John 14:13-21

An oversized arm extending comfort to five adults, two children.

 "An oversized arm extending comfort to five adults, two children." 
Reprinted from Icon: Visual Images for Every Sunday, copywrite© 2000 Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission.


The suggested text for this day is John 14:15-21. We have included verses 13 and 14. They ought not be left out.

John 14:13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14:14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Note that in verse 12 the believer was mentioned twice. There Jesus promised what the believer will do because of the vicarious atonement. In verses 13 and 14 twice we find  "I,"  both referring to Jesus. These two verses are companion statements. We note the following:
  1. Both verses clearly imply that believers will have many needs;

  2. Both verses denote requests from an inferior to a superior. It is implied that Jesus is true God.

  3. No request of the Christian is to be held back from Jesus.

  4. Both verses have: "on the basis of the revealed truth that I am your vicarious Savior." 

  5. In 13 we have stress on Jesus' carrying out the specific request and need, whereas in 14 we have emphatic stress on Jesus, the Doer.

  6. In 13 Jesus' doing results in and has as its purpose the clothing of the Father in splendor.

Jesus' answer to requests clearly shows what kind of God the Father is. He is one in essence with the Son and is glorified through the Son. Jesus is central to the thoughts in verses 12, 13, and 14.

John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command.

"If" does not denote uncertainty as becomes clear in verse 21, an expansion of verse 15. First comes love for Jesus, then the keeping of His injunctions. Note that AV and NKJV (based on the Koine text) read "keep" not "You will keep." 

The verb "love" is found once in this verse, and four times in verse 21. It is not something which God requires of Christians from their own resources. Look at Galatians 5:6; 1 John 4:19. The atonement is central to it. It immediately follows where there is faith in the atonement. It is not mere "liking."  It is a steady state and activity of body, soul, and mind. The Christian is a new creature. Old things have passed away. He loves God with heart, soul, mind and body. He loves his neighbor as himself.

This verse lays great stress on the fact that Jesus is the author and giver of not merely  "commandments" but all precepts and injunctions, whether Law or Gospel. The attitude of the believer toward the Bible is wholly different from that of the unbeliever.  "You will keep" is a promise and a prediction. What a wonderful thing to say about believers in a world that is godless, preoccupied with lust, selfish and rebellious! Like children who are willingly obedient to the word of their parents.

John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--

Verses 16-17 speak about the coming of the Holy Spirit.  "I will ask" denotes a request from an equal to an equal. Implicitly Jesus is saying that He is true God. Note that in one line all three members of the Trinity are mentioned and distinguished.

People cannot "pray" the Holy Spirit down upon themselves. He comes at the request of the Son to the Father. Any talk about "getting the Spirit," to the exclusion of Jesus requesting the Spirit is utter delusion.

"Another" means "another, additional" not "of a different kind." 

"Counselor" is variously translated "Comforter" (AV, AAT);  "Counselor"  (RSV, NIV);  "Advocate"  (NEB);  "Helper"  (NASB, NKJV); and,  "Someone else to stand by you"  (Phillips). He will do for believers what Jesus did for His disciples while He was on earth. Jesus, too, is called our  "Comforter"  1 John 2:1, because He is the propitiation for our sins.

Bengel: One Paraclete is Himself distinct from the other; and the office too of the one differs from that of the other. Therefore the advocacy of the Holy Spirit was intended to have something peculiar. Cf. John 16:7.8. This word is not found in the LXX, and John alone of the writers of the New Testament has it.

The Father will  "give" Him. Very often the charismatics forget this. The Spirit is a gift of the Father, not a reward for lots of agony and prayer.  "To you," there is no limitation for a certain group of so-called charismatics.

The gift has a purpose
  1. Constant companion;

  2. One who stands aside of us;

  3. One who is in us;

In all cases there is no limitation of a charismatic sort. Jesus was sent into the world for all people as Advocate. The Holy Spirit is sent into the "heart" and life of believers as Advocate forever. Look at Romans 8:26.

