Jesus’ Parting Words to His Disciples
1 “Do not let your hearts be distressed.#sn The same verb is used to describe Jesus’ own state in John 11:33, 12:27, and 13:21. Jesus is looking ahead to the events of the evening and the next day, his arrest, trials, crucifixion, and death, which will cause his disciples extreme emotional distress. You believe in God;#tn Or “Believe in God.” The translation of the two uses of πιστεύετε (pisteuete) is difficult. Both may be either indicative or imperative, and as L. Morris points out (John [NICNT], 637), this results in a bewildering variety of possibilities. To complicate matters further, the first may be understood as a question: “Do you believe in God? Believe also in me.” Morris argues against the KJV translation which renders the first πιστεύετε as indicative and the second as imperative on the grounds that for the writer of the Fourth Gospel, faith in Jesus is inseparable from faith in God. But this is precisely the point that Jesus is addressing in context. He is about to undergo rejection by his own people as their Messiah. The disciples’ faith in him as Messiah and Lord would be cast into extreme doubt by these events, which the author makes clear were not at this time foreseen by the disciples. After the resurrection it is this identification between Jesus and the Father which needs to be reaffirmed (cf. John 20:24-29). Thus it seems best to take the first πιστεύετε as indicative and the second as imperative, producing the translation “You believe in God; believe also in me.” believe also in me. 2 There are many dwelling places#tn Many interpreters have associated μοναί (monai) with an Aramaic word that can refer to a stopping place or resting place for a traveler on a journey. This is similar to one of the meanings the word can have in secular Greek (Pausanius 10.31.7). Origen understood the use here to refer to stations on the road to God. This may well have been the understanding of the Latin translators who translated μονή (monh) by mansio, a stopping place. The English translation “mansions” can be traced back to Tyndale, but in Middle English the word simply meant “a dwelling place” (not necessarily large or imposing) with no connotation of being temporary. The interpretation put forward by Origen would have been well suited to Gnosticism, where the soul in its ascent passes through stages during which it is gradually purified of all that is material and therefore evil. It is much more likely that the word μονή should be related to its cognate verb μένω (menw), which is frequently used in the Fourth Gospel to refer to the permanence of relationship between Jesus and the Father and/or Jesus and the believer. Thus the idea of a permanent dwelling place, rather than a temporary stopping place, would be in view. Luther’s translation of μοναί by Wohnungen is very accurate here, as it has the connotation of a permanent residence. in my Father’s house.#sn Most interpreters have understood the reference to my Father’s house as a reference to heaven, and the dwelling places (μονή, monh) as the permanent residences of believers there. This seems consistent with the vocabulary and the context, where in v. 3 Jesus speaks of coming again to take the disciples to himself. However, the phrase in my Father’s house was used previously in the Fourth Gospel in 2:16 to refer to the temple in Jerusalem. The author in 2:19-22 then reinterpreted the temple as Jesus’ body, which was to be destroyed in death and then rebuilt in resurrection after three days. Even more suggestive is the statement by Jesus in 8:35, “Now the slave does not remain (μένω, menw) in the household forever, but the son remains (μένω) forever.” If in the imagery of the Fourth Gospel the phrase in my Father’s house is ultimately a reference to Jesus’ body, the relationship of μονή to μένω suggests the permanent relationship of the believer to Jesus and the Father as an adopted son who remains in the household forever. In this case the “dwelling place” is “in” Jesus himself, where he is, whether in heaven or on earth. The statement in v. 3, “I will come again and receive you to myself,” then refers not just to the parousia, but also to Jesus’ postresurrection return to the disciples in his glorified state, when by virtue of his death on their behalf they may enter into union with him and with the Father as adopted sons. Needless to say, this bears numerous similarities to Pauline theology, especially the concepts of adoption as sons and being “in Christ” which are prominent in passages like Eph 1. It is also important to note, however, the emphasis in the Fourth Gospel itself on the present reality of eternal life (John 5:24, 7:38-39, etc.) and the possibility of worshiping the Father “in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:21-24) in the present age. There is a sense in which it is possible to say that the future reality is present now. See further J. McCaffrey, The House With Many Rooms (AnBib 114). Otherwise, I would have told you, because#tc A number of important mss (Ì66c א A B C* D K L W Ψ Ë13 33 565 579 892 al lat) have ὅτι (Joti) here, while the majority lack it (Ì66* C2 Θ Ï). Should the ὅτι be included or omitted? The external evidence is significantly stronger for the longer reading. Most