Jesus is still in the middle of his farewell discourse. He says he is the way, the truth, and the life. He promises the Paraclete or Holy Spirit. He says the ruler of this world has no hold or claim on him.
As I write in every introduction:
This translation and commentary are for everyone who needs an online reference, but the commentary is mainly for readers in developing and persecuting countries, where Christians cannot afford or do not have access to excellent printed Study Bibles or commentaries. The main goal is missional.
The translation is mine. I offer it only to learn what the Greek says. It tends to be literal, but complete literalness and readability are impossible, so I had to make adjustments.
Readers can go to biblehub.com and use the interlinear link to look up every Greek word, and then the links go to every occurrence of the word. They can also visit biblegateway.com for many translations.
A GrowApp section is offered after every passage of Scripture, which asks challenging questions for deeper discipleship.
Links are provided for further study.
Jesus Is the Revelation of the Father (John 1:1-14)
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go, I will prepare a place for you, and I am coming again and I will take you along to myself, so that where I am you also may be. 4 You know the place where I go.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you have known me, you will know the Father also. And from now on, you know him and you have known him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “I have been with you for such a long time, and you have not known me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words which I have spoken to you I do not speak on my own, but the Father dwelling in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. If not, believe because of the works themselves. 12 I tell you the firm truth: That one will do the works which I do, and he will do greater works than these because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you may ask in my name, I will do this, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
Since the verb believe and the noun faith are so important in John’s Gospel, I would like to plant word studies at the beginning of each chapter. Then you can scroll back up here to read what the terms mean. I repost this word studies in nearly each chapter because this is online writing and I don’t need to worry about the cost per printed page.
The verb believe (verb is pisteuō, pronounced pih-stew-oh) and the noun faith have to penetrate one’s whole being. Now let’s study them more formally. The noun faith is pistis (pronounced peace-teace or pis-tiss), and it is used 243 times. Its basic meaning is the “belief, trust, confidence,” and it can also mean “faithfulness” and “trustworthy” (Mounce p. 232). It is directional, and the best direction is faith in God (Mark 11:22; 1 Thess. 1:8; 1 Pet. 1:21; Heb. 6:1) and faith in Jesus (Acts 3:16; 20:21; 24:24; Gal. 3:26; Eph. 1:15; Col. 1:4; 1 Tim. 3:13). Believing (verb) and faith (noun) is very important to God. It is the language of heaven. We live on earth and by faith see the invisible world where God is. We must believe he exists; then we must exercise our faith to believe he loves us and intends to save us.
A true acronym:
Forsaking All, I Trust Him
One has to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. The bottom line is that for John’s Gospel believing and faith must not get stuck in an intellectual assent. “I believe that God exists and Jesus lived.” This may be a good start, but everyone who believes or has faith must put their complete trust in God’s Son.
Now let’s move on.
There are no chapter divisions in the originals. So please see this passage as a continuation of Jesus’s prediction that Peter would not stand the test and betray Jesus in John 13:37-38.
This is a great command because it is built on or flows out of the two verbs “believe.” I take them also as commands or imperatives (as does Novakovic, p. 114, as do many translations, but she also give the various options). It could be translated as “trust.” Our absence of anxiety flows out of our believing in God and his Son.
“I am coming again”: Many take these two verses as supporting a separate rapture from the Second Coming; that is, the rapture and the Second Coming do not happen at the same time, but the rapture precedes the Second Coming by several years. However, v. 23 will teach us that the noun monē, a dwelling place, (or plural in v. 2 monai) is done when the Father and the Son will come and will prepare a monē for those who love the Lord Jesus and keeps his word. The verb of monē is menō, “to dwell”; it is used in vv. 10 and 17. Jesus is in the Father, and the Father is in him; the Father dwells in the Son. Verse 17 says the Spirit “dwells” (menō) with us and will be with us. Likewise, v. 23 promises the same connectedness and dwelling, through the Spirit, of the Father and Son in the obedience and loving disciple.
Therefore, vv. 2-3 and 23 are not talking about a separate rapture or the Second Coming, whether at the same time or years apart; instead the three verses teach us that through the Spirit, the Father and Son invite the disciples into the same intimate dwelling place that the Father and Son enjoy. Through the Spirit, the Father and Son dwell in the disciple and the disciple dwells in the Father and Son. It is a “coming again” with intimacy, creating the same spiritual dwelling place or spiritual dwelling places that the Father and Son have. Verse 18: “I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.” This coming is through the Paraclete; if not, then Jesus’s ascension without his coming in some form would in fact leave them as orphans. But he is coming to them not only during his post-Resurrection appearances, but also by the Spirit after his ascension. So vv. 2-3, again do not refer to the Parousia or Second Coming or rapture.
The disciples know the place where Jesus is going, or do they really know? Thomas, evidently speaking for the others, does not know where Jesus is going. The answer is that first Jesus is going to the cross, but soon he will be resurrected and ascend to the Father. Jesus is the way to the Father. And so v. 6 is about the intimacy of the Father and the Son, and the disciples having the same intimacy (v. 17). This intimacy comes only through Jesus. By the way, this verse has nothing to do with final judgment.
Let’s look at the three main terms.
The Greek noun way (hodos, pronounced ho-doss) can just as easily be translated as “path” or “street” or “road.” In Greece today, the street signs say “OD.” (short for hodos), meaning “street” or “st.” Jesus is the pathway to the Father. No one can come to him except by his death, resurrection and ascension—all three events, taken as a unit, mean “glory” in John’s Gospel.
“truth”: let’s make a more formal study of the noun. Biblical truth is not only an abstract truth floating out there but makes no impact on us. It is the truth that we know. We can know this proposition theoretically: “God exists.” (Or, better, we can believe it.) But in Christ, we can know God personally. “I know God.” So knowledge of God, the highest and greatest being in the universe, is personal, according to the Bible.
“truth”: Let’s focus on the Greek noun. It is alētheia (pronounced ah-lay-thay-ah and is used 109 times). Truth is a major theme in the Johannine literature: 45 times.
BDAG is considered by many to be the authoritative lexicon of the Greek NT, and the lexicon defines the noun in these ways:
(1).. “The quality of being in accord with what is true, truthfulness, dependability, uprightness.”
(2).. “The content of what is true, truth.”
(3).. “An actual state or event, reality.”
So truth gained from the world around us is possible. Our beliefs must correspond to the outside world (outside of you and me). But it goes deeper than just the outside world. We must depend on God’s character and his Word. That is the meaning of the first definition. God is true or truthful or dependable, or upright. Everything else flows from him.