John 14:17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

Bengel: Compare John 16:13. The Spirit, who has the truth, reveals it, namely by giving knowledge in the understanding; confers it by experiential proof and taste in the case of the will; testifies of it to others also through those to whom He has revealed it; and defends that truth of which John 1: 17 speaks. . . . It is the truth that makes all virtues in us true and real. Otherwise without it there is a kind of knowledge that is false, faith that is false, love that is false, hope that is false; but there is no such thing as truth that is false.

Now Jesus speaks of two groups of people in their attitude and relationship to the Holy Spirit: the world and you. For the attitude of the world compare 1 Corinthians 2:14. The world is spiritually dead. Therefore it cannot receive the Spirit. All synergism is gone.

The world has no spiritual sight or knowledge. The Spirit's work and truth are foolishness to the world. Never expect anything else from the world.

On the contrary,  "you believers"  emphasizes the wonderful revealed knowledge which affects the heart, will and mind. The Spirit does not remain in and with unbelievers. He does so for believers.

Note the Spirit constantly lives, not the on-again, off-again principle of the charismatics. Similar things are said elsewhere in the New Testament of Jesus' relationship to believers, but there is a sense in which the Holy Spirit and His work is closer to believers now than Jesus was to His disciples while He was on earth. Never wish yourself back to the years 30-33 AD.

John 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Verses 16-17 were devoted to the Spirit; verses 18-21 are devoted to the Son; verses 22-24 are devoted to the Father. The Triune God is the Saving God.

"Not will I abandon you orphans."  They feared that He would. An orphan is, of all people, most helpless, more so than a widow. What a promise! Note that Jesus does not say: "I will return" but "I am coming."  He came first in the incarnation. He came again in the Resurrection and at Pentecost. He will come again on the Last Day. His "coming" grows.

Note the close association. Where the Holy Spirit is, there is also Jesus.

John 14:19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

When Jesus removed His physical and visible presence, the world no longer saw Him, Acts 10:41. Jesus means that soon His mode of presence would change. This includes the Christian witnesses who saw Him after the resurrection but is not limited to them. This  "seeing" covers all believers since Pentecost. In the first part of the verse means primarily physical sight. In the second part it means the perception which is by faith. In what sense does the believer see Jesus? He knows that he himself is alive, spiritually alive because Jesus is alive. The believer is alive by faith ONLY because Jesus is alive. No synergism here.

John 14:20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

"On that day" is Pentecost.  "Realize" means effective, intimate, saving knowledge.

First the verse denotes the unity of essence between the Father and the God-man, Jesus. The second part denotes the mystical union existing between the believer and Christ. The point is that the relationship subsisting between Father and Son is as close as the relationship subsisting between Savior and believer. A tremendous thought! Of course, we are not God, but our relationship to the Father is as close as is the relationship between Father and Son. No wonder the disciples were so courageous beginning with Pentecost! Nothing terrified them then.

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

This verse is an expansion of verse 15. It points to  "The one who has my precepts and who observes them." That person is in the right relationship to Jesus, a relationship of love, willing obedience, caused by faith. Nothing is so important as willing obedience between children and parents. Nothing is so important as willing loyalty between husband and wife. Nothing is so important as willing obedience and loyalty of the believer toward Jesus. This is sanctification. It is apparent in believers' actions and attitudes. Now Jesus makes a triple promise introduced "furthermore." 
  1. The heavenly Father will bless this relationship by utter devotion to the believer;

  2. Jesus will further bless His own blessing;

  3. Jesus will reveal Himself to the loving believer.

How could anyone possibly add anything to this? Note the centrality of love between the believer and the Trinity. Note also that the persons of the Trinity work in utter harmony. Even the closest of mere human relationships is temporal and their presence with each other is intermittent, not constant. But the presence and relationship of the Trinity with the child of God is constant and will never end.


Adapted from Exegetical Notes, Series A, Festival Season Sundays Gospel Texts, by Harold H. Buls, Concordia Theological Seminary Press: Ft Wayne IN, 1980, pp. 102-104. Used with permission.
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