‘I go to prepare a place’ and ‘greater works’ in John 14

The Sunday lectionary gospel reading for Easter 5 in Year A is John 14.1–14. When I read this text, I cannot help but feel it has a slightly strange, dream-like quality to it, and I think that is for several reasons.

  • The whole discourse (which begins at John 13.31 and continues to the end of chapter 16) is dotted with apophthegms which are highly memorable—and often remembered out of context.
  • There are often abrupt changes of subject and sharp contrasts, even from one sentence to another (Judas leaving, but Jesus being glorified in John 13.31; Peter betraying Jesus, but the encouragement not to be troubled in John 14.1, and so on).
  • There is no obvious linear structure or progress in the discourse; instead, subjects are repeated, circled around, and returned to.
  • Jesus’ comments are often obscure or ambiguous, and the disciples are baffled—something that happens throughout the gospel between Jesus and his dialogue partners.
  • The disciples are experiencing Jesus’ comments from their own position, prior to Jesus’ death, and still without a clear understanding of what is happening and how it will be resolved. We are reading from a completely different, post-resurrection position, in which we know how the story ends. It gives us quite a different sense of engagement—a little like the difference between watching a film the first time, and being caught up in the emotion and drama of the characters as the story unfolds, and watching the second time through where the emotion has been dissipated because you know how it will end. This is particularly the case for us as we read in the Easter season, having been particularly focussed on the resurrection.

A further challenge in reading is that, for all these reasons, some of Jesus’ sayings have been commonly interpreted in a way that the whole passage does not really allow; we need to take the different elements together as we read the whole text.

Three larger questions are worth bearing in mind when reading this passage. The first is that there is no mileage in dismissing these chapters as unhistorical constructions by the gospel’s author, because of their contrast with the Synoptics. The Synoptic accounts of this period, especially Mark’s, are incredibly brief, and if we followed them we would need to believe that Jesus said almost nothing for the whole of the evening! There is one key point of contact: all the gospels believe that Peter denies that he will fall away, like the others, out of which Jesus predicts his denial. Given that the Fourth Gospel is quite separate source, and given that this would be a serious embarrassment to the early Christian community, it satisfies every test for being authentic.

The second thing to note is that the Farewell Discourse as a whole includes all the things that both ancient and modern readers would expect from such a speech.

  • The parting is necessary and for the best (John 14.1–4, 15.13)
  • It takes place only after careful consideration and at the appropriate time (John 16.6–7)
  • Those who are present have been one community (John 15.1–8)
  • The relationships that have been forged will be sustained (John 14.15–21, 23–26, 15.15, 16.15)
  • The purpose or work of the community has been noble ((John 15.8, 10)
  • Its purpose or work will be an enduring venture (John 14.11–14) (Jo-Ann Brant, Paideia commentary, p 209)

Brant goes on to compare this with a modern example, that of George Washington’s speech announcing he would not stand for re-election in 1796. But it can also be compared with Socrates’ final words before he took hemlock (Phaedo, 114–177; Mark Stibbe, Readings commentary, 1993 pp 152–153 offers a detailed comparison) or Seneca’s farewell address (Tacitus, Annals, 15.62). But what this illustrates is that Jesus here offers all the things that, humanly speaking, we might need as consolation in the face of apparent disaster and loss. In that sense, the consolation that Jesus is here offer to the inner circle of disciples in the anticipation of his death become for us words of consolation in the face of any tragedy we face, if we too have been incorporated into this inner circle by our belief in him. The brevity and the ambiguity of Jesus’ apophthegms allows us to re-appropriate them in our own context.

Thirdly, although there is no linear logic or progression, the passage does have a fairly clear shape:

Jesus’ announcement that the time of departure has now come (John 13.31f)

The issuing of the love commandment (John 13.34)

Peter interrupts—Jesus predicts his denial (John 13.36)

Consolation: Jesus is returning to the Father (John 14.1)

Thomas interrupts—Jesus reaffirms his divine agency (John 14.6)

Philip interrupts—Jesus reaffirms his relationship with the Father (John 14.8)

Assurance that God’s work will continue after Jesus’ departure through the work of the Paraclete (John 14.11)

[The other] Judas interrupts—Jesus reiterates the promise of the Paraclete (John 14.22)

Consolation: rejoice because I am returning to the Father (John 14.27) (Brant, p 211, Stibbe, p 155).

Although the second consolation could be seen as introducing the next section, on abiding in the vine, the change in vocabulary and imagery, and the repeating at the end of chapter 14 the phrase with which it began (‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’) suggests that this forms an inclusio which gives the chapter its shape.

