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The New Testament Commentary Vol Iii John by B.W. Johnson

The Advocate Promised.

15. If ye love me keep my commandments. This is not a command, but a declaration that if his disciples love him they will obey him. See Revised Version. Obedience is the fruit of love. Disobedience is the proof that love is not in the heart. |This is the love of God,| or proof of the love of God, |that you keep his commandments.| 1 John 5:3. The faithful outward observance of the will of Christ is a proof of a heart filled with his love, and therefore fitted to enjoy the promise contained in the next verse that depends on the condition of faithful obedience. (Joh 14:16)

16. And I will pray the Father. Rather |request| the Father. There are three Greek verbs used in the New Testament which mean respectively, |request,| |ask,| and |entreat.| Christ never uses the last in his petitions to the Father. It belongs to the petitions of the creature to the Creator. And he shall give you another Comforter. The word rendered Comforter is not exactly translated by any word in our language. It comes from two Greek words that mean |to call to one's side.| It occurs four times in John's Gospel and is rendered each time as here. It is used by no New Testament writer but John, who employs it also in 1 John 2:1 where it is translated Advocate, a term preferred by many scholars. Wickliffe first rendered it Comforter and has been followed by Tyndale, and all the authorized British versions down to the Revision. Some translators have preferred to transfer the Greek word Paraklete, rather than to adopt any English term that does not fully express its meaning. The Spirit promised is more than a Comforter. He is our Strength, our Peace-giver, a present help in time of need, a source of knowledge to the church, a witness, God and Christ with us. Probably no single term would more nearly express the meaning than the word Helper, which was probably nearly the meaning of Comforter in Wickliffe's time. That word is derived from con and fortis, and means, etymologically, to encourage or strengthen. That he may abide with you forever. The Lord had been with them for about three years, but was on the eve of departure. He has been a Helper to his disciples, and in his absence will send another Helper, who shall always remain with his people. (Joh 14:17)

17. The Spirit of truth. So called because he speaks the truth. The Comforter strengthens, guides, liberates, sanctifies by the truth. See chapter 17:19; 1 Cor.2:4; 1 Thess.1:5. He also bears witness of the truth. See Acts 2:4; Acts 5:32; Heb.2:4. Whom the world cannot receive. The reason why the world cannot receive the Comforter is indicated in verses 15 and 23. There must be a preparation of the soul for his indwelling. The heart must be purified by faith, the soul must be filled with love of Christ, this condition must be demonstrated by obedience to his commandments. This is in harmony with the entire teaching of the New Testament. |Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.| John 3:3. The necessity of a loving obedience in order to the reception of the Holy Spirit is taught emphatically. Peter said to the Jews (Acts 5:32), |We are witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Spirit which God gives to them who obey him.| In John 7:39 it is declared that the Savior |spake of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive.| In Acts 2:38 Peter, in reply to the anxious inquiry of convicted sinners, answers: |Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit;| the gift being made dependent upon repentance and obedience. The temple of the human heart has to be prepared by obedience for the indwelling of the Father and Son, and hence the world cannot receive the Comforter through whom they are manifested. The Spirit can convict the world of sin (chapter 16:8), the world can receive his testimony when he bears witness; hence the apostles were directed to |go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,| |baptizing them into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,| and God |gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey him,| but in its unconverted condition the world cannot |see| or |know| the Comforter. The world can only see with the carnal eyes and recognize material manifestations. The saints prepared for his presence by faith, love and obedience, have a spiritual perception of his presence. (Joh 14:18)

18. I will not leave you comfortless. The word in the Greek is orphaned. It is applied to childless parents, or fatherless children, or any one bereaved. The term |desolate| used in the Revision probably expresses the idea. The disciples were bewildered and stupefied with grief at the thought of the Master's departure, but he assures them that they will not be left desolate. He will come again; not only as the risen Lord who shall visit them for a little while on the earth, but he will come to be |with them always,| as manifest in their hearts by the Holy Spirit after it is given. He does not refer to his second coming |without a sin offering unto salvation,| for then |every eye shall see him,| while now he speaks of a coming in which |the world shall see him no more,| but in which his disciples shall see, or recognize him. (Joh 14:19)

19. Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more. After the next evening the world would see him no more. When it took him and buried him out of sight it looked upon him for the last time. But ye see me. They would see him with the natural eyes after he had veiled himself to the world. This, however, does not exhaust the sense. There is a sight that is not of the natural eyes, such a sight as those old worthies had who walked |as seeing him who is invisible,| and the living Christ would so dower with heavenly life his disciples that, because |he lived, they should live also,| and should have a constant recognition of his presence. There is a promise of an unbroken communion with the Lord. The manner in which they should have his abiding presence is pointed out in verse 21, and more fully in verse 23. (Joh 14:20)

20. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father. |That day| began on the day of Pentecost. The apostles and brethren |waited the promise of the Father| until |the day of Pentecost was fully come,| and then the risen and exalted Savior |shed forth| the Holy Spirit which he had promised should abide with his people forever. |That day| still comes to each soul which believes upon the Lord, repents of sin, and giving up all worldly lusts, surrenders himself unreservedly to the will of Christ and does his commandments. (Joh 14:21)

21. He that hath my commandments. The conditions upon which Christ may be present in each soul, seen and enjoyed, are next shown. As before seen, obedience and love are essential. |Hath| the commandments implies more than a mere possession of them. It implies that they are clearly apprehended. This must be the case before one can be said to |keep| them. This verse gives the same idea as verse 15, but in a converse form. There active obedience is seen to follow as the result of love. Love is the cause, and obedience the effect. Here the effect is placed first and traced back to its cause. The active obedience is a proof of love. He that loveth me. Having pointed out the test by which our love for Christ is determined, he shows the blessed consequences that flow from this love. The heart that loves the loving Savior is a heart that is pleasing in the sight of the Son and the Father. It is in sympathy with the great loving heart of the universe and fit for abiding communion with the Son. Hence he declares: I will manifest myself to him. He will come, as the Comforter, to make his abiding place in such a heart. There will be such a manifestation that his presence will be revealed. In other words, the loving and beloved disciple will have an abiding sense of a living Christ who will |never leave nor forsake him.| (Joh 14:22)

22. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot. John is careful to state that this apostle was not the traitor who had gone out a little while before. What hath come to pass? etc. This question indicates the bewilderment of all the apostles. They had, in spite of his teachings, adhered to the Jewish ideas that had been educated into them from childhood, and assumed that as the Messiah he would manifest himself publicly to the world. The question implies that Christ had departed from his former purposes, in that he should determine to manifest himself to his disciples, but not unto the world. It indicates that, up to this time, Judas entirely failed to comprehend either the mission or the words of the Redeemer. This dullness on the part of all the apostles continued until after the resurrection, and was only finally dissipated by the |manifestation of Christ| in their hearts after the descent of the Holy Spirit. (Joh 14:23)

23. If a man love me, he will keep my words. The Lord again compassionately states the conditions needful for his manifestation, as already pointed out, but adding another and a sweeter idea; that is, that the loving soul shall be a temple of God, and that as of old the Shekinah came and dwelt between the cherubim, so the Father and the Son will come and make their abode in the heart that is prepared for the divine fellowship by love. Observe the steps that lead to the glorious consummation: 1. Love of Christ; 2. Keeping his words; 3. The Father's love bestowed; 4. The coming of the Father and the Son; 5. Their indwelling in the loving heart. Christ stands at the door and knocks for entrance (Rev.3:20); he that hath his commandments hears the voice; he that keeps them opens the door; he enters in and sups and abides. (Joh 14:24)

24. He that loveth me not keepeth not, etc. Disobedience springs from the absence of the love of Christ in the heart, and Christ only manifests himself in the heart that loves him. But he who refuses to obey Christ is disobedient to the Father also, because Christ's word is the Father's. (Joh 14:25)

25. These things have I spoken, being present. |These things| is put in contrast with |all things| in the next verse. They were yet so dull that they could not fully comprehend even what he said, but the time would come when they would understand better. The next verse points out that time. (Joh 14:26)

26. The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost. The Revision gives, instead of |Ghost,| which is not correct, |Spirit,| as the word Pneuma should always be translated. The Savior now identifies the Comforter with the Holy Spirit, soon to be sent. Whom the Father will send in my name. What is done in the name of Christ is, not independent of him, but in recognition of his mission and authority. The Holy Spirit will be sent because the Son requests it (verse 16), will be sent to carry on his work, bear witness of him, and to bring the world to recognition of his name. It is in Christ's name that the Spirit was first shed forth; it is in his name that he acts, and it is to those believing upon his name that he is imparted. Shall teach you all things. He shall not only enable you to |understand the Scriptures| and my words that you do not now comprehend, but will reveal to you new truths by inspiration, and bring to remembrance all things that I have said to you. It is due to this gift of the Spirit that we have the privilege of reading and studying these memorable discourses of the Master. The Gospel historians had |all things brought to their remembrance.| As Alford remarks: |It is in the fulfillment of this promise to the apostles that their sufficiency as witnesses of all that the Lord did and taught, and consequently the authenticity of the Gospel narrative, is grounded. While most of the promises in this grand discourse are of general application, there are some that the Savior himself limits and here declares that the Comforter shall teach |all things,| and |bring all things to remembrance.| Whatsoever I have said unto you. This limits the promise so that it contains no warrant for the doctrine of a progressive revelation through the ages, as advocated by Abbott in his Commentary on John (see this passage) and held by H. W. Beecher and others. Its only application to the saints in general is that the Spirit will aid their remembrance and understanding of the recorded word contained in the completed revelation of the Holy Scriptures. (Joh 14:27)

