Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
Christ comforts his disciples, on the event of his removal from them, by the consideration of his going to prepare a place for them in heaven, Joh 14:1-4. Thomas questions him concerning the way to the Father, and is answered, Joh 14:5-7. Philip proposes a difficulty, and Christ shows that he and the Father are one; that he is Mediator between God and man; and that whatsoever is asked in his name shall be obtained, Joh 14:8-14. He promises them the Holy Spirit as the Comforter and Spirit of truth, Joh 14:15-18. Shows them that he is shortly to leave them, and that those who love him should be loved of the Father, Joh 14:19-21. Jude asks a question, how Christ is to manifest himself to the disciples, and not to the Jews? Joh 14:22. Christ answers, and shows that the manifestation is to be made to those who love God, and to them the Holy Spirit is to be an infallible teacher, Joh 14:23-26. He bequeaths his peace to them, and fortifies them against discouragements, Joh 14:27-29. Foretells his approaching death, Joh 14:30, Joh 14:31.
Let not your heart be troubled - After having answered St. Peter's question, he addresses himself again to his disciples, and tells them not to be afflicted at his leaving them, nor to lose courage because of what he said concerning Peter's denying him; that if they reposed their confidence in God, he would protect them; and that, howsoever they might see him treated, they should believe in him more firmly, as his sufferings, death, and resurrection should be to them the most positive proof of his being the Messiah, the Savior of the world.
Ye believe in God, believe also in me - It is best to read both the verbs in the imperative mood: - Place your confidence in God, and in me as the Mediator between God and man, Joh 14:12-14; and expect the utmost support from God; but expect it all through me. The disciples began to lose all hope of a secular kingdom, and were discouraged in consequence: Christ promises them a spiritual and heavenly inheritance, and thus lifts up their drooping hearts.
In my Father's house, etc. - The kingdom of glory.
Many mansions - Though I have said before that whither I am going ye cannot come now, yet do not think that we shall be for ever separated. I am going to that state of glory where there is not only a place of supreme eminence for myself, but also places for all my disciples; - various degrees of glory, suited to the various capacities and attainments of my followers.
Our Lord alludes here to the temple, which was called the house of God, in the precincts of which there were a great number of chambers, Kg1 6:5; Ezr 8:29; Jer 35:2, Jer 35:4; Jer 36:10.
If - not - I would have told you - If your places were not prepared in the kingdom of God, I would not have permitted you to have indulged a vain hope concerning future blessedness.
And if I go - And when I shall have gone and prepared a place for you - opened the kingdom of an eternal glory for your reception, and for the reception of all that shall die in the faith, I will come again, after my resurrection, and give you the fullest assurances of this state of blessedness; and confirm you in the faith, by my grace and the effusion of my Spirit. Dr. Lightfoot thinks, and with great probability too, that there is an allusion here to Num 10:33 : And the ark of the Lord went before them to search out a resting place for them.
And whither I go ye know - I have told you this so often and so plainly that ye must certainly have comprehended what I have said.
Lord, we know not - Thomas, perhaps, thought that our Lord only spoke of his going some distance from the place where he then was.
I am the Way - That leads so the Father: - the Truth that teaches the knowledge of God, and directs in the way: - the Life that animates all those who seek and serve him, and which is to be enjoyed eternally at the end of the way.
Christ is the Way:
1. By his doctrine, Joh 6:68.
2. By his example, Pe1 2:21.
3. By his sacrifice, Heb 9:8, Heb 9:9.
4. By his Spirit, Joh 16:13.
He is the Truth:
1. In opposition to all false religions.
2. To the Mosaic law, which was only the shadow, not the truth or substance, of the good things which were to come. And
3. In respect to all the promises of God, Co2 1:20.
He is the Life, both in grace and glory; the life that not only saves from death, but destroys it.
No man cometh unto the Father - By any other doctrine, by any other merit, or by any other intercession than mine.
If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father - Because I and the Father are One, Joh 10:30. Or, if ye had properly examined the intention and design of the law, ye would have been convinced that it referred to me; and that all that I have done and instituted was according to the design and intention of the Father, as expressed in that law.
Show us the Father - As if he had said, We have seen and adored thee, and our happiness will be complete if thou show us the Father. The demand of Philip was similar to that made by Moses, Exo 33:18. He wished to see the glory of God. In Peter, James, or John, this would have been inexcusable; but Philip had not seen the transfiguration on the mount. The Jewish history is full of the manifestations which God made of himself, and especially when he gave the law. As Christ was introducing a new law, Philip wished to have an additional manifestation of God.
