Category Archives: JOHN 14:8-21

The Lord Jesus prepares His own for His departure, and tells of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

JOHN 14:8-21

14:8 Philip saith unto Him, “Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us”.

Philip saith unto Him, “Lord, shew us the Father- when a named disciple addresses the Lord in the upper room, he always, with one exception, prefaces his remark with the title “Lord”, 13:6,9,25,36,37; 14:5,8,22. The significant exception is when Peter refused to allow the Lord to wash his feet, 13:8. Peter’s will was pitted against Christ’s, hence he does not call Him Lord. He commended them, however, for calling Him Lord, 13:13. The disciples never called the Lord Jesus simply Jesus when they addressed Him. Of course, the gospel writers constantly speak of Jesus, for they are writing history, and Jesus is the personal name by which He is identified to men. Those who constantly refer to the Lord as Jesus are either not believers, (for “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Spirit”, 1 Corinthians 12:3), or uninformed. We have it from His own lips that to call Him Lord is to “say well”, John 13:13, and that should carry great weight with a true believer. Moses had asked to see the glory of God and when his request was granted he heard God speaking, declaring His name, Exodus 34:5-7. There was nothing about God as Father in that manifestation of Divine glory to Moses, but John says, “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only begotten with the Father”, John 1:14. This is the final revelation, for God has spoken unto us in His Son, Hebrews 1:2, and in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, Colossians 2:9, so He is competent to show the Father. Whereas Moses heard words, Christ is the Word, comprehending in His person all that God can say.
And it sufficeth us”- it is good to be satisfied with nothing less than a sight of God as Father. Philip’s problem, (as the Lord will point out in the next verse), was that he did not realise that this “shewing” had already been done. It is good to desire the glory; it is better to recognise it and respond to it when it is seen. Although the Lord Jesus, in one aspect, made Himself of no reputation in the world of men, it is also true that “He manifested forth His glory, and His disciples believed on Him”, John 2:11. Clearly they had not at that point discerned that the glory they saw was not simply of a miracle-worker, but was a display of Divine power. After all, it is God as Creator who makes rainfall into wine.

14:9 Jesus saith unto him, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet thou hast not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, ‘Shew us the Father?'”

Jesus saith unto him, “Have I been so long time with you- the time during which He was publicly manifested was three and a half years, yet there was compressed into that period the most profound teaching, and the display of what had pertained eternally. It was as the one who is in the bosom of the Father eternally that the Son declared God. He brought eternal conditions into display, hence a relatively short period of time, as we think of it, is a long time when considered as to its content. We might compare the remark at the end of John’s gospel that the world would not be able to contain the books that could be written about Christ’s life, John 21:25.
And yet thou hast not known Me, Philip? After such an intense display of Deity in manhood, Philip has not advanced as he should have done. Before we criticise him, we might ask ourselves whether we have done any better? Notice that Philip had spoken on behalf of all the disciples in verse 8, using the word “us”, but the Lord applies His answer to him personally, addressing him by his name to assure him that He was speaking to him kindly as a friend, see 15:14,15.
He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, ‘Shew us the Father?'” To ask to see when the object desired has already been shown, is folly. Perhaps Philip was thinking in terms of a blaze of splendour. He does not realise he has seen the splendour of the Father, but it came in a form he was able to appreciate. “No man shall see Me and live” was God’s word to Moses, Exodus 33:20. How this dilemma is solved is told us in the next verse.

14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.

Believest thou not that I am in the Father the sight of the glory was only known to faith, hence the question as to whether Philip believed. He would no doubt assert he did, but his faith needed to be further informed so that he would realise the implications of the life and works of Christ. They were not simply the activities of a holy miracle-worker, but the outworking in manhood of a Divine relationship. Being “in the Father” is put first, because the Lord is at pains to emphasise that He was not acting in independence of His Father when Philip saw Him in His ministry. He is in Him in the sense that there is no point at which they diverge, whether it be in nature, character, will, or action.
And the Father in Me? Conversely there is no moment in which the Father does not fully express Himself in the Son. These two statements depend upon one another. If the Son is not in the Father, then the Father is not in the Son, and vice versa. If the Father is in the Son, then to see the Son with spiritual insight is to see the Father.
The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself- to reinforce His statement, the Lord speaks of words and works. There is an ongoing Divine Conversation, in which the persons of the Godhead commune with One Another. See, for example, Genesis 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8. The Lord is claiming to be privy to that conversation, not as one who overhears, but as a participant. He does not hear to discover, but to discuss. His ear is that of a learned one, not an ignorant one, Isaiah 50:4. It was that He shared mutually known truth. So what He spoke was what He heard as He conversed with His Father, and not a word was spoken in independence. This truth is balanced by the fact that, as He Himself said, “For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak”, John 12:49. The expression “sent Me” alerts us to the fact that He had come to do His Father’s will as a Servant-Son, and as such received commandments. We may not be able to resolve the difficulty these two ideas present to us, but as they are both in Scripture, we accept them both.
But the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works- far from acting in independence of His Father, we learn here, (as introduced by the word “but”), that it is in fact the Father who acts when the Son acts. This is because the Father dwelleth in the Son, for He is at home there; there is nothing in the Son to cause the Father misgivings or disquiet. Note the change from words to works. The words come to the Son as commandments, and as those commandments are carried out, works are done. (John uses this word for miracles, as does the Lord Himself, in John 7:21 for instance). In this way the works are words made visible. This is important to see in view of verse 12. Philip has only to recollect the miracles he had seen Christ do, to see the Father at work, and thereby showing His glory.

