Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 14:28

You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Love;   Thompson Chain Reference - Christ;   Departure Foretold;   Divinity;   Divinity-Humanity;   Foreknowledge;   Future, the;   Heaven;   Heavenly;   Home;   Morning Glories, Seven;   Seven;   The Topic Concordance - Antichrist;   Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ;   Government;   Jesus Christ;   Love;   Resurrection;   Will of God;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Ascension of Christ, the;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Counselor;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Generation, Eternal ;   Holy Ghost;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Coming of Christ;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Christ, Christology;   Jesus, Life and Ministry of;   Security of the Believer;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ascension;   Children (Sons) of God;   God;   Holy Spirit;   John, Theology of;   Love, Lover, Lovely, Beloved;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Ascension (2);   Attributes of Christ;   Foresight;   Greatness;   Joy;   Kenosis;   Love (2);   Manuscripts;   Son of God;   Trinity (2);   Union with God;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Fruit;   Generation;   Pentecost;   Samuel;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ascension;   Authority in Religion;   Blasphemy;   Come;   John, Gospel of;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for January 14;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

I go away - To the Father by my death:

And come again unto you - By my resurrection.

Ye would rejoice - Because, as the Messiah, I am going to receive a kingdom, and power, and glory, for ever. Therefore as my friends ye should rejoice in my elevation, though for a while it may put you to the pain of being separated from me: besides, I am going that I may send you the Holy Spirit, which shall fill you with the fullness of God: on your own account, therefore, ye should have rejoiced and not mourned.

My Father is greater than I - In John 14:24, Christ tells his disciples that the Father had sent him: i.e. in his quality of Messiah, he was sent by the Father to instruct, and to save mankind. Now, as the sender is greater than the sent, John 13:16, so in this sense is the Father greater than the Son; and in this sense was the passage understood by Origen, Jerome, Novatian, and Vigilius, who read the text thus: The Father, ὁ πεμψας, who sent me, is greater than I. It certainly requires very little argument, and no sophistry, to reconcile this saying with the most orthodox notion of the Godhead of Christ; as he is repeatedly speaking of his Divine and of his human nature. Of the former he says, I and the Father are one, John 10:30; and of the latter he states, with the same truth, The Father is greater than I.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 14:28". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-14.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Ye have heard … - John 14:2-3.

If ye loved me - The expression is not to be construed as if they had then no love to him, for they evidently had; but they had also low views of him as the Messiah; they had many Jewish prejudices, and they were slow to believe his plain and positive declarations. This is the slight and tender reproof of a friend, meaning manifestly if you had proper love for me; if you had the highest views of my character and work; if you would lay aside your Jewish prejudices, and put entire, implicit confidence in what I say.

Ye would rejoice - Instead of grieving, you would rejoice in the completion of the plan which requires me to return to heaven, that greater blessings may descend on you by the influences of the Holy Spirit.

Unto the Father - To heaven; to the immediate presence of God, from whom all the blessings of redemption are to descend.

For my Father is greater than I - The object of Jesus here is not to compare his nature with that of the Father, but his condition. Ye would rejoice that I am to leave this state of suffering and humiliation, and resume that glory which I had with the Father before the world was. You ought to rejoice at my exaltation to bliss and glory with the Father (Professor Stuart). The object of this expression is to console the disciples in view of his absence. This he does by saying that if he goes away, the Holy Spirit will descend, and great success will attend the preaching of the gospel, John 16:7-10. In the plan of salvation the Father is represented as giving the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the various blessings of the gospel. As the Appointer, the Giver, the Originator, he may be represented as in office superior to the Son and the Holy Spirit. The discourse has no reference, manifestly, to the nature of Christ, and cannot therefore be adduced to prove that he is not divine. Its whole connection demands that we interpret it as relating solely to the imparting of the blessings connected with redemption, in which the Son is represented all along as having been sent or given, and in this respect as sustaining a relation subordinate to the Father.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-14.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Ye heard how I said unto you, I go away, and I come unto you. If ye loved me, ye would have rejoiced, because I go unto the Father: for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe.

Jesus' constant purpose that night was to strengthen the disciples against the ordeal through which they would pass. This was the purpose of his foretelling the treachery of Judas and the denial by Peter. Here he stressed the fact of his going away unto the Father by means of his death, resurrection and ascension.

The Father is greater than I ... is not a denial of the deity and Godhead of Jesus Christ but a contrast of the Father's state in glory with that of the Lord in the depths of his humiliation. If the apostles had understood what a glorious thing it was for Jesus to leave the wretched scenes of his humiliation and return to the glory he had enjoyed with the Father from times eternal, they would have rejoiced. Westcott agreed that no denial of Jesus' Godhead is in this verse. He wrote:

The superior greatness of the Father must therefore be interpreted in regard to the absolute relations of the Father and the Son without violation of the one equal Godhead ... if we may so speak of mysteries which transcend human knowledge.[20]

ENDNOTE:

[20] B. F. Westcott, The Gospel according to St. John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971), p. 210.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/john-14.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Ye have heard how I said unto you,.... Christ had not only told his disciples that he should depart from them in a little time, but also that he should return again to them, and comfort them with his presence, and receive them to himself, to be with him in his Father's house for ever: and this he again suggests,