For good measure, let’s look at some definitions from the larger Greek world. The noun alētheia means I.. truth; 1.. truth as opposed to a lie; 2.. truth, reality as opposed to appearance. II.. truthfulness, sincerity, frankness, candor (Liddell and Scott). So I.2 says that truth goes more deeply than appearances. And the second definition (II) links truth with character. It is interesting, however, that frankness and candor is a synonym of truth. This fits the apostolic preaching in the book of Acts. Maybe we could call it boldness and fearlessness.
Now let’s look at the noun life more closely. It is very versatile.
It is the noun zoē (pronounced zoh-ay, and girls are named after it, e.g. Zoey). BDAG says that it has two senses, depending on the context: a physical life (e.g. life and breath) and a transcendent life. By physical life the editors mean the period from birth to death, human activity, a way or manner of living, a period of usefulness, earning a living. By transcendent life the lexicographers mean these four elements: first, God himself is life and offers us everlasting life. Second, Christ is life, who received life from God, and now we can receive life from Christ. Third, it is new life of holiness and righteousness and grace. God’s life filling us through Christ changes our behavior. Fourth, zoē means life in the age to come, or eschatological life. So our new life now will continue into the next age, which God fully and finally ushers in when Christ returns. We will never experience mere existence or death, but we will be fully and eternally alive in God. Clearly John means the fourth definition.
Together the three terms are a revelation of who he is. This is the sixth of seven “I am” statements: I am way, the truth, and the life. In Exod. 3:14, in the Septuagint (pronounced sep-too-ah-gent, a third to first century BC translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek), the Greek reads: “the LORD says, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’” (egō eimi, pronounced eh-goh-ay-mee) is used in the phrasing (along with ho ōn). This is high Christology.
JESUS’ SEVEN “I AM” SAYINGS IN JOHN
|1||I Am the Bread of Life (6:35, 48) and Living Bread (6:51)|
|2||I Am the Light of the World (8:12)|
|3||I Am the Gate (10:7, 9)|
|4||I Am the Good Shepherd (10:11, 14)|
|5||I am the Resurrection and the Life (11:25)|
|6||I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:6)|
|7||I am the True Vine (15:1, 5)|
|BTSB, p. 2163, slightly edited|
Or Jesus may refer to the “I am he” passages in Is. 40-55, as he did at John 8:24. Here is a list (all NIV and emphasis added):
Who has done this and carried it through,
calling forth the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord—with the first of them
and with the last—I am he.” (Is. 41:4)
10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
11 I, even I, am the Lord,
and apart from me there is no savior.
12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.
13 Yes, and from ancient days I am he.
No one can deliver out of my hand.
When I act, who can reverse it?” (Is. 43:10-13, see v. 25)
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Is. 46:4)
“Listen to me, Jacob,
Israel, whom I have called:
I am he;
I am the first and I am the last.
13 My own hand laid the foundations of the earth,
and my right hand spread out the heavens;
when I summon them,
they all stand up together. (Is. 48:12-13)
12 “I, even I, am he who comforts you.
Who are you that you fear mere mortals,
human beings who are but grass,
13 that you forget the Lord your Maker,
who stretches out the heavens
and who lays the foundations of the earth,
that you live in constant terror every day
because of the wrath of the oppressor,
who is bent on destruction? (Is. 51:12-13)
Whether Jesus is referring to these verses in the “I Am” statements or not, this is high Christology.
2.. What Does It or He Symbolize?
1.. Physical Object or Concept or Person
Now let’s apply this trilogy (three words):
2.. Jesus Is (1) the Clearest and Most Direct and Only Path to the Father (Judaism Is Now Inadequate); (2) Jesus Is the Clearest Revelation of the Father Jesus is the Light of the World; (3) Jesus is the Source and Giver of Eternal Life for Those who Believe in Him.
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life
So this trilogy says that Jesus is the direct path towards the Father, and all other religions are inadequate, and in his context, it was Judaism; he clarifies who the Father is. If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father (v. 4). Jesus is the fullest truth or revelation of the Father. And he will give all who trust in him eternal life–resurrection life–now and forever.
“No one comes to the Father except through me”: This is clear. Jesus is exclusive. In his day and when John wrote, Judaism is obsolete and Greek and Roman paganism is not the right way. Only Jesus is. He completes Judaism and steers people away from paganism. We now know God the Father only through him.
This is one of the greatest statements about the connectedness of the Father and the Son. To answer Philip’s request directly: If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father, Jesus is the prefect representation of the Father. Jesus said the same statement before: “But if I do them, and even if you may not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and continue to know that the Father is in me and I in the Father” (John 10:38). Jesus invites us to believe that he is in the Father, and the Father is in him. If you don’t believe by his words, then believe because of the works themselves, which refers to all the works that Jesus had been doing. Mounce and Morris say that Philip was requesting a theophany (a manifestation or appearance of God’s presence). I had not thought of that before. They may be right. Then Mounce writes: “What Philip had not yet learned was that in the person of Jesus, God had answered the deepest longing of the human heart. It is in Jesus that the Father presents himself to us. To know the Son is to know the Father. To see the Son is to see the Father” (comment on v. 8).
For v. 10, a little technical grammar thing and the clause: “the Father living in me does his works.” The participle (“living”) does not have an article, so professional grammarians say it cannot be attributive (adjectival); rather, it is adverbial, so it could be translated: “The Father does his works because he dwells in me” (Novakovic, p. 122).
I like Beasley-Murray here on v. 10: “It is not simply that Jesus has been sent by God, and so according to Jewish definition ‘One sent is as he who sent him,’ though that is uniquely true of Jesus in relation to God; nor is it solely because the revelation of God, made known ‘in many times and in various ways’ is now made known in its completeness (cf. Heb. 1:1); the affirmation holds good because Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in him.” This verse describes the complete unity between Jesus and the Father. Jesus is the revelation of God (comment on v. 10).
Morris on v. 11: “While it is true that the New Testament looks for a vital faith in a living person, it is also true that this is not blind incredulity. Faith has an intellectual content.”
Renewalists love this verse because they believe that miracles happen today. “Miracles” are the works that Jesus had been doing throughout the Gospel of John (and the Synoptics) because the Father was dwelling in his Son. So can believers do the same works and even greater works than these? Obviously yes, because that is the plain reading of the verse. However, in what sense are the works greater than these? More numerous because the entire body of Christ teams up together and in unity do the works? Or are the works more grand and glorious and awe-inspiring than the works that the Father did through Jesus? Are the works greater because they go beyond biblical precedence?
First the commentators.
Mounce says that we have the privilege of preaching the gospel and see people born again or regenerated. Perhaps, but this seems too restrictive.
