Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/The Gospel of John/Chapter 14
- 1 Verses 1-4
- 2 Verse 6 "The Way the Truth and the Life"
- 3 Verse 12, the person who believes in Jesus will do the things Jesus did
- 4 Verse 14 "I will do anything that you ask in my name"
- 5 Verse 15 The one who loves Jesus will obey his commands
- 6 Verses 18 and 19 I will not leave you orphans
- 7 Verse 21-23 Obedience gains a believer the love of Jesus and his Father
- 8 verse 27-29
- 9 Verse 30 The one who is boss here in this world
Jesus comforts his disciples and calls upon them to invest both trust and faith in the Lord. He does this by once again inferring (and thus predicting) his own death and resurrection. Though Jesus' use of foreknowledge is nothing new in John's gospel, his description of divine destination is completely unique. "I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:2,3). This heavenly destination is not exclusive to Jesus however; he explicitly states that his disciples are the motivating factor in regard to this preparation. After this strange statement, Jesus reminds the disciples that they "know the way to the place where I am going" (John 14:4). "The way" is not a physical path, but a lifestyle of submission and faith that has been taught to Jesus' disciples from the beginning of his ministry; and the "place" is obviously near the Father, (aka heaven).
There is also disagreement in the arrangement of Chapter 14. "The fact that in 14:31 Jesus tells his disciples to get up and depart, but they do not, has suggested to many commentators that there has been some disarrangement of the text," (Smith 263). The fact that the disciples would not obey Jesus seems inconsistent with the text. One argument, Smith continues, is that 15-17 were added later, as is a possibility in many parts of this Gospel.
Jesus reassures his disciples the events that are to come should not be troubling to them and they should trust God during this time. Jesus also reassures the disciples they know the way to the kingdom of Heaven. Throughout Jesus' ministry the disciples showed a lack of understanding of Jesus' teachings and mission. Now Jesus is reassuring the disciples they know what they need to know from his teachings.
Verse 6 "The Way the Truth and the Life"
John 14:6 may be one of the best known verses of the Gospel of John. Jesus announces to his disciples, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me." (NASB) This verse fits with the often stark contrast of dark and light in the gospel of John, especially as depicted of "the Jews" who are constantly in the dark. Some argue that this exclusivity only applies to those immediately exposed to Jesus, saying that all have received "the light" (cf. 1:9) and must respond to the light they are given.
Verse 12, the person who believes in Jesus will do the things Jesus did
He who believes in Jesus will do the same things that Jesus did.
Some of the things that characterized Jesus' and made it different than the lives of the people who went before him were:
- sacrificial love
- confrontation of sin
- spending time with his disciples
- teaching people how to be close to God
- praying fervently to God
- believing and trusting in God
So Jesus' expectation was that those who believed in him develop similar characteristics in their lives.
An important part of this verse states that those who believe in Jesus will not only do similar works to Jesus, but also "greater works than [them] because [Jesus] is going to the Father. An interpretation of this verse is that Jesus is referring to the idea that His followers will perform the act of proclaiming the resurrection. In other words, Jesus is saying, "What could be greater than spreading the news of my resurrection to the world?"
Verse 14 "I will do anything that you ask in my name"
Jesus refers to things that are in line with his teaching and will. By looking at other scriptures that describe God's heart we can construct a list of things that Jesus has in mind that his disciples would ask for:
- unity among believers (Jn 15)
- faith (various)
- spiritual fruit (Jn 15)
- a new heart
- changes in character (2 Peter 1)
- healing of the heart (James 5:15, 16)
- understanding and wisdom
Other scriptures demonstrate that to ask for things a believer uses prayer. This is an ongoing communication with God, talking with him, asking for things and sometimes insisting over time.
Jesus uses the plural "you", speaking immediately to his group of disciples, and by extension, those who would come to believe through their efforts. By talking to the group and using the plural "you", as well as the help of other passages, we know that the prayers are one person for himself as well as one person praying for another or for others.
Verse 15 The one who loves Jesus will obey his commands
Jesus commanded many things of his disciples, principally moral teachings about how to treat one another and how to relate to God.
Rather than focus on the emotional aspects of a relationship with him, Jesus calls the attention of his followers to their actions. A disciple of Jesus' who loves him will obey him. This implies that in the areas that Jesus gives commands, Jesus becomes the person who calls the shots in one's life, not the person person who professes love for Jesus. This was acted out in the lives of many thousands of early followers of Jesus', many of whom obeyed to the death at the hands of non-believers. At the time of the writing of John, most of the Apostles and many other followers had already been killed for obeying Jesus' commands.