I go away, and come again unto you; so that they had not so much reason to be troubled and afraid, as they were: had he only said to them that he should go away, without giving any hint of his coming again, they might well have been uneasy; what made the friends of the Apostle Paul so sorrowful at his departure, was most of all, because he had signified to them they should see his face no more; but Christ assured his disciples that in a little time they should see him again, to their unspeakable joy and comfort:

if ye loved me, adds he,

ye would rejoice; not but that the disciples did truly love Christ, and their concern for the loss of his bodily presence is a proof of it; nor was their love unknown to him, nor does he call it in question, only corrects it, or rather uses means to increase it, to draw it forth aright, that it might move and run in a proper channel; they loved him, and therefore were unwilling to part with him, but this was not a pure expression of love to him, it showed too much a regard to themselves, than to the object loved; whereas had they considered things aright, since it was to his greater advantage to remove, they should rather have discovered a willingness to it, and have rejoiced at it; this would have shown pure love and unbiased affection to him: two reasons our Lord gives why they should have rejoiced at his departure; one is,

because, says he,

I said, I go unto the Father; who was not only his, but their Father also; at whose right hand he was to sit, an honour which no mere creature ever had; where he was to be glorified and exalted above all created beings; and besides, his glorification would secure and bring on theirs; as sure as he lived in glory, so sure should they; yea, they should immediately sit down in heavenly places in him, as their head and representative, and therefore had good reason to rejoice at his going away: the other is,

for my Father is greater than I: not with respect to the divine nature, which is common to them both, and in which they are both one; and the Son is equal to the Father, having the self-same essence, perfections, and glory: nor with respect to personality, the Son is equally a divine person, as the Father is, though the one is usually called the first, the other the second person; yet this priority is not of nature, which is the same in both; nor of time, for the one did not exist before the other; nor of causality, for the Father is not the cause of the Son's existence; nor of dignity, for the one has not any excellency which is wanting in the other; but of order and manner of operation: these words are to be understood, either with regard to the human nature, in which he was going to the Father, this was prepared for him by the Father, and strengthened and supported by him, and in which he was made a little lower than the angels, and consequently must be in it inferior to his Father; or with regard to his office as Mediator, in which he was the Father's servant, was set up and sent forth by him, acted under him, and in obedience to him, and was now returning to give an account of his work and service; or rather with regard to his present state, which was a state of humiliation: he was attended with many griefs and sorrows, and exposed to many enemies, and about to undergo an accursed death; whereas his Father was in the most perfect happiness and glory, and so in this sense "greater". That is, more blessed and glorious than he; for this is not a comparison of natures, or of persons, but of states and conditions: now he was going to the Father to partake of the same happiness and glory with him, to be glorified with himself, with the same glory he had with him before the foundation of the world; wherefore on this account, his disciples ought to have rejoiced, and not have mourned.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 14:28". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-14.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

10 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 l greater than I.

(10) We should in no way be sorry for the departing of Christ from us according to the flesh, but rather we should rejoice in it, seeing that all the blessing of the body depends upon the glorifying of the head.

(l) This is spoken in that Christ is mediator, for in this regard the Father is greater than he, in as much as the person to whom request is made is greater than he that makes the request.

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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 14:28". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-14.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father, for my Father is greater than I — These words, which Arians and Socinians perpetually quote as triumphant evidence against the proper Divinity of Christ, really yield no intelligible sense on their principles. Were a holy man on his deathbed, beholding his friends in tears at the prospect of losing him, to say, “Ye ought rather to joy than weep for me, and would if ye really loved me, “the speech would be quite natural. But if they should ask him, why joy at his departure was more suitable than sorrow, would they not start back with astonishment, if not horror, were he to reply, “Because my Father is greater than I?” Does not this strange speech from Christ‘s lips, then, presuppose such teaching on His part as would make it extremely difficult for them to think He could gain anything by departing to the Father, and make it necessary for Him to say expressly that there was a sense in which He could do so? Thus, this startling explanation 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 so Exalted a Person were incapable of any accession by transition from this dismal scene to a cloudless heaven and the very bosom of the Father - and by assuring them that this was not the case, to make them forget their own sorrow in His approaching joy.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/john-14.html. 1871-8.

People's New Testament

If ye loved me, ye would rejoice. A gentle rebuke. Their desire that he should not go away was due, in part at least, to selfish motives.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on John 14:28". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/john-14.html. 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

I go away, and I come (υπαγω και ερχομαιhupagō kai erchomai), both futuristic presents (John 7:33; John 14:3, John 14:18).

If ye loved me (ει ηγαπατε μεei ēgapāte me). Second-class condition with the imperfect active of αγαπαωagapaō referring to present time, implying that the disciples are not loving Jesus as they should.

Ye would have rejoiced
(εχαρητε ανecharēte an). Second aorist passive indicative of χαιρωchairō with ανan conclusion of second-class condition referring to past time, “Ye would already have rejoiced before this” at Christ‘s going to the Father (John 14:12).

Greater than I
(μειζων μουmeizōn mou). Ablative case μουmou after the comparative μειζωνmeizōn (from positive μεγαςmegas). The filial relation makes this necessary. Not a distinction in nature or essence (cf. John 10:30), but in rank in the Trinity. No Arianism or Unitarianism here. The very explanation here is proof of the deity of the Son (Dods).

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-14.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

I said

Omit, and read, ye would have rejoiced because I go unto the Father.

