Commandment: love

I will not leave you…I will come to you. The second promise of continuing presence is Jesus’ promise of his own return (vv. 18-20). “Orphan” (orphanos) was a common metaphor to describe disciples left without their master but the use of the meta­phor here has a special poignancy in the light of the familial and domestic imagery that runs throughout Jesus’ words to his own (e.g., 13:33; 14:2-3, 10-14; 15:9-11; 16:21-24, 27). Jesus’ promise that he will not leave the disciples or­phaned recalls his use of the address “little chil­dren” in 13:33 and is an assurance that the intimacy of that familial relationship is not under­cut by Jesus’ departure. His promise to return (v. 18b) thus immediately counters any possible per­ception of Jesus’ death as his abandonment of his own. Continue reading

Commandment: hold dear

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, 17 the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.

If we now have some hint at what we mean by “commandments,” what does it mean to “keep” (tereo) them? The basic meanings of this word [TDNT 1:21 ff] are:

  1. keep watch over, guard
  2. keep, hold, reserve, preserve someone or something
  3. keep = not lose
  4. keep = protect
  5. keep, observe, fulfill, pay attention to

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Commandments: keep

Jesus’ discourse (at this point) begins to move in a new direction by focusing on the ways in which belief in Jesus empowers the believing community (v.12 ff).  Jesus has emphasized that the works he does are not his own but are the Father’s; now Jesus begins to emphasize the link between his works that of the believing community. Our gospel text describes two dimensions of the believer’s relationship with Jesus: (1) the inseparability of one’s love of Jesus and the keeping of his commandments (vv.15, 21, 23-24) and (2) the abiding and indwelling of the presence of God, even after Jesus’ death and departure with those who love him (vv.16-20, 22-23). Continue reading

Commandments: context

John 14:15-21 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, 17 the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

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Dwelling place: the Father

7 If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever 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? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. 12 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. Continue reading

Dwelling place: coming back

2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. 4

Jesus’ coming back (v.3) has been variously interpreted:

  • his coming to the disciples following his resurrection (cf. 20:19–29);
  • his coming in the person of the Holy Spirit (cf. 14:15–21);
  • his second coming at the end of this age (cf. 14:28; 21:22–23; parousia); and
  • his ‘coming’ to take his disciples to be with him when they die. (This suggestion, comforting though it is to think of Christ ‘coming’ for us when we die, is not something that receives any support in this passage.)

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Dwelling place: many rooms

2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be

Verse 2 also has some translation options: “In my Father’s house [oikia] there are many dwelling places [monai].  Should oikia be translated “house,” i.e., a physical structure (as in 11:31 & 12:3);”household,” i.e., a community of people (as in 4:53 & 8:35)?; or even “family” – all of which are valid translations [EDNT 2:495].  Often people immediately think of the King James’ translation: “In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” – which immediately moves one thoughts and reference to heaven.  Is this the intention of this passage? Continue reading

Dwelling place: believing into

The opening words of the gospel are straight forward: “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (14:1). These same words will be repeated in v.27 when Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will accompany them after Jesus returns to the Father.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Though deeply troubled by the prospect of his own betrayal and crucifixion, Jesus concerned himself with his disciples’ distress. He said to them, Do not let your hearts be troubled [tarassō]. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. Their faith in God, and in particular their faith in Jesus, would enable them to calm their hearts as they faced what lay ahead. There are some scholars who argue that the expression in the Greek is in the imperative, something we would more naturally translate as “Stop being troubled.” It seems that in either case Jesus is not talking to trouble-free people and telling them not to begin to worry. Jesus knows he is talking to people whose hearts are far from serene. Continue reading

Dwelling place: context

John 14:1–12  1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. 4 Where (I) am going you know the way.” Continue reading

To hold dear

Christ-sending-His-ApostlesMemory is an interesting thing.  There are many physiological and psychological theories around the topic, but lots of folks seem to agree we have memory for facts and memory for context.  Sometimes the memories are general and sometimes explicit. We tie memory to specific events, personal experiences, semantic categories and more. Then whatever the memory, we have to “register” the memory, store it and then recall it. Continue reading