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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
John 14

 

 

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Verse 1

Impending departure of Jesus, John 14:1-14.

1. Let not your heart be troubled—The Saviour himself, in view of his own impending passion, had been “troubled in spirit,” John 13:31; John 12:27, but now he employs his own moments of divine calmness to sustain the hearts of his followers above a similar trouble. The whole is most intelligible by keeping his agony, and cross, and departure in view, as the point by which they would most be troubled. The source of their consolation is God himself, the heaven to which Jesus goes, the Father to whom he introduces them.

Ye believe in God—This may be either indicative or imperative in the Greek. It may be translated ye believe in God, or believe ye in God. Commentators greatly differ, but the essential result of either meaning will be the same. Their trust in God is the essential antecedent of their trust in Christ.

In God—God the Father Almighty as the basis and foundation of all things; whom we cannot but conceive as existing as the fundamental reality. He who is firmly based on Him has a sure foundation of trust.

In me—Who am the revealer and the manifestation of God essential, as has been verified by the attributes of God exercised and displayed through me. But as God essential is universal and invisible in himself, so he becomes concentrated in me, and brought to a point in contact upon each individual soul. The same reliance, therefore, which you can repose in God, as a God of universal reality and truth, you can, in spite of all the sufferings you shall see me endure, repose in me, the only begotten Son of God. Jesus thereupon proceeds, assuming their faith in God and himself, to direct their attention from the approaching scenes of earthly woe, to the heaven he indicates beyond them.


Verses 1-31

§ 127.JESUS COMFORTS HIS DISCIPLES, John 14:1-31.

If, as some commentators suppose, the institution of the Lord’s Supper took place between John 13:35 and John 13:36, then the opening of this discourse has a degree of dependence on the warning just given to Peter. But if the institution of the Supper takes place at the close of the last chapter, the present chapter, at any rate, is a post-communion discourse. Though the variations of thought are so great, that we may, perhaps, properly recognize in it what Vinet calls a “divine disorder,” yet there is a clear succession of topics. In the present chapter we have, 1-14, the impending departure of Jesus, and in 15-31, the sending of the Comforter to supply his place. How far the whole is a single discourse, or is uttered in a single place, we may discuss at John 14:31.


Verse 2

2. My Father’s house—By this is meant, not the universe, as some suppose; though the universe be the house of God and its mansions many. But it is the house not made with hands, the heavenly world.

Many mansions—Many abodes or residences. This implies not merely that there is room enough for every one in heaven; nor simply that there are various grades and degrees of glory suited to the various grades of human moral character. It means these and more. We understand it to mean, that there is a great variety of compartments in the heavenly world for the various species and orders of heavenly existences. There are angels, principalities, and powers; there are angels and archangels; there are those who have never fallen from their holy estate; and Jesus now goes to prepare the heavenly apartment for the fallen but redeemed of men, by them to be occupied beyond the resurrection and the judgment-day. By his atoning death and his resurrection, he has won this right to place his redeemed, clothed in his merits, and crowned with his glory, in a high place in the heavenly world.

If it were not so—If all were limited to this world alone and to this life; if I had but a glorious Messianic kingdom here on earth and no glory in the world of glory.

I would have told you—I would do what I never have done, limit your views to an earthly glorification.

I go to prepare a place—Through whatever agonies and humiliations you see me pass, my destination is to go to the heavenly world and prepare your heavenly abode.


Verse 3

3. Go and prepare a place—Through his death he would open a new and living way (Hebrews 10:20) into the heaven which his merit had purchased.

I will come again—According to the law of prophetic perspective, to which we have so often referred, the Second Advent of our Lord is beheld with clear distinctness in the near distance. For this reason we reject here, as elsewhere, all reference of the coming of the Son of man to the period of death. Nor does the Saviour here refer, as many commentators imagine, to a general spiritual coming, extending along the entire interval to the end of time. The day in which Christ shall come again to take believers home is the day of judgment described in Matthew 24, 25.