The opening words of Jesus in chapter 14 ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ come as such an abrupt change of focus from his prediction of Peter’s betrayal that it is easy to see why a chapter division has been added here. But in the narrative, the one follows on from the other in a quite startling way. Jesus’ personal assurance triumphs over even the most unexpected and catastrophic of human failures. (Interestingly, this perspective ties in closely with the comment in Luke 22.32, that when Peter ‘comes back’ he is to ‘strengthen your brothers’.)

Jesus follows this with a typically rhetorically shaped invitation: ‘Believe/trust in God; in me also believe/trust’. It is usually smoothed out in English translations in such a way as to miss the emphasis on believing or trust at the beginning and end of the saying. There is no need to infer from this statement on its own the identification of Jesus with God; after all, the people ‘believed’ in Moses as God’s emissary and agent in Ex 14.31, and there is no implication of identity there.

The language of Jesus ‘going’, ‘coming back’ and ‘preparing a room’ has commonly been read as referring to eschatological or post-mortem reality. When we die, there will be a place prepared for us to go to in God’s presence—and this is the most common interpretation for most ordinary readers. But there are a number of reasons why that cannot be the case.

First, Jesus is speaking to the disciples in the first instance, and only to us in derivation from that. The language of ‘going’ is a common metaphor for death; Jesus is saying that he will return to the disciples after having died, which we now must take as a reference to his returning to them after the resurrection.

Secondly, Jesus is going to ‘prepare a place’ for them, and there are ‘many rooms in my Father’s house’ (not ‘much room’ is in the TNIV). The word for ‘room’ is mone and it is a comparatively rare word in Greek, occurring only in John 14.2 and 23. It has the meaning of ‘lodging place’ and is the root behind our word ‘monastery’. Fr that reason, some have suggested that it points to an interim ‘resting place’ with God after death but prior to the final resurrection of the dead.

But note: in John 14.23 it is not the disciples who find their mone in the Father, but the Father and Son who make their mone in the believer! Jesus has previously referred to ‘my Father’s house’ as the Temple in John 2.16—but he immediately goes on to redefine the temple as his own body. And although mone is a rare term, it is cognate with the verb meno, meaning to lodge, stay or abide—and it has huge significance in this gospel as it characteristic moves from having a literal sense to a metaphorical and theological sense. The first disciples ask Jesus ‘Where are you staying?’ apparently being curious only about Jesus home (John 1.38). But by the time we reach chapter 15, Jesus is exhorting the disciples to ‘Stay, abide, remain in me, and I in you’ (John 15.4), using the same verb.

If we are to abide (meno) in him, and he in us, then the only way to make sense of our lodging place (mone) in him and his lodging place (mone) in us is to understand this in the same way with reference to the same thing. As Stibbe comments:

The realized eschatology in the rest of John 14 suggests that this house is not so much an eternal home in heaven as a post-resurrection, empirical reality for true disciples… To these true ones [the obedient disciples], Jesus promises both a home and a father. No wonder Jesus declares, ‘I will not leave you as orphans’ (John 14.28) (p 160).

The second interruption, from Thomas, leads to Jesus articulating the sixth of the seven ‘I am’ statements in the gospel: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ (the seventh following closely in chapter 15 ‘I am the vine’). Although, from the second part of the claim ‘No-one comes to the Father except through me’ we are inclined to understand ‘way’ in terms of access, in its Jewish context the idea of ‘way’ also includes wisdom for right living, the halakah. This fits closely with the gospel’s focus on Jesus our example; not only does Jesus make the Father known, but he also offers us a way or pattern of life in relationship with the Father that, with the help of the Spirit, we are to emulate.

The third interruption, from the other Judas, follows on quickly, and leads into the discussion about Jesus’ relationship with the Father, and the implications for believers when Jesus is gone. Once more, we need to be cautious about inferring ontological identity between Jesus and the Father based on the language of Jesus being ‘in’ the Father and the Father ‘in’ him, since similar language is used of the believers and both Father and Son. Instead, we should see this as one contribution to the wider portrayal of Father, Son and Spirit in the gospel.

There are two contentious and disputed issues arising from these verses. The second, and easier to deal with, is Jesus’ promise that ‘I will do whatever you ask in my name’ (John 14.13). Typically, this is an idea that the discourse circles around and returns to more than once, in John 15.7, 16 and John 16.23–24; but, as with much of the language here, it is not unique to the Fourth Gospel, since we hear it in the Synoptics in Matt 18.19, 21.22, Mark 11.24, as well as James 1.5–6 and 17.