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Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-14.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

God the Father is greater than I — As he was man. As God, neither is greater nor less than the other.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 14:28". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-14.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

Ye heard how I said to you, I go away, and I come unto you. If ye loved me, ye would have rejoiced, because I go unto the Father1: for the Father is greater than I2.

  1. If ye loved me, ye would have rejoiced, because I go unto the Father. The departure of Jesus was not wholly a humiliation, as it might appear to them, but a real exaltation at which they might well rejoice, and that the more readily and freely since it would not mean to them the total separation which they anticipated, because he would return in the spirit.

  2. For the Father is greater than I. The word "greater" as here used does not refer to any difference in the nature or essence of the Son as related to the Father. It may well be true that there has been a certain subordination of the will of the Son to the will of the Father from all eternity, but even that, if it exists, is not referred to here. Jesus has in mind the utter humiliation to which his mediatorial office had brought him, and to even lower depths to which it was about to bring him. From all this his departure to the Father would in a large measure free him, restoring him in some degree to that state of equilibrium in glory, power, and authority from which he had descended (Philippians 2:6).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 14:28". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-14.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, &c. The meaning seems to be, that they would rejoice in his approaching reunion with the Father, by which he would again be restored to the position of greatness and majesty, which he had left to assume the office of Mediator for man. (Comp. John 17:5.)--My Father is greater than I. Jesus Christ, as speaking and acting upon earth, in the execution of his mediatorial office, was in no sense equal with the Father. It was the Word which was God. But Jesus Christ, in whom this Word was mysteriously conjoined with human nature, always assumed the position of obedience and submission, which is plainly recognized in all his allusions to the Father, and is here distinctly declared. It true that, in one passage, (John 10:30,) he says, "I and my Father are one;" but the sense which he intended to be understood is made clear in John 17:11,22, when he prays that the same oneness which joins him, as Mediator, with the Father, may unite the disciples with him.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/john-14.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Если бы вы любили Меня. Ученики без сомнения любили Христа, но не так, как полагалось. К их любви примешивалось нечто плотское, так что они не хотели расставаться со Христом. Если бы они любили Его духовно, то больше всего желали бы Его отхода к Отцу.

Ибо Отец Мой более Меня. Это место по-разному искажалось. Ариане, чтобы доказать, будто Христос есть какой-то вторичный Бог, говорили, что Он меньше Отца. Православные отцы, чтобы не дать повода такой клевете, заявляли, что это следует относить лишь к человеческой природе. Однако, как ариане злоупотребляли этим свидетельством, так и мнение отцов не было правильным и согласным с контекстом. Здесь идет речь не о человеческой природе Христа, и не о Его вечном божестве, но из-за слабости нашего разумения Христос как бы ставит Себя посредине между Богом и нами. Действительно, нам не дано возвыситься до божественного величия, и Христос как раз и снизошел для того, чтобы нас вознести. Надо, – говорит Он, – радоваться, что Я возвращаюсь к Отцу. Ведь к этой цели подобает стремиться и вам. Он не показывает этими словами, чем отличается от Отца Сам по Себе. Он говорит лишь о том отличии, что соизволил снизойти к нам, дабы соединить нас с Богом. И пока мы этого не достигнем, мы будем стоять как бы посередине. И мы можем думать о Христе лишь половинчато и ущербно, пока Он не приведет нас к Богу. Похожее место есть у Павла (1Кор.15:24). Павел говорит, что Христос передаст царство Богу и Отцу, дабы Бог был все во всем. Действительно, Христос правит не по человеческой природе, но поскольку есть Бог, явленный во плоти. Итак, каким же образом Он лишится Своего царства? Таким, что божество, которое ныне можно узреть лишь в лице Христа, тогда станет открытым для всех. Различие лишь в том, что Павел описывает конечное совершенство божественного света, лучи которого начали сиять, как только Христос взошел на небеса. Чтобы больше прояснить этот вопрос, скажем немного проще. Здесь Христос не сравнивает Свое божество с божеством Отца, и Свое человечество с божественной Отчей сущностью; скорее Он сравнивает теперешнее состояние с небесной славой, которую вскоре должен был обрести. Он как бы говорит: Вы хотите удержать Меня в мире, но Мне подобает взойти на небеса. Итак, научимся же взирать на уничижение Христово во плоти, дабы Он привел нас к источнику блаженного бессмертия. Ибо этот Вождь дан нам не только для того, чтобы вознести нас до солнца и луны, но и соединить с Самим Богом Отцом.

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-14.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

Ver. 28. My Father is greater than I] To wit, as I have voluntarily submitted myself to the office of a mediator. Lo, here this Sun of righteousness is gone back ten degrees in the dial below his Father. "Thou hast made him little less than the angels," Psalms 8:5; there (as man) he is gone back ten degrees below the angels. "I am a worm and no man," Psalms 22:6; there he is gone back ten degrees below men. "A living dog is better than a dead lion," Ecclesiastes 9:4; there he is gone back ten degrees below worms. For he was not so much as a living worm, but was laid in the grave as a dead lion, there to have been meat for worms, but that it was impossible for God’s Holy One to see corruption. See how he emptied and humbled himself, εκενωσεν, that he might exalt and fill us with his fulness, ικανωσεν.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 14:28". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-14.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

John 14:28

Present Relations of Christ with His Followers

The great change of administration to be introduced by the going away and coming again of Christ, includes several points that require to be distinctly noted.