He that hath seen me hath seen the Father - Could any creature say these words? Do they not evidently imply that Christ declared himself to his disciples to be the everlasting God?
I am in the Father, and the Father in me? - We are essentially one; and those who have seen me have seen him who sent me.
He doeth the works - We are not only one in nature, but one also in operation. The works which I have done bear witness of the infinite perfection of my nature. Such miracles as I have wrought could only be performed by unlimited power.
And greater works than these - The miracles which I have wrought could not have been wrought but by the omnipotence of God; but that omnipotence can work greater. And those who believe on my name shall, through my almighty power, be enabled to work greater miracles than those which l have ordinarily wrought. An impostor might seduce the people by false miracles; but he could not make his power and cunning pass to all those who were seduced by him: but I will give you this proof of the divinity of my mission and the truth of my doctrine.
Perhaps the greater works refer to the immense multitudes that were brought to God by the ministry of the apostles. By the apostles was the doctrine of Christ spread far and wide; while Christ confined his ministry chiefly to the precincts of Judea. It is certainly the greatest miracle of Divine grace to convert the obstinate, wicked heart of man from sin to holiness. This was done in numberless cases by the disciples, who were endued with power from on high, while proclaiming remission of sins through faith in his blood.
Some account for the greater works thus:
1. The very shadow of Peter healed the diseased, Act 5:15.
2. Diseases were cured, and demons cast out, by applying to the persons handkerchiefs and aprons that had before touched the body of Paul, Act 19:12.
3. By the word of Peter, Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead, Act 5:5, Act 5:9, Act 5:10.
4. Elymas the sorcerer was struck blind by the word of Paul, Act 13:11.
5. Christ only preached in Judea, and in the language only of that country; but the apostles preached through the most of the then known world, and in all the languages of all countries. But let it be remarked that all this was done by the power of Christ; and I think it still more natural to attribute the greater works to the greater number of conversions made under the apostles' ministry. The reason which our Lord gives for this is worthy of deep attention: -
Because I go unto my Father - Where I shall be an Intercessor for you, that: -
Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name - To enable you to perform these miracles, and to convert souls, may be granted you. Besides, by going unto the Father, I shall receive the Holy Spirit, and send down his abundant influences into the hearts of those who believe.
If ye love me, keep my commandments - Do not be afflicted at the thought of my being separated from you: the most solid proof ye can give of your attachment to and affection for me is to keep my commandments. This I shall receive as a greater proof of your affection than your tears.
I will pray the Father - After having made an atonement for the sin of the world, I will become the Mediator between God and man; and through my mediation and intercession shall all the blessings of grace and glory be acquired.
Another Comforter - The word παρακλητος signifies not only a comforter, but also an advocate, a defender of a cause, a counsellor, patron, mediator. Christ is thus termed, Jo1 2:1, where the common translation renders the word advocate. Christ is thus called, because he is represented as transacting the concerns of our souls with God; and for this cause, he tells us, he goes unto the Father, Joh 14:12. The Holy Spirit is thus called, because he transacts the cause of God and Christ with us, explains to us the nature and importance of the great atonement, shows the necessity of it, counsels us to receive it, instructs us how to lay hold on it, vindicates our claim to it, and makes intercessions in us with unutterable groanings. As Christ acted with his disciples while he sojourned with them, so the Holy Ghost acts with those who believe in his name.
For ever - As the death and atonement of Christ will be necessary to man till the conclusion of the world, so the office of the Holy Spirit must be continued among men till the end of time: therefore says Christ, he shall continue with you for ever, teaching, comforting, advising, defending, and interceding for you and for all my followers to the end of time.
The Spirit of truth - The Spirit, or Holy Ghost, whose essential office is to manifest, vindicate, and apply the truth. The Gospel of Christ may be thus called, because it exposes falsity, removes error, and teaches the knowledge of the true God - shows the way to him, saves from vanity and illusive hopes, and establishes solid happiness in the souls of those who believe.
The world cannot receive - By the world, St. John means those who are influenced only by the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life, Jo1 2:16. Now these cannot receive the Spirit of the truth, because they see him not, have no spiritual discernment, attend to nothing but the dictates of their corrupt passions and affections, and will admit of no influence but what can be an object of their senses. Hence all the deign and irreligion in the world. God, in the operation of his hands, and in the influences of his Spirit, is found every where except in the perverted passions of men. In these alone do men of corrupt minds seek him; here only he is not to be found, and therefore they become infidels and atheists.
But ye know him - Ye have already received a measure of the truth, and ye believe in this Spirit. Probably our Lord refers to the knowledge which they should afterwards attain: in this sense the passage has been understood by the Vulgate, Nonnus, and two copies of the Itala, which read, Ye Shall know him.