It is clear that this cannot be taken as an invitation to ‘name it and claim it’ in the way of the ‘prosperity gospel‘ because of the immediate context. First, the result of both the request and the answer will be to glorify the Father in the Son, and not simply to enrich and comfort the one making the request. Secondly, Jesus immediately (though in an apparent shift of focus) states that ‘If you love me, you will obey my commandments’. So the whole context of this encouragement is that of love for and submission to Jesus. But, thirdly, we also need to note the meaning of ‘in my name’; this is not about uttering a closing formula in a prayer, but about acting as Jesus’ representative, whilst about his business—just as Jesus himself came in his Father’s name (John 5.43, 10.25). It involves prayer ‘in keeping with his character and concerns and, indeed, in union with him’ (Craig Keener, John vol 2 p 949, quoting Whitacre).

The other contentious issue is the meaning of the promise that ‘all who have faith in me…will do greater works than [I have been doing]’ (John 14.12). Andrew Wilson helpfully sets out the main options here:

  1. The standard Pentecostal approach, that all believers will do great signs and wonders.
  2. A variation on this: believers will now do even greater miracles than Jesus, such as miraculous ‘teleporting’ (as apparently happened to Philip in Acts 8), instant weight loss, long periods of absolute fasting, and so on. If that is not the everyday experience of you and me, well, that shows up our poor level of expectation.
  3. ‘Greater’ here means greater in quantity, rather than in degree, now that the Spirit has been poured out on all disciples.
  4. Jesus here is only addressing the Twelve (Eleven) and not all disciples. So it is about the apostolic miracles, for example recorded in Acts, but which no longer happen.

Wilson mostly agrees with the first interpretation (being part of a Neo-Pentecostal denomination, NewFrontiers), but puts a rather important gloss on this, from the text of the gospel itself:

Jesus talks about “greater works” or “greater things” in two other places in John, and they help us significantly when it comes to establishing what he means in this case:

1:50-51: Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

5:20-21, 24-29: “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will …

So in the two other places in John where Jesus (or anybody) speaks of greater miracles, the context is the vindication of the Son of Man, and his prerogative to judge the world and give eternal life to anybody who believes…

In saying this, Jesus isn’t disparaging miraculous healing or prophecy; far from it. It’s wonderful that Nathanael was known, the crippled man was healed and Lazarus was raised (and that we, as Jesus’ followers, get to do the same sorts of works between us). Throughout John’s gospel, great emphasis is placed on these things as “signs” of who Jesus really is. But it’s even more wonderful that those who believe in him, by our proclamation and embodiment of the gospel, are able to minister eternal life to people, such that they will certainly be raised up on the last day. That, I think, is the impact of his statement in John 14:12. “I’m telling you the truth, if anyone believes in me, they’ll do the sorts of things I’ve been doing – miraculous healings, prophetic revelation, feeding the hungry and laying their lives down for others out of love – and they’ll even do the “greater things” I’ve been talking about, like bringing resurrection life to people who are dead to the Father and dead to me, so that they pass from judgment to life. My works have repaired people temporarily, and that ministry must and will continue amongst my followers, as signposts to my glory and my love for them. But when the Spirit comes, those who follow me will repair people eternally, by transferring them from death to life through faith in me. That’s even greater.”

Altogether, then, this Farewell Discourse of consolation to the inner circle really does become a word of consolation to us, facing different kinds of challenges and tragedies. But Jesus is not so much consoling us by setting out what the ultimate future will look like when he comes again and restores all things. In line with the rest of the Fourth Gospel, he is clear that that ultimate future has broken into the present because of his resurrection. The future home with God is found now in the present, as we take our place amongst the people of God and as he makes his home with us now, by the Spirit. And by the Spirit we will see great things happen, as the ‘eternal life’ of the future is manifest in us, as well as in those who come to believe because of what we share with them.

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49 thoughts on “‘I go to prepare a place’ and ‘greater works’ in John 14”

  1. The comment is made that the ordinary reader would see that Jesus is preparing a place for us to be with him ‘post-mortem’ —I am (along with other theologians) that ordinary reader.

    A Jewish bridegroom would pay the mohar (bride price) to the bride’s father and then go back to his own home and at some future date would come back for his bride to take her to his own home (often his own extended family home—i.e., his father’s house) which he had prepared for her.
    1 Corinthians 6:20 and 2 Corinthians 11:2 suggest that Jesus paid that bride price on the cross with Paul portraying himself as the bride’s father. This makes the whole church era the betrothal period with the consummation at the eschaton. This is consistent NT teaching which only ever portrays Jesus as the bridegroom thus encapsulating the ‘not yet’ of our salvation.