14:11 Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works’ sake.

Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me– Philip has a choice if he wishes to see the Father. He can either recognise the life of the Father in the life of the Son, and believe the Son simply because He says that is what it is.
Or else believe Me for the very works’ sake- or he can believe the Son on the basis of the works, as they demonstrate Divine power in action. So important is it to believe the truth of the Deity of Christ that both routes are open to the enquiring mind.

14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; And greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father

Verily, verily, I say unto you- the familiar formula introducing that which is a development, might be doubted, even denied, was difficult, but nonetheless definite, and above all, the words of One who possesses Deity. He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also- as we have seen in verse 10, the Lord equates works and words; “I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works”. The works were doctrine in action and manifestation. So to do the same works as He did is to set out the truths as found in the gospel records, the teaching appropriate for the time but nonetheless containing timeless principles.
And greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father– consequent upon the return of Christ to heaven the Spirit would come and guide into all truth, including that which was to be revealed through the apostle Paul. These were words that were on a higher level. The Lord knew them, of course, but could not tell the disciples because they could not bear them, 16:12. So to teach the words of the epistles is a greater work. It is not promised to all believers that they will work miracles, for the question is asked in 1 Corinthians 12:29, “Are all workers of miracles?” and the answer is clearly “No”. So the works believers are able to do are not miracles, for the promise is to all who believe on Him without exception. It is “he that believeth on Me”, not, “he that is an apostle”, or “he that has the gift of miracles”. Hence it is open to all believers to do these works. This would include the sisters as they engage in private conversations, as well as brothers as they preach and teach. They are not doing works greater than Christ could do. Rather, they are doing works it was not appropriate for Him to do before the Spirit came to give them deeper insight into His person. We could look at the doing of these greater works in the following way, by reference to the works in John’s gospel: 1. To turn water into wine was a great work, John 2:1-11, and believers may so set forth the truth of Christ that sinners can be brought into the joy of God’s salvation. By doing this they do a great work. It is a greater work, however, to show the deeper meaning of the miracle, and explain that it sets forth the glories of Christ. We should remember that we have the benefit of the teaching of John’s gospel, which the disciples did not have as they companied with Christ. The gospel was written after the Spirit had come to bring all things into the remembrance of the apostles, John 14:26. 2. To rescue a child from dying was a great work, John 4:46-54, and believers may likewise present the Saviour as the one who can give life to those dead in trespasses and sins. It is a greater work to enlarge upon this and explain that He is eternal life personified, and promised that those who believe on Him shall never see death, John 8:51. 3. It was a great work to feed the five thousand so that there was enough and to spare, John 6:5-13, and believers, too, may point to Christ as the Living Bread. They may do a greater work as they enlarge on the truths set out in Christ’s long discourse on the subject in that chapter. Such things as His relationship with the Father; the nature of His mission to earth; His complete submission to the will of His Father, and the way in which that means believers are eternally secure; the nature of His death as He gives His flesh for the life of the world; the way His person sustains the souls of His people as they feed on Him; His promise to raise His people up at the last day; His return to heaven and its consequences. All these are profound subjects, and the setting forth of them, either publicly or privately, is a greater work than simply pointing sinners to Christ the Bread of God, vital and valuable as that work is. 4. To give a blind man his sight was a great work, John 9:1-40, and to preach Christ is to open blind eyes, for Paul said that he was sent to the Gentiles to “open their eyes”, Acts 26:18. This initial opening of the eyes of the understanding, so that men receive Christ by faith, is followed by the greater work of enlightening believers as to the deeper things of God, “and to make all men see, what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ”, Ephesians 3:9. 5. To raise a dead man to life was a great work, and believers may so present the Person of Christ that they have a share in His resurrection. A greater work, however, is done by those who set out the consequences of the resurrection of Christ, in such chapters as Romans 6 and 1 Corinthians 15.

