New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

14:1- see on 17:3.

 Do not let your heart be disturbed- John has used this very phrase for a troubled or "disturbed" heart in describing the stress felt by the Lord as He faced the eternal issues of human salvation which were before Him (11:33; 12:27; 13:21). That is enough emphasis for us to safely conclude that the Lord meant- and means- that He is taking our stress and "trouble" about salvation onto Himself, and we need not worry about. For all the issues concerning whether we shall be saved were carried by Him. And it is surely alluded to when He urges them after His resurrection not to be "troubled" (Lk. 24:38). "Let not your heart be troubled" is an allusion to 1 Sam. 17:32, where Israel were not to fear Goliath because of the salvation which would be achieved through David.

Believe in God, believe also in me- For first century Jews, belief in God was taken as natural and normal. If they believe that He is from the Father and one with the Father in a functional sense, then they should believe also in Him. And the belief in view is faith in salvation (see on :1).

The Lord's goodbye address in Jn. 14-16 has many connections with those of Moses and Joshua, in which they expressed fear that after their death there would be a mass falling away within Israel, and their guise of spirituality would give way due to their lack of a real faith. This further indicates the weakness of the disciples. Our Lord's speech was shot through with doubt of the twelve and recognition of the weakness of the disciples, which needs tabulating to show its full force:



"If it were not so" - implying they doubted

"If I go... I will come again" - using logic to answer their implied doubt.


"We know not whither Thou goest"


"If ye had known me"


"Have I been so long with you, and yet hast thou not known me?"


"Believest thou?... believe me"


"If ye shall ask..."


"If ye love me... if ye loved me, ye would rejoice...if a man love me" (v.28,23)



"Abide in me... no more can ye, except ye abide in me... without me ye can do nothing...if ye abide in me"


"Continue ye... ye are my friends, if ye...I have called you friends" - implying 'But you've got to live up to it'.


"These things I command you" - emphatic, desperate warning


"Remember the word"



"That ye should not be offended"


"None of you asketh me, Whither goest Thou?" - implying Jesus was disappointed that they hadn't. "Sorrow hath filled your heart" (v.6) seems a similar rebuke.


"Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name; ask..."


"Do ye now believe? (said almost sarcastically)... ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone" - cp. Joshua and Moses questioning Israel whether their commitment was really what they claimed, and warning that after their death they would soon fall away.


“Let not your heart be troubled… neither let it be afraid” (:1,27) repeats Moses’ final encouragement to Israel to “fear not, neither be dismayed” (Dt. 31:8; 1:21,29; 7:18). Inheritance of the Kingdom was assured- if they believed.

I think it is worth all of us pausing to ask the most basic question: Do we really believe that God exists? "Those who say that they believe in God and yet neither love nor fear him, do not in fact believe in him but in those who have taught them that God exists. Those who believe that they believe in God, but without any passion in their heart, any anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, without an element of despair even in their consolation, believe only in the God-idea, not in God". The Jews must have been shocked when the Lord told them to "believe in God" (Jn. 14:1 RVmg.). For there were no atheists amongst them. What the Lord Jesus was saying was that their faith was in the God-idea, not in the real God. For if they believed the Father, they would accept His Son. We must ask whether we feel any real passion for Him, any true emotion, any sense of spiritual crisis, of radical motivation…  See on Acts 16:34.

There are many other references in the Upper Room discourse to Moses- without doubt, Moses was very much in the Lord’s mind as He faced His end. Consider at your leisure how Jn. 14:1 = Ex. 14:31; Jn. 14:11 = Ex. 14:8. When the Lord speaks in the Upper Room of manifesting the Father and Himself unto the disciples (Jn. 14:21,22), He is alluding to the way that Moses asked God to “manifest Yourself unto me” (Ex. 33:18 LXX). The Lord’s allusion makes Himself out to be God’s representative, and all those who believe in Him to be as Moses, receiving the vision of God’s glory. Note that it was that very experience above all others which marks off Moses in Rabbinic writings as supreme and beyond all human equal. And yet the Lord is teaching that that very experience of Moses is to be shared to an even higher degree by all His followers. It would’ve taken real faith and spiritual ambition for those immature men who listened to the Lord that evening to really believe it… And the same difficult call comes to us too.

The command not to be troubled is also an allusion to “Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them” (Dt. 1:41). Yet the contrast is with Moses, who fain would have gone ahead into the promised land to prepare the place, but was unable.

14:2- see on Lk. 14:12.

In my Father's house are many dwelling places- This is a form of the verb 'to abide' which features so frequently in John's record. The Father and Son seek to abide in the believer through the Spirit, deep in the heart of the believer (:17; 1 Jn. 3:24; 4:13). In this sense, each believer becomes like one of the rooms or cubicles around the temple, each used by a different priest. Insofar as the Spirit abides in us now, we are the temple of God, we are the new priesthood, and are therefore called to active service for others to His glory.

If it were not so, I would have told you- The offer of salvation is so repeatedly stated by the Father and Son throughout the Bible that we are left with a terrible choice: Either it is true, or God is the worst deceiver. And if that were the case, the Lord as the obviously good man would have told us. This awful choice points up the amazing truth- that God really wishes us to be saved and assures any and every believer of the certainty of salvation.