For he dwelleth with you - Or, as the Ethiopic, Vulgate, Nonnus, and six copies of the Itala read, he shall dwell with you, (see above); and this, it is very evident, is the meaning of the evangelist, who not unfrequently uses the present for the future tense. It is certain the Holy Spirit was not yet given to the disciples so as to dwell in them; this St. John himself assures us, Joh 7:39. And it is evidently of that Spirit and its influences, which was not given till the day of pentecost, that our Lord here speaks.
I will not leave you comfortless - Literally, orphans. The original word ορφανος, is by some derived from ορφνος, obscure, dark, because, says Mintert, an orphan (one deprived of father and mother) is little esteemed, neglected, and is obliged to wander about in obscurity and darkness. Others derive it from the Hebrew חרף charaph, to strip or make bare, despoil, because such a child is destitute of comfort, direction, and support, and is a prey to misery and disease, to sin and to death.
The disciples of a particular teacher among the Hebrews called him father; his scholars were called his children, and, on his death, were considered as orphans. Christ calls his disciples children, beloved children, Joh 13:33; and, now that he is about to be removed from them by death, he assures them that they shall not be left fatherless, or without a teacher; for in a little time he should come again, (rise from the dead), and, after his ascension, they should be made partakers of that Spirit which would be their comforter, advocate, teacher, and guide for ever.
Because I live - As surely as I shall rise from the dead, so shall ye. My resurrection shall be the proof and pledge of yours. And because I live a life of intercession for you at the right hand of God, ye shall live a life of grace and peace here, and a life of glory hereafter.
That I am in my Father - After my resurrection, ye shall be more fully convinced of this important truth, that I and the Father are One; for I will live in you by the energy of my Spirit, and ye shall live in me by faith, love, and obedience.
He it is that loveth me - See on Joh 14:15 (note).
And will manifest myself to him - All my faithful disciples shall see me after my resurrection; and I will manifest my power and goodness to all those who believe in and obey me, even to the end of the world.
Judas - The same as Thaddeus and Lebbeus, the brother of James, and author of what is called the epistle of Jude.
How is it - Or, how can it be - τι γεγονεν, what is to happen? - on what account is it? Judas, who was probably thinking that the kingdom of Christ should extend over all the earth, wonders how this can be, and yet Christ manifest himself only to his disciples and not to the world, Joh 14:19. To this our Lord, in a more express manner than he had done before answers: -
If a man - Not only my present disciples, but all those who shall believe on me through their word, or that of their successors:
Love me - Receive me as his Savior, and get the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost:
He will keep my words - Observe all my sayings, and have his affections and conduct regulated by my Spirit and doctrine:
My Father will love him - Call him his child; support, defend, and preserve him as such.
And we will come unto him - God the Father, through his Son, will continue to pour out his choicest blessings upon his head and upon his heart:
And make our abode with him - Will make his heart our temple, where God, the Father, Son, and Spirit, shall rest, receive homage, and dwell to eternity. Thus will I manifest myself to the believing, loving, obedient disciple, and not to the world, who will not receive the Spirit of the truth.
He that loveth me not, etc. - Hence we learn that the man who is not obedient to the testimonies of Christ does not love him; and the Spirit of this truth has said, He who loves not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed, Co1 16:22.
He shall teach you all things - If in the things which I have already spoken to you, there appear to you any obscurity, the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, Counsellor, and Instructer, will take away all your doubts, free you from all embarrassment, and give you a perfect understanding in all things: and this Spirit ye shall shortly receive.
And bring all things to your remembrance - Here Christ promises them that inspiration of the Holy Spirit which enabled them not only to give a true history of his life and death, but also gave them the most perfect recollection of all the words which he had spoken to them, so that they have been able to transmit to posterity the identical words which Jesus uttered in his sermons, and in his different discourses with them, the Jews, and others.
Peace I leave with you - The Jewish form of salutation and benediction. A wish of peace among them is thus to be understood: May you prosper in body and soul, and enjoy every earthly and heavenly good! For the meaning of this word, see Mat 5:9.
My peace I give unto you - Such tranquillity of soul, such uninterrupted happiness of mind, such everlasting friendship with God as I enjoy, may ye all enjoy! And such blessedness I bequeath unto you: it is my last, my best, my dying legacy.
Not as the world giveth - Not as the Jews, in empty wishes: not as the people of the world, in empty compliments. Their salutations and benedictions are generally matters of custom and polite ceremony, given without desire or design; but I mean what I say; what I wish you, that I will give you. To his followers Jesus gives peace, procures it, preserves it, and establishes it. He is the author, prince, promoter, and keeper of peace.
