John Chapters 13 to 17, Part 2
by Karl Kemp
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We continue this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 13-17 here in Part 2, starting with John 13:16.
(16) Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave ["servant" KJV; NKJV; NIV] is not greater than his master [cf. Matt. 10:24; Luke 6:40; and John 15:20], nor is one who is sent [[The Greek noun behind "one who is sent" here is "apostolos," which is the noun translated "apostle" in the New Testament. The apostles were sent in a special sense; they were commissioned to take the gospel to the world and to lay the foundation for the Christian church, which included establishing the content of the gospel as contained in the New Testament.]] greater than the one who sent him. [[The Lord Jesus Christ was the Master of the apostles, and He was the One who sends them (and the Christian church) on an extended (age-long) mission; He was the greater One. As the next verse shows, they will be blessed if they do the things He has commanded them to do. On the other hand, they will have to answer to Him if they fail to be obedient to Him in every area.]] (17) If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. (18) I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen [to be apostles/disciples]; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, "HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME." [As noted above (under verses 10, 11), Judas Iscariot was the exception. Jesus quoted part of Psalm 41:9 here.] (19) From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass [Compare John 14:29; 16:4. One thing that Jesus told them before it came to pass was the imminent betrayal of Judas, and He went on to tell them of other things as these chapters continue.], so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He. [[Compare John 8:24, 28, 58. (See on these verses in my paper on John chapters 5-8, which is available on my internet site and should be available on this Christian article site in the near future.) The Greek behind "I am He" (the word "He" is in italics) here and in John 8:24, 28 and behind "I am" in John 8:58 is "ego eimi." The words "believe that I am He" here include believing (with full assurance and commitment) that He is God the Son, who was sent from heaven and became the God-man, and who is the promised Messiah/Christ, the Lamb of God, and the Savior and Judge. ((I had a footnote: I'll quote part of what Leon Morris says here ("Gospel According to John" [Eerdmans, 1971], page 623). "...they are to believe 'that I am.' The expression almost certainly has overtones of deity as in 8:28...." And I'll quote part of what F. F. Bruce says here ("Gospel of John" [Eerdmans, 1983], page 288). "The Greek words "ego eimi" ('I am')...are sometimes used in the most everyday sense, 'it is I' (as in John 6:20; 9:9), but in this Gospel especially (cf. John 8:24, 28) they tend to be used with overtones of the Ineffable Name of Ex. 3:14 or even more, of the affirmation 'I am He' of Isa. 41:4; 43:10, 13, etc (...rendered ego eimi in the LXX [Septuagint; the Hebrew OT translated into Greek]), in such a way as to hint at the speaker's oneness with the Father [God the Father was the speaker in Isa. 41:4; 43:10, 13].")) I'll quote John 20:31, "but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."]] (20) Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me [[Compare Matt. 10:40; Mark 9:37; Luke 9:48; 10:16; John 20:21; and Gal. 4:14. The twelve apostles and the apostle Paul were sent by the Lord Jesus Christ in a special sense, but verses like Matt. 10:40-42; Mark 9:33-37; and Luke 9:46-48 show that any person who receives a disciple of Jesus Christ because he is a disciple of Christ, no matter how insignificant (or even hated) that disciple is in the eyes of the world, receives Christ and the One who sent Him. These words include the idea that Christ has a special love for all His disciples. He takes it very personally when people receive or reject them, when people bless them or curse them (cf., e.g., Matt. 25:31-46 [I had a footnote: I believe Christ's "brothers...even the least of them" of Matt. 25:40 are Christians. Matthew chapter 25 is discussed verse-by-verse in my paper on Matthew chapters 24 and 25 on this Christian article site]; Acts 9:4, 5; 22:7, 8; 26:14, 15; and 2 Thess. 1:4-10). The next words of this verse show that God the Father has the same special love for Christians. As I mentioned, the glorious love relationship that Christians have with God the Father and God the Son is a dominant theme of these five chapters we are studying. What a blessing!]]; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.' [What a privilege to be sent by (and to represent) God the Father and God the Son!] (21) When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit [[I'll quote what Leon Morris says here ("Gospel According to John," page 624). "A very human Jesus is described as 'troubled in spirit' (see on John 11:33). Though John pictures Jesus as in control of the situation he does not want us to think of Him as unmoved by the events through which He is passing."]], and testified and said, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.' [[Jesus had known of His betrayal for a long time (see John 6:64, 70, 71; 13:11; also see Matt. 26:20-25; Mark 14:17-21; and Luke 22:21-23), but He was clearly grieved by this betrayal. His being troubled in spirit undoubtedly included His knowledge of the great trial that He must pass through as He faced the crucifixion and all that it entailed.]] (22) The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking. (23) There was reclining on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. [John, the apostle who wrote this Gospel, was that disciple (cf. John 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20 with 21:24).] (24) So Simon Peter gestured to him [to the apostle John], and said to him, 'Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.' (25) He, leaning back thus on Jesus' bosom [cf. John 21:20], said to Him, 'Lord, who is it?' (26) Jesus then answered, 'That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.' So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot [cf. John 6:71]. (27) After the morsel, Satan then entered into him [cf. Luke 22:3; John 13:2]. Therefore Jesus said to him, 'What you do, do quickly.' (28) Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. [The apostle John knew that Judas was the apostle who would betray Jesus, but apparently he didn't know that the words that Jesus spoke to Judas in verse 27 dealt with His immediate betrayal.] (29) For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box [cf. John 12:6], that Jesus was saying to him, 'Buy the things we have need of for the feast' [cf. John 13:1]; or else, that he should give something to the poor [cf. John 12:5, 6]. (30) So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night. [[Most commentators make the point that John probably meant more by the words "it was night" than the literal fact that it had become dark. I'll quote Luke 22:53, "While I with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but THIS HOUR AND THE POWER OF DARKNESS ARE YOURS [my emphasis]." Jesus spoke these words to "the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders" when they came to arrest Him in the garden.]] (31) Therefore when he [Judas Iscariot] had gone out, Jesus said, 'Now is the Son of Man glorified [[The verb glorify (Greek "doksazo") is used five times (in some form) in verses 31, 32. This first use is unusual, but not shocking when we consider that the voluntary sacrificial offering of the Lamb of God was the heart and foundation of God's plan of salvation. ((I had a footnote: The Bible typically speaks of Christ's being glorified because of His atoning death and after that death on the cross, as in John 13:32 (the following verse). In most ways being crucified was the opposite of being glorified: "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us - for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree' " (Gal. 3:13). "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf [when He bore our sins with the guilt and penalties as the sin offering], so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). "...who for the joy [and glory] set before Him endured the cross, despising [disregarding] the shame [which is the opposite of glory], and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [having been glorified]" (Heb. 12:20).)) Every true Christian understands that what Jesus did on the cross was the ultimate victory, not defeat. Judas' leaving to betray Christ set in motion the events that would lead to the all-important atoning death of Christ (which embraced the beatings, mocking, scourging, etc., and the crucifixion).
In this context the words "Now is the Son of Man glorified" apparently refer to Christ's atoning death. He was glorified in that death by perfectly fulfilling the assignment He had been given, an extremely difficult, all-important assignment, thereby glorifying the Father who had given Him that assignment (cf. John 12:23-25, 27, 28, 31-33; 17:4). In fulfilling that assignment He earned the right to save all believers, to judge and remove all rebels from God's kingdom (starting with the devil and his underlings and including all the people who continue to follow him), and to bring forth the new heaven and new earth with the new Jerusalem at the proper time.
I'll quote part of what Henry Alford says here ("New Testament for English Readers," Vol. 2 [Baker, 1983 reprint], page 582). "The glorification is spoken of by anticipation, as if accomplished, because the deed was actually in doing, which was to accomplish it. The glorifying spoken of here, and in verse 32, is not the same. This is the glorifying of God by Christ on earth, in His course of obedience as the Son of Man, which was completed by His death ('he became obedient even unto death' Phil. 2:8). And His death was the transition point between God being glorified in Him, and He being glorified in God - manifested to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection, and received up to the Father, to sit at the right hand of God. This latter (verse 32) is spoken of by Him here as future, but immediate...on His death, and leads on to the address of verse 33."
