beginning, but the true, certain way, and alone will finally remain the Way to which one must ever adhere, and not let the wrong path deceive that would entice us to seek something besides Christ that should help us to salvation. " Jesus adds, by way of a gentle rebuke: If ye had known Me, ye should have known the Father. Their knowledge was not yet so deep and complete as it well might have been. The Father is in Jesus, and to know Him is to know the Father, chap. 10:30. The disciples had therefore seen the Father, who is revealed in the Son, with the eyes of faith, by which they had received Christ. "He that sees Christ with eyes 'in faith' by that same process of seeing also sees the Father; for he touches that Person in whom the Father (also bodily, as St. Paul says, Col_2:1-23 : lives, and revivals all His heart and will. Thus we also see and know both Him and the Father, although not with eyes, nor through bodily seeing and knowing, but through that very faith."


Verses 8-11

An interruption by Philip:

v. 8. Philip saith unto Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

v. 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, Show us the Father?

v. 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.

v. 11. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the very works' sake.

The remark of Philip, requesting to be shown the Father, in order that he might see Him with the eyes of his body, showed just as much spiritual denseness and blindness as that of Thomas. His words imply that such a demonstration would be all that was necessary to establish their faith for always. Jesus makes His reproof very gentle, but repeats, in substance, the arguments which He had used in the case of the unbelieving Jews. For so long a time Jesus had been with the disciples, and yet Philip had not gained the proper and complete knowledge of Him. The manifestation which Philip desired had been made for as long a time as He had been in the company of Jesus, for seeing Christ in faith is identical with seeing the Father. It was a matter of surprise and regret to Jesus that Philip needed to be told this great truth once more, in order to correct his foolish notion of a physical, sensible demonstration of the Father. In the tone of intimate, loving admonition, which Jesus used throughout the last discourses, He continues His instruction. If He had put the question directly whether the disciples believed that He was in the Father and the Father in Him, the answer of Philip would undoubtedly have been positive. Philip should therefore consider that the words of Christ are not His own, just as His works are not His own, are not performed separately from the Father. The Father is and remains in Him from everlasting to everlasting. Jesus is the eternal Son, the eternal Logos. He that sees, hears, takes hold of, the man Jesus Christ incidentally sees, hears, and takes hold of God the Father. The essence of the Father and of the Son is the same, identical. What this man Jesus speaks with His human lips, that is the speaking, the voice of God. And he that refuses to believe the words has the additional, unquestionable testimony of the works, the great miracles. The omnipotence of God was revealed to man in the person of Jesus Christ. Every Christian that reads and studies his Bible in the right way and hears the preaching of the Gospel, hears and sees God Himself, is a witness of the great miracles. The belief in the Son is identical with the belief in the Father. The fact of the union between Father and Son cannot be doubted, the manner can never be adequately explained. Jesus repeats before His disciples what He had told the unbelieving Jews some time before, to impress it upon their minds, chap. 10:38. On account of His works, which are evidently divine, they should believe, if they refused to believe His mere words.


Verses 12-14

The promise of greater works:

v. 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.

v. 13. And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

v. 14. If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it.