Unto myself… where I am… ye… also—Emphatically does our Lord in these terms indicate that the happiness of heaven, both of Christ and his redeemed, will consist in their reunion in love.


Verse 4

4. Whither… the way ye know—It was a way which they knew; for it was the way which both Enoch and Elijah went before him, as they had learned from their Old Testament instructions. But though it was a way which they knew, they did not know that that was the way which Jesus was to take. Hence they both knew the way and yet knew not the way, as Thomas immediately declares. Jesus spoke truth; and Thomas, though apparently contradicting Jesus, also spoke truth.


Verse 5

5. Thomas… whither… way?—Thomas, here, seems contradictory, but he is only doubtful. In fact, he is putting an experimental question. He somewhat exaggerates his own ignorance, to draw out from the Lord a more explicit explanation of his destination and departure. He knows not the whither, that is, the terminus; and how, then, can he know the way to it. He hopes that our Lord will give a full description, at least a verbal map, of the region to which he goes, and the route by which he attains it.


Verse 6

6. I am the way—Our Lord at once, declining all topography, and refusing to lift the vail to the curiosity of his apostle, concentrates his attention and faith into himself. If Thomas wishes to know the way and the terminus, let him repose full, unquestioning faith in the Son of God. He is the way by which we go; the truth by which we learn the way; and the life in which the way finally merges.

Cometh… Father… by me—He is the living way of access to the Father. He is the bridge from man to God. And, what is the same thing, he is the bridge from earth to heaven.


Verse 7

7. Known me… known my Father—For Christ the Son is at the same time the incarnation of God entire, of the entire Trinity at once. He is the human personation of God; showing to men how God would be, and how God would act, if God were himself a man. God in Christ became man-like that he might show man how to become godlike. Said the infidel Rosseau, “Socrates died like a philosopher, but Jesus Christ died like a god.”

Have seen him—They have not indeed seen the substance of the invisible God; for God the Spirit can be seen only by the spirit’s eye; but they had seen God as they had seen man, with the bodily eye, by looking upon the bodily person of Jesus.


Verse 8

8. Philip saith—Doubting Thomas had expressed his query, and now materialistic Philip would have his sight gratified.

Show us the Father Either thicken the substance of the Father’s spirit so that our eye can see it, or quicken our eye with a supernatural sharpness so that we can see him as he is.


Verse 9

9. Hath seen me hath seen the Father—For the reasons just above mentioned, that the Father dwells in the fulness of his attributes of power, wisdom, and goodness concentrated into the human person, and made as fully visible to man as man’s sense can grasp.


Verse 10

10. I am in the Father—As Hooker says, “The Son is in the Father, as light is in that light out of which it floweth without separation. The Father is in the Son as light in that light which it causeth and leaveth not.” According to the modern theory of light we might say, the Father is as the luminiferous ether, which is the essence of light; and the Son is like the light which the other becomes by undulatory motion.


Verse 11

11. Believe me… or… for the very works’ sake—That is, believe me from my own self-evident nature as you see me before you; or believe me for the sake of the very miracles I perform. The living character of Jesus was its own evidence, speaking for itself, and worthy to inspire faith of the highest kind in the higher order of mind. Even at the present day the person and character of Jesus, as mirrored in the Gospels, is a unique and powerful proof of its own divinity. But if Philip’s mind could not appreciate this proof, let him look at the divine works of Jesus, and acknowledge that he who possesses so supernatural a power in his deeds must possess a supernatural power in his words.


Verse 12

12. Greater works than these shall he do—The miracles of Jesus were indeed greater displays of power than any wonder-worker, whether prophet, priest, or saint, ever wrought. Yet they were but the preparatory apparatus of Christianity. They were provisional and temporary. From them was to proceed the greater work, through the power of the Spirit and the agency of men, of establishing and fully completing the wide-spread conversion of souls, and the conquering of the world to Christ. His miracles and his words, divinely limited to a narrow territory, converted but few. They were but the bud to the flower and the fruit. Hence greater works are performed by the Church after his ascension than were performed by himself in the day of his humiliation.

