We are working our way verse-by-verse through the Gospel of John. The first 12 chapters of this Gospel are often called by scholars: "The Book of Signs" (1-12). It is called the "Book of Signs" because it features seven miracles Yeshua performs as proof that He is the Son of God. The seven signs are: Turning water into wine, Healing the official's sick son, Restoring a lame man, Feeding 5,000, Walking on water, Giving a blind man his sight and Raising the dead.
"The Book of Signs" (1-12). Chapters 13-21 are called what?
"The Book of Glory" (13-21) What is the discourse called that we are looking at:
"The Upper Room Discourse" (13-17). Within this we have what is called,
"The Farewell Discourse" (13:31-17:26).
This is Yeshua's farewell speech to His disciples. In this discourse He encourages His disciples in light of His impending death and the persecution that they will face. We finished up with chapter 13 last time so let's jump into chapter 14.
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1 ESV
This is a very familiar portion of Scripture often used at funeral services, but when it is pulled out of it's context it loses its meaning. Yeshua is speaking to His disciples when He says, "Let not your hearts be troubled"—Why does Yeshua say this to the disciples?What is the context here? Well first let me say that this is a bad place for a chapter break. Saying that is not sacrilegious because the chapter and verse divisions of the Bible were not there until hundreds of years after the Bible was written.
Yeshua tells His disciples not to be troubled because of what has just happened in the end of chapter 13. Where Yeshua has told them that one of them will betray Him, they had no clue who. He also told them that Peter would deny Him. But no doubt the thing that troubled them the most was Yeshua telling them He was leaving:
Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, 'Where I am going you cannot come.' John 13:33 ESV
The disciples are confused, perplexed, and greatly troubled by what Yeshua just told them. Their hopes and ambitions are collapsing, disintegrating around them. They had given up everything to follow Him for the past thee years and now He is leaving them. Without Yeshua they probably feared death for themselves, or at least being ostracized from Jewish society. What would they do? Where should they go? What about all their dreams and plans for Israel's future?
Yeshua understands that the disciples are deeply disturbed by His predictions. He wants to strengthen their faith to prepare them for the trials that will engulf them all.
So He says to them, "Let not your hearts be troubled"—"your heart" is plural, Yeshua was speaking to all of them. The word "troubled" here is from the Greek verb
tarasso, which literally means: "to stir or agitate." It is used this way in John 5:4 of an angel stirring the water in the pool. In a figurative sense, it could be translated: "as anguish, terrified, frightened or horrified." It is a strong word.
The word tarasso here is a present passive imperative verb, which implies that (passive voice) what Yeshua had spoken to them about leaving them shortly caused the trouble. Yeshua's word to them is a command (imperative mood). It could literally be translated: "Stop now being troubled!" It was an action in progress (present tense) that needs to come to a halt.
What's interesting here is this word, tarasso, is a word that is used three times of our Lord in the immediately preceding context. It is the same verb used to indicate Yeshua's distress when confronted with Lazarus' death in John 11:33. This same word is also used when the Greeks came and He sensed that this meant that the cross was approaching, He said, "Now is my soul troubled." And it is used in Yeshua's distress when He gave the prediction of His betrayal by one of the Twelve in John 13:21. So the Lord Yeshua understood what it was to be troubled, He went through the experiences of life.
If this word, tarasso, is used of Yeshua three time in the preceding verses how can He command His disciples not to be tarasso? Well remember I said tarasso literally means: "to stir or agitate." And it could be translated: "as anguish, terrified, frightened or horrified." I would say that there is a righteous "stirring or agitation" caused by holiness and love. Which is how this word is used of Yeshua. But there is also a unrighteous "stirring or agitation" caused by unbelief. This is a fretful failure to trust God in the midst of problems. This is what the disciples were experiencing, and this is what Yeshua told them to stop.
So to help them to stop being "stirred or agitated" by the thought of His leaving them Yeshua says to them, "Believe in God; believe also in me"—the verb "believe" here is from the Greek pisteuo which is present continuous tense in both instances. Which means: "they are to keep on believing." Here is the problem, pisteuo can be either in the indicative (a statement) or the imperative mood (a command) in each case. The spelling of the words in both moods is identical in the Greek text. So this little phrase can be translated with equal grammatical accuracy in four different ways:
1) Believe in God, believe in me—both commands,
2) You are believing in God, and you are believing in me—both statements of fact,
3) You are believing in God, believe also in me—fact, command,
4) Believe in God and you are believing in me - command, fact.