In connection with the mention of works which He was performing to testify in His own behalf, Jesus here gives His disciples of all times a glorious promise of works which they should. do in their office as His ministers. Most solemnly He assures them, and comforts them by the assurance, that every believer in Him would be enabled to perform the same works that He had done, and even greater works than He had performed before them. The apostles and the disciples, especially of the early Church, performed miracles like those of Christ they healed the diseased, they cast out demons, they raised the dead; and all this to testify to the truth of their teaching. Every believer in Christ is, however, by that token, filled with power from on high not only to testify of Christ, but, in so doing, to do greater signs than the Master Himself, namely, to awaken men from spiritual death. To convert sinners, to rescue lost and condemned men from damnation, that is a greater, a more important miracle than healing from bodily infirmities and awakening from temporal death. Not as though Jesus had not converted men by His preaching. But the great work of the New Testament, the gathering of the Christian Church through the preaching of the Gospel, did not really begin until after Pentecost. And the reason why the believers can perform these great works of saving souls is found in the fact that Jesus is going to the Father. Also according to His human nature He will then make constant use of His divine power and majesty, and will be able to impart to the believers in Him this wonderful power which He here promises them. The great works of converting sinful men are in reality works of the exalted Christ. And in case the disciples, the believers, at any time feel their own weakness and inability perform the great works which have been given to them, they should merely ask, they should bring the matter to His attention; He will attend to the rest. He fixes no limit in giving this promise except that the prayer must be made in His name, which excludes all sinful and arrogant petitions. Jesus hears every true prayer, but in His own manner and at His own time. And by doing so, since the Father works in Him, the Father is glorified in the Son. The final purpose of all the great works which Jesus promises to His believers is the glory of God. But He repeats His promise to hear their prayers; for the repetition is intended to impress the great truth upon them more strongly. Note: The fact that a Christian's prayer must be made in the name of Jesus cannot be emphasized too often. Only such prayers are acceptable as are made in faith in the Redeemer, the one Person whose complete atonement has given us the right to address God as our Father, and as are made in the name of the exalted Son of Man, whose providence and rule now extends over the whole world.


Verses 15-17

Of Love and Life.

The coming of the Comforter:

v. 15. If ye love Me, keep My commandments.

v. 16. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter that He may abide with you forever,

v. 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.

The prerequisite and condition for the continuance of the loving relationship between Christ and His followers is this, that they show their love toward Him by keeping His commandments. Where there is no faith, there is no love; and where there is no love; there can be no real keeping of the Lord's commandments. And the greatest commandment is this, that the Christians keep His Word, accept the Word of the Gospel in true faith, and cling to it with all their hearts. But if this condition obtains, then the Lord will pray the Father for a most unusual and wonderful gift for them. This gift is nothing less than another Comforter. Jesus Himself had been a Comforter to the disciples while He was with them. He had been their Friend, their Helper, and their Guide. But now His bodily presence would be removed from them, and they were as badly in need of a Strengthener and Comforter as ever. Jesus had been with them only a short period of time, but the other Comforter would abide with them always, would be the constant source and fountain of strength of all believers at all times. In the great work which is entrusted to the Christians and in the midst of all the trials and temptations of the world, they need someone upon whom they can depend absolutely for aid and comfort. This Comforter is the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, who never misleads nor deceives the disciples of Jesus. The truth which He teaches, wherewith He cheers and sustains the hearts of the believers, is the Gospel and its wonderful content: God in Christ. "Here we learn and note that He is called a Comforter, and that for our sakes. For in His Godhead He is with the Father and the Son in one undivided divine essence; but for us He is called a Comforter, so that this name is nothing less than a revelation of what we should think of the Holy Ghost, namely, that He is a Comforter. But 'Comforter' no Moses or one that urges the Law is called, who terrifies with devil, death, and hell, but He that makes a sorrowful heart full of laughter and rejoicing toward God and bids thee be of good cheer, as one to whom his sins are forgiven, death strangled, heaven opened, and God Himself smiling upon thee. " This Spirit is the special strength and help of the disciples, by confirming them in the truth and enabling them to win victories through the truth of the Word. This Comforter, whom the believers will welcome so joyfully, the world cannot receive, cannot accept with His gifts. The unbelievers refuse to see and to know the Spirit and His Work. The enmity toward God which is found in their hearts robs them of all sensibility in spiritual, divine matters, 1Co_2:14. If they do make an attempt to fathom the mysteries of God from the standpoint of their enmity, they only increase their spiritual denseness. Only the believers know the Spirit, are on terms of intimate understanding with Him, for He remains in their heart by faith, and His testimony in their hearts produces an absolute conviction as to the certainty of their faith. As soon as a person receives faith and thus becomes a disciple, the Spirit takes possession of his heart and makes His abode with Him. And the knowledge and understanding of the Spirit and His work grows in the believer from day to day. Note that the three persons of the Godhead are spoken of in this section: the Son as praying to the Father, and the Father as sending the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.