    I think perhaps too much weight in the article has been put on the meaning of the word ‘monet’ —and it is not clear why the reference to his return “must” refer to his Easter resurrection.

    • Thanks Colin. Interestingly someone on Facebook also pointing out the possible bridal motifs.

      But it is not the word mone that on its own points to resurrection; it is the social context of the discourse: Jesus is about to leave them for crucifixion and return to them in the resurrection. It is only because we are reading post ascension that we find it hard not to read it as about the parousia.

      The word mone connects with the strong theme in this gospel of ‘abiding’, and thus makes sense of the language in this passage about ‘being with’, and the repeated language of ‘making his home’, being ‘in’ the Father, and the Father being ‘in’ us. All this is intermediate, pre-parousia language.

    • How does this fit with Jesus and the Father coming and making their ‘monē’ with the obedient disciple (John 14:23)?

      Also, the language in vv2-3 is all plural, which is a bit odd if it is drawing an analogy with a groom to a bride.

      [Also, a son taking his bride to his father’s house is rather different from Gen 2:24, when the son leaves his father and mother on marriage!]

      • The you plural ‘you’ would be the church.

        And the practice in first century Palestine was for the groom to take his bride back to his father’s house. The ‘leaving’ in Genesis 2:24 is probably a reference to changing his next of kin relationship.

  2. Colin Kruse in his Tyndale commentary takes a similar position refering to monen only twice inthe NT, both in John. In John 14:23 the word is home.
    Kruse writes, “When we unpack the metaphor of John 14:2, then, we should not so much think of “rooms” in God’s house ( much less than “mansions” in AV) but of the privilege of abiding in God’s presence.”
    Does this passage not also
    point to a fulfilment of desire and longing in the Christian heart, let alone the first disciples troubled (greiving?) at the loss of Jesus presence, his leaving them, for example, Psalm 27:4?

    • 1 Presence.
      This fits with:
      1.1 a longitudinal Bible theme of the Presence of God
      1.2 “For John, Jesus is not only the Temple – the place where we meet God – but he also is himself the God who meets us and rescues us by gathering us into union with Him.”… And the astonishing divine identity of Jesus is revealed, declaring the oneness of the Son with the Father. Richard B Hays, Reading Backwards

      2 Greater works
      2.1 Linked to the name of Jesus in line with his desire and purposes to bring glory to the Father. “Prayer in Jesus name v 13,14 is directed towards Jesus himself” Prayer in Jesus name is prayer for Jesus sake: when he answers it, the Son brings Glory to the Father.” ….. “Thus C Kruse, John Commentary.
      2.2 Cf. John the Baptist was a herald of the kingdom that Jesus brought in but lived and died *before* people entered it. And those who are *least* “in the kingdom are “greater” than he (Matthew 11.11.
      ” If we apply Jesus works and those of his disciples, we might say that the disciples works were greater than his because they had the privilege of testifying by word and deed to the finished work Christ, and the fuller kingdom that it ushered in, whereas Jesus ministry prior to his death and resurrection only foreshadowed these things”. Kruse, again. (This would also take account of Jesus fulfillment of all of the OT in continuity and discontinuity and in that way disciple’s work would, of, and in, itself be Kingdom work, greater than OT.)
      2.3 Believers would have the indwelling God the Holy Spirit, who raised Christ from the dead.

      3 Cue discussions about what is the Kingdom of God?
      The Kingdom now, but not yet in its fullness.

      • Great works may therfore not be determined by questions of puantity or quality, but by scope and spread beyond Israel to all nations with the Gospel of Jesus, and fulfillment of the God’s OT covenants to every tongue tribe nation the spread of Kingdom rule dominion in humanity.

      • John 14 – The Key to Johannine Christology.

        1. Jesus told Thomas that seeing Him [Jesus] was to see the Father. (John 14:5-7)

        2. The Father fully indwelt Jesus (John 14:9-11); because God gave Jesus, His Spirit, without limit (John 3:34).

        3. Jesus is a Shema affirming Jew ( Mark 12 :29 : “The Lord thy God, is One God”) – Who claimed that the FATHER (Who is THE GOD OF THE JEWS, cf. John 8:54; Mal. 2:10; Isa. 63:16; 64:8) is :

        ” the ONLY TRUE GOD” (John 17:3);

        4. Hence, Jesus tells us that our God, and, His God, is the Father (John 20:17).

        5. When doubting Thomas finally sees the miraculous wonder of the resurrected Jesus, and exclaims “My Lord and My God”, he finally recognizes that the ONE TRUE GOD (Who is the Father; John 17:3) fully indwells Jesus – so that to see Jesus, is to spiritually see the ONE TRUE GOD (Who is the Father).