Alexandrian and Western mss favor inclusion (it is a little unusual for the Alexandrian to favor the longer reading), while most Byzantine mss favor omission (again, a little unusual). However, the reading of Ì66*, which aligns with the Byzantine, needs to be given some value. At the same time, the scribe of this papyrus was known for freely omitting and adding words, and the fact that the ms was corrected discounts its testimony here. But because the shorter reading is out of character for the Byzantine text, the shorter reading (omitting the ὅτι) may well be authentic. Internally, the question comes down to whether the shorter reading is more difficult or not. And here, it loses the battle, for it seems to be a clarifying omission (so TCGNT 206). R. E. Brown is certainly right when he states: “all in all, the translation without ὅτι makes the best sense” (John [AB], 2:620). But this tacitly argues for the authenticity of the word. Thus, on both external and internal grounds, the ὅτι should be regarded as authentic. tn If the ὅτι (Joti) is included (see tc above), there are no less than four possible translations for this sentence: The sentence could be either a question or a statement, and in addition the ὅτι could either indicate content or be causal. How does one determine the best translation? (1) A question here should probably be ruled out because it would imply a previous statement by Jesus that either there are many dwelling places in his Father’s house (if the ὅτι is causal) or he was going off to make a place ready for them (if the ὅτι indicates content). There is no indication anywhere in the Fourth Gospel that Jesus had made such statements prior to this time. So understanding the sentence as a statement is the best option. (2) A statement with ὅτι indicating content is understandable but contradictory. If there were no dwelling places, Jesus would have told them that he was going off to make dwelling places. But the following verse makes clear that Jesus’ departure is not hypothetical but real – he is really going away. So understanding the ὅτι with a causal nuance is the best option. (3) A statement with a causal ὅτι can be understood two ways: (a) “Otherwise I would have told you” is a parenthetical statement, and the ὅτι clause goes with the preceding “There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house.” This would be fairly awkward syntactically, however; it would be much more natural for the ὅτι clause to modify what directly preceded it. (b) “Otherwise I would have told you” is explained by Jesus’ statement that he is going to make ready a place. He makes a logical, necessary connection between his future departure and the reality of the dwelling places in his Father’s house. To sum up, all the possibilities for understanding the verse with the inclusion of ὅτι present some interpretive difficulties, but last option given seems best: “Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going to make ready a place.” Of all the options it provides the best logical flow of thought in the passage without making any apparent contradictions in the context. I am going away to make ready#tn Or “to prepare.” a place for you.#tn Or “If not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” What is the meaning of the last clause with or without the ὅτι? One of the questions that must be answered here is whether or not τόπος (topos) is to be equated with μονή (monh). In Rev 12:8 τόπος is used to refer to a place in heaven, which would suggest that the two are essentially equal here. Jesus is going ahead of believers to prepare a place for them, a permanent dwelling place in the Father’s house (see the note on this phrase in v. 2). 3 And if I go and make ready#tn Or “prepare.” a place for you, I will come again and take you#tn Or “bring you.” to be with me,#tn Grk “to myself.” so that where I am you may be too. 4 And you know the way where I am going.”#tc Most mss (Ì66* A C3 D Θ Ψ Ë1,13 Ï lat sy sa) read “You know where I am going, and you know the way” (καὶ ὅπου [ἐγὼ] ὑπάγω οἴδατε καὶ τὴν ὁδόν οἴδατε, kai {opou egw Jupagw oidate kai thn Jodon oidate). The difference between this reading and the wording in NA27 (supported by Ì66c א B C* L Q W 33 579 pc) is the addition of καί before τὴν ὁδόν and οἴδατε after. Either assertion on the part of Jesus would be understandable: “you know the way where I am going” or “you know where I am going and you know the way,” although the shorter reading is a bit more awkward syntactically. In light of this, and in light of the expansion already at hand in v. 5, the longer reading appears to be a motivated reading. The shorter reading is thus preferred because of its superior external and internal Where I am going. Jesus had spoken of his destination previously to the disciples, most recently in John 13:33. Where he was going was back to the Father, and they could not follow him there, but later he would return for them and they could join him then. The way he was going was via the cross. This he had also mentioned previously (e.g., 12:32) although his disciples did not understand at the time (cf. 12:33). As Jesus would explain in v. 6, although for him the way back to the Father was via the cross, for his disciples the “way” to where he was going was Jesus himself.