I go to prepare a place for you- The abiding Spirit was only given as a result of the Lord's death and glorification (7:38,39), and He will go on throughout the Comforter discourse to make this point. He was going to the cross, and to the intense mutual glorification of Father and Son there of which He has just spoken in chapter 13.He is speaking here in response to Peter’s question as to where the Lord Jesus was now going to disappear to, i.e. in death. “I go to prepare a place for you” alludes to the idea of Moses and the Angel bringing Israel “into the place which I have prepared” (Ex. 23:30).

And it is also surely an allusion to the Palestinian tradition that the wife came to live with the new husband after a year and a day, whilst He 'prepared the place' for her. The cross was His purchase of us as His bride. The bridegroom was “taken away” from the wedding guests (Mk. 2:20)- the same word used in the LXX of Is. 53:8 for the ‘taking away’ of the Lord Jesus in His crucifixion death. But the groom is ‘taken away’ from the guests- because he is going off to marry his bride. The cross, in all its tears, blood and pain, was the Lord’s wedding to us.

14:3- see on Lk. 17:34; 1 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 4:15.

And if I go and prepare a place for you- The Lord's death and glorification on the cross [in God's eyes], being lifted up in glory from God's viewpoint, was in order to release the Spirit. This was symbolized by the water which came from the Lord's side, and His breathing His last breath / spirit toward the weak and fearful disciples. He had asked the disciples to "prepare" the Passover meal for them (s.w. Lk. 22:12). And now He demonstrates the mutuality between Him and His followers by saying that He was now going to prepare a place for them, an abiding place, on account of actually being the Paschal lamb.

I will come again- The coming again refers therefore to His resurrection, and the spiritual intimacy with His followers which the gift of the Spirit would enable. There is of course some reference to the second coming, but the Lord is to go on now to explain that His physical coming and presence were to be experienced in spiritual essence by His presence amongst them through the Spirit. The way He was going was to the cross- not to Heaven. There our place was prepared. He “came again” in resurrection.

The fact we sin and fail inevitably militates against a robust faith that “we will be there”. The Lord predicted how Peter would deny him; but went straight on to assure the shocked and worried disciples: “Let not your heart be troubled [because some of you will fail me]: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you… if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (Jn. 13:36-14:3). These wonderful words of assurance were in the very context of predicting the disciples’ failure. It’s as if the Lord is saying: ‘Don’t let the fact that you will fail me shake your faith that I will never fail you, and I will save you in the end, despite your weakness and collapses of faith’.

And will receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also- This speaks of the spiritual intimacy which would be achieved through the gift of the Spirit released by the Lord's death. His death was enabling or preparing the abiding place by the Spirit in every believers' heart. "Where I am" is a distinct present tense. His being so united with the Father, able to lift up His eyes to Heaven and pray with no senses of barrier, was to be shared with the believers on account of the gift of the Spirit released through His death. This idea of His relationship and unity with the Father being shared with us is the great theme of His prayer of chapter 17. Where He was in His relationship with the Father would be ours. He would 'receive us unto Himself'- a phrase so intimate that it implies the closest form of marital union. It is used of taking a woman unto oneself in marriage (Mt. 1:20,24). "Unto myself" is the very phrase He used in 12:32 of how the cross would draw all the men of the new creation "unto me". This drawing unto and into Himself is all the work of the Spirit, an outflow of His work on the cross. The idea is not at all of going to be with Him in Heaven, but of being personally connected with Him; being received unto Himself is to be drawn unto Him on the cross. Again there is a connection with the prologue, where Israel generally did not "receive" Him, but those who did were given the Spirit of adoption, His grace / gift, His fullness (1:11,12,16 s.w.). The Jewish world refused to receive the gift of the Spirit (:17 s.w.). The same word is used of the receipt of the Spirit through His death (7:39; 20:22 "receive the Holy Spirit"; 1 Jn. 2:27 "the anointing which you have received"). There is a mutuality in all this; we receive Him, and He receives us (:20 s.w.). The receipt of the Spirit enables us to be received unto and into Himself, to be with Him where He was with the Father as He spoke those words. To deny the Spirit's operation is to miss out on the relationship with the Lord Jesus which is the essence of Christianity.

14:4 And where I go, you know the way- He had often told them of His forthcoming death, but rarely if ever about His ascension to Heaven. Where He was going clearly refers to the cross. The Lord seems to have imputed their future maturity to them at a time when they still didn’t have it. ‘You know where I go’, He told them (:4,5)- when, as they themselves responded, they didn’t. He said that they knew the Spirit of Truth, whereas the Jewish world didn’t (14:17)- because “in that day you shall know…” (14:20). And this approach will help us with our immature and frustrating brethren; we need to impute to them that spiritual maturity to which we must believe they will rise.  

