The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Fathers Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on John 14:1-12

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 17, 2011

Joh 14:1  Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God: believe also in me.

Let not your heart be troubled. Continuing the discourse after the Last
Supper, begun in Jn 13:31, Jesus begins to console the Apostles. He saw that they were sore at heart, as well they might be, on account of what He had foretold that night the treachery of one of their number, the denials of another, and His own departure whither they could not follow.

You believe in God, believe also in me; that is, believe Me also to be God, who can therefore overcome all My enemies, and make you victorious over
yours. Instead of you believe we have in the Greek πιστευετε, which by its form might be either an indicative or imperative, but is more probably an
indicative, because it is not likely that Christ thought it necessary to exhort the Apostles to believe in God, a thing that every Jew did.

Joh 14:2  In my Father’s house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you.

In my Father’s house there are many mansions. Here He puts before them the first motive of consolation; namely, that there is room for them as well as for Him in heaven, in that house of God, the eternal antitype of the Jewish Temple (Jn 2:16), wherein He exercised the rights of a Son. Mansions renders theVulgate mansiones, which were resting-places or stations along the highways, where travellers found refreshments. The Greek word μονην is found in the New Testament only here and in verse 23.

If not, 1 would have told you that I go to prepare a place for you. That (οτι,
Vulg., quia) is almost certainly genuine, and hence we must explain the text, retaining it, though its presence creates difficulty.

(1) Some explain thus. If not, yet even in that case I would have told you that I go to prepare a place for you (my intimate friends). And if (in that case) I should go to prepare a place for you, I would return, &c. Against this view, however, it is fairly objected that Christ’s going is thus represented as purely
hypothetical, whereas from the text it seems to be real: And if I shall go . . .I will come again.

(2) Others thus: If not, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? In this view a note of interrogation is supplied, a thing that the original text, which was unpointed, admits; and reference is made to some past occasion when He promised to go and prepare places for them. That we have no record of a promise made in so many words, does not prove, of course, that it was not made.

(3) Others thus: If not, I would have told you so. But, in fact, there are many mansions, for I go to prepare a place for you. Against chis view it is objected
that it supplies an ellipsis, which is in no way indicated in the text. The same meaning, however, may be had without any ellipsis, if the words: If
not, I would have told you be regarded as parenthetic. The sense will then be: in My Father s house there are many mansions (it not, I would have
told you), as is proved by the fact that I go to prepare a place for you.

To prepare a place. Christ by His death, resurrection, and ascension opened heaven, and made ready a place for man.

Joh 14:3  And if I shall go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself: that where I am, you also may be.

I will come again. This is a second motive of consola tion. There is a difference of opinion as to what coming of Christ is meant. Some understand of His coming at the death of each and the particular judgment; others, of His coming at the general judgment; and others, of both. We prefer the last opinion, for while Christ took the souls of the Apostles to the mansions of bliss at their particular judgment, it is only at the general judgment that He
will take their bodies and perfect their felicity. The words cannot refer to the continual coming of Christ to the Church through the Holy Ghost whom He has sent; such a meaning is excluded by the words that follow: And will take, &c.

Joh 14:4  And whither I go you know: and the way you know.

And though you may think that you know not whither I go, nor the way thereto, yet you know both. For you know My Father to whom I go, and you know Me, the way that leads to Him. This may be regarded as a third motive of consolation.

Joh 14:5  Thomas saith to him: Lord, we know not whither thou goest. And how can we know the way?
Joh 14:6  Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.

St. Thomas interrupts, and Jesus explains, pointing out that He Himself is the way to the Father, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. Many
interpretations of these words have been given. We believe that the first clause: I am the way, answers Thomas difficulty; but as such a statement itself needed explanation, the remaining words and the truth, and the life, are added to explain how Christ is the way namely, inasmuch as He is the Truth, i.e. the author of faith; and the Life, i.e. the author of grace and of the supernatural life of the soul. In this view the phrase hebraizes, the first and being explanatory: I am the way, inasmuch as I am the truth and the life. This seems better than to hold with SS. Augustine and Thomas that Christ declares Himself the way as man, the truth, and the life as God. St. Augustine’s words are: Ipse igitur (vadit) ad seipsum per seipsum. But the words that follow in this verse: No man cometh to the Father but by me," show that the Father, and not Christ as God, is the term to which the way in question leads.

Joh 14:7  If you had known me, you would without doubt have known my Father also: and from henceforth you shall know him. And you have seen him.

