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

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 14:27-31

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 5, 2012

Joh 14:27  Peace I leave with you: my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled: nor let it be afraid.

Ver. 27.—Peace I leave with you. My peace, &c. The Arabic translates My own peace. This is Christ’s farewell. For the Hebrews, when they salute any one coming, or bid good-bye when departing, say, Peace be with you. Where under the word peace they wish every kind of good, prosperity, and happiness. It is as though Christ said, “Going away from you, I give to you, 0 ye Apostles and your successors, and as it were leave you, My benediction for an inheritance. By this I pray God to give you every good thing. And this I do not vainly or briefly, like the world, but truly, solidly, eternally. I do it not by adulatory words, as worldly people do, but really supplicating and bestowing grace and power, by which ye may securely attain to the eternal goods, and by your preaching, charity, and prayers may lead many others to the same blessed end.” So Maldonatus.

Jansen and Toletus explain a little differently. They say, This peace is that of which S. Paul speaks in the 4th ch. of the Philippians, “The peace of God which surpasseth all sense keep your heart and understanding in Christ Jesus.” Now this peace includes—1. Friendship with God. 2. Tranquillity of mind and calm in temptations and persecutions. 3. Mutual concord amongst ourselves. This makes men strong in every danger, and gives consolation in every trouble. This the Lord bequeaths us, not riches, nor temporal possessions. Far above all the wealth of this world peace stands pre-eminent.

Hear S. Augustine. “We cannot arrive at the Lord’s inheritance, who wished us to observe His testament of peace—we cannot have concord with Christ if we quarrel with our fellow-Christians. Peace is serenity of mind, simplicity of heart, the bond of love, the concord of charity.”

Symbolically, S. Augustine. “He leaves peace in this world, abiding in which peace we overcome the enemy. He will give peace in the world to come, when we shall reign without an enemy. He is our peace, both when we believe that He is, and when we shall see Him as He is. We must observe that when He saith I will give, He adds My peace, wishing us to understand that it is such peace as He hath Himself, in whom there is no fighting, because He hath no sin. But the peace which He leaves us is rather to be called ours, than His. It is such peace as is consistent with the state in which we still say, Forgive us our debts. There is peace among ourselves forasmuch as we trust and love one another. But it is not full peace, because we do not see the thoughts of one another’s hearts.”

Let not your heart be troubled, &c. Christ adds this because He saw that the Apostles were sad at His departure, and fainthearted on account of the hatred of the Jews, and the battles which were impending, says S. Chrysostom. Lest the wolf should attack the sheep when the Shepherd was absent, says S. Austin. Therefore He consoles them, and lifts them up, saying, “Be not troubled nor fearful because of My departure, as though ye were about to be sheep without a Shepherd. For I, as I have said, go away indeed to death, but I will rise again on the third day, and then I will come, i.e., I will return, to you.”

Joh 14:28  You have heard that I said to you: I go away, and I come unto you. If you loved me you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than I.

If you loved Me, &c. The apostles did love Christ, and therefore they were troubled at His going away. When therefore Christ says, If you loved Me, He speaks after the manner of men. It is the way of consoling friends when they are sad at the departure of a friend. If you showed Me, 0 ye Apostles, what true and sincere love demands, ye would not grieve but rejoice at My departure, for My going away will be exceedingly profitable to Me, yea, and to you likewise. For I am going to the Father who is greater than I, i.e., I am going from consorting with men to God, from human misery and contempt to Divine felicity, exaltation, and glory. I am going to prepare a place for you, to which in due time I will bring you. So Cyril.

For the Father is greater than I. This was the great stronghold of the Arians, by which they sought to prove that the Son was not God, but the highest creature of God; but SS. Athanasius, Augustine, Basil, and the rest of the Fathers, admirably reply to them, that Christ is here speaking of Himself not as God, but as man. For as such He was less, not only than the Father, but even than the angels. And that Christ is speaking thus is plain from hence, that He gives the reason why He is going to the Father: because, He saith, My Father is greater than I. Now Christ goeth to the Father, in that, as man, He ascendeth into heaven. For as God He is alway in heaven with the Father. Wherefore S. Augustine saith, “He went, in that He was in one place: He remained, in that He was everywhere.” That is, He went through His Humanity, He abode through His Divinity. Therefore His Father was greater than He in respect to His Humanity, not His Divinity. The meaning then is, Ye must rejoice, 0 ye Apostles, at My departure, because I go to the Father, and ascend into heaven to greater honour and dignity, that I may obtain from the Father, for Myself and for you, the rewards of My Passion, even a seat at the Father’s right hand, and the empire of the universe, the adoration of all the angels, and the conversion of all nations to My faith and worship: and for you the Holy Ghost and all His gifts, armed with which ye shall conquer the whole world for Me and for yourselves, and bring it with you to celestial glory. For those things, which are far greater than what ye have as yet seen and received, I will ask and obtain when I go to the Father.