14:5 Thomas said to him: Lord, we do not know where you go. How do we discern the way?- See on :4. Here we have our typical problem- we know the way of the cross, but in practice we don’t know- or rather, we don’t want to know. The disciples were confused as to where the Lord Jesus was going and to where He was leading them. His response was that He was and is “the way”. C.H. Dodd in The Interpretation Of John’s Gospel p. 412 suggests the meaning of Jn. 14:4,5 as: “You know the way [in that I am the way], but you do not know where it leads”, and Thomas therefore objects: “If we do not know the destination, how can we know the way?”. The Lord’s response is that He is the way. That’s it. It’s not so much the destination as the way there. The excellency of knowing Christ demands of us to walk in His way, to know Him as the life right now, to live His life, to be in His way. The way is the goal; ‘You don’t need any further horizons than that, than me, right now’. This is totally unappreciated by the prosperity Gospel.

14:6- see on Jn. 13:37.

Jesus said to him: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me- The way to the cross had been lived out by the Lord throughout His life. And that too is "the truth". “The way" was to the cross, and there we find and see the only true kind of life. That “way" of crucifixion life leads us to the Father, just as the Lord understood His death on the cross as a going to the Father. Because the cross so supremely manifested the Father, there we find Him, if we will live the life of Christ crucified. Yet if we keep His commandments, the Father and Son come to us (14:23), and we come to them. The cross enables a mutuality of relationship between us all. Note too that “the way" is now another term for “the cross". They were asking where He was going; was He going to die on a cross? And He replies that “I am the way"- that they ought to have realized that His whole way of life was a cross carrying, and so of course, He would be literally going to die on the cross; He would follow His “way" to the end.

I am the way" may allude to the one great way of Proverbs. The whole way of life which leads to the Kingdom, the things we do, our deepest thoughts, our daily decisions; these are all "the way" which leads to the Kingdom; and yet Christ is “the way". This clearly means that all these things, the very essence of our being, the fibre of our thought processes, the basis of all our works; must be the Lord Jesus Christ. The fact God’s ways and principles are unchanging encourage our self-examination; for there is always the rock of God and His way against which to compare our ways. The Lord Jesus is the same yesterday and today and for ever.

14:7- see on Jn. 17:7.

If you had truly known me, you would have truly known my Father also. From this time forward you will truly know Him and will have seen Him- The Lord tells the Father in 17:7,8 that the disciples have known Him and the Father, unlike the Jewish world who had not known Him (16:3). Here we see a wonderful principle revealed: The Lord speaks so positively to the Father about us, imputing righteousness and levels of commitment to us which we do not currently have. They would truly know and see the Father through the work of the cross and the gift of the Spirit which would open their eyes to the Son and thereby to His Father.

14:8- see on Dt. 5:4,5.

Philip said to him: Lord, show us the Father, and it suffices us- The Lord replies that He is the manifestation of the Father. This is the language of Ex. 33:18 LXX, where Moses likewise asks God “show Yourself to me”. The answer was in the theophany on Sinai, with the Name of Yahweh declared, as full of grace and truth. This, according to Philip’s allusion to it, is what we see in Jesus. And this is why the prologue in Jn. 1 speaks of the Lord Jesus in terms of the theophany of Exodus, that in His personality the full glory of the Father dwelt. Philip was the one who commented that “two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient” for the crowd to eat and be filled. Yet he now uses the same, relatively uncommon, Greek word some time later, when he says that if he could see the Father, it would ‘suffice’ him (Jn. 6:7; 14:8). Perhaps John intended to bring out the growth in Philip; he now perceived that the bread created by the Lord for the crowd was indeed representative of the bread of life, the Lord Jesus who was the manifestation of the Father. The Lord had taught in Jn. 6:35 that He was the bread, and He bade His followers ‘see’ Him; and Philip had absorbed the point, even though, as the Lord makes clear, Philip still did not ‘see’ Him as he ought. 

The relationship of the Lord Jesus with His Father was evidently intended by Him to be a very real, achievable pattern for all those in Him. The prayer of chapter 17 makes this clear, for the Lord there prays that we would share His relationship with the Father, or as He has just said, we would be with Him where He then was in relationship with the Father. He wasn't an aberration, an uncopyable, inimitable freak. John's Gospel brings this out very clearly. The Father knows the Son, the Son knows the Father, the Son knows men, men know the Son, and so men know both the Father and Son (10:14,15; 14:7,8). The Son is in the Father as the Father is in the Son; men are in the Son and the Son is in men; and so men are in the Father and Son (Jn. 14:10,11; 17:21,23,26). As the Son did the Father's works and was thereby "one" with Him, so it is for the believers who do the Father's works (Jn. 10:30,37,38; 14:8-15). Whilst there obviously was a unique bonding between Father and Son on account of the virgin birth, the Lord Jesus certainly chooses to speak as if His Spirit enables the relationship between Him and His Father to be reproduced in our experience.

14:9 Jesus said to him: Philip, have I been with you such a long time, and still you do not truly know me? He that has seen me has seen the Father. How do you ask: Show us the Father?- Although the Lord speaks quite toughly to them at this point, as noted on :7, He is totally positive about them in talking with the Father about them (17:7,8). They did not truly know Him nor the Father, and yet He uses just that same Greek word in telling the Father that His men did “know” Him and His word (Jn. 17:7,8,25). He had faith and hope in their future maturity- they didn’t then “know”, but they did in the future (Jn. 12:16; 13:7). The Lord had hope that “In that day you shall know” (Jn. 14:20). For there was no absolute guarantee that the eleven would come to “know” Him and His word, seeing they had freewill- Jesus had faith they would, and He expressed that faith and Hope to the Father so positively. For to love someone is to impute things to them which we only hope for. That is the simple basis of the 'imputed righteousness' of which Paul writes in Romans.

