ExegeticalCommentary on John 14: 1-12
ExegeticalCommentary on John 14: 1-12
Thebook of John is among the most preferred gospels in the whole Bible.The Gospel of John, especially chapter 14, is considered as one ofthe favorite books because it comforts Christians by reminding themthat Jesus will come back to pick them. However, it is a complicatedtext that requires Christians to read more than one time in order tocomprehend the underlying revelations. Chapter 14 of the Gospel ofJohn presents a discussion between Jesus and His disciples, whichtook place in the upper room. The passage presented in verses 1-12 ispart of this discussion. The verses present two themes, includingJesus’ comfort to His disciples and the true way to the Father.This exegetical paper will focus on the background, teaching, andapplication of verses 1-12 of John chapter 14.
Thepassage considered in this paper is part of the Gospel of John thatwas written to explain the origin of Jesus, ministerial work, death,and His resurrection. The entire book of John focuses on the life ofJesus, but the context in which chapter 14 is placed is a discourseabout his farewell. The discourse starts in chapter 13 and continuesto chapter 17. The entire passage captures moments in which discipleswere empowered through the death and the resurrection of Christ. Johnused the passage to explain how Jesus clarified some of His teachingsbefore leaving for heaven. For example, Jesus used the passage toclarify his relationship with God the Father.
TheGospel was written by the most beloved disciple whose name was John.Traditional views suggest that the gospel might have been written inEphesus. The time frame in which the passage was written is notclear. However, it is estimated that the chapter might have beenwritten between A.D. 80 and A.D. 85.1In addition, it is not clear to whom the chapter was addressed. Thepurpose of the chapter, similar to the rest of the Gospel was to makethe readers believe in the miracles that were performed by Jesus.Moreover, the chapter was written to explain to the readers why Jesusis considered to be God.
Verseone presents an irony where Jesus comforts his disciples, who wouldbe expected to be encouraging him. He tells the disciples not toallow their hearts get troubled. The word “tarassetho” is used tomean trouble, which is a figurative extension of the phrase “tostir up”. 2The word “your” has been applied in a plural context. The word“heart” is singular. This is because Judas had left, whichimplies that the disciples shared one heart, same concerns, andgoals. The other key word used in the first verse is “pisteuo”,which stands for believing or trusting. This is a continuation ofencouragement, where Jesus invites the disciples and all believers totrust in God and his son.
Inthe second verse, Jesus provides a picture of the heaven byexplaining that there are many houses or resting places. The Greekword used to describe the resting places is “mone”, which standsfor individual dwellings. This is comforting, given that the verseencourages readers by informing them that there is a place for eachone of them in heaven. In addition, Jesus uses the present tense bysaying, “there are” instead of the future tense, “there willbe” when referring the resting places. It was common knowledge thata son had the right to get married and extend the family’s compoundin order to accommodate his own household. Similarly, His fatherwould expect Him to have rooms for each of those who believed in Him
1.Gary, Burge, M. Interpretingthe Gospel of John.Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2013, p. 14.
2.Gary, Burge, M. Interpretingthe Gospel of John.Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2013, p. 8.
withinthe family’s compound.
Inverse three, Jesus informs the disciples that He is going to preparea place for them in His father’s place. However, the Biblepresupposes that a “place” occurs before Jesus gets to thedestination that He is talking about. 3This implies that it is the acts of death and resurrection thatprepared a place for the disciples. In this verse, Jesus tells thedisciples that He will receive them to Himself when He comes back,instead of telling them that He will receive them in heaven.Therefore, the word “heaven” in the third verse can mean a placeor a person. The entire verse seeks to comfort the disciples thatJesus is not going away forever, but He will come back to take them.
Inthe fourth verse, Jesus states that His disciples already know theway that leads to where He is headed to. The Greek word used in thiscontext is “odia”, which stands for the possession ofinformation. 4The verse implies that the disciples must know the destination, ifthey already know the way. In addition, the emphasis put on the way,instead of the destination means that it is more critical for thedisciples to understand what they need in order to reach heaven thanto concentrate on the destination itself.