Some fathers, moreover, in order to give a complete answer to the Arians, answer more subtilly, but intricately, that the Father is greater than the Son not only as He is man, but also as He is God, because the name of Father seems among men to be more honourable than the name of Son. For a father is the beginning and cause of a son. The Father therefore is greater than the Son, not in magnitude, nor time, nor virtue, nor dignity, nor adoration, but in respect of a certain honour amongst men, i.e., in respect of origin, because the Father is the origin of the Son. So S. Athanasius (Serm. cont. Arian), S. Hilary (lib. 9, de Trin.), &c. Although with reference to Divine things, filiation, from whence is derived the idea of sonship, is something as excellent and as honourable as is the idea of paternity in the Father. Indeed, as the Son hath from the Father that He is the Son, so in turn the Father hath from the Son that He is the Father. For the Father is He who hath the Son. Wherefore in this case, that passive origin which is in the Son is in itself as worthy and as honourable as that active origin which is in the Father. For it is as great to be Begotten God as it is to beget God. Therefore it is as great to be the Son as to be the Father. Lastly, each hath altogether in personality the same Divine Essence, the same majesty and omnipotence. Wherefore one cannot be greater than the other. “Greater,” says S. Hilary, “is He who gives by the authority of a giver, but He is not less to whom it is given to be One (with the Giver).” Greater, i.e., in the estimation of men, not of God. Wherefore Maldonatus thinks that Hilary and some others have conceded too much to the Arians. And Damascene (lib. 1, de Fid.) corrects them thus, “The Father is greater, not in nature, nor in dignity, but only in origin. (See Suarez, lib. 2, de Trin. cap. 4.) And in my opinion this was the teaching of S. Hilary.

Moreover, the analogy of the Divine compared with human generation is so entirely different as to refute the Arians. For in things human the father is greater than his son. 1st. Because he is prior, and senior to the son. 2d. Because he is greater in stature and bulk, for a grown-up man generates a little infant. 3d. Because he produces a nature numerically different from himself, which he communicates to his son. Wherefore he is greater than that nature as being its author. 4th. Because of his own free will he begets a son. For it was possible to him not to have begotten. But in things Divine the manner is altogether different. For the Father is greater than the Son neither in age nor size: neither does He beget a Deity different from His Own, but communicates to the Son the same Deity which He Himself has. Neither does He beget of His own will, so to say, but of the natural fruitfulness of the Divine Nature He produces a Son the equal of Himself, nor can He produce another. Lastly, S. Cyril, in the Council of Ephesus, proves that the Father is greater than Christ in so far as Christ is man, but not in that He is God, after this manner:—”We acknowledge Him (the Son) to be in all respects as the Father, to be incapable either of turning, or of change, and to have need of nothing, a perfect Son, like unto the Father, and differing from Him only in this respect that the Father is unbegotten. For He is the perfect and express Image of the Father. And it is certain that the Image ought fully to include all those things in which the Pattern itself, which is greater, is perfectly expressed, even as the Lord Himself hath taught, saying, the Father is greater than I.”

Joh 14:29  And now I have told you before it come to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe.

Ver. 29.—And now I have told you, &c. That is, and now I foretell to you My departure and death, My resurrection and return to you, not that ye should condole with Me, and look after your own safety, but that, when ye see those things fulfilled, ye may believe that I foreknew and foreordained them all, and therefore that I submitted to death, not of necessity, but of My own free-will, for your salvation and that of the world, and therefore that ye may believe that I am the Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour.

Joh 14:30  I will not now speak many things with you. For the prince of this world: cometh: and in me he hath not any thing.

Ver. 30.—I will not now speak many things with you, &c. For this is not the time to speak much, but to conclude, for the prince of this world, to whom worldly men are subject, by sinning after their own will, cometh. That is, he cometh to take and kill Me. For Christ said this when Judas was approaching with the officers, who were sent by the chief priests to take Him.

In Me he hath not anything, i.e., he cometh to take Me, but he hath no power over Me, because he will find nothing of sin in Me, nothing of that which caused Adam and his posterity to die. Wherefore he must unjustly bring death upon Me being innocent. And this I am ready to suffer, that by means of My unjust death I may despoil him of his power, and deliver men from his jurisdiction and tyranny. So Cyril and Chrysostom. The innocence therefore of Christ, and the death of that innocent One, hath delivered all of us, the guilty ones, from harm. And this was that supreme consolation of Christ, which He here brings home to the Apostles. Or, as Maldonatus puts it, “The devil cometh, to take and kill Me by means of the Jews, but in Me he hath nothing, i.e. he will not be able to overcome or destroy Me, as he hopes; for although I am about to die, I shall not do so through his power or strength, but of My own free choice, that I may fulfil My Father’s will.”