I'll quote a sentence from what Alfred Plummer says here ("Gospel According to St. John" [Baker, 1981 reprint], page 271). "He was glorified in finishing the work which the Father gave Him to do (17:4); and thus God was glorified in Him." And I'll quote part of what Everett F. Harrison says here ("Wycliffe Bible Commentary" [Moody Press, 1962], page 1103). "In death Christ would be glorified in the eyes of the Father (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18, 24). The Father would see in the death of the cross the fulfillment of his own purpose. Only after the Resurrection would the disciples sense the glorification."]], and God is glorified in Him [Compare John 12:27-33; 17:4. God the Father was glorified through the submission of His Son to His will, even when it involved extreme suffering, and He is glorified by all the good fruit that results from the atoning death and present ministry of His unique Son.]; (32) if God is glorified in Him [This is a class 1 condition in the Greek; the "if clause" is assumed to be true. There was no doubting the fact that the Father would be glorified in the Son.], God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately. [[This glorification of the Son in the Father undoubtedly includes His resurrection; He was the first man (though He was much more than just a man; He was the God-man) to have a glorified body, but the emphasis here seems to be on His being taken up to glory, to the right hand of God the Father, with the authority to carry out God's plan of salvation (cf. John 17:5, "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was"). Having been glorified, He has the authority to save all who submit to the gospel in faith, including pouring out the Spirit on them in the new-covenant dimension and taking them to eternal glory; He has the authority to judge and remove the devil and his underlings and all unrepentant people from God's kingdom forever; and He has the authority to bring forth God's new heaven and new earth with its new Jerusalem, all at the proper time. Having been resurrected, but before He was taken up to glory, Jesus could say, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28:18).]] (33) Little children, I am with you a little while longer. [It was already night (Thursday evening), and He would die the following afternoon (Friday), at about 3 p.m. (cf. Luke 23:44).] You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews [cf. John 7:33, 34; 8:21], now I also say to you, "Where I am going, you cannot come." [[Jesus was going to the Father (to heaven), and His disciples could not follow Him there, not at that time. Verse 36 (and many other verses, including John 14:2, 3) shows that they (and all true Christians) will follow Him to heaven later. This verse, in a way that is typical for these chapters, seems to skip the detail that the disciples would see Jesus on numerous occasions throughout the forty days that started with His resurrection and ended with His being taken up to glory.]] (34) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. [[Compare John 15:12, 17; 1 John 2:7-11; 3:11, 14, 23 (3:10-23); 4:7-5:3; and 2 John 1:5. Christians are called to love all people, but we are called and enabled to have a special love for other Christians. Jesus' words here about loving one another speak of loving other Christians, and that is the case with all of the references I just cited. This commandment (like all the commandments given to Christians) was not, of course, optional. We must make it top priority to fulfill God's commandments (cf., e.g., John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10, 14). Keeping His commandments is big part of what loving God means, and loving Him is more important than loving His people.
The commandment to love wasn't new in itself. The Mosaic Law (which was the foundation for the old covenant) had commanded God's people to love God (this was the first great commandment) and to love their neighbors (cf. Matt. 22:36-40). But Jesus and the new covenant (the new commandment goes with the new covenant) that was established on His atoning death took love to a new level, including the fact that He enabled and commanded the apostles (and all Christians) to love one another EVEN AS THEY HAD BEEN LOVED BY HIM. ((I had a footnote: Jesus had just manifested His love for the disciples by humbling Himself before them and washing their feet as an example of how they should treat one another. And at that very moment He was headed for the cross, where He would manifest His love for them (and all of us) in the ultimate sense of laying down His life for them (cf., e.g., John 10:11-18; 15:13; Rom. 5:5-8; and 1 John 3:16).)) Christians, knowing (which includes their having an experiential knowledge of) the love that God the Father and God the Son have for them, and having being born again and being indwelled by the Holy Spirit, are enabled to love on a higher level. The first fruit of the Holy Spirit (that is mentioned in Gal. 5:22, 23) that is produced by the Spirit as born-again Christians walk in/by/after the Spirit is love. We are enabled and commanded to walk by the Spirit on a continuous basis (cf. Gal. 5:16).