14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you, I speak not from myself; but the Father abiding in me does His works- John’s Gospel especially seems to speak of the “words” and “works” of the Lord Jesus almost interchangeably (Jn. 14:10-14); in illustration of the way in which the word of Jesus, which was the word of God, was constantly and consistently made flesh in Him, as the prologue stated (1:14); issuing in the works / actions of this man who was “the word made flesh”. See on Jn. 8:28. The Lord is encouraging us to see beyond the miracles or "works"; all of His words, works, miracles, character, spirit, personality were summarized in Him as a person. There was perfect congruence between Him as a person and all that He said, did and showed Himself to be. He was as He has just stated "the truth", the word made flesh. The appeal to let His words abide in us does not therefore only imply that we are to memorize His recorded words and endlessly recycle them in our minds. Although there may well be an allusion to the idea of memorizing the Gospel records. It is more a question of allowing Him to dwell or abide within us, with all His spirit, words, personality and essence of His being. For this would be the Hebraic understanding of a man's "word".

14:11- see on 14:1.

Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works' sake- He wanted them to perceive the indwelling of the Father in Himself, and His mutual abiding in the Father, because this was the very thing which He was promising them- to share His relationship with the Father, to come to be where He now was with the Father (:3). The prayer of John 17 and the promises of the effect of the Comforter all speak of the same possibility.

As noted on 10:38, the Lord was willing to accept 'belief' if it was simply at the level of accepting that His miracles ["works"] were from God; in the hope that He could take such faith further. Yet here He seems to be saying that belief in Him as a person, was the same as believing in Him for the sake of His miracles. He as a personality, as a character, was the most powerful witness, at least equal to that witness provided by the miracles. To encounter Him without miracles ought to be persuasive enough, and we see this from the conversion of the Samaritan woman, who believed He was in the Father without seeing miracles.

14:12- see on Mk. 11:24; Jn. 17:20.

Truly, truly, I say to you: He that believes in me, the works that I do, shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go to the Father- As noted on :10 and :11, "the works" of the Lord refer not only to His miracles but to all that He was. His going to the Father on the cross would release the gift of the Spirit (7:39). This was and is fundamentally a gift of internal strengthening in the heart, although it had issue in miraculous works for the disciples in the first century context.

It may be the Lord had in mind that the disciples through having the miraculous gifts of the Spirit would do greater works than He had done. But this raises the question of what is meant by "greater". It could mean "more", numerically. But the Greek word specifically carries the idea of being older, more mature- e.g. "Are you greater than our father Abraham?" (Jn. 8:53) in the context means 'Are you older than Abraham?'. So He could be saying that the disciples would do greater works" in the sense that collectively between us we would reveal to an even greater or mature extent the works of God. Because there must be a connection in His thought with Jn. 5:20, where alone elsewhere we meet the phrase "greater works": "For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and greater works than these will he shew him, that ye may marvel". The greater works that the Father showed the Son were the works which the believers in Christ were to perform subsequent to the Lord's resurrection. The "works" are the works of God Himself. The community of believers in Christ are doing His works, acting as God would do if He were a human being living on planet earth, and in this sense we are doing greater works than what Jesus personally did; for He was 'only' one person, and we are many. And Jesus was aware of this. He explained repeatedly that the works He did were the works which God did (Jn. 5:36; 10:25,32,37,38; 14:10,11). As God showed Him the works He was to do, so He showed those works to the world in which He lived (Jn. 10:32). Paul therefore states that there are good works which are prepared in Heaven for us to fulfil: "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). In a sense, all the works were finished from the foundation of the world, it's for us to go out there today and perform them (Heb. 4:3). Practically this means that as we contemplate "good works", we can be assured that somehow God will provide all that's needed for them to be performed. Our little faith so often stops us from performing them because we doubt whether we have the resources, the time, the money, the ability... whereas instead the need should be the call, and we should approach them in confidence that this is indeed God's will for us to do His works here on earth. For He has prepared both them and us to fulfil them.  

The works of the Father and Son are defined in 6:29 as believing on the Son whom the Father sent. This is what it means to do the works of God. We could therefore read these promises as John's version of the great commission- to take the Gospel into all the world, and to trust that we shall be empowered by the Spirit to do this.

Another take on all this is that the potential enabled by the Spirit was never fully lived up to by the disciples, just as it is not with us. The Lord’s promise that whatever the disciples asked, they would be given seems never to have been fully realized in them (Jn. 15:16). Likewise the ‘prophecy’ here that they would do greater works than done by the Lord, once they received the Comforter, and possibly the promise that they would be taught “all the truth” about “things to come” (Jn. 16:13), were all likewise promises / prophecies whose potential it seems the disciples never fully rose up to.