I. That Christ now institutes such a relationship between Himself and His followers that they can know Him when the world cannot. Before this, the world had known Him just as His disciples had, seeing Him with their eyes, hearing His doctrine, observing His miracles; but now He is to be withdrawn, so that only they shall see Him—the world seeth Him not; as being rational persons they may recollect Him, they may read other men's recollections of Him, but His presence they will not discern. He is not manifest unto them, but only to His followers. He that loveth knoweth God, and he only.

II. It is a point included that the new presence or social relationship is to be effected and maintained by the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. And He it is that Christ, in His promise, calls so freely Himself. The New Testament writings are not delicate in maintaining any particular formula or scheme of personality, as regards the distributions of Trinity. And when Christ calls the Comforter whom He promises Himself, He gives precisely the best and truest representation of the Spirit, in His new office, possible to be given. It is to be as if the disincarnated soul or person of Christ were now to go away and return as a universal Spirit invisible, in that form to abide for ever. And the beauty of the conception is, that the Spirit is to be no mere impersonal effluence or influence, but to be with us in the very feeling and charity of Jesus. He will be as forgiving as Christ in His passion, as tenderly burdened as Christ in His agony, as really present to physical suffering, as truly a Comforter to all the shapes of human sorrow. All which Christ outwardly expressed, He will inwardly show.

III. In this coming again of Christ by the Spirit, there is included also the fact that He will be known by the disciple, not only socially, but as the Christ, in such a way as to put us in a personal relationship with Him, even as His own disciples were in their outward society with Him. Christ is so related now to the soul of them that receive Him, that He is present with them in all places, at all times, bearing witness with their spirit, in guidance and holy society a friend, a consoler, a glorious illuminator, all that He would or could be, if we had Him each to himself, in outward company. Our answer then, to the question, What are Christ's present relations to His followers? is, that He is present to them as He is not and cannot be to the world; present as an all-permeating Spirit—present as the all-quickening life—consciously, socially present—so that no explorations of science or debates of reason are wanted to find Him, no going over the sea to bring Him back, or up into Heaven to bring Him down, because He is already present, always present, in the mouth and in the heart. In this manner He will be revealed in all men, waits to be revealed in all, if only they will suffer it. The word for every trusting, loving heart is, I will come unto it; I will be manifest unto it; lo, I will be with it always.

H. Bushnell, Christ and His Salvation, p. 295.


References: John 14:28.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi., No. 1871; Ibid., My Sermon Notes: Gospels and Acts, p. 154; Homiletic Magazine, vol. xv., p. 226; T. M. Herbert, Sketches of Sermons, p. 214. John 14:30.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. x., p. 330.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/john-14.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

John 14:28. For my Father is greater than I. That is, "than I am, considered in my mediatorial capacity."Thesewords afforded a strong argument for the proper Divinity of our Lord; for had he been a mere man, or even a creature of the highest order, the comparison would have been foolish and impertinent.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 14:28". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/john-14.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

That the disciples of Christ might neither be overset with fears, not overwhelmed with grief, he tells them that they ought to entertain the news of his departure rather with joy and exultation, than with sorrow and dejection: If ye loved me, ye would rejoice because I go to the Father. True love to Christ will make us rejoice in his advancement and exaltation, although it be to our own disadvantage. These words My Father is greater than I, must be understood with reference to his human nature, as mediator; for so he was the Father's servant, and the Father, as God, was greater than he, as man.

Again the Father may be said to be greater than Christ in regard of his paternity, as being the fountain of the deity the Father is of himself, but the Son is begotten of the Father: but being of the same substance with the Father, he is consequently God, as the Father is God: for the inequality arises not from the essence, but from the order and manner of subsistence.

Thus the Father was greater than he: greater and greater is he that gives, than he that receives, but, as to his essence, they are both one God, and so equal.

Three ways the Father was greater than Christ;

1. With respect to his human nature. Who can doubt but a dependent creature is inferior to that Almighty Being that made him?

2. With respect to the eternal generation of his divine person; as he was begotten of the Father, who is therefore called the fountain of the deity.

3. With respect to his office as Mediator, for thus he was the Father's servant. O wonderful condescension! that the eternal word, who, as such, was equal with the Father, should, in compassion to us, accept a station, and sustain a character, in which the Father was greater than he!

Now though under each of these considerations, God the Father is greater than the Son, yet none of them are inconsistent with the Son's being God by nature.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 14:28". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/john-14.html. 1700-1703.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

John 14:28. Instead of being terrified and alarmed, you should rejoice, that I, etc. ἠκούσατε, κ. τ. λ. (John 14:18) prepares for this.

εἰ ἠγαπ. με] intended by Jesus to be understood in its ideal sense, of true, complete love, which consists simply and solely in entire self-surrender to Him, so that all other interests are subordinated to it.

