Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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JOHN - Chapter 14

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John 14

Supplemental Commentary:


1.  The Last Supper  13, 1 -- 17, 26 (continued)

14, 1-31:  A Word of Comfort.  This is clearly one continuous discourse.  It attaches to 13, 35, the theme of Christ's departure.  Some manuscripts even indicate this by a fresh introduction.

1.  After He is gone their faith will keep Him present.  Believe . . . believe: the Greek has both in the imperative.  Another clear identification of Father and Son; cf. 5, 17 f; 5, 36; 8, 18.28.38; 12, 44-50.    3.  I am coming again: of personal reunion after death.  Cf. 2 Cor. 5, 8; Phil. 1, 23; 1 John 2, 28; 3, 2.  Some, however, would refer it to the Parousia, or coming of Christ at the Last Judgment.    4.  Cf. 7, 33.  They knew of His return to the Father.  The way: this was the burden of His instruction; cf. Matt. 16, 21; 17, 12; 20, 18 f.  In 6 Jesus had revealed Himself as the way to life: cf. 5, 40; 6, 35.39-40.47.

5.  Thomas is prompted by a desire to understand more clearly.    6.  Our Lord's answer is a compendium of the New Covenant itself.  The way: as the door in 10, 7; He is the mediator between God and man; cf. Acts 4, 12; Heb. 1-3.  The truth: the revelation of truth in both word and person; cf. 1, 18.  The life: the source of spiritual life; cf. 1, 4; 5, 21.26.  No one can come to the Father except through Christ.    7.  In the second member the Greek text reads, "and henceforth you know."  Though mildly reproachful, the thought is also consoling.  The identity of Christ with the Father, implied in 6, is confirmed by both statements.

8.  Philip looked for a more direct manifestation of the Father, perhaps as in the ancient theophanies.  It is enough: we shall ask no further consolation.    9.  The doctrine of Christ's consubstantiality with the Father, together with their distinctness in person, is explicit in this verse, which reveals John's meaning in 1, 18.    10.  Real faith in Christ will recognize His identity with the Father.  Both His words and His miracles are evidence of it.    11.  This is addressed to all the Apostles (cf. 10, 38) as a further rebuke to their slowness in faith.    12.  Their work is to be the extension of the Messianic kingdom.    The fulfillment of this promise is the thesis of Acts.    13.  Cf. 15, 4.  In my name: cf. Mark 9, 40; Acts 3, 6.16; 16, 18.    14.  Our Lord's intervention is their consolation.

15-17:  Further assistance is to come from the Advocate.  In 15 the Greek text reads, "you will keep."  This is the condition for receiving the Advocate, and it rests on love of Christ.  The commandments are those of the New Law; cf. 1 John 2, 3-5; 3, 23 f; 5, 2-4.    16.  The title Advocate is used only by John; cf. 14, 26; 15, 26; 16, 7; 1 John 2, 1.  In classical Greek it denotes one called to the assistance of a person accused.  In Job 16, 2 it is rather one who consoles.  The ancient Latin interpreters preferred Advocatus, implying an intellectual assistance.  Our English term Advocate is more expressive than the "Paraclete" of the Douai-Rheims.  Jesus Himself is such an Advocate  (1 John 2, 1), and He will secure them another who will remain with them permanently.  Moreover, this new Advocate is a person, distinct from the Father and the Son, identical with the Holy Spirit.    17.  Spirit of truth: proceeding from and teaching the truth.

18-21:  This, again, is not the Parousia, or Second Coming of Christ.  Nor is it the same as in 14, 3.  It is generally considered to be His return in the Resurrection.  But this, if true, should not be restricted to visible appearances of His risen body; it is rather His mystical union with those who love Him: cf. Matt. 28, 20.  In addition, therefore, to the aid of the Advocate, Christ also will be with them.    19.  The world sees me no more, etc.: after death He will be hidden from the world, but interiorly visible to the disciples in virtue of His union with them.    20.  In that day of the fulfillment of this promise.  You will know: their own perception will reveal to them fully the union of Christ with the Father, and their own union with Christ.    21.  The observance of Christ's commandments is the condition of this manifestation.  Cf. Wisd. 1, 2.  Through grace it is realized in the individual soul and in the collective life of the Church.