I think that the best way to take this is number 3. So I take it as an indicative. "You believe in God," then an imperative, "believe also in Me." The LEB, KJV, RV, EMTV, NKJV, NJB and NET Bibles all translate this first part as the indicative, and the second part as an imperative.
So I see Yeshua as saying, "You believe in God"—from the time when they were Jewish boys, the disciples had known that Yahweh was absolutely reliable and sovereign. To know Yahweh is to trust Him:
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalms 9:10 ESV
In Hebrew a name represents character, who the person is. To know Yahweh's character is to trust in Him. And this is the opposite of your hearts being troubled. Their world was beginning to collapse in chaos around them. And in times like that there is only one thing to do—trust in God.
So the disciples were trusting God and they must continue to do that, and then Yeshua says, "Believe also in me"—keeping the context in mind here what I think Yeshua is saying is, You all believe in God who you have never seen. You trust the invisible God, and now you are going to have to trust the invisible Christ. Remember these disciples had a very unique relationship with Yeshua. They lived with His physical presence for three years. They walked and talked with Him, they had an intimate personal relationship with Him, they could touch and hold Him, ask Him questions. But now He was leaving the physical realm, and they would have to trust Him as they did the Father who they had never seen. The word "also" is intended to link the way the disciples believe in the Father with the way they must also believe in the Son.
Notice what Peter wrote to the exiles of the Dispersion:
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 1 Peter 1:8 ESV
This is our experience, we've never walked and talked with Yeshua. We didn't have that three-year experience of His physical presence. So we trust the invisible Christ; but they were use to His physical presence. This was going to be a huge change for them. And they need to trust Him. You trust in God who is invisible, keep trusting in Me when I'm invisible.
Before we leave this verse, please don't miss Yeshua's claim to deity here. He is urging them to have that same trust in Him that they have in God the Father. He was telling the disciples to trust in Him just as they trusted in God. This is a strong claim to deity. Lazarus, all the way through his gospel, makes the case that Yeshua is God, the book begins by saying:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 ESV
And when John Eleazar says that "the Word was God" he means Yahweh. These four Greek words may be the clearest declaration of the deity of Yeshua in all the Scripture. The Greek verb eimi, (was) means: "to be" or "to exist," and suggests continued existence. So the Word always existed as Yahweh.
Lazarus does not say, "and the Word was divine" or "the Word was like God. " He makes the bold statement, "the Word was God." He leaves no room for anyone to see Yeshua as less than God in some way, or to some degree.
In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? John 14:2 ESV
"In my Father's house are many rooms"—I'm sure you are all familiar with the KJV here that says, "In my Father's house are many mansions." The mistranslation of the word, mansion, has cause the writing of many songs. To just give you one example listen to the words of "Mansion Over The Hilltop."
"I'm satisfied with just a cottage below, A little silver and a little gold, But in that city where the ransomed will shine. I want a gold one that's silver lined, I've got a mansion just over the hilltop, In that bright land where we'll never grow old, And some day yonder we will never more wander, But walk on streets that are purest gold."
Leon Morris writes, "The Greek word translated in the King James Version as "mansions" is found only here and in verse 23 in the New Testament. It is connected with the verb that means: 'to abide, dwell,' which is used quite often in chapter 15. It points to places to stay. The translation 'mansions' is due to the fact that when Jerome translated the New Testament into Latin he used the word mansiones at this point, and the King James translators used the English word that came closest to that. But the Latin word means: 'lodging-places'; it refers to places to stay and not to elaborate houses."([Leon Morris, Reflections on the Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), vol. 3, p. 491).
The Greek for "rooms" is mone, which, as Morris said, is only used twice in the New Testament: here, and in John 14:23:
Yeshua answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:23 ESV
The word "home" here is: "mone" the same word as in verse 2, but here the KJV translates it "abode." Same word yet the KJV translates in as: "mansion" and "abode." Not too many songs would have been written about our abode in heaven.