Verses 18-20

Further encouragement:

v. 18. I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.

v. 19. Yet a little while and the world seeth Me no more; but ye see Me. Because I live, ye shall live also.

v. 20. At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you.

The Lord repeats His comforting assurance from another angle. He promises not to leave His disciples orphans, without a guide, deprived of all comfort. In addition to the fact that He will provide the Comforter for them, He Himself will not abandon them and leave them to the fate of children bereft of their parents. It may seem to them that His departure means as much, but because of this very fact that He is entering into His glory, He will be able to be present with them just as surely as before, and for all times. He will return to them in the means of grace, where His presence is always certain, and He will shortly return to them in person. It is but a little while, and the world, the unbelieving, hostile children of unbelief, would see Him no more, neither with the eyes of the body nor with those of the spirit. But His disciples would and will see Him, the eyes of their understanding being enlightened; they would understand Him, His person and work, better than ever before. For with His resurrection His human body would enter into a new mode of existence, His mortal body would be transfused with divinity, it would be transfigured for all times. Jesus lives, and they shall live. When Christ comes to them in the spirit and they learn to know and understand Him better with each new day, then they become partakers of the new spiritual life of Jesus. They will also understand more and more what that wonderful union and communion means which obtains between Father and Son, between the believers and Christ. And the day will come when the last shred of the veil will be taken from their eyes, and they will know their Savior and the mystery of the Triune God even as they are known. In the mean time they should rest assured that the relation between the Savior and the believers is just as intimate and blessed as that between the Father and the Son. The presence of Jesus in the believers assures them of the fullness of both His grace and power in them, grace and mercy for their sins and power for their sanctification.


Verses 21-23

The effects of the mystical union:

v. 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.

v. 22. Judas saith unto Him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us and not unto the world?

v. 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.

Not the having only, but the keeping of the commandments of Christ is an evidence and proof of faith. For the love of Christ, which grows from faith, is a principle prompting obedience. There must be evidence and expression of faith by observing the commandments of Christ in life. But where a person is found with such proofs of the faith of his heart, he would receive a wonderful proof and manifestation of the love of both Father and Son. The love of the Father will rest upon, be communicated to, such a one. And Jesus Himself will show the greatness of His love by appearing and manifesting Himself to the believer as the Son of God and the Savior of the world. This is a most comforting promise. For a believer does not always live and move in blissful emotions, but is troubled more or less often by doubts concerning His salvation and other matters pertaining to His Christian life. In such cases, however, he must cling firmly to the Word and its promises, continue his work for Christ with undiminished vigor, and know that Christ is his Savior in spite of all attacks. Judas Jacobi here interrupted the Master. He had understood so much from the exposition of Jesus that the hope of the disciples for a temporal Messianic kingdom would not be realized. He wanted to know now why Christ intended to manifest Himself only to His believers, and not to the whole world, perhaps in the form of a conquering hero. Judas (Lobbies or Thaddeus) had always held that opinion concerning Messianic glory that it would be in the nature of a great demonstration, with much display of temporal power. He could not understand what had prompted Jesus to determine it otherwise. Once more Jesus, therefore, patiently explains. It is impossible for Him to reveal Himself to the world, because the world rejects Him and His Word. But if any man, filled with true faith toward Him, now also shows his faith in love, the proof will be found in the fact that he keeps His Word, that he clings to the Gospel of grace and mercy. To him Jesus and the Father will come, in him They will make Their abode, through the Spirit; his house and table Companions They will be forever. That is the mystery and the beauty of the mystical union. The Triune God Himself, personally, lives in the hearts of the believers, not only with some manifestation of His power and strength, but with His actual essence. There is no need for the Christian to sigh longingly for the union with the Triune God in heaven, for His throne is also right here on earth, wherever his Word is preached and He enters into the hearts of the believers. That is a blessed mystery and a glorious fact.


Verses 24-26

Of the Work of the Spirit.

v. 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.

v. 25. These things have I spoken to you, being yet present with you.

v. 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 unto you.