5 Thomas said,#tn Grk “said to him.” “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus replied,#tn Grk “Jesus said to him.” “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.#tn Or “I am the way, even the truth and the life.” No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you have known me, you will know my Father too.#tc There is a difficult textual problem here: The statement reads either “If you have known (ἐγνώκατε, egnwkate) me, you will know (γνώσεσθε, gnwsesqe) my Father” or “If you had really known (ἐγνώκειτε, egnwkeite) me, you would have known (ἐγνώκειτε ἄν or ἂν ἤδειτε [egnwkeite an or an hdeite]) my Father.” The division of the external evidence is difficult, but can be laid out as follows: The mss that have the perfect ἐγνώκατε in the protasis (Ì66 [א D* W] 579 pc it) also have, for the most part, the future indicative γνώσεσθε in the apodosis (Ì66 א D W [579] pc sa bo), rendering Jesus’ statement as a first-class condition. The mss that have the pluperfect ἐγνώκειτε in the protasis (A B C D1 L Θ Ψ Ë1,13 33 Ï) also have, for the most part, a pluperfect in the apodosis (either ἂν ἤδειτε in B C* [L] Q Ψ 1 33 565 al, or ἐγνώκειτε ἄν in A C3 Θ Ë13 Ï), rendering Jesus’ statement a contrary-to-fact second-class condition. The external evidence slightly favors the first-class condition, since there is an Alexandrian-Western alliance supported by Ì66. As well, the fact that the readings with a second-class condition utilize two different verbs with ἄν in different positions suggests that these readings are secondary. However, it could be argued that the second-class conditions are harder readings in that they speak negatively of the apostles (so K. Aland in TCGNT 207); in this case, the ἐγνώκειτε…ἐγνώκειτε ἄν reading should be given preference. Although a decision is difficult, the first-class condition is to be slightly preferred. In this case Jesus promises the disciples that, assuming they have known him, they will know the Father. Contextually this fits better with the following phrase (v. 7b) which asserts that “from the present time you know him and have seen him” (cf. John 1:18). And from now on you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said,#tn Grk “said to him.” “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be content.”#tn Or “and that is enough for us.” 9 Jesus replied,#tn Grk “Jesus said to him.” “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known#tn Or “recognized.” me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me?#tn The mutual interrelationship of the Father and the Son (ἐγὼ ἐν τῷ πατρὶ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἐν ἐμοί ἐστιν, egw en tw patri kai Jo pathr en emoi estin) is something that Jesus expected even his opponents to recognize (cf. John 10:38). The question Jesus asks of Philip (οὐ πιστεύεις, ou pisteuei") expects the answer “yes.” Note that the following statement is addressed to all the disciples, however, because the plural pronoun (ὑμῖν, Jumin) is used. Jesus says that his teaching (the words he spoke to them all) did not originate from himself, but the Father, who permanently remains (μένων, menwn) in relationship with Jesus, performs his works. One would have expected “speaks his words” here rather than “performs his works”; many of the church fathers (e.g., Augustine and Chrysostom) identified the two by saying that Jesus’ words were works. But there is an implicit contrast in the next verse between words and works, and v. 12 seems to demand that the works are real works, not just words. It is probably best to see the two terms as related but not identical; there is a progression in the idea here. Both Jesus’ words (recall the Samaritans’ response in John 4:42) and Jesus’ works are revelatory of who he is, but as the next verse indicates, works have greater confirmatory power than words. The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own initiative,#tn Grk “I do not speak from myself.” but the Father residing in me performs#tn Or “does.” his miraculous deeds.#tn Or “his mighty acts”; Grk “his works.”sn Miraculous deeds is most likely a reference to the miraculous signs Jesus had performed, which he viewed as a manifestation of the mighty acts of God. Those he performed in the presence of the disciples served as a basis for faith (although a secondary basis to their personal relationship to him; see the following verse). 