Klink: The disciples “are invited—no, commissioned (cf. Matt. 28:18-20)—to participate in the ongoing and powerful ministry of God the Father, the exalted Christ, and the indwelling Holy Spirit. The ministry of the church is truly the work of God in the world” (comment on v. 23).
Carson reminds us of John 5:20: “For the Father loves the Son and shows to him everything that he himself is doing, and he will show him greater works than these, with the result that you will be amazed.” The Father shows greater works to the Son, who will in turn show them to the disciples. This refers to the life-giving power of the Son, which depends on the death, resurrection, and exaltation.
In short, the works that the disciples perform after the resurrection are greater than those done by Jesus before his death insofar as the former belong to an age of clarity and power introduced by Jesus’ sacrifice and exaltation. Both Jesus’ words and his deeds were somewhat veiled during the days of his flesh; even his closest followers, as the foregoing verses make clear, grasped only part of what he was saying. But Jesus is about to return to his Father, he is about to be gloried, and in the wake of his glorification his followers will know and make known all that Jesus is and does, and their every deed and word will belong to the new eschatological age that will then have dawned. (comment on v. 12)
Then Carson looks at the next two verses about asking in Jesus’s name and the new age of the kingdom. Thus he sees the greater works as summed up or revealed in the veiled quality of the pre-resurrection and pre-ascension works and greater clarity of post-resurrection and post ascension works. The greater works are done by the disciples in the post-resurrection, post-ascension era. My take: Carson is profound, but it is not clear whether he applies the works of Jesus all the way to us, who are still proclaiming the kingdom of God after the resurrection and ascension. Renewalists today apply these “greater works” to themselves.
Beasley-Murray says the works are for us today, but he says that the limitation of the Incarnation (Jesus becoming flesh; cf. 1:14) no longer applies; redemption will have been won for the world at the cross, and the disciples are equipped to do power ministry to the nations. The disciples are in the service of the “saving sovereignty of God” (comment on vv. 12-14). In other words, the cross means that the disciples can do greater works by offering redemption and salvation to the world, after the ascension.
Morris: During Jesus’s life “he was confined in his influence to a comparatively small sector in Palestine. After his departure his followers were able to influence much larger numbers of people and to work in widely scattered places. But they did it all on the basis of Christ’s return to the Father. They were in no sense acting independently of him. On the contrary, in doing their ‘greater things,’ they were but his agents” (comment on v. 12). So Morris believes that the greater things is the worldwide outreach and more souls saved.
My Opinion (for what it’s worth)
We have to be very cautious about believing that the works will be qualitatively greater than the works that the Father did through his Son, while dwelling in the Son. Jesus refused to perform signs or a sign from heaven or the sky (Matt. 12:38-39 and 16:1-4). In context, the demanded sign he refused to do seems to be a grand display that Moses or Elijah performed. Instead, Jesus told the religious leaders who were actually provoking him to show off that an evil generation seeks a sign of this kind. The only sign that he would give them is the one of Jonah—being three days and three nights in the belly of the big fish, his burial and resurrection, in other words. Jesus’s miracles in the four Gospels were purposed to help people, down here on earth, like healing their diseases and expelling demons and cleansing lepers and multiplying fish and bread actually to feed people and resuscitating the dead. And most of all they were designed to save their souls and give them resurrection life right now. These signs met the needs of the people and advanced the kingdom in real ways. (Yes, even turning water into wine helped a wedding and spared the host social shame, a big deal in that culture.)
In contrast, anyone who claims to work—or actually does perform—signs in the sky or heaven must be extra-cautious; he may be drifting, unintentionally or intentionally, towards some sort of man of lawlessness, whom Satan will empower to perform false signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9). These signs do not actually help people in real-world ways and in their daily lives. These signs and wonders are intended to show off and awe the crowds. And if someone is actually healed of a disease by the miracle worker, what is the doctrine that the empowered healer teaches? Is it biblical, or does it cause a drift from the clear teaching of Scripture?
More specifically, some Renewalists are extra-enthusiastic about watching gifted people perform signs and wonders and insist that the signs and wonders will be qualitatively and unprecedentedly greater than those performed by the Father in the Son. So, these Renewalists eagerly look for gold dust to drop from the ceiling or glory clouds to descend on an audience. Jesus never performed anything close to the falling gold dust miracle while he was alive, and he rejected any temptation to work a sign from heaven. And as noted, the Son’s miracles helped people in their needs. Gold dust helps no one in that way. It just made people say, “Oooh! Aahh!” I doubt the gold dust story was not manufactured. I do not believe that Jesus performed the gold-dust miracle today. As for the glory cloud, I cannot deny that some sort of weighty presence of the Lord will descend on his people gathered together if God sovereignly does this as he did in Solomon’s temple at its dedication (1 Kings 8:10); it seems the presence of the Lord descended on the Mount of Transfiguration and Peter, James, and John felt something (Matt. 17:1-13 // Mark 9:2-13 // Luke 9:28-36). Saul (later Paul) and his traveling companions all fell to the ground at a divine light (Acts 26:14). Therefore, it may be possible to sense the presence of the Lord in an extra-strong way at a Christian gathering, particularly after the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost. His glory may descend in a manifest manner, if only perceived by our spirits, or sometimes even by our eyes.
Back in the 1980’s I joined a Renewal and Church-Planting Movement, where healings and demon expulsion really happened. The pastors–most of whom were high quality in their character and who worked quietly behind the scenes–were not showoffs. They believed in biblical signs and wonders seen in Acts. And the kingdom of God was advanced. People’s lives were transformed. In that decade, most of them did not go beyond what Jesus did through the church in Acts.
In v. 12, then, our signs will be greater than those only in the sense that the Spirit has descended on all of us and we—the entire church, the entire Christian community—work together in unity and heal the sick, expel demons, cleanse the lepers, open blind and deaf ears, see miraculous provisions of food, and raise the dead. Remember: the Paraclete—the Spirit of truth—will be with us forever. He had not yet been given before Pentecost (John 7:37-39), but he is about to be sent (14:16-17). In that sense our united works will be greater than these, by the power of the Spirit.
Now what about Spirit-inspired languages, commonly called “tongues”? Jesus never had this gift (as far as we know), so could it be the “greater than these” signs? No, because the context is referring to the signs and miracles that the Father did through and in the Son. So this gift, offered at Pentecost and beyond (Acts 2:1-4, 39), is not relevant to the immediate context here.