Because I go unto my Father—But these greater works of the future Church, after all, spring from the power of the ascended and exalted Son. It is because he goes to the Father and leaves the Spirit and the Church to labour, that the great work is performed under his divine Headship, of taking a world of free agents, and, without destroying their freedom, winning their free obedience to his Father and God.


Verse 13

13. Ask in my name—To ask in the name of Christ is to ask in complete identification with him, as inspired by his spirit and as incorporated into his body. Such asking is in the interest of his kingdom and is identified with his will. Hence the absolute completeness of the promise, Whatsoever ye shall ask that will I do. Such prayer is ever answered.


Verse 14

14. If ye shall ask… I will do it—All perfectly right prayer is heard and granted. All imperfect prayer may, through the atonement, be pardoned in its imperfections, and redound in blessing upon him who prays. All prayer that is of the wicked, as such, is an abomination unto the Lord.


Verse 15

15. If… love… keep my commandments—Preparatory to the reception of the Comforter, they were to come into full union with Christ by a love evinced by obedience. Hence this verse is not to be torn from its connection, but is to be viewed as conditional to the promise that follows.


Verses 15-31

Christ’s sending the Comforter to supply his place, John 14:15-31.

Jesus now makes his starting point from John 14:12, where he had spoken of the great works to be done after his departure. He now introduces to their knowledge the divine Agent by whose power those works should be performed, in and through them and his Church.


Verse 16

16. I will pray the Father—The prayer of the Son, the ever living intercessor, consists in his wish and will ever going forth, that the work of redemption may be accomplished, by the power of the Father, in all its fulness and glory. And this prayer is a perfect divine sympathy with the wish and will of the Father; so that herein the Father and the Son are one, and the prayer of the Son is sure of fulfilment.

Comforter—Rather Advocate. In ancient times there existed the relation of patron and client. The office of patron included the various ideas of protection against arbitrary power, advocacy in law-suits, and consolation in difficulties and trouble. It is this office that the Paraclete, Comforter, or Advocate here mentioned, fulfils.

Abide with you for ever—He is not to reascend like me. His mission is to fill the entire space of time until my Second Advent. This is the dispensation of the Spirit.


Verse 18

18. Will come to you—Here doubtless is a coming which is not bodily but spiritual. So Christ promised to his apostles, (Matthew 28:20,) “I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” And this perpetual presence is consistent with his perpetual absence. And so the coming of the present verse is not the bodily coming of the final day, but inasmuch as the Spirit is the spirit of Christ, so Christ is present both in his own spirit as Son of God, and in his representative the Holy Spirit.


Verse 19

19. Yet a little while—A few brief hours which precede my ascension.

Ye see me—With the eye of the spirit ye recognize that Christ is present. Some one has said that if the eye of our faith were as strong as the eye of our body, we should see the angels of God around us. Much better might it be said we should see a present Jesus before us.

Because I live, ye shall live—The word live is here to be taken in the very fulness of the term life. In the very garden of Eden the giving of a Redeemer preceded the continuance of the race. Had Christ not been promised and predetermined, Adam would have produced no progeny under the irremovable curse, and sure of an unavoidable eternal ruin. Had not Christ been given, the race would not have been begotten. Hence the atonement underlies our very physical life. Grace underlies nature. Hence because Christ lives we primitively live. But more especially after his ascension, it is because he lives that we live a spiritual life during the dispensation of the Spirit, and shall live a glorified life in the kingdom of glory. Well for us, then, that Christ cannot die, but ever liveth to intercede for us. Because he liveth we shall live also.