If there is no love for Christ in the heart of a man, because faith never found entrance into that heart, then there can be no keeping of His words; and if not of His, then neither of His Father's, whose words He was teaching, who had sent Him. Without the love toward Christ which grows out of faith there can be no really good works; all the works of unbelievers which have the appearance of keeping the words of Christ are "splendid vices," with which they deceive others and often themselves. Jesus, having now promised the Comforter to His disciples, having given the assurance also that He Himself would come and reveal Himself to His disciples and that He, with the other persons of the Godhead, would make His abode with the believers, tells them also what special work the Spirit would do in their case. He had spoken many things to them during His ministry, and especially in the last days, whose importance and significance they had not grasped. Therefore that same Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father would send in His name, would serve as their teacher, giving them the understanding of all things which they still had in memory, and recalling to their minds such things as they had forgotten. Note: The Father sends the Spirit, but in the name of Jesus; the same intimate relation between the Father and the Son again appears. Because Jesus is exalted to the right hand of God and is acting as the Advocate of mankind with the Father, for that reason the Spirit is sent in His name. That was the assurance which comforted and encouraged the apostles, and which serves also for our comfort. For with such a promise to back them up in their teaching, we know that the apostles could not fail in their proclamation of the great truths of God. We may rely without the slightest hesitation and doubt upon the words that were written by the apostles or under their direction, knowing that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, directed and inspired them.


Verses 27-31

The gift of peace:

v. 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.

v. 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.

v. 29. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.

v. 30. Hereafter I will not talk much with you; for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.

v. 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.

This was the last talk of Jesus with His disciples, the last opportunity for speaking with them at length. And so He made a verbal request. He not only said His farewell by wishing them the blessings of peace, but He actually gave them, bequeathed to them as their possession, the peace which He was about to earn for them through His suffering and death, peace with God through His blood, Rom_5:1. This was not a peace after the manner of the world, a mere external, temporal blessing. It is a peace which will insure quietness and security in the midst of turmoil and trouble. It will take the terror out of the hearts of the believers, even when the enemies are threatening murder and every form of abuse. The person that has the peace of a good conscience in the full assurance of God's grace and mercy will be unmoved in the midst of upheavals that threaten the very foundations of the universe, Psa_46:1-11. And Jesus testifies to the disciples that His announcement of His going away, far from filling their hearts with sorrow, should rather redound to their joy. Sorrow and grief in this case are indications of selfishness and a lack of understanding of His purpose in leaving them for a time. The Master is going to His Father, and that Father is greater than He in His present form, in the person and in the guise of a servant. By going to the Father, He will be given the full use of the divine power and majesty And the benefit of this would come to them in a very short time. He could then give them a much better protection, care for His whole Church in a much better way than at present. And all of these things the Lord told His disciples in advance, for the fulfillment of the prophecy would tend to confirm their faith; and in the meantime, when all things seemed to speak against the fact of Christ's divinity, they would have the certainty of this promise as an anchor for their faith.

But the time was passing by rapidly; Jesus must make His conversation brief. The hour of His Passion is drawing near; the prince, the ruler of this world, the devil, is preparing for his onslaught. The Lord must die on the cross, after having been delivered into the hands of the heathen. But Satan, though he comes in the treachery of Judas, could not prevail. There was no sin in Jesus according to which the devil might have claimed Him as his subject; there was no cause of death in Him. In Jesus there was nothing which the devil could call his own, nothing which he could claim as his and thus use for his purposes. And therefore also the devil, with all his cunning and power, would not be able to carry out his evil design, to conquer the Lord. He Himself is innocent, and will therefore, by His vicarious sacrifice, be able to reconcile the world to God. His work, His Passion, will stand before the world as an evidence of His love toward the Father and as a proof of His total fulfillment of all commandments concerning the redemption of mankind. -At this point Jesus interrupted His discourse only long enough to suggest their leaving the upper room, where the Passover meal had been held. The various Hallel Psalms had been sung before, after the close of the meal, which John does not describe.

Summary.Jesus speaks to His disciples of His going to the Father, of the evidences of love toward Him in the believers, and of the work of the Holy Spirit.

 


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Bibliography Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on John 14:4". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/john-14.html. 1921-23.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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