14:13 And whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son- This is not a blank cheque promise. I suggested on :12 that the works of God were to bring others to faith in His Son, for that is how they are defined in 6:29. It is in that context that whatever we ask for will be ultimately provided. The connection with the great commission in the Synoptics is in the promise that "all power" would be given to enable this work to be done (Mt. 28:18). The laboured emphasis upon "in my name" here and in :14 would then connect with the command to "preach in his name" with the promise of the Spirit to empower them in that work (Lk. 24:47,49). Whilst we do not now have the miraculous gifts, the essence of this remains powerfully true. All shall be provided, the Spirit works in non-miraculous ways, if we ask for empowerment to glorify the Father in the Son through bringing others to Him. My own ministry is proof enough of that.

14:14 If you shall ask anything in my name, that will I do- This repeats word for word the assurance of :13; but as noted there, it is in the context of doing the "works" of the Father, which are bringing others to faith in His Son (6:29).

14:15- see on Jn. 17:6.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments- As noted earlier in this chapter, the Lord is ever alluding to the last speech of Moses in Deuteronomy; here the appeal to "keep my commandments" sets the Lord as greater than Moses, mediating a new law to a new Israel; for "keep the commandments" reflects a major identical theme in Dt. 5:10; 7:9; 11:1,22; 13:3,4; 19:9; 30;16. The Lord’s comment to the disciples that if they loved him, then they would ‘keep his word’ (Jn. 14:15,21,23) implies their love was at best imperfect. Their keeping of His word and loving Him was certainly under question in Jn. 15:10. And yet He confidently represents them to the Father as those who had kept His word (Jn. 17:6).

But the Lord's commandments are "not grievous" (1 Jn. 5:3); it is not that we have been given a whole set of detailed regulations similar to the 613 given by Moses. It is not hard to be obedient to His commandments, 1 Jn. 5:3 implies. The Lord states clearly that He has left us one commandment- to love one another as He loved us (13:34; 15:12; 1 Jn. 4:21; 5:2). The plural "commandments" may be a reflection of the Hebraism whereby the plural is used to emphasize the greatness and cardinal value of one singular thing, the plural of majesty. This is perhaps confirmed by 15:17: "These things[plural] I command you: That you love one another". Love of each other was the great 'thing'. To love should not be grievous; if we are walking in the light of His endless love. Therefore "This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another" (1 Jn. 3:23). The commandment to love as He loved us is only capable of understanding and fulfilment if we have believed into the Name of the Lord Jesus, and experienced that love, having God's love shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit we receive after believing into Him (Rom. 5:5).

God is His word, as the prologue states (Jn. 1:1); to love God is to love His word. If we love His Son, we will keep His words (Jn. 14:15,21; 15:10). This is evidently alluding to the many Old Testament passages which say that Israel's love for God would be shown through their keeping of His commands (Ex. 20:6; Dt. 5:10; 7:9; 11:1,13,22; 30:16; Josh. 22:5). Israel were also told that God's commands were all related to showing love (Dt. 11:13; 19:9). So there is a logical circuit here: We love God by keeping His commands, therefore His commands are fundamentally about love. Thus love is the fulfilling of the law of God; both under the Old and New covenants (Rom. 13:10). It is all too easy to see our relationship with God and His Son as a question of obedience to their words, as if this is somehow a test of our spirituality. This is to humanize God too far, to see God as if He were a fallible man; for if we were God, we would institute some kind of written test for our creatures: 'Do this, and if you don't, then I know you don't love me'. The God of glory is beyond this kind of thing. He is His word. If we love Him, we will be eager to know His words, we will dwell upon them, we will live them out in our daily experience as far as we can. In our seeking to know an infinite God, we will of course fail to see or appreciate the spirit of all His words. But He appreciates this. Yet in a sense our attitude to His word is an indication of our state of 'in-loveness' with God. Reading His word will not be a chore, a mountain to be grimly climbed and achieved each day; it will be a vital and natural part of our daily life, as natural and spontaneous as our desire to eat; and even more so  (cp. Job 23:12).

14:16 And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another comforter, that he may be with you for ever- Another Comforter / intercessor implies that the Lord Jesus was the first Paraclete [as confirmed in 1 Jn. 2:1]. Yet Moses was the foremost intercessor for Israel, and is actually called ‘the Paraclete’ in the Midrash on Ex. 12:29. But the idea is that the Lord was only physically with them for so long; the Comforter would mean that His presence was with them "for ever". Any attempt to confine the work of the Comforter to the first century is therefore ill founded. For the contrast is with how the Lord physically was with them for only a period; but the Comforter, His abiding presence, would remain with them "for ever".

14:17 The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive. For it neither sees him nor knows him. You truly know him, for he abides with you and shall be in you- This is clarified when we appreciate the allusion to the prologue. The Jewish world did not receive the Lord Jesus, and therefore did not receive His Spirit; but those who did received power to become God's children, and the grace / gift of all His fullness (1:11,12,16). "You truly know him" was not then true; as noted on :9 and :10, the Lord is imputing knowledge to them which they did not have at that very moment. We too need to see the spiritual potential in people, rather than relating to them how they are at this given moment.

Likewise the Spirit of truth, so named because it would guide them into all truth (16:13), "abides with you" right then. Although the Spirit was only poured out at the Lord's glorification on the cross (7:38,39), this was so certain that the Lord perceived that potentially, the Spirit was within them already. This is the scenario in Corinthians, where they had been given the Spirit potentially, but were "not spiritual" (1 Cor. 3:1); and it is the case with many believers today who have not perceived the potential of the Spirit within them.

