Father Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary On John 13:31-35

Joh 13:31  Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.

Ver. 31.—When, therefore, he had gone forth, Jesus said, Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him—”is glorified,” equivalent to “is soon to be glorified,” the perfect put for the immediate future; Judas is now gone forth to betray Me, therefore is my cross and death nigh at hand, and so far is it from bringing ignominy on Me that, on the contrary, by it I am to be supremely glorified. For in it shall I be recognised as not only man and the Son of man, but also the Son of God and God; for the Divinity that lieth veiled in My humanity shall be recognised by the darkening of the sun, the cleaving asunder of rocks, the opening of sepulchres, the rising up of the dead, and the quaking of all the earth,—all these things shall show forth that God suffereth and dieth upon the cross. And again by its effects, for by the cross will I subjugate to Myself the whole world, all the devils, and sin, death and hell, as the God and Lord of all things. So S. Chrysostom, Cyril, and others. And here, note that by these signs God and the Godhead of Christ not only glorified the humanity of Christ but Itself also; for in them was made manifest the infinite goodness, power, wisdom, majesty, and glory of Christ’s Godhead.

Joh 13:32  If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.

Ver. 32.—If God is glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall glorify Him straightway. If, that is because—because Christ, made obedient unto the death of the cross, hath by this His obedience, reverence, and sacrifice, glorified God the Father, therefore shall God the Father in turn glorify the Son in Himself, by demonstrating and making manifest the Divinity that is hidden in Him. And this straightway—quickly, for on the third day He shall raise Him up revived, and glorious in His death; on the fortieth day He shall cause Him to ascend in triumph into Heaven; and on the fiftieth to send down His Holy Spirit upon the apostles. By all these things He made known to the world that Jesus is not only man but God, and the Son of God. So Cyril and Chrysostom. Origen, in his 6th Homily, says that the glorification of Christ was twofold,—the former in His death, by which He was glorified in the lowliness of His mortality; and the latter in His resurrection, by which He was glorified in the sublimity of His immortality.

Secondly, S. Hilary (De Trinitate, bk. v.), and Toletus following him, think that God is said to be glorified in Christ, because He showed His own Divinity in His death and resurrection; proving Himself God and the Son of God by raising Himself from death, ascending into heaven by His own power, and thence sending down the Holy Spirit and working many wonders through the apostles. This interpretation is called for by the expressions—in Him, in Himself. The Godhead was veiled in Christ until His death, but it then shone out and thrust itself forth, showing Christ to be not only man, but also the Son of God, inasmuch as He raised Himself from death by virtue of His own Divinity. Origen says, “The Son is as Paul says, the brightness of the Divine glory, from whence come its splendours upon every rational creature; for only the Son is capable of comprehending all the brightness of the Divine glory.” The words “in Himself” may be referred, first, to “the Son of Man.” God glorified the Man Christ, by showing that He, as man, had God indwelling in Him, and the Godhead of the Word; and secondly, to “God”—God showing that the Man Christ subsists in the Divine Person of the Word, that is, in God.

Joh 13:33  Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.

Ver. 33.—My little children. Notice the tenderness of Christ’s feeling of love towards His apostles and the faithful. He says not “my sons,” but “my little children,” showing in our regard the heart, as it were, of a mother towards her newly born infants. Again, little children, because the apostles were as yet little in the faith and love of Christ, for they received its fulness and, as it were, their manhood from the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. Symbolically Cyril says that all the Saints are little ones in relation to Christ.

Yet a little (a little time) I am with you—because an hour hence I shall be betrayed by Judas and given up to the Jews. Christ is here taking His last farewell of His own. Farewell, He says, My well-beloved children, for I am going away from you to death, and after that I shall not converse with you as we have been wont, but shall return to heaven.

Ye shall seek Me, and, as I said to the Jews, whither I go ye cannot come. I by My death return to heaven; you, 0 apostles, bereft of My presence, shall seek Me in the tribulations and persecutions that await you, and shall wish that I were with you that you might consult Me in your doubts and receive comfort and consolation from Me in your troubles; but whither I go you cannot come, both because you cannot by your own strength—with your own feet and your own natural powers—follow Me when I ascend into heaven, and you have not yet the supernatural strength of grace. For you are not yet strong enough to be able to accompany Me to the Cross and the martyr’s death,—not yet so perfect in grace, strength, and love as to be fit for and worthy of the kingdom of heaven. Lastly, you cannot come there yet, because My Heavenly Father has determined to send you after My death to preach the gospel throughout the world, and bring all nations to My faith and salvation.