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me, but if you do not believe me,#tn The phrase “but if you do not believe me” contains an ellipsis; the Greek text reads Grk “but if not.” The ellipsis has been filled out (“but if [you do] not [believe me]…”) for the benefit of the modern English reader. believe because of the miraculous deeds#tn Grk “because of the works.”sn In the context of a proof or basis for belief, Jesus is referring to the miraculous deeds (signs) he has performed in the presence of the disciples. themselves. 12 I tell you the solemn truth,#tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.” the person who believes in me will perform#tn Or “will do.” the miraculous deeds#tn Grk “the works.” that I am doing,#tn Or “that I do.”sn See the note on miraculous deeds in v. 11. and will perform#tn Or “will do.” greater deeds#tn Grk “greater works.”sn What are the greater deeds that Jesus speaks of, and how is this related to his going to the Father? It is clear from both John 7:39 and 16:7 that the Holy Spirit will not come until Jesus has departed. After Pentecost and the coming of the Spirit to indwell believers in a permanent relationship, believers would be empowered to perform even greater deeds than those Jesus did during his earthly ministry. When the early chapters of Acts are examined, it is clear that, from a numerical standpoint, the deeds of Peter and the other Apostles surpassed those of Jesus in a single day (the day of Pentecost). On that day more were added to the church than had become followers of Jesus during the entire three years of his earthly ministry. And the message went forth not just in Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, but to the farthest parts of the known world. This understanding of what Jesus meant by “greater deeds” is more probable than a reference to “more spectacular miracles.” Certainly miraculous deeds were performed by the apostles as recounted in Acts, but these do not appear to have surpassed the works of Jesus himself in either degree or number. than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name,#tn Grk “And whatever you ask in my name, I will do it.” so that the Father may be glorified#tn Or “may be praised” or “may be honored.” in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
Teaching on the Holy Spirit
15 “If you love me, you will obey#tn Or “will keep.” my commandments.#sn Jesus’ statement If you love me, you will obey my commandments provides the transition between the promises of answered prayer which Jesus makes to his disciples in vv. 13-14 and the promise of the Holy Spirit which is introduced in v. 16. Obedience is the proof of genuine love. 16 Then#tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “Then” to reflect the implied sequence in the discourse. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate#tn Or “Helper” or “Counselor”; Grk “Paraclete,” from the Greek word παράκλητος (paraklhto"). Finding an appropriate English translation for παράκλητος is a very difficult task. No single English word has exactly the same range of meaning as the Greek word. “Comforter,” used by some of the older English versions, appears to be as old as Wycliffe. But today it suggests a quilt or a sympathetic mourner at a funeral. “Counselor” is adequate, but too broad, in contexts like “marriage counselor” or “camp counselor.” “Helper” or “Assistant” could also be used, but could suggest a subordinate rank. “Advocate,” the word chosen for this translation, has more forensic overtones than the Greek word does, although in John 16:5-11 a forensic context is certainly present. Because an “advocate” is someone who “advocates” or supports a position or viewpoint and since this is what the Paraclete will do for the preaching of the disciples, it was selected in spite of the drawbacks. to be with you forever – 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,#tn Or “cannot receive.” because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides#tn Or “he remains.” with you and will be#tc Some early and important witnesses (Ì66* B D* W 1 565 it) have ἐστιν (estin, “he is”) instead of ἔσται (estai, “he will be”) here, while other weighty witnesses ({Ì66c,75vid א A D1 L Θ Ψ Ë13 33vid Ï as well as several versions and fathers}), read the future tense. When