The promised Spirit "shall be in you"; it speaks fundamentally of an internal power, guiding into truth (16:13), which is a matter of the mind rather than miraculous external gifts. The Lord has just defined Himself personally as "the truth", so the promise is not so much of intellectual purity of understanding as relationship with Him; for "truth" is a Hebraism for relationship. It is only the Western mindset which would see in "truth" here a reference to academic, intellectual purity of understanding.

14:18- see on Mt. 18:6.

I will not leave you desolate as orphans. I will come to you- The Lord has just addressed them as "little children" (13:33), and senses their panic that He is leaving them. He assures them that He will come to them, just as He has stated in :3; that coming to them would be to receive them for ever to Himself through the ministry of His abiding Spirit. The allusion is to the way the Rabbis spoke of their disciples being left orphans after the Rabbi died. But the Lord's death would not be like that, but the opposite. His death would lead to His abiding personal presence and continual teaching of His disciples deep within their hearts. It is this allusion which explains the emphasis upon the Comforter providing continued teaching to the disciples. The discourse about the Comforter is inserted it seems in place of the Olivet prophecy, which in the Synoptics forms the Lord's promise of literally coming back. John's Gospel was written after them, and he is perhaps addressing the concern that the Lord had not returned, and might delay His return, by reminding them that the Comforter enabled the Lord's presence to be with us just as really as when He was literally present. There is an understandable desire in every true believer for the Lord's literal return; but we must be careful that our enthusiasm for it does not become so obsessive that we fail to sense His very real coming to us now in the Spirit. It is unfortunately significant that some of those most obsessive about the signs of the times fulfilling Bible prophecy and pointing to the Lord's imminent return are in fact those who also deny the operation of the Spirit today.

14:19 Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you shall live also- The Lord carefully uses a present tense: "I live", not "I will live". His life was going to become their life because He would give them His spirit of life. The Lord would no longer be visible to the Jewish world; but He would be 'seen' by the disciples because the gift of the Comforter would be such that His presence was as real as if He were physically present.

14:20- see on Jn. 17:7.

In that day, you shall truly know that I am in my Father, and you in me and I in you- The "truth" in to which they would be guided by the Comforter, "the spirit of truth", would not be intellectual purity of understanding, but the knowledge or seeing of the Father and Son. And they would also "know" that "I [am] in you". This promise is often alluded to by John when later writing to the converts made from hearing or reading his Gospel record. For he writes about "hereby we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us" (1 Jn. 3:24; 4:13; also alluded to in 1 Jn. 2:3,5; 3:19; 4:6). So the knowledge that the Son dwells in us is from the experience of the Spirit. "That day" therefore refers to the day when the Spirit would be given, and they would 'see' the Lord ever before them and have His personal presence within them (:19).

14:21- see on Jn. 14:1.

He that has my commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves me; and he that loves me, shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him- I suggested on :15 that the plural "commandments" refers to the singular commandment to love which is paramount to Christianity. And the connection between commandment and love is continued here. To love one another as He loved us, keeping the commandment[s], is to love the Lord. And John later makes this explicit, in explaining that love of the Lord and love of each other are related and inseperable. The commandment[s] must be both 'had' and kept. To love those in Christ was a commandment which the Jewish world did not 'have' in that they did not accept it, and not only killed God's Son but persecuted and hated all who believed in Him. John's letters refer to those who hate their brother, and the reference is primarily to the Jewish persecution of their Christian brothers. Obedience to the command to love one another is effectively a loving of the Son, which is a loving of the Father; and in response the Son will love us in manifesting Himself to us. This self-manifestation of the Lord to those who love Him and His brethren is again through the ministry of the Spirit. It is paralleled in :23 with coming to the believer and abiding ["make our abode"] with him. "Manifest myself" is the word used of the manifestation of the risen Christ in Acts 10:40, and of the appearing of resurrected people of Mt. 27:53. John uses a related verb about the 'showing' of the Lord to the disciples after His resurrection (21:1,14). The evidence of the resurrection is not therefore in the literal visible appearance of the risen Lord to believers, but in His appearance or manifestation to them by the Spirit. In this sense His life is manifested or shown to us (1 Jn. 1:2 s.w.). This is why His resurrection, His life, His living again, can never be proven in Euclidean terms; it is a matter of experience. No amount of apologetics can prove the Lord rose from the dead, that a living body emerged from a cave on the outskirts of Jerusalem; and yet this is the cornerstone of the whole Christian faith. It is proven by His resurrection manifestation to those who accept His claims and live in His love, and whose lives are His life, His living. This may appear a circular argument, and so it is, in secular, human terms. But the transformation of life elicited by it, in radical love for each other, is to be the exhibit which cannot be argued against.

14:22- see on Jn. 7:4.

Judas (not Iscariot) said to him: Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?- They were far from understanding. His manifestation to the believers was because they had accepted Him and His claims, and were obeying His commandment to love each other. The Jewish world had not received Him, and so the internal manifestation of the Spirit could not be experienced by them. In simple terms, they did not love Him (:23).