Jesus then goes on to explain in verse 16 how he will ask the Father to send another advocate for his disciples. He speaks of the Holy Spirit, which will always remain with the disciples of Jesus as a counselor. The purpose of this discourse has been questioned by some as a possible way that John attempts to allow for a progressive revelation of doctrine by leaving the door open for future revision after the death of Jesus. By having Jesus explain that there will be an "Advocate" that will come to guide them after his death, John could very well be addressing the concerns of the Christian community who might have been divided on certain issues and were seeking ways to settle disputes in the absence of a firm stance by Jesus. This view also lends itself well to subsequent church history as we have seen that the "Spirit of Truth" or Holy Spirit has been credited with guiding the decisions of church doctrine throughout history. Without this guide it would have been difficult for church leaders to make decisions of doctrine with any type of authority if they were not clearly outlined by Jesus. So it is an interesting question to wonder if Jesus actually said something along these lines or if this was an attempt by John to address issues and concerns of the Christian community of his day.
Verses 18 and 19 I will not leave you orphans
The word 'orphan' appears here in the Greek. Note that he addressed them as little children in John 13:33, showing his deep love and affection for them. He saw them as vulnerable children in a hostile world, in his absence. That is how the disciples would feel when Jesus was no longer with them on Earth. But they need not feel like that; he would send another spirit/angel to them. For the elohim/angel, their parakletos in Greek, would be their supporter. The Spirit/angel is not explicitly mentioned here, but it is through the Spirit/angel teaching Jesus to them that they will draw nearer to the ever-living Father.
Verse 21-23 Obedience gains a believer the love of Jesus and his Father
Besides the universal love for mankind expressed throughout the gospels and New Testament, Jesus talks about a love that comes specifically when his followers obey the commands of his Father. This level of love is conditional to an extent on the response of the believer. Jesus describes love for him as minding his word.
Jesus tells the disciples in this section about the coming of the Holy Spirit/angel in the near future. The Holy Spirit/angel will teach the disciples and will lead the disciples in their mission to spread the message of Jesus throughout the world.
In this passage Jesus tells his disciples he's leaving them in/with peace meaning that once he is gone they should still be assured and comforted that he will not have left them in spirit, only body. "This peace, bestowed upon them from the throne of God, was His gift to them -- the indwelling Spirit/angel Who would assure them of His presence no matter what life would bring" (Speer 445). Furthermore, Jesus reminds them that he will once again return to them, but later. If anything they should rejoice that he is going to be with his Father(in heaven) for the Father is greater than anything. The last verse "I am telling you this now before it happens. When it does happen you will believe" (14:29) is a prophecy to let them know that they will finally realize everything once it all occurs.
Verse 30 The one who is boss here in this world
Jesus refers to the Devil as master of this world. This is because the majority of human desires go against the desires of God. The most dramatic example of this is the reaction of the people who rose up to kill Jesus, a person who preached about the will of God and how the people needed to change what they were doing.
Some people believe that God controls everything that happens on this planet but not according to Jesus. He told us to pray for God's will to be done. That means his will is not being done.
In the time period that John was written, Greco-Roman religion worshiped the Emperor. Traditionally, Jews had exemption from Emperor worship, because of their own beliefs. It is possible that when the Jewish Christians were cast out of the synagogue, they were told that they weren't Jewish from an "official" standpoint, not being in the Temple; they were also persecuted by the Romans, who "wanted" them to partake in Emperor worship. For this reason, this verse could possibly refer to the anti-Christ. The book of Revelations possibly supports this theory: in this book, the beast, referred to as the anti-Christ, has many characteristics which point to it being a symbol for the Emperor.
The follower of Jesus, in contrast, has a very different master in his heart. Rather than being guided by selfish human desires, the follower of Jesus is directed by the word of God. This includes going against many common beliefs of the non-believing world, and often against the natural desires of the human heart. To allow Jesus to be the lord of one's life means self-denial (Luke 14) and sacrifice. Jesus leads in this way by example. In verse 31, he says that he does exactly why God commands of him. This exemplifies the obedient lifestyle that Jesus teaches—for him to follow God's commands even to the cross.
Philip and Thomas in John 14 Philip and Thomas are doubters, with reservations regarding Christ's person even as He is near departure. They have witnessed his miracles and been at His side for the duration of his ministry, so why the questions? What makes them so different from the others who remain silent at this critical juncture? Are they the only ones who had doubt, or were they simply the voices of doubt that the author of John included to portray them in a certain light? Their dialogue, too, seems to be simply an excuse for Christ to reiterate His doctrine, and after He rebukes Philip, he does just that.