ὅτι πατήρ μου μείζων μου ἐστί] Statement of the reason for the joy which they would have felt ( ἐχάρητε): since my Father is greater, as generally, so particularly, more powerful (comp. John 14:12; John 8:53; John 10:29; 1 John 4:4) than I since I, consequently, through my departure to Him, shall be elevated in the higher fellowship with Him, to far greater power and efficiency for my aims, for victory over the world, etc. Comp. Melanchthon. In this gain, which is awaiting me, how should not he rejoice who loves me? Others find the motive to joy indicated by Christ in the glory and blessedness which awaits Him with the Father. So Cyril ( τὴν ἰδίαν δόξαν ἀναληψόμενος), and several, including Tholuck, Olshausen, Kling, Köstlin, Maier, Hilgenfeld, Hengstenberg, Baeumlein, comp. Godet. But thus the motive would lie only in the departure to the Father generally (with which the attainment of the δόξα was necessarily associated), not to the Father’s superior greatness of being, irrespective of the fact, that on this view the reference which Jesus would be giving to the love of the disciples would contain something selfish. Others render: the occasion of joy lies in the more powerful protection which the μείζων πατήρ would assure to the disciples, beyond what He, during His presence on earth, was able to do (Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, and several others, including Kuinoel, Lücke, De Wette). But this does not apply to the condition of love to the person of Jesus, for the above explanation changes it rather into love towards His work. Others, as Luther, Beza, Grotius, Bengel, Lampe, mingle together in the determination of the cause of joy, the interest of Christ and of the disciples; comp. Calvin: “quia haec ultima est meta, ad quam tendere vos oportet.”

The μειζονότης of the Father (formerly the point of controversy with the Arians, see Suicer, Thes. II. p. 1368) does not rest in the pre-eminence of the unbegotten over the begotten (Athanasius, Faustinus, Gregory Nazianzus, Hilarius, Euth. Zigabenus, and many others, including again also Olshausen), for which special expedient the text offers no occasion whatever, nor again in the temporal humiliation of Christ (Cyril, Augustine, Ammonius, Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Beza, Aretius, and many others, including De Wette, Tholuck, and Luthardt), since God is also greater than the exalted Christ (see John 14:16, ἐρωτήσω, John 17:5; 1 Corinthians 15:27-28; Philippians 2:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:23; 1 Corinthians 11:3, and generally throughout the N. T.), as He was also greater than the pre-existent Logos (John 1:1-3); but in the absolute monotheism of Jesus (John 17:3), and of the whole N. T. (see on Romans 9:5), according to which the Son, although of divine essence,(157) and ὁ΄οούσιος with the Father (John 1:1; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15-18, et al.), nevertheless was, and is, and remains subordinated to the Father, the immutably Highest One, since the Son, as Organ, as Commissioner of the Father, as Intercessor with Him, etc., has received His whole power, even in the kingly office, from the Father (John 17:5), and, after the complete accomplishment of the work committed to Him, will restore it to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:28). The remark of Hengstenberg is incorrect: Only such a pre-eminence of greatness on the part of the Father can be intended, as came to an end with the departure of Christ to the Father.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 14:28". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/john-14.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 14:28. ἠκούσατε, ye have heard) On other occasions His wont is to say, εἶπον, I have said; but this which He has said, concerning His departure, His disciples eagerly had attended to, and that, too, with sorrow.— ὑπάγω, καὶ ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς, I go away, and come unto you) In relation to the world He saith, I came and depart [“I leave the world”], ch. John 16:28 : καὶ, and forthwith.— ἐχάρητε ἂν) ye would rejoice, or rather, ye would have rejoiced. As to the Pluperfect, we have slightly touched upon the subject in John 14:2.(353) Ye would have rejoiced for My sake, as I am setting out upon a wished-for journey of departure, and for your own sakes, as love makes you capable of perceiving that My departure is advantageous even to yourselves. Love begets joy, both of itself, and also because it keeps the word of Christ, which opens out all the most joyful prospects to us.— μείζων μου, greater than I) Many and various were the former disputations and treatises on this passage, which Dion. Petavius has collected, Tom. ii. Theol. Dogm. l. 2, de Trin. cap. 2; G. Bullus Def. Fid. Nicæn. Sect. iv.; Jo. Casp. Suicer. Thes. Part ii. coll. 1368, Reinecc. ad N. T., fol. 387. Not a few of the Greeks and Latins have answered the Arians, and laid it down, That the Father, not as God, but as the ἀγέννητος Father (not-begotten), is said to be greater than the Son, not regarded in His character as God, but as the Son, begotten of the Father; and that this fact does not do away with His unity of essence ( τὸ ὁμοούσιον) or consubstantiality with the Father. To these is to be added G. Arnold. Evang. Bottschafft, p. 697. Others affirm, that Christ is inferior to the Father in respect of His human nature;(354) which phrase of comparison has in it nothing inept; comp. 1 John 3:20, “God is greater than our heart.” Jesus both had in His most holy soul, at one time, a greater feeling of His glory, at another time of His humility, and expressed that feeling accordingly in His words. Comp. note on Mark 13:32, “Of that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels, etc., neither the Son, but the Father” [spoken in relation to His human nature, and His humiliation]. In this passage He speaks under the feeling of His ταπεινότης, lowliness: language such as was best adapted both to the capacity of understanding which the disciples had at the time, and to the present (existing) time and circumstances, when He was treating of His departure to the Father. Before His actual departure, He had been lower even than the angels, Hebrews 2:9; after His departure, He became greater than His own self [i.e. the Worker, through His disciples, of greater miracles than even He Himself had performed in the days of His flesh. “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”], John 14:12, and equal to the Father, ch. John 17:5, “O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” Nor yet does He speak of His Humiliation alone, but speaks as the Son of God in the flesh, directing His aspirations (longing to go) to the Father. Greater than I; that is to say, more blessed. Comp. this term as it occurs in ch. John 4:12, “Art Thou greater than our father Jacob?” John 8:53, “Art Thou greater than our father Abraham?” 1 Corinthians 13:13, “The greater of these is charity;” John 14:5, “Greater (more useful) is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues;” and as to the thing itself, comp. Mark 10:18.(355) This consideration especially made the departure of Jesus out of the world to the Father a thing to be desired.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 14:28". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-14.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you; they had heard our Saviour saying so, John 14:3. It is of the nature of true love, to rejoice in the good of the object beloved, as much as in its own, nay, before its own.