One of the primary problems we have in the body of Christ is that many Christians are not experiencing much of a love relationship with God. It is quite difficult (probably impossible) for us to love other Christians with the love of God when we are not experiencing God's love ourselves. To the extent Christians are living in sin/the flesh (which includes doubting God and His Word) it keeps them from abiding (or from fully abiding) in His love (cf., e.g., John 14:21, 23; 15:10 ["If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love."]; and Jude 1:21). There is no substitute for Christians making it a top priority to live in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God by His grace/Spirit through faith.
We Christians cannot solve the sin/fleshiness problem by putting all the emphasis on forgiveness and talking about God's supposed unconditional love that supposedly guarantees that He will always love us just the same no matter what we have in our hearts, or what we do. But many Christians in our day are trying to solve the sin/fleshiness problem that way. It is true, of course, that we cannot earn God's love, but the Bible makes it quite clear that if we continue to spurn His love and continue to fail to respond to His grace, it will keep us from abiding in that grace, and in the worst-case scenario will result in loss of salvation. ((I had a footnote: See under John 14:15 in this paper. See under the words "that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love" of Eph. 1:4 in my paper that includes Ephesians chapter 1 on my internet site, and see the further discussion that is titled, "Further Discussion Aiming for a Balanced Biblical Understanding Regarding God's Love and the Love He Expects from His Born-Again Children." Also see my paper "Once Saved, Always Saved?"))
I'll quote a paragraph from what J. Carl Laney says here ("John" [Moody Press, 1992], page 250). "Jesus introduces the disciples to the command to 'love one another' (cf. 15:12). The word [verb] Jesus uses for 'love' is 'agapao' and refers in this context to a volitional [the will is involved] love that can be commanded. Jesus is not speaking of a merely emotional attachment or personal affection, but rather a commitment that seeks the ultimate good of the other person - even to the point of personal sacrifice. The present tense of agapao calls attention to the continuous nature of the action, that is, 'keep on loving.' "]] (35) By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.' [[To the extent Christians love one another with a supernatural love, God's love (by God's Spirit; all good things come from God, including love, truth, light, life, righteousness, holiness, peace, order, etc), it serves as a powerful manifestation of the reality of new-covenant salvation. When Christians love one another with God's love it is, for one thing, a manifestation of God's love for His people (Christians).
As I mentioned, many Christians aren't manifesting much of that love in our day. That is no surprise to me. To the extent Christians are continuing in sin, fleshiness, and worldliness (instead of walking the line with God's word and by the Holy Spirit), it will necessarily hinder their ability to experience God's love and to walk in love toward other Christians. To the extent we are walking in pride, for example, it will lead to strife and competition instead of love and unity. Love and unity in the body of Christ go together (cf., e.g., John 17:21-23).
Another closely related problem is that God's love will not (cannot) be manifested much in the body of Christ if we are not united on the foundational truths of Christianity; most Christians just assume that what they believe is very close to the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches and everybody else (if they disagree) is wrong. If "Christians" are given over to sin (characterized by sin) or continue to hold heretical doctrines, they forfeit salvation. God is the Judge and He determines those who have salvation and a place in the body of Christ, and those who don't; we must fear God (fear sinning against Him and being out of His will) and make it a top priority to make sure we are believing what He requires us to believe and living as He commands us to live (by His grace through faith).]] (36) Simon Peter said to Him, 'Lord, where are You going?' Jesus answered, 'Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.' [See verse 33.] (37) Peter said to Him, 'Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.' (38) Jesus answered, 'Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times [cf. Matt. 26:33-35, 69-75; Mark 14:29-31, 66-72; Luke 22:33, 34, 56-62; and John 18:15-27].' " [[Peter was sincere, but subsequent events proved that he was not (not at that time [cf. John 21:18, 19]; for one thing he wasn't born again yet) ready to lay down his life for the Lord Jesus Christ. True Christians go to heaven at death (cf. 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21, 23; and 1 Thess. 4:14, 16). In that sense they follow the Lord to heaven, but they do not follow Him in the full sense spoken of here. That fully glorified sense, which includes receiving a glorified body (and the rapture and beginning to reign with Christ), will not come to pass until the time of Christ's second coming (cf., e.g., John 14:2, 3; 1 Cor. 15:50-52; and 1 Thess. 4:13-18).]]