Inthe fifth verse, the Bible shows that Jesus had made the wrongassumption that all disciples already knew the way as well as Hisdestination. For the first time in John 14, disciples interrupt Himand express their confusion. Thomas tells Jesus that they (meaningthe disciples) did not understand where He is going or the way thatleads to His destination. The verse demonstrates a lack ofunderstanding of some teachings on the part of His disciples.
3.Gary, Burge, M. Interpretingthe Gospel of John.Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2013, p. 9.
4.Kathleene, Norris, M. Christin you: The Hope of Glory.London: Eschatology, 2016, p. 1.
Inverse six, the use of the phrase “I am” goes beyond the basicmeaning of a person who is trying to explain who He is. The phrase isapplied in both the Old and the New Testament to indicate the divinenature of God, His changelessness, preexistence, or uniqueness. 5Therefore, Jesus uses the phrase in a sacred context to inform isdisciples that He is the way that leads to heaven, the truth thatthey need to know in order to get to the destination, and the life.The three terms (the way, truth, and life) are used in an ellipticalform, which implies that Jesus was the way because He was the truthand since He was the life. 6Therefore, the verse leads to a conclusion that Jesus was the truemanifestation of the Father. In other words, Jesus is informing thedisciples that He is the only way through which they can access thehouses that He promised them in verse two. The verse responds toconcerns raised by Thomas in verse five. The main message beingcommunicated to disciples is an invitation to evangelism, which is away of sharing the life of Jesus and leading them to the Father.
Inverse seven, it sounds like Jesus is rebuking disciples by statingthat they ought to know His Father if they claim to know Him. Jesussounds disappointed by the fact that He has spent three years withthem and yet they cannot tell who He is and who His Father is. TheGreek word used to stand for “know” is “Ginosko”, where Jesustries to explain his relationship with the Father. Taken into itsfull context, the verse informs that disciples were yet to understandwho Jesus was, which implies that they had no means of knowing HisFather. This is because it was impossible to understand the fatherbefore the son. However, they could understand the relationship thatexisted between the Father and Jesus from that time onwards.
5.Gary, Burge, M. Interpretingthe Gospel of John.Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2013, p. 9.
6.David, Pratte, E. Commentaryon the Gospel of John: Bible study notes and comments.Washing, DC: Create Space Independent Publishing, 2013, p.109.
AlthoughJesus had tried to give a vivid explanation of who He was as well asHis association with the Father, verse eight shows that Philip doesnot comprehend this relationship. Jesus had already informeddisciples that He was the true representative of his Father, whichimplies that whoever saw Him had already seen the Father. This makesPhilip appear foolish when he asks Jesus to show him and the rest ofdisciples the Father. 7However, it is also possible that Philip was expressing his doubtabout Jesus’ statement that He was the true manifestation of thefather. When Phillip’s request is taken in this context, it can beimplied that he was asking Jesus to provide them with the deity or atheophany that could confirm that He represented the Father.
Inverse nine, Jesus expressed His disappointment on the fact that thepeople who were closest to Him during His life on earth could notunderstand His teachings and His relationship with the Father. Thisdisappointment is confirmed by the fact that Jesus responds to Philipby questioning Him. He feels disappointed because disciplesdemonstrated the same level of ignorance about the true nature ofJesus as well as His teachings as the Gentiles. An aggravation can beeasily sensed in His response where He asks Philips why He could notunderstand Him, in spite of the fact the He had spent such a longtime with him. The verse ends with a teachable moment for disciples.It means that the amount of time that one has spent in Christianitydoes not reflect the level of knowledge that an individual has aboutthe Biblical teaching. It is possible for a person to spend years inthe church and experiencing spiritual blindness.
Verseten shows that Jesus tried to use a different approach to explain howHe is related to the Father. He reiterates the same idea that He andHis Father are one. In this verse
7.David, Pratte, E. Commentaryon the Gospel of John: Bible study notes and comments.Washing, DC: Create Space Independent Publishing, 2013, p. 186.