Joh 14:31  But that the world may know that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandments, so do I. Arise, let us go hence.

But that the world may know, &c. That is, “I will die, not compelled by the devil’s servants, the Jews, but freely, out of love and obedience to the Father. For He hath given Me commandment to undergo death for the redemption of men. Wherefore so I do, submitting myself to death.” So SS. Chrysostom, Cyril, &c.

You may say, Christ received commandment from the Father to suffer, to die, and to do the things which He did. Therefore He could not will the contrary, neither was He free, for had He done otherwise He would have sinned. But Christ is impeccable by a twofold title,—1st, on account of His hypostatic union with the Word; 2d, on account of the light of glory, in that He seeth God. For Christ and the Blessed, because they clearly perceive that God is infinite Good, are so wholly ravished with His love that they cannot either love or will anything which is contrary or displeasing to Him. I reply: the hypostatic union with the Word made Christ impeccable in such manner that the office of the Word was to keep and preserve that humanity which was hypostatically united to Itself altogether sinless, lest the Word, or God, which upheld the humanity, should be said to sin. But the Word kept the humanity from sin, not by physically predetermining, so to say, the will of Christ, to obey the Father’s commandment, but only by Its congruous grace, so continually preventing It, and sweetly directing and urging It, as It foreknew future conditional events, that Itself was (ever) consenting to this grace, and therefore was always freely subjecting Itself to the will of God, and never, even by venial offences, displeasing Him. Moreover, the light of glory constrained indeed Christ, forasmuch as He was blessed to subject Himself in beatific act to the will of God and the decree of death as perceived by this light to be His will. Yet it did not force Him, in so far as He was a wayfarer (viator). For as a wayfarer He had infused knowledge, as we have faith, according to which He was able freely to elicit acts of love and obedience, or not to elicit them, at His pleasure, as we of our free will are able to elicit similar acts. He therefore freely elicited that act by which, in obedience to the Father’s commandment, He accepted the death of the cross, saying, “Lo! I come to do Thy will, 0 God” (Ps. 47.) Neither did the prior act determine ex necessitate the subsequent act, because they were altogether incommensurable, and of a different order. For the former is the act of one of the (already) Blessed, the latter act an act of one travelling to the country. See the Schoolmen.

Arise, &c. These words depend upon what went before, and are thus connected, “That the world may know that I love the father, and am obedient to His commandment to suffer death, arise, and let us go to the garden of Gethsemane where the Jews await Me to take and kill Me.”

You will ask whether Christ actually rose from the table, and went out of the house towards Gethsemane, and in the way proceeded to utter the things which John records in the three following chapters: and that then, when they were ended, He passed over the brook Cedron, and entered the garden, where he was betrayed by Judas, and taken by the Jews, as John narrates, ch. xviii. 1, &c. Cyril and Augustine answer in the affirmative, and this is probable. Maldonatus and others, more probably, answer in the negative. They think that Christ did not go out of the house. They are of this opinion, 1st, Because John does not say so. 2d, Because Christ could not conveniently, with the apostles following Him, say all things in the way which are related in the three following chapters, so that they could hear and understand them. Christ saith therefore, Arise, because He did actually rise up from the table, and stood upon His feet, and bade the apostles do the same, that they might go away with Him to the mount of Olives. But, as dear friends are wont to do when they are saying farewell, and are hardly tearing themselves away from those they so tenderly love, so did Christ, as they were standing, resume a fresh and longer discourse, prolonging it until the 18th chapter. Then bringing it to a close, He went across the brook Cedron to the mount of Olives. For such is the wont of those who love when they are bidding their mutual good-byes. As Ovid says, when he is going away into exile (lib. 1, Trist.):

Thrice did I turn my steps,
And thrice the threshold gain:
To linger near with fond regret
My footsteps were full fain.

Farewell, farewell, I cried:
Words full of love I said:
Then, with a last fond kiss,
For ever from it fled.

Tropologically: when any arduous duty is decreed by God, or ordained by our superiors, such as a dangerous journey, death, or martyrdom, let us generously and with alacrity offer ourselves to God as victims of charity and obedience, and freely meet the danger, saying with Christ, Arise, let us go hence. For he who breaks the first onset of fear, by boldly meeting it, has overcome half the difficulty, and will easily vanquish the remainder. Daily experience proves that “He has accomplished the half of a deed who has well begun.”

2 Responses to “Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 14:27-31”

  1. […] Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 14:27-31). […]

  2. […] Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 14:27-31). […]

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