The outpouring of the Spirit comes from the Father and the ascended Lord, as he is seated at the right hand of the Father, directing his church. The Father worked in the Son while his Son was on earth, and now the Father and the Son work through the Spirit who permanently lives in us, his people, his church, his kingdom community. Now let’s watch and rejoice in the works that the Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—performs through us, which will look like the works he did through his Son. All of us together will do greater works because we have the backing of the Trinity. Going beyond those biblical, modeled works which the Father did through his Son and claiming that unprecedented works are “the greater than these works” is much too risky. Are not the works that the Father did through his Son good enough for us, or do we eagerly seek for the sensational? Are they not sufficient to meet the needs of people and advance the gospel?
Bottom line: We have to be very cautious about believing we can outperform or outdo what the Father did through his Son.
I agree with Bruce: “The ‘greater works’ of which he now spoke to them would still be his own works but by the Spirit within them. And it was only by his going to the Father that the Paraclete would come to them (John 16:7)” (comment on v. 12). Let’s keep things biblical and follow Jesus and his precedence, by the power of the Spirit.
I further add that Jews and Gentiles will do greater works, together, and this unity of one new human (Jew and Gentile) is the greatest work:
Here is a long passage of revealing the mystery of Christ which is his ministry to open up the People of God to Gentiles:
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Eph. 2:11-22, NIV)
Now let’s move on.
“I tell you the firm truth”: it literally reads, “amen, amen, I tell you.” Truth” comes from the word amēn (pronounced ah-main and comes into English as amen). In the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) Jesus says amen only once (“amen, I tell you”), but in John he very often says the word twice, so I translate the double word as “firm truth.” It expresses the authority of the one who utters it. The Hebrew root ’mn means faithfulness, reliability and certainty. It could be translated as “Truly, truly I tell you” or “I tell you with utmost certainty.” (Bruce has “indeed and truly I tell you”). Jesus’s faith in his own words is remarkable and points to his unique calling. It means we must pay attention to it, for it is authoritative. He is about to declare an important and solemn message or statement. The clause appears only on the lips of Jesus in the NT.
The requests and answers must be viewed as going to the Father in Jesus’s name, but it is also Jesus answering the request. We can also ask Jesus for “whatever,” so we don’t need to pray only to the Father, though the Bible certainly teaches this.
Does this request mean that disciples can ask for anything at all, to suit their greed / desires? No, of course not.
2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (Jas. 4:2-3, NIV)
The context of these seemingly carte blanche verses in 14:13-14 is that we ask in Jesus’s name, which means we surrender to him. We do not strut up to the Father’s throne by our own power and in our own name and ask anything that strikes our fancy. All our “anything” prayer requests have to bring glory to the Father, which means the miraculous works that we do together in unity. Our prayer request should help people in need, not help ourselves in greed. John 15:16 says that we are to bear abiding fruit so that what we ask the Father in Jesus’s name, he will give it to us. Our prayer requests come from high-quality fruit or character (see 16:23).
Praying in his name means to believe in him, his person, his character, and his being—who he is, the Lord, the Son of God and the Messiah. The noun name stands in for the person—a living, real person. Let’s develop this thought, so it can apply to you.
What’s in a name?
You carry your earthly father’s name. If he is dysfunctional, his name is a disadvantage. If he is functional and impacting society for the better, then his name is an advantage. In Jesus’s case, he has the highest status in the universe, next to the Father (Col. 1:15-20). He is exalted above every principality and power (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23; Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8). His character is perfection itself. His authority and power are absolute, under the Father. In his name you are seated in the heavenly places with Christ (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1). Now down here on earth you walk and live as an ambassador in his name, in his stead, for he is no longer living on earth, so you have to represent him down here. We are his ambassadors who stand in for his name (2 Cor. 5:20). The good news is that he did not leave you without power and authority. He gave you his. Now you represent him in his name—his person, power and authority. Therefore under his authority we have his full authority to preach the gospel and set people free from bondages and satanic spirits and heal them of diseases.
Remember that believing in his name is more than just intellectual assent or agreement with a doctrine. Belief has to go from the head to the heart (1:6-8), or so says the entirety of the Gospel of John. Pray also from a confident spirit.
“Son”: Let’s look into some more systematic theology (as I do throughout this commentary). Jesus was the Son of the Father eternally, before creation. The Son has no beginning. He and the Father always were, together. The relationship is portrayed in this Father-Son way so we can understand who God is more clearly. Now he relates to us as his sons and daughters, though, surprisingly, in John’s Gospel we are not called “sons,” but “children.” Only Jesus is the Son. In any case, on our repentance and salvation and union with Christ, we are brought into his eternal family.
Now that we have opened up some systematic theology about the Son in relation to Father God, let’s discuss even a little more systematic theology: The Trinity. The Father in his role as the Father is over the Son; the Father guides the whole of creation and the plan of the ages. The Son carries out the plan, notably by being born as a man, humbling himself, taking on the form of a servant (Phil. 3:7-8). He humbled himself so deeply and thoroughly that he died a death on the cross, the instrument of the death penalty.
However, the Father and Son are equal in their essence or nature. The Father is fully God and the Son is fully God, in their essence. Phil. 2:6: Jesus did not regard equality with God as something to hold on to, but he surrendered the environment of heaven and took the form of a servant.
Function or role: the Father is over the Son during the Son’s Incarnation and carrying out the plan of redemption.
In their essence or essential natures: Father and Son are equal.
Now let’s look more generally at the term glory, as it is seen throughout the Gospel of John and other passages of Scripture.
“glory” means, in many contexts, the light of God, shining to all the world. This brightness is the glory of God.
Moses experienced the glory of God:
18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” 21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (Exod. 33:18-22, NIV).
Commentator Bruce also saw this connection between the glory which Moses saw and the surpassing glory of Jesus. Further, he connects the glory of the old tabernacle with God pitching his tabernacle through his Son (comment on 1:14). “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exod. 25:8, NIV). When the tabernacle was completed, we read: “34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exod. 40:34-35, NIV).
But Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Spirit, says that the glory which Moses experienced, soon faded away.
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! (2 Cor. 3:7-11, NIV)
The glory of the New Covenant, initiated by Jesus, will last forever.
In more general terms, Carson says that Jesus’s glory was displayed in his signs (2:11; 11:4, 40); he was supremely glorified in his death and exaltation (7:39: 12:16, 23: 13:31-32), Yes, he also had glory before he began his public ministry, for in fact he enjoyed glory with his Father before his incarnation and returned to his Father to receive the fulness of glory (15:5, 24). While other men seek their own glory, Jesus’s relationship with his Father meant that he did not need to seek his own glory; he was secure in his relationship with his Father. He sought only God’s glory (5:41; 7:18; 8:50). (comment on 1:14).