As I said to the Jews. This, says Chrysostom, He adds to show that it is nothing new or fresh, but foreseen and predicted long before, and decreed by the Father. Moreover, it was to reveal to them that they should suffer persecution and death at the hands of the Jews as He was ill-used and slain. Thirdly, to indicate that they, like the Jews, were to suffer many tribulations and, at length, death, though for a different reason and a different end. For the Jews, cut off by reason of their crimes, went into hell, but the Apostles, slain for the sake of the Gospel, took flight to heaven.

And I say to you now—both in order to protect and arm you against all the tribulations that threaten you, and also that you may know at this time that you cannot yet follow Me, but that you shall follow Me when perfected in strength and merits, and following Me dying in your own death, you shall earn by faith in Me the laurel of Martyrdom in the kingdom of Heaven. Hence Christ, clearly explaining to Peter, says at ver. 36; Thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt hereafter.

Joh 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Ver. 34.—A new commandment I give to you; that you love one another. Why new? Various reasons are given. S. Augustine says, because the faithful, by love put off the old man and put on the new. “New,” says Jansenius, “that is renewed by Christ, having grown out of date in the minds of men.” Maldonatus says that “new” means excellent, surpassing. As in Rev. vii., the virgins are said to sing “a new song,” that is a remarkable one.

But I say that the command of love is called new, because it is the chief characteristic of the New Testament, and specially commended by the words and example of Christ; just as, on the other hand, the command of fear was the old command and the chief one among the Jews. The new law is that of love, as the old was of fear.

Secondly, because Christ here taught us this precept of love more explicitly, and more forcibly than it had been taught before; and for this cause He sent forth the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, that we might fulfil this new commandment of love with a new spirit of love.

Thirdly, and more appropriately to the actual circumstances, new in respect of the new object and cause of love. For when Christ the Head of the Church was incarnate, there was brought about a peculiar community and union among the members of the Church, both among themselves and with Christ their Head, now made of like nature with themselves. A union both through the human nature assumed by Christ, and by the grace whose influence He, as Head, brought to bear upon us as members, and chiefly by that Sacrament of the Eucharist here instituted by Him. And this union is the foundation of that especial and more intimate love between Christ and Christians, and of that greater obligation to love one another. For by this union we are closely bound not only to the humanity of Christ, but also to His Godhead and to the Blessed Trinity, and by and through it to one another.

This sense is implied by Christ when He adds: that you love one another, as I have loved you—because I have loved you in a new and especial manner, taking upon Me your flesh and giving it to you by means of the Eucharist which I have just instituted as the food of your soul, that in this Sacrament I might unite you all to Me, and to one another in Me; for this cause I likewise demand of you, 0 Christians, that you love one another with a new and peculiar love, not merely as man loves man, because of their common nature, but as a Christian ought to love one who is united to himself in Christ, a fellow-member of the same Church of Christ and participator of the same Eucharist. For Toletus rightly observes that this command is given not to all men, but only to Christians.

As I have loved you, that ye love one another; that as I, when I was in the form of God, for love of you took the form of a slave to teach you, save you, and make you blessed, so you too descend to any humiliation or hardship whatsoever in order to help one another. This is what John says in his first Epistle, iii 16—”In this have we known the love of God, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

The words, “as I have loved you,” are but taken as relating to those which follow—”that ye love one another.” Toletus, and others, place a colon before the former. The former part of the verse gives the substance of the precept, the latter signifies the mode of its proper execution. Moreover, this latter part supplies a sharp incentive to this mutual love, as if to say: The love of Christ to you, 0 Christians, should stir you up to love one another. For those whom Christ so loved you also, His followers, must love. And again Christ in His love asks that you love one another.

Joh 13:35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Ver. 35.—In this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love towards one another. My school is the discipline of love. If, then, you desire to follow Me as your Teacher, to be My disciples, and to be recognised as such by all men, love one another. This privilege is granted, therefore, only to charity. For it is not miracles that constitute us disciples of Christ, nor intellect, nor eloquence, nor strength, nor anything else but only love, says S. Chrysostom. For He is the Master, Leader, Prince, and Chief of love. Hence Paul says, Rom_13:8, “He that loveth his neighbour hath fulfilled the law.” Such were the early Christians of whom Luke, Act_4:32, says, “And the multitude of them that believed had one heart and one soul, and had all things in common.”

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One Response to Father Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary On John 13:31-35

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C | stjoeofoblog

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