one considers transcriptional evidence, ἐστιν is the more difficult reading and better explains the rise of the future tense reading, but it must be noted that both Ì66 and D were corrected from the present tense to the future. If ἐστιν were the original reading, one would expect a few manuscripts to be corrected to read the present when they originally read the future, but that is not the case. When one considers what the author would have written, the future is on much stronger ground. The immediate context (both in 14:16 and in the chapter as a whole) points to the future, and the theology of the book regards the advent of the Spirit as a decidedly future event (see, e.g., 7:39 and 16:7). The present tense could have arisen from an error of sight on the part of some scribes or more likely from an error of thought as scribes reflected upon the present role of the Spirit. Although a decision is difficult, the future tense is most likely authentic. For further discussion on this textual problem, see James M. Hamilton, Jr., “He Is with You and He Will Be in You” (Ph.D. diss., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2003), 213-20. in you.
18 “I will not abandon#tn Or “leave.” you as orphans,#tn The entire phrase “abandon you as orphans” could be understood as an idiom meaning, “leave you helpless.” I will come to you.#sn I will come to you. Jesus had spoken in 14:3 of going away and coming again to his disciples. There the reference was both to the parousia (the second coming of Christ) and to the postresurrection appearances of Jesus to the disciples. Here the postresurrection appearances are primarily in view, since Jesus speaks of the disciples “seeing” him after the world can “see” him no longer in the following verse. But many commentators have taken v. 18 as a reference to the coming of the Spirit, since this has been the topic of the preceding verses. Still, vv. 19-20 appear to contain references to Jesus’ appearances to the disciples after his resurrection. It may well be that another Johannine double meaning is found here, so that Jesus ‘returns’ to his disciples in one sense in his appearances to them after his resurrection, but in another sense he ‘returns’ in the person of the Holy Spirit to indwell them. 19 In a little while#tn Grk “Yet a little while, and.” the world will not see me any longer, but you will see me; because I live, you will live too. 20 You will know at that time#tn Grk “will know in that day.”sn At that time could be a reference to the parousia (second coming of Christ). But the statement in 14:19, that the world will not see Jesus, does not fit. It is better to take this as the postresurrection appearances of Jesus to his disciples (which has the advantage of taking in a little while in v. 19 literally). that I am in my Father and you are in me and I am in you. 21 The person who has my commandments and obeys#tn Or “keeps.” them is the one who loves me.#tn Grk “obeys them, that one is the one who loves me.” The one#tn Grk “And the one.” Here the conjunction καί (kai) has not been translated to improve the English style. who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal#tn Or “will disclose.” myself to him.”
22 “Lord,” Judas (not Judas Iscariot)#tn Grk “(not Iscariot).” The proper noun (Judas) has been repeated for clarity and smoothness in English This is a parenthetical comment by the author. said,#tn Grk “said to him.” “what has happened that you are going to reveal#tn Or “disclose.”sn The disciples still expected at this point that Jesus, as Messiah, was going to reveal his identity as such to the world (cf. 7:4). yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus replied,#tn Grk “answered and said to him.” “If anyone loves me, he will obey#tn Or “will keep.” my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and take up residence with him.#tn Grk “we will come to him and will make our dwelling place with him.” The context here is individual rather than corporate indwelling, so the masculine singular pronoun has been retained throughout v. 23. It is important to note, however, that the pronoun is used generically here and refers equally to men, women, and children. 24 The person who does not love me does not obey#tn Or “does not keep.” my words. And the word#tn Or “the message.” you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me.