27. Peace I leave with you. This is a solemn and affectionate farewell, in view of the cross, a parting benediction. As Isaac, about to depart, bestowed his blessing; as Jacob, |leaning on the top of his staff,| blessed the twelve patriarchs, so the departing Lord will leave his peace to his disciples. My peace I give. Not such peace as the world gives; not an idle and empty form as were the wishes of peace in the salutations of the world, but his own peace, the peace he enjoyed; the peace that caused him to sleep sweetly while tossed on the billows of Galilee, to be calm and unruffled before the Sanhedrim and Pilate; the peace that is a deep and placid sea that the storm cannot disturb, such peace he will bestow. Such peace be did and does bestow. Such peace had Stephen when the stones crushed him down, Peter when in Herod's dungeon, and Paul and Silas when they sang in the night at Philippi. Such peace may all have who love, obey and receive into their hearts the manifested Lord. (Joh 14:28)

28. Ye have heard, etc. . . . If ye loved me ye would rejoice. This is a gentle rebuke. It declares that the desire of his disciples to prevent him from going away springs from selfish motives. They ought to rejoice because his own glory would be secured by his departure. He would return to his Father, whence he came, to be exalted to the right hand of God and to have |all power in heaven and earth.| My Father is greater than I. Therefore, when I return to the Father, and my union with him is complete, all the earthly hindrances to the establishment of my kingdom and my exaltation to the throne of glory will be removed, and my work will be accomplished on the earth. There has been a vast amount of needless discussion concerning the words, |My Father is greater than I.| It is not a statement that the Father is of a different nature, or that Christ is a dependent creature, but is in entire harmony with all the teaching of the Son during his earthly ministry. He teaches that he does the will of the Father, not his own will; that he speaks the Father's words and does his works, not his own; that the Father sent him into the world, not that he came of his own will except in the sense that he always does the Father's will; the Son proceeds from the Father, not the Father from the Son; there is a subordination of the Son to the Father, not of the Father to the Son. All his words on his relation to the Father declare the superior greatness of the Father; not that the Father is of different essence or nature in any respect, but possessing the natural precedence of Father over Son. Yet, as I write these words, I feel that the subject of this relation is too high for the human understanding, and that it is almost trenching |where angels would not dare to tread| to discuss it. It is one of the mysteries whose solution men have vainly sought for eighteen centuries and which eternity alone will fully reveal. (Joh 14:29)

29. I have told you before it come to pass. Told you of my going away that |when it is come you may believe,| by knowing that I foresaw it all the time and that it was a part of my plan that I should go away. (Joh 14:30)

30. The Prince of this world cometh. Satan, who is regarded as the embodiment and contriver of the sins and iniquities of the earth. At the temptation of Christ he had offered the kingdoms of the world as if they were his own, and at the time the Savior came it must be admitted that these kingdoms were thoroughly loyal to the prince of evil. Who hath nothing in me. There was nothing in common whatever between the prince and spirit of the world and Christ, and hence no sympathy whatever. Nor does Satan ever make a capture unless he can find something in a man in common with himself. If he can find a sinful ambition or lust he will seize upon it and make it the means of ruining a soul. Satan, finding in all but Christ, something in common with himself, enforces death as his due, but as Christ was sinless he died voluntarily, and could not be holden by death, hence did not see corruption. Hence, the coming of the prince of this world did not force him to death, but he died. (Joh 14:31)

31. That the world may know that I love the Father. His, death was a sublime act of self-sacrifice. In the prayer of Gethsemane the burden was, |Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.| Hence, because in the mysteries of the divine government it was the Father's will, he died in demonstration of his love of the Father, and |even as the Father gave commandment so| he obeyed. Arise, let us go hence. Immediately following these words the Lord continues his discourse as recorded in chapters XV and XVI, and then closes with the touching prayer of chapter XVII. As soon as this prayer is closed it is stated that |When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples, over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, etc.| Some judicious authorities hold that at the utterance of the words closing verse 31, the Savior and his disciples left the upper room, that the rest of the discourse was delivered on the way, and that when it is said he |went forth| it is meant that he went out of Jerusalem. I cannot, however, think that the character of the next three chapters is consistent with the view that they were spoken on the way, when the narrow streets of Jerusalem were crowded by the presence of at least a million strangers in attendance at the great festival. Such a prayer as the Lord's prayer in chapter XVII could not have been offered upon the street, amid the confusion of a noisy city. I cannot doubt that when the Lord |lifted up his eyes,| he was in the quiet of a room and surrounded only by his disciples. It is far more probable, therefore, that the words, |Arise, let us go hence,| were a signal to make ready for departure; that when all had arisen, he continued his discourse as he stood with the little group around him, with their sandals and outer robes girded upon them, and that, when he had closed with the prayer so graven on the heart of all who love him in every age, then |he went forth with his disciples,| as is stated in 18:1.

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