Saith our Saviour,

if ye loved me, that is, as ye ought to love me, (for our Lord had before owned that they did love him, giving it as a reason why he rather revealed himself and manifested himself to them, than to the world, John 14:23), you would not have been so unreasonably disturbed at my telling you that I shall leave you; because I not only told you that I would come again to you, but because I told you that I was going to my Father, John 14:2; from whom though I was never separated, as I am God over all blessed for ever, yet my human nature was yet never glorified with him; so that I shall be there much happier than here; being highly exalted, and having a name given me above every name, Philippians 2:9.

For my Father is greater than I not greater in essence, (as the Arians and Socinians would have it), he had many times before asserted the contrary; but greater,

1. Either as to the order amongst the Divine Persons; because the Father begat, the Son is begotten; the Father is he from whom the Son proceeded by eternal generation: in which sense, divers of the ancients, amongst whom Athanasius, Cyril, and Augustine, and some modern interpreters, understand it. Or:

2. As Mediator sent from the Father, so he is greater than I. Or:

3. In respect of my present state, while I am here in the form of a servant; and in my state of humiliation:

which seemeth to be the best interpretation, if we consider the words before, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father; for the true reason of that joy must have been, because Christ in his glorious state of exaltation would be much more happy than he had been in his state of humiliation, while he was exposed to the scoffs, reproaches, and injuries of men, the temptations of Satan, &c.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 14:28". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-14.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

более Меня Иисус не признавал более низкое положение по отношению к Отцу (после неоднократного утверждения равенства с Ним, см. пояснения к ст. 7-11), а говорил о том, что, если ученики любят Иисуса, они не будут противиться тому, чтобы Он шел к Отцу, потому что Он возвращался в Царство, из Которого пришел и в полную славу, которую Он оставил (17:5). Он возвращался, чтобы разделить с Отцом равную славу, которая будет больше, чем пережитая Им при воплощении. В этой славе Иисус никоим образом не будет ниже, потому что Его унижение закончилось.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 14:28". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-14.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Greater than I; not in nature, but in condition. He is in a glorious and exalted state; I am in a humble and lowly condition, and if ye loved me, ye would rejoice in my going to him, for I shall then be in the same glorious and exalted state in which he is, and in which I was before creation. Chap John 17:5. From that state of glory he would send them the Holy Ghost, and accomplish all which he had promised. When Christ speaks of the Father as greater than himself, he refers not to his own nature, but to his office, condition, and work as Mediator; and it implies no inferiority in his original dignity, wisdom, power, and glory.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-14.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

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 IGod, 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?

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-14.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Jesus" impending departure still disturbed the Eleven. He explained that their fear was also a result of failure to love Him as they should. They should have rejoiced that even though His departure meant loss for them it meant glory and joy for Him. We experience a similar conflict of emotions when a believing friend dies. We mourn our loss, but we should rejoice more that our loved one is with the Lord.

It should be obvious by now that Jesus did not mean that He was less then God or an inferior god when He said that God was greater than He was. Jehovah"s Witnesses and other Arians interpret Jesus" words here this way. Arius was a heretic in the early church who denied Jesus" full deity. Jesus was not speaking ontologically (i.e, dealing with essential being) since He had affirmed repeatedly that He and the Father were one ontologically ( John 1:1-2; John 10:30; John 14:9; John 20:28). Rather He was speaking of the Father"s glory. Jesus had laid His heavenly glory aside in the Incarnation, but the Father had not done so and consequently enjoyed greater glory than the Son during Jesus" earthly ministry. However now Jesus was about to return to the Father and the greater glory that He would again share with the Father. This glorification should have caused the disciples to rejoice, but they sorrowed instead because they focused on themselves too much.

This interpretation of the Father"s superiority does not negate the functional superiority of the Father over the Son within the Godhead. However, that distinction does not seem to be primary in the logic of this verse.