14:13  And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name- to ask in His name is to ask as if it is He Himself that is asking. (It is not a question of merely adding His name to the end of a prayer). This is why He is certain to respond, for He would never ask amiss of His Father. The “because I go to the Father” of verse 12 will soon be explained as an indication that the Holy Spirit would come to guide them, so that they could intelligently ask for the right things. The indwelling Spirit would also ensure they had the power to do these works. The Spirit always directs us to ask for the things Christ would ask for. In the context, it is asking for blessing on the truth as it is made known. That will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son- from His prayer in John 17 we learn that the great desire of the Son was to glorify the Father, even after He had returned to heaven. So He speaks of being given power over all flesh, so that He might give eternal life to those given Him by the Father. In this way the Father is glorified. The way that the offer of eternal life is made to men is through the setting out of the truth by the people of God. They ask for blessing on the word, they preach that word, and eternal life is given to men. There is no greater work they could do than this. Miracles only fitted men for an improved life for their few remaining years on earth; eternal life fits for heaven for all eternity. Notice that the Father is glorified through the Son; it is not that believers are glorified.

14:14  If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it.

If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it- the disciples may have been taken aback by the immensity of what the Lord is saying here. Is it really true that everything they ask will be given them? Correctly understood, it is, and so the Lord repeats it to reinforce the definiteness of the promise. Just as He repeats the “verily”, He repeats the promise it introduces.

14:15  If ye love Me, keep my commandments.

If ye love Me, keep my commandments-  this verse is the condition for the fulfilment of verse 16. The Lord applies a test, which is applicable in the first instance to the apostles. God tests men when He begins to deal in a particular way. He tested Adam and Eve at the beginning of time. He tested Israel at the beginning of the Law-age. He tested Saul at the beginning of the kingdom period. He tested Israel by the preaching of John the Baptist, and the presence of Christ. Now He is going to test the apostles at the beginning of the church age on the Day of Pentecost. The essential feature that must mark them is love, for “love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love”, 1 John 4:7,8. This love is expressed in loving obedience. The circumstances of the giving of the law were calculated to strike fear into the hearts of the Israelites, as Moses said to the people, “that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not”, Exodus 20:20. How different is this age, when “the love of Christ constraineth us”, 2 Corinthians 5:14. So it is that we read that on the Day of Pentecost the disciples were “all of one accord in one place”, Acts 2:1. The Lord had “commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father”, Acts 1:4. They obeyed this command, and by so doing set the tone for the whole age, for loving obedience is expected of all His people.

Verses 16-20 are addressed to the apostles, “you”, and those they represent, believers of this age. The event in view is Pentecost, and the blessing is collective. Verses 21-23 are addressed to individuals, “any man”, and they concern individual communion with Christ.

14:16  And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever;

And I will pray the Father- not only is the day of the coming of the Spirit marked by obedience, but also by prayer, even the prayer of the Son to the Father. The giving of the Spirit is a sign therefore that the Father still continues to hear the Son, as He did when He was on earth, John 11:42. In 15:26 the Lord speaks of the Spirit as sent by Himself from the Father, so on the one hand there is a request that the Father should send, and on the other that the Son would send. There is equal authority with the Father, but there is also the attitude of the Servant, whose desire is only to do the will of Him that sent Him. All three Persons of the Godhead are involved unitedly in this important event.
And He shall give you another Comforter- notice the confidence the Son has that His request will be granted. The word for “another” signifies “another of the same sort”, thus confirming the Deity of the Holy Spirit. He could not be of the same sort otherwise. The word also indicates that the Spirit is a Person, not just an influence. The Son was not just an influence, so neither is the Spirit.
That He may abide with you for ever- the purpose of the giving of the Spirit, is that He may abide with believers for ever. This is sure testimony to the eternal security of the true believer in Christ. The Lord Jesus was going away, and the disciples would be unnerved by that, but to encourage them they are told of one who shall never leave them. Of course the Lord did not leave them in one very real sense, (“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”, Hebrews 13:15), but He would no longer be with them in the body and this would sadden them. They would know His presence in a more spiritual way.