Having told them that He Himself is the way, He now proceeds to point out to
them that if they had known this way in the manner they ought, they should also have known the term towards which it led. Hence the sense is You would know the Father to whom I go, if you knew Me; for I and the Father are the same divine substance (John 10:30). Thomas had said that they did not know the term of Christ’s journey, and therefore could not know the way thereto, implying that the way was to be known from, or at least after, the term to which it led. Christ now declares that the reverse is the case; and if they had known Him, the way, they should also have known the Father. The words: If you had known me, imply that they had not yet known Christ as they ought. They had indeed knownHim to some extent asHe admits in verse 4, but they had not realized fully His Divinity and consubstantiality with the
Father, else they would have implicitly known the Father in knowing Him. And from henceforth you shall know him, and you have seen him.
We would render the Greek thus: “And even now (see John 13:19) you know Him, and you have seen Him.”  The sense is, that even now they knew the Father in some way through their imperfect knowledge of Christ, and they had seen Him in seeing Christ, because, as Christ adds in verse 9: “He who seeth me, seeth the Father also.”  Thus it was true that in an imperfect manner they knew whither Christ went, and the way thereto (verse 4), yet equally true that they knew neither way nor term so clearly as they might, considering that He had now for more than three years been gradually revealing Himself to them.

Joh 14:8  Philip saith to him: Lord, shew us the Father; and it is enough for us.

Thomas is silenced, but Philip now interposes, and fail ing to understand Christ’s statement that they had seen the Father, asks Him to show them the Father, probably in some visible form, and then they will ask no more.

Joh 14:9  Jesus saith to him: Have I been so long a time with you and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also. How sayest thou: Shew us the Father?

Christ replies, again insisting on His consubstantiality with the Father: He that seeth me, seeth the Father also (also is probably not genuine). These words prove clearly, against the Arians, Christ’s consubstantiality, or
unity of nature, with the Father; otherwise in seeing Him they could not be said to see the Father even implicitly. Yet it is clear against the Sabellians
that the Father and the Son are distinct Persons, for Christ plainly distinguishes Himself from the Father in verse 6 where He says “No man cometh to the Father but by me;” and again in verse 13, where He says that He goes to the Father. There is, then, identity of nature, but distinction of
Persons. Cognomstis of the Vulgate ought to be cognovisti, Philip being addressed.

Joh 14:10  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you, I speak not of myself. But the Father who abideth in me, he doth the works.

Do you not believe (creditis ought to be credis) that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? He who saw Christ saw the Father implicitly, in virtue of the unity of nature. The words, and the connection with verse 9, show clearly that such is the identity of nature in the Father and the Son that
He who sees the Son, thereby in some sense sees the Father also. Hoc autem quod dicit, says St. Thomas on this verse, Ego in Patre et Pater in me
est, dicitur propter essentiae unitatem, de qua dicitur supra. Ego et Pater unum sumus. Sciendum est enim, quod essentia aliter se habet in
divinis ad personam, et aliter in hominibus. Nam in hominibus essentia Socratis non est Socrates, quia Socrates est quid compositum, sed in divinis essentia est idem personae secundumrem, et sic essentia Patris est Pater, et essentia Filii, Filius. Ubicumque ergo est essentia Patris, est ipse Pater, et
ubicumque est essentia Filii, est ipse Filius. Essentia autem Patris est in Filio, et essentia Filii est in Patre. Ergo Filius est in Patre, et Pater in Filio. Then He goes on to prove that the Father is in Him, and He in the Father, from the fact
that His words and works are the words and works of the Father. Instead of “the works” many authorities read “His works;” but the sense is the same, for the works were both Christ’s and the Father’s.

Joh 14:11  Believe you not that I am in the Father and the Father in me?

According to the Vulgate reading, Christ, for emphasis, repeats the question of verse 10. In the original there is not a question, but simply an in
junction addressed to all the Apostles; “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me.”

Joh 14:12  Otherwise believe for the very works’ sake. Amen, amen, I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do: and greater than these shall he do.

The sense is: But if My testimony does not suffice to satisfy you of My Divinity, at least believe on account of My miracles.

Having thus replied to the interruptions of Thomas andPhilip He now proceeds to put before the Apostles other motives of consolation. The mention of the fourth motive opens with the solemn “Amen, amen;” and the Apostles are told that whoever believeth in Him shall perform even greater miracles than His (“majora horum” is a Graecism for “majora his”), the reason being that in leaving His followers He bequeaths to them His thaumaturgic
power, and bequeaths it in great perfection, because He ascends to the glory of the Father.

Greater than these. The miracles of Christ s followers were greater than His in their visible effects. “Evangelizantibus discipulis . . gentes etiam crediderunt; haec sunt sine dubitatione majora” (St. Aug.). We think it very probable that the charism of miracles is here promised not merely to the
Apostles, but to the Church, in which it still resides; for it is promised to whoever believeth. Of course, not every faith is sufficient that we may work
miracles; a specially strong, unwavering faith is necessary. See Matt 21:21.

3 Responses to “Fathers Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on John 14:1-12”

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