14:23 Jesus answered and said to him: If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him; and we will come to him and make our home with him- The Jewish world did not accept the light of the Lord Jesus, as the prologue emphasizes. The manifestation of the Lord would be through His Spirit in the hearts of those who loved Him, and also loved their brethren, i.e. 'kept His word', His singular commandment of loving each other (13:34; 15:12; 1 Jn. 4:21; 5:2). See on :15. John's letters put this in so many words by saying that if we love the Father and Son, then we will love other believers. Here the Lord says that if we love Him, then we will "keep my word", which is the singular commandment to love one another. In that life of love, the Father and Son will 'come' to us by the Spirit, as explained on :3, and abide with us on a permanent level ["make our home"]. Not just in moments of emotional connection with them, but on a permanent basis.

14:24 He that does not love me, does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father's who sent me- The words which are to be kept, as noted on :15, refer to the singular commandment to love each other (13:34; 15:12; 1 Jn. 4:21; 5:2). If we do not love the Lord, we will not love our brethren. And that word, of radical love, is the word of the Father. He is love, in that sense. This interpretation is confirmed by John's later interpretation of these words in 1 Jn. 4:16: "And we know and have believed the love which God has toward us. God is love, and he that abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him". See on :31, where again, keeping God's commandment meant simply loving Him, unto death on the cross for His people.

14:25- see on Jn. 1:38.

These things have I spoken to you, while still with you- The Lord predicted His personal presence amongst them through the Spirit before He left them. He didn't leave them to just experience His presence through the Spirit. That experience would remind them that this was precisely what He had predicted. And yet He realized that at that time, they did not understand. But the coming of the Spirit would make clear what He meant. These words spoken about the Comforter, spoken at that moment whilst still with them, were the words which would be recalled to their mind by the Comforter (:26).

14:26 But the comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and cause you to remember all that I said to you- The Spirit was "in my name" in that it would be as if the Lord was literally with them. The Lord was aware that His teaching about the Comforter could not then be understood by them; and so He assures them that the Comforter would make them remember these words about the Comforter and then all would be plain to them; see on :25. It could be that the Comforter had a specific role in recalling literally all the Lord had spoken to them, so that the Gospel records could be written under inspiration. But the connection with :25 suggests to me that the Lord had in view His specific teaching about the Comforter.

14:27 Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give it to you. Let not your heart be disturbed, neither let it be fearful-  “’Peace’ [‘shalom’- the usual Semitic greeting] is my farewell to you” is an example of how He seems to have almost purposefully delighted in using language in a startlingly different way. There are times when the Lord Jesus seems to have almost coined words. The gift of the Spirit would be the source of peace with God, which is how "peace" is commonly used in the Bible. Therefore they need have no fear before God, troubled thoughts about the outcome of judgment day; see on :1. The peace given would affect their heart; the gift of the Spirit in view was primarily internal, in the heart. "My peace" refers to the peace which the Lord had with the Father, with no barriers. This is another way of saying what He does so often in this section- that the Spirit was enabling them to have the same relationship with the Father which He had. His shalom [peace] was not as the [Jewish] world could give it; each time He called out shalom  across the street or to the guys at work each morning, He meant it. And He perceived that it would take His death on the cross to really achieve what He was giving to them in His words.  

The Lord’s commission to His preachers comes along with a promise that He would “be with [them] always”. This is perhaps Matthew’s equivalent to John’s promise of the Comforter, who would abide with the Lord’s people for ever. The promise of Holy Spirit support in the work of fulfilling the great commission is not necessarily fulfilled in the ability to do miracles etc. It was in the first century, but not today. Yet the promise that “I am with you always, even [as you fulfil my commission to preach] unto the ends of the world”, is surely fulfilled in the promised Comforter, who is to ‘abide with us for ever’. What does this mean? The Comforter clearly refers to the personal presence of Jesus, even though He is not visibly with us:

The Comforter

The Lord Jesus

Will come into the world

Jn. 5: 43; 16:28; 18:37

Comes forth from the Father


Given by the Father

Jn. 3:16

Sent by the Father

Jn. 3:17

The spirit of truth

The truth Jn. 14:6

The Holy Spirit

The Holy One of God Jn. 6:69

The disciples would know / recognize the Comforter

As they knew / recognized Jesus Jn. 14:7,9

Would remain within the disciples

Jn. 14:20,23; 15:4,5; 17:23,26

Declares things to come

Jn. 4:25,26

Bears witness, against the world

Jn. 8:14; 7:7

Not accepted by the world

Jn. 5:43; 12:48

Unseen by the world

Jn. 16:16

Because of this, the Lord made a clever word play by saying that “‘Peace’ [shalom] is my farewell to you” (Jn. 14:27)- when ‘Peace’ was what you said when you met someone, to say ‘Hello’. His farewell in the flesh was His ‘hello’, in that His personal presence would be with them. This Comforter, this personal presence of Jesus, is given especially in the context of fulfilling the great commission to take Him to the whole world. He will be with us, there will be a special sense of His abiding presence amongst us, because we are witnessing “in Him”, and our witness is a shared witness with Him. Any who have done any witnessing work, not necessarily missionary work, but any witnessing to Him, will have felt and known His especial presence, as He promised. And we live in a time similar to that when John’s Gospel was written- a time when the church were disappointed the Lord had not returned as quickly as they thought He would, when the eyewitnesses of Jesus in the flesh were not with them any longer. John’s point is that through the Comforter, it’s as good as if Jesus is here with us; and he brings out in his gospel how things like the judgment, eternal life, the coming of Jesus etc. all essentially occur within the life of the believer right now.