Neither let it be afraid - Μηδε δειλιατω, Let not your heart shrink back through fear of any approaching evil. This is the proper meaning of the word. In a few hours ye will be most powerfully assaulted; but stand firm: - the evil will only fall upon me; and this evil will result in your comfort and salvation, and in the redemption of a lost world.
I go away - To the Father by my death:
And come again unto you - By my resurrection.
Ye would rejoice - Because, as the Messiah, I am going to receive a kingdom, and power, and glory, for ever. Therefore as my friends ye should rejoice in my elevation, though for a while it may put you to the pain of being separated from me: besides, I am going that I may send you the Holy Spirit, which shall fill you with the fullness of God: on your own account, therefore, ye should have rejoiced and not mourned.
My Father is greater than I - In Joh 14:24, Christ tells his disciples that the Father had sent him: i.e. in his quality of Messiah, he was sent by the Father to instruct, and to save mankind. Now, as the sender is greater than the sent, Joh 13:16, so in this sense is the Father greater than the Son; and in this sense was the passage understood by Origen, Jerome, Novatian, and Vigilius, who read the text thus: The Father, ὁ πεμψας, who sent me, is greater than I. It certainly requires very little argument, and no sophistry, to reconcile this saying with the most orthodox notion of the Godhead of Christ; as he is repeatedly speaking of his Divine and of his human nature. Of the former he says, I and the Father are one, Joh 10:30; and of the latter he states, with the same truth, The Father is greater than I.
I have told you before it come to pass - Lest my death should be a stumbling-block to you, I have spoken of it beforehand, and showed you the necessity of it, that when it happens ye may believe, that as I could predict it so clearly, and so circumstantially, so all the good which I have promised shall be the result may be confidently expected by you; and that your sorrow, if not entirely removed, may at least be much mitigated.
The prince of this world - Τουτου, of this, is omitted by ABDEGHKLMS, Mt. BH, one hundred others; both the Syriac, later Persic, all the Arabic, and several of the primitive fathers. I rather think the omission of the pronoun makes the sense more general; for, had he said This world, the words might have been restrained to the Jewish state, or to the Roman government. But who is the person called here the prince of the world?
1. Mr. Wakefield thinks that Christ speaks here of himself, as he does in Joh 12:31, (see the note there), and translates this verse and the following thus: For the ruler of this world is coming; and I have nothing now to do, but to convince the world that I love the Father, and do as he commanded me. On which he observes that our Lord speaks of what he shall be, when he comes again, and not of what he then was: compare Joh 14:18; Joh 16:16; Joh 17:2; Mat 28:18; Phi 2:9. And how often does he speak of himself, as the Son of man, in the third person! See his vindication of this translation in the third vol. of his New Testament.
2. Others think that our Lord refers to the Roman government, the ruler of the world, who, by its deputy, Pilate, was going to judge him, but who should find nothing (εὑρησει ουδεν, which is the reading found in some excellent MSS. and versions, and is followed by almost all the primitive fathers), as a just cause of death in him - nothing in the whole of his conduct which was in the least reprehensible; and this indeed Pilate witnessed in the most solemn manner. See Joh 18:38; Joh 19:4, Joh 19:12; see also Luk 23:4, etc., and Mat 27:24.
3. But the most general opinion is that Satan is meant, who is called the prince of the power of the air, Eph 2:2; and who is supposed to be the same that is called the god of this world, Co2 4:4; and who at his last and most desperate trial, the agony in the garden, should be convinced that there was nothing of his nature in Christ, nothing that would coincide with his solicitations, and that he should find himself completely foiled in all his attacks, and plainly foresee the impending ruin of his kingdom. It is very difficult to ascertain the real meaning here: of the different opinions proposed above, the reader must take that which he deems the most likely.
Arise, let us go hence - Calmet supposes that Christ, having rendered thanks to God, and sung the usual hymn, Mat 26:30; Mar 14:26; rose from the table, left the city, and went towards the garden of Olives, or garden of Gethsemane, on the road to which, a part of the following discourse was delivered. It was now about midnight, and the moon was almost full, it being the 14th day of her age, about the time in which the Jewish passover was to be slain.
The reader should carefully note the conduct of our Lord. He goes to die as a Sacrifice, out of love to mankind, in obedience to the Divine will, and with unshaken courage. All our actions should be formed on this plan. They should have the love of God and man for their principle and motive; his glory for their end; and his will for their rule. He who lives and acts thus shall live for ever. Amen.