 14:17  even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

 Even the Spirit of truth- the Lord now defines who this other Comforter is. He is not a person in the flesh, but is the Spirit of God. And because the promise is in the context of the greater works of setting forth Divine truth, He is aptly called the Spirit of truth. He will disclose the truth to all believers as they make Christ known in the various ways open to them, and will support and strengthen them as they set it forth. Note that the Lord is careful when He mentions this Comforter to define who He is, for He knew Islam would rise up 700 years later and claim that their prophet was the comforter. The history of that religion down the centuries shows plainly that as they worked out the teachings of their prophet it certainly did not bring comfort to men. Violence and murder were in abundance, but comfort was in very short supply. And the same applies today.
Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him- notice the clear line of distinction drawn here between believers and the world. And the difference highlighted here is that the world is unable to do two things. First, it cannot see the Holy Spirit. We might think that this is no different to believers, for they cannot see the Spirit either. The point is that the world can only appreciate things that are accessible to the natural senses. The spiritual ability to appreciate the things of the Spirit, and therefore the Spirit Himself, is totally lacking in their case, as 1 Corinthians 2:14 explains, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned”. Second, the world cannot know the Spirit, or in other words, cannot have any meaningful relationship with the Spirit, for He will not link Himself with that which is of Adam. Israel were expressly told not to pour the anointing oil on anyone other than priests, “for on man’s flesh shall it not be poured”, Exodus 30:32, where the word for man is “adam”.
But ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you- the disciples already had experience of the working and presence of the Spirit as Christ did miracles in His power. As He said, “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then is the kingdom of God come unto you”, Matthew 12:28. So to have Christ by their side was to have the Spirit with them, for He could say, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me”, Luke 4:18. But there was a new experience in store for them, for they would have the Spirit within them. But the word “dwelleth” is in the present tense, and indicates that the Spirit would continue to abide or remain with them, even after He had come within them. So it was that the Spirit filled every one of the believers on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2:4, and that happens every time a person believes the gospel, for the apostle Paul states very clearly, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His”, Romans 8:9. (Every believer is filled with the Spirit all the time. When the apostle exhorts us to “be filled with the Spirit” he is not saying we need a further supply of the Spirit because for some reason we have become less than full. He means that we should “be” what we “are”, that is, filled with the Spirit. We are to live in the light of the fact that we are filled with the Spirit, and allow Him to control us). In verse 16, the Lord prophesied that the Spirit would dwell or abide with them. Here, He speaks of the Spirit abiding or dwelling with, and also actually being within. In verse 16, “with” is “meta”, with the genitive. In verse 17, the word “with” is “para”, with the dative. These distinctions would have been appreciated by the Greek-speakers who first read them. Both “meta” and “para” mean “with”. But “meta” is “in connection with”, “in company with”, or “among, in the midst of”. Christ companied with men, and with His disciples; He was in their midst, and among them, but He was about to leave them, and leave the world, so they would not have His company in that sense any more. The word “para”, however, involves a closer relationship, meaning “by the side of”. In fact, the word for Comforter is “para-clete”, one who draws alongside to help. So we have three ideas. The Spirit is among the people of God for ever, verse 16; He is alongside them to help, verse 17; He is within to empower, verse 17.

14:18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

I will not leave you comfortless- the word used here is not the same as for the Comforter. It has the idea of being an orphan. An orphan is one who is left vulnerable and alone. The Lord will see to it that His own are not like that. He would call the disciples children in John 21:5, (and the apostle John adopts the thought in his epistles), and in Hebrews 2:13 also.
I will come to you- there are several ways we could look at this promise. First, He would come at Pentecost in the person of the Holy Spirit. This is enlarged on in verse 23. Any one of the Persons of the Godhead may fully represent the other. We see this in Romans 8:9,10, where to have the Spirit within is to have Christ within. So here, to have the Spirit within is to have Christ and His Father within. Second, He promised to be present when His people meet in His name. His words were, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them”, Matthew 18:20. He anticipated this when He came into the midst of His own after His resurrection, John 20:19,26. Again, He does not come in the body, but it is the Spirit who dwells amongst the assembly, and who makes the person of Christ real to us. Third, when individual believers commune with Him He promises to come in unto them and sup with them, and they with Him, Revelation 3:20, a very precious promise, especially for those who live in Laodicean conditions. Fourth, and allied to this, is the way He manifests Himself to those who keep His commandments, verse 21. The word for coming is in the present tense, “I am coming to you”, as if He cannot wait to go to His Father but then make Himself known to His own.