". . . the Song of Solomon, being begotten of the Father, is "inferior" to Him in the sense that He that is begotten is secondary to Him who begets (see i14)." [Note: Tasker, p173.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-14.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 14:28. Ye heard that I said unto you, I go away and I come unto you. If ye loved me, ye would have rejoiced that I go unto the Father, because the Father is greater than I. But the disciples were not only to have peace: true love would fill their hearts with joy. The ‘going away’ of Jesus is really a ‘going unto the Father,’ a re-establishment in all the glory of the Father’s immediate presence. The last clause of the verse contains simply the general teaching of the Gospel, of the whole Bible, and of all the greatest theologians of the Church, that the Son, while of the same nature as the Father, is subordinate to Him, inferior (for essence is not spoken of) economically, as Mediator. While, however, the departure of Jesus was thus a return to the glory of the Father’s presence, and good for Him, we must not suppose that it is on that account that the disciples are to ‘rejoice.’ ‘If ye loved me’ is not an appeal to their personal interest in Himself: it appeals rather to their interest in His work and purpose; it is a statement of the fact that ripened Christian perception, when they stand in the ‘love’ spoken of in John 14:21; John 14:23-24, will lead them to see that the departure of Jesus to His Father was an arrangement fraught with far higher blessings, both to His believing people and to the world, than His remaining among them would have been. The love which is the condition of higher revelations will teach them that the departure preliminary to these is not a matter of sorrow but of joy.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-14.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 14:28. On the contrary quite other feelings should possess them: joy in sympathy with Him in His glorification and in expectation of the results of His going to the Father: . “If ye loved me,” an almost playful way of reproaching their sadness. There was no doubt of their love, but it was an unintelligent love. They failed to consider the great joy that awaited Him in His going to the Father. This going to the Father was cause for rejoicing, [ is not well authenticated and should be deleted] , “because the Father is greater than I”; and can therefore fulfil all the loving purposes of Christ to His disciples. “The life which He has begun with them and for them will be raised to a higher level.” They had seen the life He had lived and were disturbed because it was coming to an end: but it was coming to an end because absorbed in the greater life He would have with the Father. The theological import of the words is discussed by Westcott, who cites patristic opinions and refers to Bull and Pearson. In all that Jesus did, it was the Father’s will He carried out, and with powers communicated by the Father: the Father is the Originator and End of all His work in the world. Throughout the ministry of Jesus the Father is represented as “greater” than the Son. That it should require to be explicitly affirmed, as here, is the strongest evidence that He was Divine.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 14:28". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-14.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Pater major me est, Greek: o pater meizon mou estin. St. John Chrysostom, hom. Greek: oe. p. 443. Nov. Ed. Si quis vero dixerit majorem esse Patrem, ut filii principium, non huic contradicemus, Greek: kath o aitios tou uiou, oude touto anteroumen. See St. Athanasius, Orat. 1. Cont. Arianos, p. 362. Ed. Ben. non dixit, Pater præstantior est me, Greek: kreiton mon esti, ne quis eum alium a Patris natura, esse suspicaretur, sed major dixit, non quidem magnitudine quadam, aut tempore, sed quia ex ipso Patre gignitur, &c. See St. Augustine, tract. 78. p. 699. propter forman servi, dicit, Pater major me est, &c.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 14:28". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/john-14.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

have heard = heard (Aor.)

come again = am coming (omit "again "). I said. All the texts omit.

greater. The Lord was not inferior as to His essential being (see verses: John 14:9-11; John 10:30), but as to His office, as sent by the Father. See 1 Corinthians 15:27. Philippians 1:2, Philippians 1:9-11.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 14:28". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-14.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-14.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

28. If you loved me. He gives them a gentle scolding. They do love him, but they are in part selfish in their wish to keep him there. Because he is greater than I. [Philippians 2:6-7] The point is that the blessings of the Holy Spirit would be sent by the Father only after Jesus had returned to heaven.

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 14:28". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/john-14.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(28) Ye have heard how I said unto you.—Better, Ye heard how I said unto you. (See John 14:19-20.)

If ye loved me, ye would rejoice.—True love seeks another’s good and not its own. Their sorrow at His departure was at its root selfish, as all sorrow for those who depart to be with God is, however little we think so. His departure would be the return to the glory of the Father’s throne, and was matter for joy and not for sorrow. For them also it was expedient. (Comp. Notes on John 16:6-7.)

For my Father is greater than I.—These words have naturally formed the subject of controversy in every period of the Church’s history, between those who deny and those who accept the truth that the Son is “very God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before all worlds.” And, as in all controversies, statements have been made on either side which cannot be supported by the words themselves. On the part of those who assert the divine nature, it has been contended that the Father is greater than the Son only as regards the human nature of the Son; but this is not here thought of. In this passage, as in others of the New Testament, it is plainly asserted that in the divine nature there is a subordination of the Son to the Father. (See, e.g., John 14:16; John 17:5; 1 Corinthians 3:23; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 15:27-28; Philippians 2:9; Philippians 2:11; and especially Note on John 5:19 et seq.) On the part of those who deny the divinity of our Lord, it has been contended that this text asserts the inferiority of His nature to that of the Father, whereas the words could only have been uttered by one who meant in them to assert His own divine essence. If we try to imagine a man saying, “God is greater than I,” we feel at once that He who really said them claimed for Himself that He was truly God.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-14.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
heard
3,18; 16:16-22
If
16:7; Psalms 47:5-7; 68:18,9; Luke 24:51-53; 1 Peter 1:8
I go
12; 16:16; 20:17
Father
5:18; 10:30,38; 13:16; 20:21; Isaiah 42:1; 49:5-7; 53:11; Matthew 12:18; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 15:24-28; Philippians 2:6-11; Hebrews 1:2,3; 2:9-15; 3:1-4; Revelation 1:11,17; Revelation 1:18
Reciprocal: Luke 24:52 - with;  John 10:29 - is greater;  John 14:4 - whither;  John 15:14 - my;  John 16:5 - I;  John 16:6 - GeneralJohn 16:28 - I leave;  John 20:13 - why;  1 Corinthians 15:28 - then

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 14:28". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-14.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ver. 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."