Keener also brings focus to John’s definition of glory:
Jesus, in contrast to his opponents, accepts this only from the Father (5:41, 33; 7:18; 8:50, 54; 9:24; 12:41, 43; 16:14; 17:12). The Fourth Gospel applies Jesus’ “glory” to various acts of self-revelation (his signs–2:11; 11:4, 40), but the ultimate expression of glory is the complex including Jesus’ death (12:16, 23, 28; 13:31-32; cf. 21:9), resurrection and exaltation (cf. 7:39; 12:16; 17:1, 5). This glory thus becomes the ultimate revelation of “grace and truth”: where the world’s hatred for God comes to its ultimate expression, so also does God’s love for the world (3:16). If the Johannine [adjective for John] community’s opponents regarded the cross as proof that Jesus was not the Messiah, John regards Jesus’ humiliation as the very revelation of God; his whole enfleshment, and especially his mortality and death, continue the ultimate revelation of God’s grace and truth revealed to Moses (p. 411)
GrowApp for John 14:1-14
A.. How does v. 1 tell us not to have a troubled heart?
B.. How does Jesus in the Scripture reveal the Father to you personally?
C.. What prayer request have you prayed in Jesus’s name and was answered? How did it bring glory to the Father?
The Promise and Ministry of the Spirit (John 14:15-26)
15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete, so that he may be with you forever, 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not perceive him nor knows him. You know him because he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while, the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Because I live you also will live. 20 In that day, you will know that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. 21 The one having my commandments and keeping them—he it is who loves me. The one loving me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, what has happened that you are about to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 In reply, Jesus said to him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and the Father will love him, and we will come to him and will make our dwelling place with him. 24 The one not loving me does not keep my words. And the word which you hear is not mine, but of the Father who sent me.
25 I have spoken these things to you while residing with you. 26 But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name—he will teach you all things and will remind you of everything which I have told you.”
This verse is stark and clear. Love has to be walked out and worked out. It must have a focus. It is not affective / emotional (only). It is not studying theology or even the Bible (only). It is obedience to what Jesus commanded. This verse reminds me of the ones here:
24 Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and does them shall be like a prudent man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down and the flood came and the winds blew and beat upon that house. And it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 And everyone hearing these teachings of mine and does not do them shall be like the foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain came down and the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it fell. And great was its collapse! (Matt. 7:24-27)
Walking with Jesus and loving him demands obedience.
Why does Jesus say “commandments” (plural) here in v. 15, “word” (singular) in v. 23, and back to “words” (plural) in v. 24? Carson has an answer: Jesus does not offer simply an array of discreet ethical injunctions (he does that), but the entire, wholistic revelation from the Father (presumably that’s the singular). Nevertheless, the plural focusses on the individual components of Jesus’s requirements, while the singular logos (see comments on vv. 22-24) on the Christ-revelation as a whole. The principal ingredient in his teaching (holistic) and commands (individual units) is for Christ followers to love one another (13:34-35). John sees love for God’s children for God himself, and carrying out his commands—those are the ways to express devotion to God holistically (1 John 5:2).
“love”: Since this is a new commandment to love—not an optional suggestion—let’s look more closely at this verb love. It is the verb agapaō (pronounced ah-gah-pah-oh). BDAG says that the verb means, depending on the context: (1) “to have a warm regard for and interest in another, cherish, have affection for, love”; (2) “to have high esteem for or satisfaction with something, take pleasure in; (3) “to practice / express love, prove one’s love.” In most instances this kind love in Scripture is not gooey feelings, though it can be a heart-felt virtue and emotion, as we see in the first definition. Rather, mostly love is expressed by action. If you have no gooey feelings for your enemy, do something practical for him.
Both the noun agapē (pronounced ah-gah-pay) and the verb mean a total commitment. For example, God is totally committed to his church and to the salvation of humankind. Surprisingly, however, total commitment can be seen in an unusual verse. Men loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19), which just means they are totally committed to the dark path of life. Are we willing to be totally committed to God and to live in his light? Can we match an unbeliever’s commitment to bad things with our commitment to good things?
Agapē and agapaō are demonstrative. This love is not static or still. It moves and acts. We receive it, and then we show it with kind acts and good deeds. It is not an abstraction or a concept. It is real.
It is transferrable. God can pour and lavish it on us. And now we can transfer it to our fellow believers and people caught in the world.
Jesus will ask the Father to send the Spirit. So it seems things are done in a sequence: death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and request to send the Spirit, gift of the Spirit. (The first four steps in the sequence are what John call “glory” or “glorification” of the Son). It is remarkable that Jesus says that he will request the Father to send the Spirit. It seems that the Father would send him without a request from the Son. However, this interaction between the Father and the Son reveals the intimacy and coordination and cooperation of the Trinity.
Please recall the links for this doctrine in systematic theology in vv. 13-14:
Next, let’s define the term “Paraclete.” It is related to the verb parakaleō (pronounced pah-rah-kah-leh-oh), which literally means “called” (-kaleō) and “alongside” (para). The verbal adjective Paraclete is used in vv. 16 and 26 and 15:26; 16:7. It is pronounced pah-rah-kleet or less formally, pair-uh-kleet. BDAG, whom many regard as the authoritative lexicon of the Greek NT, says that originally the verbal adjective means “someone who is called to someone’s aid.” It rarely means a “lawyer” or “attorney.” In the few places outside the NT, whether pre-Christian or extra-Christin contexts, it means in a general sense: “one who appears in another’s behalf, mediator, intercessor, helper.” Then the editors of BDAG leave it at that.
Novakovic refers to the linguists and translators Louw and Nida who say that the translation “Comforter” is too limited and “Helper” is highly generic (apparently meaning too vague). And “legal advocate” is too restrictive. Along with Novakovic, I chose “Paraclete” (pp. 126-28), but following BDAG, you may certainly translate it as “Mediator,” “Intercessor,” or “Helper.”
Jesus says, “another Paraclete,” implying that he was the first Paraclete, though the Fourth Gospel does not say this. However, 1 John 2:1 says that Jesus is the Paraclete. I notice that the NIV translates it as “advocate,” so you may not have to give up too quickly on the “lawyer” image.
You can decide.
John had already introduced the Spirit. Jesus was about to baptize in the Spirit, said John (1:32). Nicodemus and we must be born again of the Spirit (3:5-8). We must worship in Spirit (or spirit) (4:23-24). The Spirit gives life (6:63) The Spirit, however, had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified (7:39). Now, in the upper-room discourse we have five passages about the Spirit:
We will unpack them when we get to them.