14:19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more; but ye see Me: because I live, ye shall live also.

Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more– the world could not see the Holy Spirit, but it could see Christ, for He was manifest in flesh. That physical presence was, in a little while, to be withdrawn from the world, as He ascends back to His Father.
But ye see Me- it was true that the disciples would not see Him in that sense either, but in another and very real sense, they would continue to do what they were doing at that moment, namely, see Him with spiritual insight. Their view of Him was not limited to physical sight. They saw Him to be the Son of God, and equal with the Father. As the Lord had said, “And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day”, John 6:40. They would continue to see Him in that way even when He was gone from their physical sight. When the manna was given the people saw it physically, but “they wist not what it was”, so they did not see the spiritual significance of what they saw, Exodus 16:15. So in John 6:42, the chapter where the Lord shows He is the True Manna, the people said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He saith, “I came down from heaven”. They saw Him physically, but they had no spiritual insight into His person.
Because I live, ye shall live also- their sight of Him, even when He was gone, would be of a living person, the very embodiment and personification of eternal life. In John’s gospel there is a close connection between seeing and knowing, for knowing in this context is spiritual insight. Because they knew Him, they could continue to see Him, even when He was no longer visible, and hence their spiritual life would develop. To possess eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ, 17:3, and there is to be progress in that knowing, and when this happens we can be said to live in the fullest sense of the term. It is “because I live”, as He said, that we live; it is no credit to us, but He works in us by the Spirit, so that we develop in the knowledge of Himself. He is not only the Living bread, who, having life in Himself can impart it to those who believe, John 6:51, but he is also the Bread of Life, verse 48, the Sustainer of the life He gives. The expression “I live” emphasises the fact that Christ as to His Deity is not subject to death, for His life is constant and indissoluble, Hebrews 7:16 margin. As He said to John, “I am He that liveth”, Revelation 1:18. John had fallen at His feet as dead; but death, or even its semblance, cannot be allowed in Christ’s presence, therefore the Lord spoke of Himself as the Living One to counteract John’s condition.

14:20 At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you.

At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father- when the Spirit had come they would be given insight into three things: First, His relationship with the Father. Second, their relationship with Him. Third, His relationship with them. Their insight into His Person would deepen, and they would not only believe that He was in the Father because He had told them, verses 10,11, but they would know it with conviction. The Spirit would work in them to this end.
And ye in Me- this is a new truth, only to be grasped when the Spirit came. It involved being linked so closely with the Son of God that we can be said to be in Him. That is, personally identified with Him in the bonds of eternal life, so that all that concerns Him concerns us. Of course, our relationship with Him will never result in us sharing Deity.
And I in you- by the Spirit He will dwell within, for the presence of the Spirit is as good as having Him within. He cannot be in us literally, for He has a body, but He can be in us as the Spirit dwells in us.

14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them- just as obedience on the part of the apostles was necessary for the Spirit to come, for He cannot indwell a rebellious body, so now in relation to “any man”. The good of this verse is not automatically known by all the people of God. There is a condition, and again the condition, as with the apostles in verse 15, is obedience. The blessing held out in this verse is for those who, first, have His commandments. That is, they have heard His commands and hold them in their hearts as precious. Just because we are not saved by works of the law we must not think that the Christian life is an unprincipled and haphazard life. Christ is our Lord, and has every right to issue commands to us. They are not commands which by keeping we gain the blessing of salvation, but by which we gain the blessing of an enhanced sense of who He is. Second, they keep those commands. They do not hold them as theories, but work them out in practice.
He it is that loveth Me- of course all believers love the Lord, for “He that loveth not knoweth not God”, 1 John 4:8. Here, however, we have a similar idea to the fact the John describes himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, John 13:23; 19:26; 21:7; 21:20. Did He not love Peter? Of course, for John 13:1 says, “Jesus…having loved His own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end”, but there was a special bond between John and His Lord, as is seen in that he leant on the bosom of Jesus at supper. Some believers “love much”, Luke 7:47.
And he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father- the reaction of people to His Son touches the Father’s heart. When He sees those who are devoted to His Son, who love Him deeply, and show their love by keeping His commandments, then He has a special love for that believer, without in any wise diluting His love for all His people. Just as John was loved by Jesus, and had a special sense of His love, so here the same is true in relation to the Father. And I will love him- the Father and the Son are united in their reaction to this believer. And will manifest Myself to him- this is no doubt through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who takes of the things of Christ and reveals them to us as 16:14 will explain. But that is a work done in the heart of every believer. Here there is something special and individual that we might well covet.