Based on this verse I think we could say that mone has the idea of dwelling. In my Fathers house are many dwelling places. The imagery of a dwelling place gives us a picture of the oriental house in which the sons and daughters have dwelling places under the same roof as their parents. In other words, we are going to be in the Fathers house. What is the Father's house? We find this term, "Father's house" used in:
And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade." John 2:16 ESV
Here "Father's house" refers to the Temple in Jerusalem. But in 2:19-22 Lazarus reinterpreted the Temple as Yeshua's body, which was to be destroyed in death and then rebuilt in resurrection after three days. So our "dwelling place" is "in" Yeshua Himself.
The temple at Jerusalem is called the Father's house, but it's just a copy:
Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. Hebrews 9:23 ESV
The Temple was a copy of heavenly things:
For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Hebrews 9:24 ESV
The Temple was the Father's house in the sense that it was a copy of the Father's house, which is heaven. Yeshua cleansed the Father's house on earth, and then He destroyed the copy so that He might gather His people and take them into a place prepared for them that was the reality in heaven.
"If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?"—if there wasn't plenty of room in my Father's house for you, I wouldn't have told you that I'm going to prepare a place for you there.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14:3 ESV
The thing that was troubling their hearts was that they would no longer be with Yeshua. So our Lord tells them that they will all be together again soon.
"And if I go and prepare a place for you"—how was Yeshua going to prepare a place for them. Was He going to add some rooms to the Father's house? The "place," which is the Father's house or heaven, already existed when Yeshua spoke these words. What He means by "going to prepare a place" is His death on a cross, His resurrection, ascension, and return. This would constitute preparation for believers to join Him there ultimately.
"I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also"—what is the "return" that Yeshua speaks about? Some interpreters view this return as the Rapture, and others believe Yeshua was referring to the Second Coming. Another view is that Yeshua was really speaking about the believer's death figuratively.
Let's talk about the rapture first. This "rapture of the church" idea is not a historical teaching of the Church. This rapture-based theology has only been around for the past couple hundred years and predominantly in America. The biblical scholar, N.T. Wright, refers to it as an "American obsession" and notes that few Christians in the U.K. hold any sort of belief in it.
Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 ESV
This is the verse that the physical rapture theory comes from. The words "caught up" are the Greek word harpazo, it means: "to snatch away." This is where the word "rapture" comes from. Now we have to ask, "What does the Bible mean when it says that we shall be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air?" Does this mean we'll be physically sucked up into the sky? What does the word "air" mean? Is it in our atmosphere or the air we breath? We see by its use in Ephesians 2:2 that the word "air" is another word for "heavenly or spiritual realm."
It is not the physical body that is raptured. It is the Christian himself who is raptured as he is brought into the presence of the Lord. The dead believers were resurrected when Christ returned, and all other Christians were caught up at that time.
Our text in John 14 is talking about Yeshua's Second Advent or Parousia at the end of the Old Covenant age. The writer of Hebrews tells us:
so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:28 ESV
This looks ahead to the return of Christ and His gathering of all believers unto Himself and into His eternal kingdom. It is at that time that salvation is complete. The first century believers lived in the transition period. The New Covenant had been inaugurated at Pentecost. But salvation was not complete until it was consummated in A.D. 70 with the return of Christ:
who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life." Luke 18:30 ESV
Eternal life came with the consummated New Covenant age in A.D. 70.
So when Christ says, "I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also"—He is talking about His Second Coming at the end of the Jewish age when He will gather all believers unto Himself and into His eternal kingdom, which is the Father's house, which is heaven. This would have had to be comforting to His disciples. He would come back and get them, "that where I am you may be also"—that's the simplest and in a sense the greatest description of what Heaven is like.
Yeshua's announcement of preparing a place for them and then returning to get them is reminiscent of the preparation a first century bridegroom would make after the acceptance of the betrothal contract. While the bride remains in the home of her family, the bridegroom returns to his father's house to make the arrangements for their marriage. When the father of the groom has approved the preparations and has announced the time has come, then, and only then, can the groom go to collect the bride and bring her to the place he has prepared. In the same way Yeshua prepared a place for His bride, the church, and then came back and took them with Him to the Father's house.
And you know the way to where I am going." John 14:4 ESV
The "way" He was going was via the cross, resurrection, and ascension. He had already talked to them about this:
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. John 12:32-33 ESV
The disciples did not understand at the time that for Yeshua the "way" back to the Father was via the cross, for His disciples the "way" to the Father was Yeshua Himself. Even though they do not realize that they know the way, they do. Because they know Yeshua, they know the way.
Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" John 14:5 ESV
So Yeshua says they know the way, but Thomas says they don't. Who do you think is right? You know that Thomas was wrong. They did know where Yeshua was going. Over and over again Yeshua had told them that He had come from the Father in heaven, and that He was going to return there:
Yeshua then said, "I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come." John 7:33-34 ESV
Thomas is perplexed, just as the rest of the disciples must have been perplexed. So he asks for clarification. Thomas' question in verse 5 is a set-up for verse 6, which contains another of the important I AM sayings of Yeshua.
Yeshua said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 ESV
This is the sixth use of "I AM" with a predicate nominative (also see 6:35; 8:12; 10:7; 10:11; 11:25). The use of I AM is a clear reference to the divine name, "Yahweh." Every time Yeshua uses this expression He is staying I AM Yahweh the God of Israel in the flesh.
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life"—commenting on this Hall Harris writes, "However, the context suggests that the three ideas are not strictly coordinate. The next statement (no one comes to the Father except through me) seems to relate primarily to the first predicate, 'I am the way.' Thus we suggest that the two remaining predicates, the truth and the life, are epexegetical or explanatory to the first: 'I am the way, that is, the truth and the life.'"
So Yeshua is saying, Stop being troubled about my departure. Continue to trust Me as you always have trusted the invisible Yahweh. I'm leaving, but I'm going to prepare a place for you in my Father's house and then I'll be back to get you. You know the way. But then Thomas says, How can we know the way to which Yeshua responds;
"I am the way"—this is an exclusive, absolute statement. Yeshua, and He alone, is the way. The Greek here for way is, hodos, which means; "a road or way." Yeshua is saying," I AM the only way to the Father." This is similar to what Yeshua said in:
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9 ESV
Yeshua's claim to be the "door" renders invalid all other offers of spiritual life and salvation. He and only; He is the door to eternal life.
Compare this with Yeshua teaching in Matthew 7:
"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14 ESV
He warns them to "start out right" by entering through "the narrow gate."In the light of the rest of the New Testament, this could refer to man's narrow and restricted way to God, which is by faith alone in Christ alone.
Before the title "Christian" is adopted by the believes at the Church of Antioch in the first century A.D., New Covenant believers will refer to the New Covenant Church of Yeshua as "the Way."
Within this context the most important term is "the way." The other two terms explain how Yeshua is the way, The "way" is more dominant, in view of Thomas' question and its relative position to the "truth" and the "life." Yeshua is "the way" to God, because He is "the truth" from God and "the life" from God. He is the truth because He embodies God's supreme revelation (1:18; 5:19; 8:29), and He is the life because He contains and imparts divine life (1:4; 5:26; 11:25; cf. 1 John 5:20). Yeshua was summarizing and connecting many of the revelations about Himself that He had previously given. To know Yeshua is to know the way to the Father, for He is the way.
The way to the Father is Yeshua. The way to the truth about the Father is Yeshua. The way to the life of God is Yeshua. In John 5:26, Yeshua claimed:
For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. John 5:26 ESV
Having life in Himself, Yeshua "gives life to whom He wishes":
For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. John 5:21 ESV
So again Yeshua makes a claim that excludes all but Himself as the source of a real relationship with God: He and He alone is the life. Apart from Him there is no spiritual life. Apart from Him there is only spiritual death.
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:12 ESV
John 14:6 sums up most of the Christology of John's Gospel. It is very closely related to the prologue. Let me read to you the meditation of Thomas à Kempis on this verse:
Follow thou me. I am the way and the truth and the life. Without the way there is no going; without the truth there is no knowing; without the life there is no living. I am the way which thou must follow; the truth which thou must believe; the life for which thou must hope. I am the inviolable way; the infallible truth, the never-ending life. I am the straightest way; the sovereign truth; life true, life blessed, life uncreated.
"No one comes to the Father except through me"—Yeshua's claim here renders invalid all other offers of spiritual life and salvation. The exclusive and judgmental nature of this claim is abhorrent in our humanistic, post-modern, post-Christian society, with its non-discriminatory, live and let live, all-roads-lead-to-god, mentality. This is a dogmatic statement! In this statement Yeshua is clearly affirming that there is no other path linking heaven and earth but Him.