All of them present a consistent unity, not only in the Fourth Gospel, but also in the Synoptic Gospels. Jesus will baptize with the Spirit (Matt. 3:11-12; Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:16-17). The Spirit will aid the disciples as they testify about Jesus and make their defence in court (Matt. 10:20; Mark 13:11). (HT: Bruce, comments on vv. 16-17).
Klink (p. 633), who argues for translating the term as Paraclete and not the restrictive terms “Helper” or “Advocate” or “Counselor” and so on, points out three roles of the Spirit anticipated in this verse and the other four passages. First, the Paraclete is still to come. He has been active because looking at Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 12:34, anyone who says Jesus is Lord by the Spirit shows the Spirit has been at work. But the Paraclete comes when Jesus departs, and the Paraclete begins the era of the New Covenant and new life in Christ. Second, The Paraclete has an active place in the hearts of the disciples. They will know the Paraclete just as they know the Father and Son. He will remain with them forever. Third, the Paraclete convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (16:8).
However, as to the Spirit coming in the future, this is true. But I notice that John 14:17 also says that the Spirit dwells or lives (present tense), so maybe the disciples were being led by the Spirit at this early stage and may not have recognized it. For sure he will come in power at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) and maybe in part in John 20:22.
He will not leave them “orphaned” or “orphans” or “as orphans,” but he is coming to them. In what way is he coming to them? This must not refer to the Second Coming, because then it would imply that they really are orphans between the time when he departs at his crucifixion and ascension and when he comes back at the Parousia (Second Coming). We already observed in vv. 2-3 that this “coming” is not the Second Coming but a spiritual coming, which v. 23 will confirm. So it refers to Jesus coming to the disciples by the Paraclete. We will learn in the verses listed in vv. 16-17 that the Father and Son will come to the disciples by the Spirit.
The world will not see him again because after his death, burial, resurrection and ascension, he will not be here on earth. The world is a dark and dull place, with little to no wisdom. They do not even perceive who he is when he stood right in front of them. The disciples will see him by faith because when he lives through his resurrection and ascension, they will be united with the Living One. And he will appear to them when he rises from the dead. “Although the Spirit is not explicitly mentioned here, it is through him, as Lord and life-giver, that they will draw their life from the ever-living Christ” (Bruce, comments on vv. 18-19).
In v. 18, “the Spirit of truth”: the phrase “of truth” may be an objective genitive, so it may be translated as “the Spirit who communicates truth.” The phrase could be attributive (adjectival) and thus could be translated as “the true / truth-giving Spirit.” Or the phrase could be translated as the so-called “epexegetical (explanatory or clarifying) genitive, thus: “The Spirit, who is the truth.” I just went traditional and translated it was “the Spirit of truth,” and you can work out the other grammatical possibilities listed here on your own.
“that day” is the day of Jesus’s resurrection and ascension and when he requests the Father to send the Spirit.
By the infilling of the Spirit, the disciples too will finally understand the unity that the Father and Son enjoy, though our unity with the Father and Son through the Spirit will be weaker because of our personal weaknesses and sin nature. Yet the indwelling Spirit is a reality that is very profound and glorious. We can experience it right now. If you love the Father’s Son, the Father will love you back.
Bruce calls this Father-Son-disciple experience the threefold coinherence. I like it, but why not a fourfold coninherence? Father-Son-Spirit-disciple.
Mounce: “It is the high privilege of the one who loves the Son to experience in a unique way the reality of his presence and gain a fuller understanding of who he is. God reveals himself in the context of love. Apathy or disobedience makes it impossible to encounter God in any meaningful way … It has always been true that apart from love, the things most worth knowing can never be learned” (comment on v. 21).
Morris on v. 21:
The meaning appears to be to make the commandments one’s own, to take them into one’s inner being. Jesus speaks not only of ‘having’ the commandments but also of ‘keeping’ them. This means that it is more important to obey them in daily life than to have a firm intellectual grasp of their content. This does not mean that the Father’s love is merited by this obedience: in the first place, Jesus is saying that love for him is not only a matter of words; if it is real it is shown by deeds. The lover does what the loved one asks. In the second place he is saying that the Father is not indifferent to the attitude people take toward the Son. This does not mean that God hands out rewards on the basis of merit, but rather that love calls to love.
I mostly agree with that excerpt. However, the Father will hand out rewards based on merit (Matt. 25:14-30).
Borchert is excellent here:
The one who loves Jesus will also be loved by the Father. But this statement must not be interpreted to imply that a believer “earns” God’s love through obedience. Because love is a mark of the relationship of the Father to the Son (3:35, etc.), it also means that a loving relationship of the believer to the Son naturally implies a loving relationship of the believer with the Father. Similarly, as the Son served and obeyed the Father (5:19; 8:28–29, etc.), the disciple’s life is expected to be one of service and obedience to the Son, whose commands in turn are from the Father. (comment on v. 21)
Judas’s (not Iscariot’s) question is indirectly or spiritually answered.
For who this Judas is, please see this link:
An expansion of Judas’s question: What has happened that the Lord will show himself or manifest himself to the disciples but not to the world? The answer is that, first, the disciple has to meet a certain condition before the Father and Son make their dwelling place or room in him. This dwelling place or room which they will make with the disciple is done by the Spirit, so the coming of Jesus and the Father does not refer to the doctrine of the Second Coming or Parousia. But what is the condition which the disciple has to meet? Here: The disciple must love Jesus, and then he will keep his word or message. So love for him will lead to keeping the word. Next, the Father will love the disciple because the disciple loves his Son. Yes, the Father loves the whole world in a general sense (John 3:16), but the revelation of his love directly is applied to a specific disciple only when he loves the Father’s Son.
In v. 24, the opposite logic is true. The one who does not love Jesus does not keep his words (plural) or complete message delivered at many times in the Fourth Gospel (and the Synoptics). How could the one who is indifferent to Jesus keep the finer points of the Lord’s message. The “non-lover” is disqualified from the very beginning; not to keep his message is to spurn the person of Jesus. If you permanently spurn or reject your spouse’s words, you really don’t love her. If you really don’t love her, you will ignore her message and who she is. She certainly won’t feel listened to. We are talking about a relationship of love here. Not loving someone is to refuse to listen to her.
This is why the world will not experience this profound fourfold coinherence. The world is unsurrendered to Jesus and is defiant and rejects him by not surrendering to him. Therefore, to answer Judas’s question clearly, this is why the Son does not reveal himself to the world in the same way as he does to his disciples. The world does not meet the condition.