Christ exhibits His return to the Father as a matter of joy to the disciples, first of all on the ground of their love to Him; but what would redound to His honour would serve at the same time their best interests. He enters into a condition of eternal glory, which will allow Him to fulfil the high promises that He had made to them in the previous words. That He made prominent the former point, had respect to the sentiment of the disciples, that it was the obligation of their love to mourn over His departure. But if reference to the good of the disciples had not been in the background, Christ would not have added "and come again unto you" to the "I go away." That would have had no meaning, if the personal interests of Christ alone had been involved. If, on the other hand, there is a latent reference to the salvation of the disciples, these have their due significance. Through His departure to the Father, who is greater than He, He can fulfil His promise of return. This return, in which He would impart to His disciples much more than He had imparted during His earlier earthly life, was to be a result of His assumption into the glory of the Father. That the personal interests of the disciples were in the background, and that they were coincident with those of Christ Himself, is shown by the relation in which "ye would rejoice" stands to "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid," in ver. 27. There the subject was solicitude about their own danger, and therefore the corresponding joy must have reference to their own salvation, Quesnel is perfectly right in saying, "The interests of Jesus Christ ought to be dearer to us than our own. But we cannot seek His things without at the same time finding our own."

Christ does not demand of His disciples that they should i rejoice. He knew that their love was not yet purified enough for that. But when He says to them that they ought, if they loved Him, to rejoice, the result was doubtless attained that their sorrow was mitigated. So from us He does not demand at once that we should rejoice when our beloved are taken away. He leaves nature its rights; He has sympathy with our weakness, which is bound up with the best elements of our nature. It is the healthy development of love, that it is first blended with earthly admixtures, and only by degrees sublimates itself into the pure heavenly flame.

In a certain sense, every one who dies in the Lord may say to his friends what Christ says here to His disciples. Every believer goes at his departure to His Redeemer, and thus into the glory of the Father.

That the Father was greater than Jesus, makes His departure to the Father matter to be rejoiced in, only if Christ in His departure was received into the fellowship of the glory of the Father (comp. ch. John 17:5). If I shall be with My Father, I shall be greater than I am now. It is clear from this, that Christ is not here set over against the Father in His original essence, nor in His human nature generally; for this shared the exaltation to the Father's right hand, whereas a condition is here meant which was laid aside by going to the Father. But He is placed in opposition to the Father according to His entire personality, as the Christ come into the flesh, and in the form of a servant, as He was then incorporate and lived among men. The Arians had no right to use this passage in the interest of their doctrine; on the contrary, the assumption of Christ into the supreme glory of the Father, as it is here taught, serves most effectually to refute their error. Equality in glory presupposes, and is based upon, equality in essence. According to Lcke, the word, "For My Father is greater than I," must express, "not the transitory human consciousness of the Redeemer in His earthly humiliation," but "the essential, indissoluble consciousness of His subordination to the Father." But indeed the going to the Father made no difference in that essential consciousness. But only such a being greater can be attributed to the Father as came to an end when Christ went home to Him. Other explanations, such as "God can better protect you than My earthly presence with you," or "the Father is a mightier defence than I am," are negatived by the consideration that Christ's going to the Father is primarily exhibited as a matter of joy and advantage to Christ Himself. "If ye loved Me" plainly shows that the disciples were to rejoice on Christ's own account at His departure to the Father.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 14:28". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-14.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

28.If you loved me you would rejoice. The disciples unquestionably loved Christ, but not as they ought to have done; for some carnal affection was mixed with their love, so that they could not endure to be separated from him; but if they had loved him spiritually, there was nothing which they would have had more deeply at heart, than his return to the Father.

For the Father is greater than I. This passage has been tortured in various ways. The Aryans, in order to prove that Christ is some sort of inferior God, argued that he is less than the Father The orthodox Fathers, to remove all ground for such a calumny, said that this must have referred to his human nature; but as the Aryans wickedly abused this testimony, so the reply given by the Fathers to their objection was neither correct nor appropriate; for Christ does not now speak either of his human nature, or of his eternal Divinity, but, accommodating himself to our weakness, places himself between God and us; and, indeed, as it has not been granted to us to reach the height of God, Christ descended to us, that he might raise us to it. You ought to have rejoiced, he says, because I return to the Father; for this is the ultimate object at which you ought to aim. By these words he does not show in what respect he differs in himself from the Father, but why he descended to us; and that was that he might unite us to God; for until we have reached that point, we are, as it were, in the middle of the course. We too imagine to ourselves but a half-Christ, and a mutilated Christ, if he do not lead us to God.

There is a similar passage in the writings of Paul, where he says that Christ

will deliver up the Kingdom to God his Father, that God may be all in all,
(
1 Corinthians 15:24.)

Christ certainly reigns, not only in human nature, but as he is God manifested in the flesh. In what manner, therefore, will he lay aside the kingdom? It is, because the Divinity which is now beheld in Christ’s face alone, will then be openly visible in him. The only point of difference is, that Paul there describes the highest perfection of the Divine brightness, the rays of which began to shine from the time when Christ ascended to heaven. To make the matter more clear, we must use still greater plainness of speech. Christ does not here make a comparison between the Divinity of the Father and his own, nor between his own human nature and the Divine essence of the Father, but rather between his present state and the heavenly glory, to which he would soon afterwards be received; as if he had said, “You wish to detain me in the world, but it is better that I should ascend to heaven.” Let us therefore learn to behold Christ humbled in the flesh, so that he may conduct us to the fountain of a blessed immortality; for he was not appointed to be our guide, merely to raise us to the sphere of the moon or of the sun, but to make us one with God the Father.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 14:28". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-14.html. 1840-57.