22-24:  Judas, the brother of James and author of the Epistle which bears his name, perhaps the Thaddeus of the Synoptics.  His question shows how much the Apostles shared the popular view of the Messianic manifestation.  The world, here the Jewish world; but cf. Isa. 2, 2; 11, 10; 42, 4; 49, 6; 52, 15; etc.  Judas has in mind the Shekinah, the dwelling of God with His people; cf. Zach. 2, 10.  The condition of the true Shekinah, the dwelling of God in our souls, is the observance of His commandments.  We will come: the three persons.  Make our abode: cf. Rom. 8, 9.11; 1 Cor. 3, 16; Gal. 4, 6; 2 Tim. 1, 14.  He who does not love me defines the world.  Words . . . words: the whole message brought by Christ.

25 f:  Further assistance from the mission of the Advocate.  The questions of the Apostles (13, 36; 14, 5.8.22) have shown how imperfect was their understanding; our Lord now encourages them to expect enlightenment from the Advocate.    26.  Whom the Father will send: (cf. 16, 7), again the perfect union of Father and Son.  He will teach you: the Advocate will take over the teaching office of Christ, instructing no longer by word of mouth, but by interior communication.

27-31:  This is not a simple adieu, but includes assurances of serenity of mind, tranquility of soul, simplicity of heart, fellowship in charity.    27.  My peace: the interior peace which only God can give, the desire of the whole Old Testament, the great boon of the Messianic era; cf. Ps. 71, 3.7; Isa. 9, 6 f; 26, 3; 27, 5; 54, 13; 57, 19.    28.  The Father is greater than I: this can only refer to Christ's inferiority in the Incarnation.  The Church Fathers offer two explanations: (a) the Son has His divine nature from the Father, and in this sense is inferior; (b) Christ refers here to His human nature.  The second is the better opinion.    30.  The prince of the world (cf. 12, 31) is Satan.  In me has nothing: he has no claim on me, as he had, e.g., on Judas.  Cf. John 8, 44; Rom. 6, 23; Heb. 2, 14; 2 Peter 2, 19; 1 John 3, 8.    31.  The first words should be connected with 30; the thought is, I am to die, not because the author of death has any claim on me, but that the world may know, etc.  Arise: cf. Matt. 26, 46; Mark 14, 42.  If our Lord and the Apostles actually left the cenacle at this point, what follows in 15-17 either was delivered on the way to Gethsemani, or assembles thoughts expressed by our Lord on other occasions.  But it is hard to conclude that they left the cenacle at this point; 18, 1 implies the contrary.

Confraternity Bible:

A Word of Comfort  1 "Let not your heart be troubled.  You believe in God, believe also in me.  2 In my Father's house there are many mansions.  Were it not so, I should have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you.  3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and I will take you to myself; that where I am, there you also may be.  4 And where I go you know, and the way you know."

5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where thou art going, and 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 but through me.  7* If you had known me, you would also have known my Father.  And henceforth you do know him, and you have seen him."  8 Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us."  9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long a time with you, and you have not known me?  Philip, he who sees me sees also the Father.  How canst thou say, 'Show us the Father?'  10 Dost thou not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?  The words that I speak to you I speak not on my own authority.  But the Father dwelling in me, it is he who does the works.  11 Do you believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?  12 Otherwise believe because of the works themselves.  Amen, amen, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do he also shall do, and greater than these he shall do, because I am going to the Father.  13 And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, in order that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

15 "If you love me, keep my commandments.  16 And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, 17 the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you shall know him, because he will dwell with you and be in you.

18 "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.  19 Yet a little while and the world no longer sees me.  But you see me, for I live and you shall live.  20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.  21 He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.  But he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

22 Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, "Lord, how is it that thou art about to manifest thyself to us, and not to the world?"  23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him.  24 He who does not love me does not keep my words.  And the word that you have heard is not mine, but the Father's who sent me.

25 "These things I have spoken to you while yet dwelling with you.  26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you.

27 "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your heart be troubled, or be afraid.  28 You have heard me say to you, 'I go away and I am coming to you.'  If you love me, you would indeed rejoice that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.  29 And now I have told you before it comes to pass, that when it has come to pass you may believe.  30 I will no longer speak much with you, for the prince of the world is coming, and in me he has nothing.  31 But he comes that the world may know that I love the Father, and I do as the Father has commanded me.  Arise, let us go from here."


7: The meaning is rather encouragement than censure.  Their present imperfect knowledge will later be elevated to a better understanding.