14:28 You heard how I said to you: I go away and I come to you. If you loved me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father. For the Father is greater than I- As explained on :3, the going away was to the cross and the coming to them through His abiding presence in the Comforter. "If you loved me" may seem rather severe, seeing they were willing to die for Him. But their sorrow rather than rejoicing at His departure was actually because in real spiritual terms they did not love Him; they wanted Him to remain for their own sakes. If they loved the essence of what He and the Father stood for, they would have rejoiced at His departure, for it meant the giving of the Comforter which would glorify the Father and Son so much more than if He did not depart. "The Father is greater than I" may mean that the Father's glory was far greater an issue than the Lord's death or presence with them- the issues they were immediately concerned about. To love the Son was to love the glorification of the Father, who was greater than Him. They should therefore have rejoiced at the teaching that He was going away in order to come to them in the power of the Comforter. The same word has just been used of how "greater works" were to be done when the Comforter was given (:12), on account of the Lord's going to the Father on the cross. The "works", the miracles, would glorify the Father and Son (2:11; 11:4,40). The cross itself would glorify the Father and Son ( 12:41).

14:29- see on Jn. 12:16.

And now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe- The purpose of prophecy isn’t to specifically predict the future, but so that we shall be able to recognize the signs when they appear. The disciples did not expect Jesus to enter into Jerusalem “sitting on an ass’s colt” in fulfilment of Zech. 9:9. But when He did, then soon afterwards, all became clear to them- that He had fulfilled this prophecy (Jn. 12:16). Likewise with prophecies such as “the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” in Ps. 69:9, and even the Lord’s own prophecies of His resurrection. When it happened, “his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture (Ps. 69:9), and the word which Jesus had said” (Jn. 2:17-22). Such later clarification of the Lord's words and actions was all part of the ministry of the Comforter to the disciples (:26).

14:30  I will no longer say much to you. For the prince of the world comes; but he has no claim on me- There was a Rabbinic tradition that the whole world was under the power of the Angel of death which controlled Egypt at the first Passover, but had no dominion over Israel. They referred to this Angel as  the Sar ha-olam, and at the time of Jesus the phrase "Prince of this world" would have been understood as referring to this Angel. This is how the Lord's use of the phrase would have been understood. He described the "prince of this world"- the Angel of death and darkness- as coming to him and finding nothing in Him. This would be alluding to the Angel of death at the first Passover (and Jesus was speaking at Passover time) coming to each house and finding nothing worthy of death there because of the blood of the lamb on the lintel. Jesus may have been using the 'language of the day' as He did regarding Beelzebub and demons, but the consistent fitting of the type implies Jesus believed the Rabbinic idea was at least partially correct, in that the whole world apart from Israel was under the control of a specific Angel. However, spiritually Israel were not under the protection of the blood of the lamb because they rejected Christ. The "prince of this world" Angel would therefore destroy them too. I have suggested on 12:31 that this prince refers to leader of the Jewish system, Caiaphas. This man, the very epitome of apparent spirituality, who had dominion over Israel, was being compared to the Angel of evil which the Jews believed had dominion over the Jews' enemies but not over the Jews. The Lord is turning it all around, to show that actually the Jews were like the Egyptians, and were under the domination of a leader who would not preserve them from the destruction now coming to them.

The Jews believed that the Sar ha-olam had no claim upon the Jews who were the true Israel, covered by the blood of the Passover kamb. The Lord is saying that He is that true Israel upon whom Caiaphas and his evil system had no power. This is the force of "he has no claim on me". The Angel whom the Jews thought would not touch them because of the other Angels hovering over them (the real idea of the word 'passover') to protect them from the destroying Angel, was going to destroy them; the protecting Angel which hovered over them and led them through the wilderness was "turned to be their enemy"- i. e. to be the destroying Angel (Is. 63:10), the Sar ha-olam. And that destroying Angel was operating on earth through his human representative, Caiaphas, the prince of the Jewish world.

14:31 And he comes so that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, thus I shall now do. Arise, let us leave here- The prince of the Jewish world would come to take the Lord away to death, epitomized in his agent Judas, who 'came' to the Lord with the forces of the Jewish world to arrest Him (18:3). It was through reflection on all this that the Jewish world would "know" the Lord's sincerity, His love for the Father. That was however only potentially true, for even His death, with all the internal contradictions and evil within the Jewish system which were thereby exposed, did not bring all the Jewish world to know Him. "That the world may know" is an allusion to David's words just before the victory over Goliath. 

The Lord's obedience to the Father's commandment was His love of the Father. Again we see a connection between love, and keeping commandment. I have suggested on :15 and :24 that the keeping of the Lord's commandment means loving our brethren unto the death of the cross, as He loved us. Here we see the same idea- the Son obeyed the Father's commandment by loving Him, unto death on the cross.