“word”: the word is logos (pronounced lo-goss) is used twice in the singular (vv. 22 and 24), and once in the plural. Recall that the Logos became flesh (John 1:1-4, 14). But here it refers to the message or teaching of Jesus. Let’s explore the term more practically, as I have done throughout this commentary series so far.
The noun logos is rich and full of meaning. It always has built into it rationality and reason. It has spawned all sorts of English words that end in –log-, like theology or biology, or have the log– stem in them, like logic.
Though certain Renewalists may not like to hear it, there is a rational side to the Word of God, and a moment’s thought proves it. The words you’re reading right now are placed in meaningful and logical and rational order. The Bible is also written in that way. If it weren’t, then it would be nonsense and confusing, and we couldn’t understand the gibberish. (Even your prophecies have to make logical and rational sense on some level.) Your Bible studies and Sunday morning sermons have to make sense, also. Jesus’s words also have Bible-based logic and rational argumentation built into it. People need to be ministered to in this way. God gave us minds and brains and expects us to use them. Your preaching cannot always be flashy and shrieky and so outlandishly entertaining that people are not fed in the long term. Movements like that don’t last over the years without the Word. I have observed this from firsthand experience in certain sectors of the Renewal Movement.
People have the deepest need to receive solid teaching. Never become so outlandishly supernatural and entertaining that you neglect the reasonable and rational side of preaching the gospel and teaching the Bible. Yes, the Gospels are very charismatic, but they are also very orderly and rational and logical.
On the other side of the word logos, people get so intellectual that they build up an exclusive Christian caste of intelligentsia that believe they alone can teach and understand the Word. Not true. Just study Scripture with Bible helps and walk in the Spirit, as they did in Acts. Combining Word and Spirit is the balanced life.
It should be pointed out that Jesus often uses another noun for word: rhēma (pronounced rhay-mah). In John’s Gospel, synonyms are used often, so let’s not make a big thing of the nuanced differences. In any case, I wanted to point out for today’s Bible teacher in my corner of the church world that we must have better teaching or doctrine whether it is the logos or the rhēma.
Finally, in v. 24, Jesus repeats a statement which says that his message is not self-generated, as if he went away by himself and dreamed it up on his own, without the Father. No. Instead, he was in close communication with his Father and got his logos from the Father. It is wonderful to think that the Father and Son were in such close and intimate communication. It is also wonderful to believe—and experience—that the Father and the Son have come to us and made their room or dwelling place in us now, by the Spirit.
This is the second teaching about the Paraclete or Holy Spirit. “This characteristic designation, found throughout the New Testament, does not draw attention to the power of the Spirit, his greatness or the like. For the first Christians the important thing was that he was holy. His character mattered most of all. This verse shows him to be closely related to both the Father and the Son. He is to be sent by the Son from the Father, but in the name of the Son” (Morris, comments on v. 26).
“name”: see vv. 13-14 for more comments. It is important to understand that the Spirit comes in Jesus’s name; he does not come the mystery religions or the Isis cult of the surrounding pagan culture of the first-century. He does not come today in the spirit of the cultish New Age Movement or by the power of a man’s personality.
For the Spirit to teach and remind or bring to the memory of the disciples all things does not mean there is no need for teachers, but for these disciples who lived and walked with Jesus, the Spirit will bring them understanding. They will put two and two together and have the insights of his words and actions while he was with them on earth. For example, in John 2:22, after Jesus said that if the religious authorities of Jerusalem destroy this “temple,” he would raise it up in three days. John says that later his disciples remembered what he said and understood that the temple meant his body. In 12:26, immediately after Jesus’s triumphal entry, his disciples could not quite figure out what the donkey and the acclamation of the crowd fully signified. But after Jesus was glorified, they remembered those things and what had been written about him and had been done to him. They got understanding by the Spirit.
In v. 26, let’s discuss a little grammar. In ancient Greek, long before the NT was written, the Spirit was a neuter noun. (Greek has three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter.) But we must be careful about making the Spirit an “it.” It is true that in v. 26 the relative pronouns simply reflect the neuter gender by grammatical agreement, but then John through Jesus breaks free from standard grammar and says “he” or more literally “that one” (masculine pronoun). This emphasis is very revealing in the area of systematic theology. The Spirit, according to Jesus, is personal, not an impersonal force or an “it.”
Here are some of my posts on a more formal doctrine of the Spirit (systematic theology):
GrowApp for John 14:15-26
A.. What is it like to experience the love of the Father? Tell your story.
B.. You are filled with the Spirit on your repentance and surrender to the Father and Son. Do you recall a moment when this happened, or was it gradual? Tell your story.
Jesus Gives His Peace (John 14:27-31)
27 I leave my peace to you. I give you my peace. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled nor afraid. 28 You have heard that I said, ‘I go and come to you.’ If you love me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have spoken to you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.
30 No longer do I talk much with you, for the ruler of the world comes, and he holds nothing in me. 31 But this has happened so that the world may know that I love the Father; and just as the Father commanded me, so I am doing.
Get up and let us go from here.”
The first clause could be translated as “I leave my peace with you.” Jesus is bequeathing his disciples his peace, as he heads towards the cross. Then to be fully clear, he gives them his peace. It is stunning that while he realizes he is going to the cross, he gives peace to them. It seems he would be filled with such anxiety that he would not give any peace at all. It is true that in the Synoptics Gospels, he prays in distress in the Garden of Gethsemane (he was true man), but John’s Gospel compresses the time between his arrival to Gethsemane and his arrest. For now, Jesus offer his peace.
Morris rightly reminds us that the peace which Jesus bequeaths and gives is “the natural result of the presence within people of the Holy Spirit of whom Jesus has been speaking” (comment on v. 27). So Jesus’s peace does not come by sheer willpower, but by the Spirit, which is one of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).
How does the world give peace? It promises peace but only with the absence of stress and with happy circumstances. But life is not built that way all the time. We can have peace during the tough times in Christ. Yes, as we will see next, wellbeing and absence of stress are positives, but let’s not depend on our circumstances for peace. The world can have peace only with political stability. Such stability is a blessing, but it is elusive.
Let’s explore more generally the peace that God brings.
It speaks of more than just the absence of war. It can mean prosperity and wellbeing. It can mean peace in your heart and peace with your neighbor. Best of all, it means peace with God, because he reconciled us to him.