Salvation does not come through the law, sacrifices, religious practices, or the overthrow of foreign oppressors—all of which were beliefs held by Jews in the first century.
Is there any other way or means to salvation expect through Yeshua of Nazareth?
NO! There is no way except Yeshua. Peter will affirm this truth in his great homily before the High Priest and the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12 ESV
Eternal life and eternal forgiveness is only available through Him. The question had been in what name the lame man had been healed. This reply states that it is only in that Name that any of mankind can be healed.
"No one comes to the Father except through me"—this seems clear enough, but the Catholic Church teaches, Those who never had a chance to hear the Gospel of salvation will be saved by righteously living the natural law in obedience to the dictates of their conscience.
CCC# 847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and His Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation. (Vatican II," Lumen gentium 16," 19).
So according to Catholic doctrine you can come to the Father apart from Christ.
Just obey your conscience and you'll be alright. Well it's not only Catholics who don't seem to believe Yeshua there are those who hold do what is called, "Two- Covenant Theology," which teaches that there are two separate covenants, one between God and Israel, and the other between God and the Church of Yeshua the Christ. Rather than there being one way of redemption through faith in Yeshua for Jew and Gentile believers alike, God's original covenant relationship with His ancestral people, Israel, remains separate from His New Covenant relationship with the Gentile nations through the Lord Yeshua the Christ.
John Hagee holds this erroneous view. He writes, "There is no form of Christian evangelism that has failed so miserably as evangelizing the Jewish people. They (already) have a faith structure. Everyone else, whether Buddhist or Baha'i, needs to believe in Jesus,' he says. 'But not Jews. Jews already have a covenant with God that has never been replaced by Christianity."
David Stern, a doctor of theology, biblical scholar and a Messianic Jew living and teaching in Israel, is the author of the Jewish New Testament Commentary. He writes in reference to Yeshua's statement in verse 6 that "No one can come to the Father except through me.":
This challenge strikes at the heart of non-Messianic Judaism's denial of Yeshua as Messianic mediator. Unfortunately for this theory [He's talking about the Two Covenant Theory], it does not fit the New Testament facts at all. The "tolerance for Christianity" that it produces is not tolerance of what the New Testament states is true. For Yeshua was a Jew who presented Himself to Jews, and these Jews remained Jewish after they came to trust in Him. He rarely presented the Gospel to Gentiles; indeed, it was only with difficulty and supernatural intervention that His Jewish disciples came to realize that Gentiles could join God's people through trusting Yeshua without converting to Judaism [see Acts 10:10-49]. In the book of Acts Kefa's initial sermons presented Yeshua to Jews as the Jewish Messiah [Acts 9:20-22, 13:16-43]. In his letter to the Romans Sha'ul states that salvation through Yeshua is God's Good News "to the Jew especially".
Stern goes on to say:
If the words of this verse are authentically Yeshua's and if the Two Covenant theory does not fit the facts, then we are left with a statement whose audacity, breath, apparent arrogance and sheer chutzpah pose a serious problem. What exclusivity, what intolerance for a religion to accept Yeshua's claim to be the only way to God! It requires a decision either to acknowledge Yeshua's position as the Messiah, the Son of God, or to reject Him as a madman or a fraud and to reject religion centering on Him as deceptive at best. There is no terium quid [middle ground]. For if one holds that Yeshua was a 'great teacher,' the unavoidable question is, "Then why don't you btelieve and act on His 'great teaching,' 'I AM the Way, and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me'?" The Jewish New Testament Commentary pages 191-198)If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him." John 14:7 ESV
There is a variant in verse 7 supported by some early manuscripts, which reads, "If you have come to know Me [as you do], you shall know My Father also." If this is the original reading, then Yeshua is emphasizing the truth of:
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. John 1:18 ESV
To know Yeshua is to know the Father. Since Yeshua is the way to the Father, coming to Yeshua is coming to the Father, knowing Yeshua is knowing the Father, and seeing Yeshua is seeing the Father.
So Yeshua comforts the hearts of His disciples by telling them that He is going away to prepare a place for them. Then He will return and take them with Him to the Father's house. They know Him and He is the Way, the only way to the Father.