St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on John 14:15-21

Jn 14:15  If you love me, keep my commandments.
Jn 14:16  And I will ask the Father: and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever:
Jn 14:17  The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him. But you shall know him; because he shall abide with you and shall be in you.

We need everywhere works and actions, not a mere show of words. For to say and to promise is easy for any one, but to act is not equally easy. Why have I made these remarks?Because there are many at this time who say that they fear and love God, but in their works show the contrary; but God requireth that love which is shown by works. Wherefore He said to the disciples, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” For after He had told them, “Whatsoever ye shall ask, I will do it,” that they might not deem the mere “asking” to be availing, He added, “If ye love Me,” “then,” He saith, “I will do it.” And since it was likely that they would be troubled when they heard that, “I go to the Father,” He telleth them “to be troubled now is not to love, to love is to obey My words. I have given you a commandment that ye love one another, that ye do so to each other as I have done to you; this is love, to obey these My words, and to yield to Him who is the object of your love.”

“And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter.” Again His speech is one of condescension. For since it was probable, that they not yet knowing Him would eagerly seek His society, His discourse, His presence in the flesh, and would admit of no consolation when He was absent, what saith He? “I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter,” that is, “Another like unto Me.” Let those be ashamed who have the disease of Sabellius (a heretic),  who hold not the fitting opinion concerning the Spirit. For the marvel of this discourse is this, that it hath stricken down contradictory heresies with the same blow. For by saying“another,” He showeth the difference of Person, and by “Paraclete,” the connection of Substance. But why said He, “I will ask the Father”? Because had He said, “I will send Him,” they would not have so much believed and now the object is that He should be believed. For afterwards He declares that He Himselfsendeth Him, saying, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (Jn 20:22); but in this place He telleth them that He asketh the Father, so as to render His discourse credible to them. Since Jn saith of Him, “Of His fullness have all we received” (Jn 1:16); but what He had, how receiveth He from another? And again, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” (Lk 3:16). “But what had He more than the Apostles, if He was about to ask It of His Father in order to give It to others, when they often even without prayer appear to have done thus?” And how, if It is sent according to request from the Father, doth It descend of Itself? And how is that which is everywhere present sent by Another, that which “divideth to every man severally as He will” (1Co 12,11), and which saith with authority, “Separate Me Paul and Barnabas”? (Acts 13:2). Those ministers were ministering unto God, yet still It called them authoritatively to Its own work; not that It called them to any different work, but in order to show Its power. “What then,” saith some one, “is, ‘I will ask the Fathers’?” (He saith it) to show the time of Its coming. For when He had cleansed them by the sacrifice, then the Holy Ghost lighted upon them. “And why, while He was with them, came it not?” Because the sacrifice was not yet offered. But when afterwards sin had been loosed, and they were being sent forth to dangers, and were stripping themselves for the contest, then need was that the Anointer should come. “But why did not the Spirit come immediately after the Resurrection?” In order that being greatly desirous of It, they might receive It with great joy. For as long as Christ was with them, they were not in tribulation; but when He departed, being made defenseless and thrown into much fear, they would receive It with much readiness.

“He remaineth with you.” This showeth that even after death It departeth not. But lest when they heard of the “Paraclete,” they should imagine a second Incarnation, and expect to see It with their eyes, He setteth them right by saying, “Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not.” “He will not be with you as I have been, but will dwell in your very souls”; for this is the, “shall be in you.”  He calleth it the “Spirit of truth”; thus explaining the types in the Old Testament. “That He may be with you.” What is, “may be with you”? That which He saith Himself, that “I am with you.” (Mt 28:20). Besides, He also implieth something else, that “the case of the Spirit shall not be the same as Mine, He shall never leave you.” “Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not.” “Why, what is there belonging to the other Persons that is visible?” Nothing; but He speaketh here of knowledge; at least He addeth, “neither knoweth Him.” For He is wont, in the case of exact knowledge, to call it “sight”; because sight is clearer than the other senses, by this He always representeth exact knowledge. By “world,” He here speaketh of “the wicked,” thus too comforting the disciples by giving to them a special gift. See in how many particulars He raised His discourse concerning It. He said, “He is Another like unto Me”; He said, “He will not leave you”; He said, “Unto you alone He cometh, as also did I”; He said, that “He remaineth in you”; but not even so did He drive out their despondency. For they still sought Him and His society. To cure then this feeling, He saith,