Verse 20

20. At that day—We have here the prophetic formula, In that day. In those days, or, In the last days, by which is intimated a foreseen future period, opening into an indefinite extension. It is the day of the Spirit dispensation, extending onward to the day of the Second Advent. So Isaiah 11:13 : “The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” And Isaiah 2:2 : “In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house [Zion] shall be… exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.”

Ye shall know—It shall be by experience. There shall be no guess, or mere expectation, or hope so about it. The religion of the Spirit is not a hope, but an enjoyment. “For what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” Romans 8:24.


Verse 21

21. Hath my commandments, and keepethHath them in his knowledge, and keepeth them in his practice.

He it is that loveth me—For there can be no true keeping Christ’s commandments which springs not from love to Christ; and there is no true love to Christ which does not produce a keeping of his commandments.

Will manifest myself unto him—And this is the true witness of the Spirit with our spirits that we are born of God. This manifestation of Christ to the soul is self-evidencing. There may be false imaginations, just as there may be dreams; but these false imaginations can no more, invalidate or destroy the certainty of that manifestation, than dreams can destroy the certainty of any reality viewed by our waking senses. He who does not recognize from his own inner feelings what this manifestation of Christ to the soul is, stands in great need of a deeper religious experience. It behooves him well to look to it that his interest in Christ is real.


Verse 22

22. Judas… not Iscariot—John is here careful to exclude Iscariot from the honour of making this deep inquiry. Indeed it does not appear that Iscariot ever propounded an inquiry to Jesus regarding the deep things of his mission and doctrine.

Unto us, and not unto the world—In the body Christ was visible alike to his apostles and to the world. It is a query then with Judas of what nature is this manifestation, which is limited to Christ’s followers alone. Jesus can only reply by reaffirming with more distinct emphasis the spirituality of that manifestation.


Verses 22-26

Query of Judas, and the reply, John 14:22-26.

Thrice has the steady stream of our Saviour’s discourse been interrupted by the respectful freedom of his disciples. Thomas has stated his difficulty; Philip has made his request; and now Judas propounds an investigation.

This announcement of a new thing, the coming of the Spirit, and the special manifestation of Christ and the Father with him to his chosen ones, awakens an inquiry.


Verse 23

23. If—Upon this mighty if it depends whether Christ manifests himself as our Saviour or not.

My Father… we… him—The Father, Son, and Spirit, will in spirit come into union with the believer’s spirit. And can any one imagine that the believer will be forever unconscious of his spiritual guests, and incapable of realizing the actuality of their communion? On the contrary, Jesus says of the Spirit, John 14:17, Ye know him; and of his own spirit, John 14:19, Ye see me; and declares, John 14:21, I will manifest myself. All this affirms that the believer may enjoy a conscious communion with Christ and God.


Verse 24

24. Loveth me not—As the if was a mighty if, so this not is a terrible negative. It shuts the soul from communion with Christ in earth or heaven. And so Judas is answered. By a distinct reiteration Jesus clears Judas’s thoughts, and draws in his mind the distinct outline of the clear truth. In the coming dispensation of the Spirit the manifestations of Christ will be made to the spirits of those who love him, and to those alone.


Verse 25

25. These things have I spoken—In these two verses, 25 and 26, we seem to have a summary and close of the train of thought. Glancing the mind’s eye over his own discourse, Jesus presents it as a whole as uttered by himself being yet present. His personal presence and his living voice were yet with them, and he now places this personal teaching in preparatory contrast with that of the spiritual Paraclete whom the Father will send.


Verse 26

26. Teach you all things… bring… to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said—The Paraclete should teach and remind; and the subject both of this teaching and reminding should be all things whatsoever I have said. That is, it should make clear all that they did not understand, and remind them of all they had forgotten, in the words of Jesus. Within their apostolic prerogative they should be enabled, by the Spirit impregnating the words of Jesus, fully and truly to expound his doctrine. They should be able, respectively, to preach, to record, and to transmit to posterity the true system of his religion without any deficiency or error.