25 “I have spoken these things while staying#tn Or “while remaining” or “while residing.” with you. 26 But the Advocate,#tn Or “Helper” or “Counselor”; Grk “Paraclete,” from the Greek word παράκλητος (paraklhto"). See the note on the word “Advocate” in v. 16 for a discussion of how this word is translated. the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you#tn Grk “that one will teach you.” The words “that one” have been omitted from the translation since they are redundant in English. everything,#tn Grk “all things.” and will cause you to remember everything#tn Grk “all things.” I said to you.
27 “Peace I leave with you;#sn Peace I leave with you. In spite of appearances, this verse does not introduce a new subject (peace). Jesus will use the phrase as a greeting to his disciples after his resurrection (20:19, 21, 26). It is here a reflection of the Hebrew shalom as a farewell. But Jesus says he leaves peace with his disciples. This should probably be understood ultimately in terms of the indwelling of the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, who has been the topic of the preceding verses. It is his presence, after Jesus has left the disciples and finally returned to the Father, which will remain with them and comfort them. my peace I give to you; I do not give it#tn The pronoun “it” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied. Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when clear from the context. to you as the world does.#tn Grk “not as the world gives do I give to you.” Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage.#tn Or “distressed or fearful and cowardly.” 28 You heard me say to you,#tn Or “You have heard that I said to you.” ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad#tn Or “you would rejoice.” that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am.#sn Jesus’ statement the Father is greater than I am has caused much christological and trinitarian debate. Although the Arians appealed to this text to justify their subordinationist Christology, it seems evident that by the fact Jesus compares himself to the Father, his divine nature is taken for granted. There have been two orthodox interpretations: (1) The Son is eternally generated while the Father is not: Origen, Tertullian, Athanasius, Hilary, etc. (2) As man the incarnate Son was less than the Father: Cyril of Alexandria, Ambrose, Augustine. In the context of the Fourth Gospel the second explanation seems more plausible. But why should the disciples have rejoiced? Because Jesus was on the way to the Father who would glorify him (cf. 17:4-5); his departure now signifies that the work the Father has given him is completed (cf. 19:30). Now Jesus will be glorified with that glory that he had with the Father before the world was (cf. 17:5). This should be a cause of rejoicing to the disciples because when Jesus is glorified he will glorify his disciples as well (17:22). 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.#sn Jesus tells the disciples that he has told them all these things before they happen, so that when they do happen the disciples may believe. This does not mean they had not believed prior to this time; over and over the author has affirmed that they have (cf. 2:11). But when they see these things happen, their level of trust in Jesus will increase and their concept of who he is will expand. The confession of Thomas in 20:28 is representative of this increased understanding of who Jesus is. Cf. John 13:19. 30 I will not speak with you much longer,#tn Grk “I will no longer speak many things with you.” for the ruler of this world is coming.#sn The ruler of this world is a reference to Satan. He has no power over me,#tn Grk “in me he has nothing.” 31 but I am doing just what the Father commanded me, so that the world may know#tn Or “may learn.” that I love the Father.#tn Grk “But so that the world may know that I love the Father, and just as the Father commanded me, thus I do.” The order of the clauses has been rearranged in the translation to conform to contemporary English style. Get up, let us go from here.”#sn Some have understood Jesus’ statement Get up, let us go from here to mean that at this point Jesus and the disciples got up and left the room where the meal was served and began the journey to the garden of Gethsemane. If so, the rest of the Farewell Discourse took place en route. Others have pointed to this statement as one of the “seams” in the discourse, indicating that the author used preexisting sources. Both explanations are possible, but not really necessary. Jesus could simply have stood up at this point (the disciples may or may not have stood with him) to finish the discourse before finally departing (in 18:1). In any case it may be argued that Jesus refers not to a literal departure at this point, but to preparing to meet the enemy who is on the way already in the person of Judas and the soldiers with him.