Jn 14:18. “I will not leave you orphans, I will come unto you.”  “Fear not,” He saith, “I said not that I would send you another Comforter, as thoughwere Myself withdrawing from you for ever; I said not that He remaineth with you, as though I should see you no more. For I also Myself will come to you, I will not leave you orphans.” Because when commencing He said, “Little children,” therefore He saith also here, “I will not leave you orphans.” At first then He told them, “Ye shall come whither I go”; and, “In My Father’s house there are many mansions”; but here, since that time was long, He giveth them the Spirit; and when, not knowing what it could be of which He spoke, they were not sufficiently comforted, “I will not leave you orphans,” He saith; for this they chiefly required. since the, “I will come to you,” was the saying of one declaring a “presence,” observe how in order that they might not again seek for the same kind of presence as before, He did not clearly tell them this thing, but hinted at it; for having said,

Jn 14:19. “Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me not”; He added, “but ye see Me.”  As though He had said, “I come indeed to you, but not in the same way as before, ever being with you day by day.” And lest they should say, “How then saidst Thou to the Jews, Henceforth ye shall not see Me?” He solveth the contradiction by saying, “to you alone”; for such also is the nature of the Spirit.

 “Because I live, ye shall live also.” For the Cross doth not finally separate us, but only hideth for a little moment; and by “life” He seemeth to me to mean not the present only, but the future also.

Jn 14:20. “At that day ye shall know that am in the Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”  With regard to the Father, these words refer to Essence; with regard to the disciples, to agreement of mind and help from God. “And how, tell me, is this reasonable?” saith some one. And how, pray, is the contrary reasonable? For great and altogether boundless is the interval between Christ and the disciples. And if the same words are employed, marvel not; for the Scripture is often wont to use in different senses the same words, when applied to God and to men. Thus we are called “gods,” and “sons of God,” yet the word hath not the same force when applied to us and to God. And the Son is called “Image,” and “Glory”; so are we, but great is the interval between us. Again, “Ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor 3:23), but not in like manner as Christ is God’s are we Christ’s. But what is it that He saith? “When I am arisen,” He saith, “ye shall know that I am not separated from the Father, but have the same power with Him, and that I am with you continually, when facts proclaim the aid which cometh to you from Me, when your enemies are kept down, and you speak boldly, when dangers are removed from your path, when the preaching of the Gospel flourisheth day by day, when all yield and give ground to the word of true religion. “As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you.” (Jn 20:21). Seest thou that here also the word hath not the same force? for if we take it as though it had, the Apostles will differ in nothing from Christ. But why saith He, “Then ye shall know”? Because then they saw Him risen and conversing with them, then they learnt the exact faith; for great was the power of the Spirit, which taught them all things.

Jn 14:21. “He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me.” It is not enough merely to have them, we need also an exact keeping of them. But why doth He frequently say the same thing to them? as, “If ye love Me, ye will keep  My commandments” (Jn 14:15); and, “He that hath My commandments and keepeth them”; and, “If any one heareth My word and keepeth it, he it is that loveth Me—he that heareth not My words, loveth Me not.” (Jn 14:24). I think that He alluded to their despondency; for since He had uttered many wise sayings to them concerning death, saying, “He that hateth his life in this world shall save it unto life eternal” (Jn 12:25); and,“Unless a man take his cross and follow Me, he is not worthy of Me” (Matt 10:38); and is about to say other things besides, rebuking them, He saith, “Think ye that ye suffer sorrow from love? The not sorrowing would be a sign of love.” And because He wished all along to establish this, as He went on He summed up His discourse in this same point; “If ye loved Me,” He saith, “ye would have rejoiced, because—I go to My Father” (Jn 14:28), but now ye are in this state through cowardice. To be thus disposed towards death is not for those who remember My commandments; for you ought to be crucified, if you truly loved Me, for My word exhorteth you not to be afraid of those that kill the body. Those that are such both the Father loveth and I. “And I will manifest Myself unto him.

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One Response to St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on John 14:15-21

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A | stjoeofoblog

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