We now suppose a pause in the discourse of Jesus. Still his intense thoughts rest upon his departure, and upon the loved ones he leaves on earth. He resumes in words of pathos and yet of consolation.


Verse 27

27. Peace—A blessed word. And Jesus was Prince of Peace. The peace here named is that pure tranquillity arising from the consciousness that all is right between God and ourselves, and consequently that, whatever men may think, all is safe as between men and us. The man in such a state can never be harmed. In the midst of great storms he is a great calm.

I leave with you—He would take himself from them, but he would leave behind peace. There should be toils, trials, persecutions; but amidst them all peace. My peace I give unto you—The word salam, peace, is the oriental farewell. But Jesus should give his salam, not as the world giveth, in mere words, whether of courtesy or of sincere prayer, but in reality and power. And the peace which he gives should not be a mere world’s peace. The peace of the world is but an armistice between wars; a weariness between struggles. It is but an armed neutrality, founded on mutual self-interest. The peace of God is peace essential. It is full of love and mighty in power.

Troubled… afraidTroubled from without, fear from within. External dangers and harms will ruffle the surface of our nature; but let there be a deep peace, which, like the ocean’s depths beneath the storm, remains forever undisturbed. Amid troubles and fears the command of Jesus is, Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Quietude and courage are both the Christian’s privilege and his duty.


Verse 28

28. Ye would rejoice—Sorrowful as was his departure, love to him should inspire joy for his sake that it was to be accomplished. For he should thereby go unto the Father. His glorified person, ascending to the right hand of God, would be in glory and in bliss ineffable; would be, in human form, the very living person, real and confessed, of God himself. Beyond the unbeliefs and gainsayings of men, beyond the temptations and hostilities of Satan, he would stand upon the mount of God, angels, and principalities, and powers being subject unto him. For his sake, therefore, if they loved him, they would rejoice in his ascending glory.

Father is greater than I God, original and essential, is, by office and originality, greater than the Incarnate. And the Incarnate, in ascending to him, ascends to his great Superior. He mounts to his Father’s home. And yet, this very assertion, that the Father is greater than I, indicates, in some respect, a divine equality. What man would say, God is greater than myself?


Verse 29

29. Ye might believe—Jesus here, as in John 13:19, utters words which should hereafter ripen into fruit. In the future, as they should contemplate the past as a whole, they would see those correspondences between his prophecies and the fact as should establish the divinity of his teaching.


Verse 30

30. Will not talk much—The period of silence is approaching. The betrayer, the officer, and the crucifier, under the prince of this world, will soon absorb him. Fright will disperse them; and, except his precious utterances in his resurrection body, they will soon be left forever to the recollections of their own hearts, and the ministration of the Spirit.

The prince of this world—Satan, with all the powers of evil.

Cometh—To inflict sufferings and cut short all discourse.

Hath nothing in me—Hath no basis in my mind or will by which he can bring me to sin, or rightfully bring destruction upon me. This means, not that Jesus was without ability to will wrongly, but that he maintains a free will not to exercise that ability. He so, by will, shuts Satan off, that the tempter finds nothing upon which he can grapple.


Verse 31

31. So I do—Namely, undergo the sufferings of the cross. Why? Not because the prince of this world has a right to inflict it; but, first, that the world may know my love for the Father; and, second, because it is the Father’s command.

Arise, let us go hence—The discourse and converse at the table now having been finished, Jesus rises from the table and bids his apostles rise, that they may listen to his solemn valedictory, closed with his high-priestly prayer, preparatory to their going forth in separation and his going forth to his Passion. We suppose that, first, each makes his personal preparation. And then, as the Israelites first partook of the Passover standing, as if preparatory to a going forth, so these apostles reverently stood around the central figure of their Lord to listen to the last converse before the cross. When they next assemble round him it shall be to hear words spoken from his lips clothed with immortality. As they surround his central person at the close of the wine-communion, very suitable is the apologue, with which he opens, of the Vine and its surrounding branches.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 14:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-14.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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