This word in Hebrew is shalom and means wellbeing, both in the soul and in circumstances, and it means, yes, prosperity, because the farm in an agricultural society would experience wellbeing and harmony and growth. The crops would not fail and the livestock would reproduce. Society and the individual would live in peace and contentment and harmony. Deut. 28:1-14 describes the blessings for obedience, a man and his family and business enjoying divine goodness and benefits and material benefits. Peace is a major reality of the messianic kingdom anticipated in the OT (Num. 6:26; Ps. 29:11; Is. 9:6-7; 52:7; 54:13; 57:19; Ezek. 37:26; Hg. 2:9) and partly fulfilled or alluded to in the NT (Acts 10:36; Rom. 1:7; 5:1; 14:17).
With that background, let’s explore the Greek word, which overlaps with shalom. It is the noun eirēnē (pronounced ay-ray-nay, used 92 times, and we get the name Irene from it). One specialist defines it: “Peace is a state of being that lacks nothing and has no fear of being troubled in its tranquility; it is euphoria coupled with security. … This peace is God’s favor bestowed on his people.” (Mounce, p. 503).
BDAG has this definition for the noun: (2) It is “a state of well-being, peace.” Through salvation we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). We have peace that has been brought through Christ (Col. 3:15). We are to run towards the goal of peace (2 Pet. 3:14; Rom. 8:6). It is the essential characteristic of the Messianic Age (Acts 10:36; Rom. 10:15). An angel greeted and promised the shepherds peace on earth for those in whom God is well pleased, at the birth of the Messiah (Luke 2:29).
Don’t let our hearts be troubled or frightened or fearful or even cowardly—that’s the range of the Greek verb. During your time of worst distress, you can have deep peace.
This verse reminds me of these two verses in the Epistle to the Philippians.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)
So how do we get and maintain peace? We pray.
Jesus first revealed that he would depart (13:33, 36), and this statement filled them with anxiety. Now he repeats the statement and tells them that if they loved him—which involved understanding the mission he had to carry out—they would be glad and rejoice because he goes to the Father. His departure means his going to the cross. His coming means that he will not leave them orphans, but he and the Father will come to them through the Spirit (v. 23).
The Father is greater than Jesus because the one who sends is greater than the one who is sent (John 13:16). They were also one (10:30). So in their role or function, the Son was subordinate to the Father, but in their essence they are equal or one.
See vv. 13-14 for some links to this doctrine.
He is telling them that he is going to the cross before it happens so that they may believe. We should also include the resurrection and ascension. It will take a while for the disciples to process the events, even during his post-resurrection visits. In any case, they must not be so discouraged at his crucifixion that they see Jesus as an imposter who was caught off guard. Messiahs don’t get crucified. Well, this one does. And he was the true one. He predicted his death; it happened; therefore, he was not a clueless and confused imposter.
This verse is similar to these:
31 Jesus took the twelve aside and said to them, “Consider! We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything written in the prophets about the Son of man shall be fulfilled. 32 He shall be handed over to the Gentiles and be mocked and arrogantly mistreated and spit on. 33 And after they flog him, they shall kill him, and on the third day he shall rise again.” 34 But they understood none of this, and this spoken message was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend what was spoken. (Luke 18:31-34)
The last verse is relevant. They understood none of it (or very little of it).
The clause “No longer do I talk much with you” can be translated as “I will not speak with you much longer.” It is not the end of the discourse.
The ruler of the world—the devil, Satan—is about to meet his downfall (Bruce). Jesus said this a few days earlier (John 12:31). The crucifixion appears to Satan’s greatest triumph, but the evil spirit being did not calculate the resurrection and ascension. The Son, in his love for the Father, expressed in obedience, was going to be vindicated by the resurrection and ascension—this is his glory in John’s Gospel.
Paul wrote about this ignorance of human rulers in crucifying the Lord of glory:
7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Cor. 2:7-8)
Satan also misjudged the plan of God. Jesus will discredit the ruler of the world (John 16:11). Jesus said he saw Satan fall from heaven (Luke 10:18); and Jesus said he was binding the strong man (Satan) (Matt. 12:29 // Mark 3:27 // Luke 8:21-22). The cross, seemingly expressing defeat, was actually the victory and vindication of the Son and the defeat of Satan.
Borchert ingeniously connects the White Witch killing Aslan (the Christ figure) in the child’s novel the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: “Or as C. S. Lewis aptly put it when the White Witch’s servants killed the Lion King, Aslan, they may have understood part of the mystery that they could kill the king, but they never understood the deeper mystery that this lion king would, in fact, conquer through his death” (comment on vv. 30-31).
I am also reminded of these verses in Paul’s letters:
He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Col. 2:13b-18, NIV)
Satan holds nothing over Jesus—or Satan has nothing on Jesus—because Jesus obeyed his Father. Recall James 4:7 (and go over there and look at the entire context): “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7).
Submission means that Satan cannot get a grip on your life. He can attack you, but the attacks are weak. Satan has a field day with the world because it does not surrender to the Father. Satan also has a field day with much of the church because individuals do not surrender to the Father.
Love in this verse encompasses or includes obedience. The Son loves the Father by going to the cross, that is by obeying the Father’s commission or sending. The Father commanded or commissioned the Son—sent the Son into the world—and the Son does as he was commissioned. The Son obeys the mission. The world will recognize it eventually, particularly when individual members in the world, surrender to his exalted Lordship.
Remember v. 15? “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
In v. 31 also, Love = Obedience.
Now Jesus tells the men to arise and leave this place. Evidently it takes some time for them to leave the upper room because his teaching is still going on and it is profound. Or they could have stopped by the temple in the dark and listened to him teaching by firelight or torchlight. Another option: this expression marks another stage in the teaching (Morris, comment on v. 31, referring to Lightfoot).
You can decide.
GrowApp for John 14:27-31
A.. Read Gal 5:22. Where does peace come from?
B.. Read Phil. 4:6-7. What can you do to maintain the peace of God?
C.. Study James 4:7. How does Satan not keep his grip on you?
Beasley-Murray George R. John. Word Biblical Commentary. Rev. ed. Zondervan, 1999.
Borchert, Gerald L. John 12-21. New American Commentary. Vol. 25b. Broadman and Holman, 1996.
Bruce, F. F. The Gospel of John: Introduction, Exposition, and Notes. Eerdmans, 1983.
Carson, D. A. The Gospel according to John. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Eerdmans, 1991.
The Greek New Testament. Fifth Revised Edition by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger (United Bible Society, 2014).
Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary. Vol. 1. Baker Academic, 2003.
Novakovic, Lidija. John 11-21: A Handbook on the Greek Text. A Handbook on the Greek Text. Baylor UP, 2020.
Klink, Edward W. John. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Zondervan, 2016.
Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to John. Rev. ed. Eerdmans, 1995.
Mounce, Robert H. John. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. Zondervan, 2007.