" 'Do not let your heart be troubled [cf. John 14:27]; believe in God, believe also in Me. ["Trust in God; trust also in me" NIV. The Greek plurals make it clear that Jesus was speaking to all the apostles here, not just to Peter (cf. John 13:36-38). The betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus would greatly affect His disciples, and they would be tempted to doubt and discouragement. The only satisfactory answer in such times is to keep believing and trusting in God, no matter how difficult it is; there is no other satisfactory option. What Jesus said here applies to all Christians of all ages in times of trial/trouble. We can and we must press on in faith, not allowing doubt to have a place in our hearts. God is faithful to make all things work together for our good as we stay faithful to Him by His grace (cf. Rom. 8:28); furthermore, we glorify Him as we walk by faith (cf. Rom. 4:20 KJV; 2 Cor. 5:7).]] (2) In My Father's house [heaven] are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. [[Jesus was going back to the Father, back to heaven, back to eternal glory (cf., e.g., John 13:1, 3, 36; 17:5). He had just told Peter that he (and this applies to all true Christians) would follow Him to heaven later (cf. John 12:26; 13:33, 36; and 17:24).
The translation of the words starting with "if" by the NASB is a common translation; it is essentially the same as that of the NIV, KJV, and NKJV. But I rather strongly prefer a translation that follows the punctuation in the United Bible Societies' "Greek New Testament," which has a question mark at the end of this verse. F. F. Bruce, for example, translates, "if there were not, would I have told you that I am going to get a place ready for you?" ("Gospel of John" [Eerdmans, 1983], page 297). The translations of the New American Bible, New Testament by J. B. Phillips, RSV, and the NRSV are in essential agreement with the translation given by Bruce.
I'll quote part of what D. A. Carson says regarding the "dwelling places" ("Gospel According to John" [Inter-Varsity Press, 1991], pages 488, 489). "The Greek 'mone,' cognate with [closely related to] the verb 'meno' ('to remain,' 'to stay,' 'to dwell'), properly signifies a 'dwelling place.' Because the Latin Vulgate rendered it 'mansiones,' the AV [Authorized Version]/KJV, followed by the RV used 'mansion.' However, since heaven is here pictured as the Father's house, it is more natural to think of 'dwelling places' within a house as rooms (NIV) or suites or the like. ...."]] (3) If I go and prepare a place for you [The "if" here didn't infer there was any reason to doubt that Jesus would go and prepare a place for His disciples; He had just told that He was going to do this in verse 2.], I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. [[Jesus was speaking here of His coming again at the end of this age and taking His disciples to heaven, to eternal glory, but back then the disciples would have thought of His coming back again rather soon, certainly within their lifetimes (cf., e.g., Matt. 24:34). ((I had a footnote: True Christians go to heaven at death (cf. 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21, 23; and 1 Thess. 4:14), but it is a preliminary stage of heaven. For one thing, they will not receive their glorified bodies until the time of the glorification and rapture when Christ Jesus returns (cf., e.g., 1 Cor. 15:51-53; 1 Thess. 4:14-17).]] (4) And you know the way where I am going.' [[Jesus was going to the Father, to heaven, to eternal glory (cf. John 14:6). John 14:6 shows that the only way people can come to the Father is through the Lord Jesus Christ. Coming to the Father includes coming to Him in repentance and faith to become His born-again children through the saving work of Christ Jesus and coming to Him in heaven in the full and final sense after being glorified and raptured at the end of this age through the saving work of Christ Jesus.]]
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 13-17 in Part 3, starting with John 14:5.
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