Jesustries to emphasize on the idea of the existence of oneness betweenHim and His father. 8He explains His point by saying that His teachings came from thefather, which suggests that He was acting in the place of the Father.The miracles that He performed were meant to corroborate the summonsthat He gave to the people in order to convince them about theFather’s ultimate plan for redemption. Although there is an aspectof equality, the Father has more authority over the son. Therefore,the aspect of oneness is derived from the fact that Jesus wasaccomplishing the wish of the Father.
Verseeleven reintroduces the idea of believe that was mentioned in verseone, but in a different context. The usage of the word “believe”in the first verse was a call for the disciples to trust in Jesus sothat they could go to the Father. In verse eleven, Jesus is nowasking them to trust in the idea that He is God. It is a continuationof the revelation that He gave the disciples in verse ten. By callingupon the disciples to believe in His statements, Jesus implies thatHe understood that stating that He was God would bring contentionamong the disciples. 9They had always seen Him as the Son of God, which forced Thomas andPhilip to doubt his argument that He was the same person as theFather. The aim of this verse is to help the disciples and Christianssolidify their faith that Jesus is truly God. He urged them to usethe works that he had done on earth as a tool to strengthen theirfaith.
Theaim of verse 12 is to show the disciples what they could be able todo more by believing and adopting the idea that He is God. He gives apromise that those who will agree to believe in Him will be able todo the kinds of works that He did while on earth. From the previousverses, Jesus acknowledged the fact that all works that He did was onbehalf of His Father. In verse 12, He is calling upon the disciplesto do more work on His behalf.
8.David, Pratte, E. Commentaryon the Gospel of John: Bible study notes and comments.Washing, DC: Create Space Independent Publishing, 2013, p. 186.
Jesusreceived power from the Father in order to do different works,including the healing miracles. This implies that the disciples hadto receive some power in order to do what He promised them. Thissounds like an illusion of the coming of the Holy Spirit, who wouldbe expected to empower the disciples.
Theteachings provided by John 14: 1-12 can be applied in the life of amodern Christian in three major ways. First, believing in Jesus isthe basis of Christianity. Modern Christians should comprehend thatgoing to church cannot help them see the Father or go to heaven. Theyonly need to comprehend that Jesus is God so that they can see theFather. Jesus felt aggravated by the fact that the disciples were notable to understand how he was related to the Father. Jesus would haveexpected the gentiles to feel confused by Him calling himself God.His disciples ought to have understood that His powers were beyondthe human abilities. The miracles that He had performed in theirpresence were enough to convince them that He was God.
Secondly,Christians should understand the relationship between the Son and theFather. This is a basic piece of knowledge that Christians shouldhave before they engage in evangelism. This knowledge can help themeducate their target audiences on how Jesus acted on behalf of HisFather and delegated the role of evangelism to His disciples andmodern Christians. Apart from getting born again, modern Christiansshould understand the association between God the Father and Jesusbefore they can start engaging in evangelism.
Lastly,Christians should know that the lack of faith in God disappoints Him.This is illustrated by the way Jesus felt aggravated when Thomas andPhilip failed to comprehend His teachings and believe in Him as God.Modern Christians should believe in God in everything that He teachesthem, irrespective of how strange it sounds.
Chapter14 verses 1-12 of the Gospel of John was written to accomplish twogoals. The first goal was to comfort Christians by reminding themthat Jesus will soon come and take them to Himself as He promised.The chapter presents a context in which Jesus was talking to Hisfollowers shortly before ascending to heaven. Therefore, He wascomforting them by stating that He was not leaving them forever.Secondly, the chapter aimed to help Christians understand why Jesusstated that He was God. It was difficult for the disciples, whoalways saw Jesus as the son of the Father, to start believing in Himas God. Additionally, the chapter informs that it is difficult forone to believe in God trusting in Jesus.
Burge,Gary, M. Interpretingthe Gospel of John.Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2013.
Norris,Kathleene, M. Christin you: The Hope of Glory.London: Eschatology, 2016.
Pratte,David, E. Commentaryon the Gospel of John: Bible study notes and comments.Washing, DC: Create Space Independent Publishing, 2013.
Utley,Bob. Thebeloved disciple’s memoirs and letters: The Gospel of John, 1, 2,and 3 John.La Habra, CA: Bible Lessons International.