        6. This is why the conclusion of John’s Gospel (Chap. 21 is a later Appendix) is that the reason why the Gospel of John was written was to demonstrate the saving truths that Jesus is the Messiah and the SON OF GOD (John 20:31, cf. 1 John 4:15; 5:1; 5:5; 5:12; 5:13).

  3. It’s interesting that who is being addressed (the 12, the disciples at the time or all of Jesus followers throughout time and space) radically changes the meaning of the passage.

  4. We also need to note the meaning of ‘in my name’; this is not about uttering a closing formula in a prayer, but about acting as Jesus’ representative, whilst about his business.

    Very true. Christians should get out of the unthinking, semi-superstitious habit of ending their prayers with “In Jesus’ name”, as if God will not listen otherwise. The name has great power, but it is not magical power, and we must take care not to use it lightly.

    As Ian indicates, in the present context Jesus is saying he will make his power available to anyone who seeks to glorify the Father in the same way as the Son glorified him. He himself will be the judge of whether the contemplated work is of this kind.

    “Greater works than these will [that person] do, because I am going to the Father.” This is the logic behind the promise. The work of Jesus will continue, but in his bodily absence it will continue in the person of those who are in him and who allow him to work in them.

    The name is also of great power when one finds oneself under spiritual attack.

    • Steven – Amen.

      The presence of Jesus continues in the existence of God’s Spirit, which indwells all believers in the risen, Lord Jesus (cf. Romans 8:9-12; 10:9).

  5. Thank you very much Ian for opening up this passage in which there are so many avenues to explore [Prov. 3 v 17 ] and many here have found some.
    There are so many ways in which Wisdom leads us
    At times of consternation God is always saying “Fear not” or “Let not your hearts be troubled” Matt.24 v 6. Matt. 14 v 27. [Psalm 46 v 1 -5]
    Saying amidst the storm “Peace, Be still.”etc.
    Take for instance our erstwhile Synod and Bishops and the perfect storm that we are amidst.
    If they are divided how much more the local churches? The Bishops may not part company and agree a fudge but I think I see many churches being split and people walking away.
    Matt 12 v 25
    People on the number 48 omnibus will simply not drop off at the Church.
    The Africans have a saying “Where the elephants play the ants get trampled”
    I feel sure that GAFCON is well aware of it.
    However, “fear not little flock it is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the kingdom”.
    And of is kingdom there shall be no end.
    Though the hirelings will not tackle the wolves the Good shepherd always will .Shalom.

    Where did you find the key to Johannine Christology?
    Do tell. I feel that I do know, but many on this thread may not be aware what your source is/are.
    Most people on here do quote their sources for transparency.
    Whose well are you drinking from ?

    • Not sure either.
      Is it the New World Translation, with accompanying notes?
      Steven R has said on this site that he does not accept the Triune God of Christian orthodoxy.
      Not sure if Pellegrino is cut from the same cloth?

        • Peter, PC1,
          Agreed, this is not the forum to discuss the Trinity, but in places it does affect the content of comments on the scripture passage, such as here, now.

          • Dear Geoff;

            If you don’t want to seriously consider John 14, and its important implications for the whole of John’s Gospel, is up to you, Geoff. But many Bible scholars are interested in these matters.

            God bless you, Geoff.

    • Dear Alan;

      As you will see, Alan, everything of substance I say, is always underpinned by copious references to Scripture. The Scriptures are my sole source of authority, Alan, pure and simple.
      (cf. Psalm 119:161; Isa. 66:2).

      Incidentally, you have still not answered the question I put to you some time ago, of whether the Lord Jesus Christ was right, or was He wrong, when He said that the Father is :

      ” The ONLY TRUE GOD ” (John 17:3; cf. John 20:17; John 20: 30-31).

      ‘Only’ in John 17:3 is the Greek word ‘monos’ – which means ‘Alone; without a companion’.

      Compare the use of ‘monos’ in Matthew 24:36, where the Father ONLY (Gk. monos) knows the timing of Christ’s return.

      God bless you, Alan.

      • A challenge Pellegrino.
        1 The Holy Spirit is a person.
        1.1 A Person who can be blasphemed.
        1.2 Not merely an impersonal force or power.
        1.3 A person who indwells believers.
        1.4 Do you accept Holy Spirit is God?

        2 And please be clear, as has Steven R.
        2.1 Do you accept, believe, worship, the Triune God of orthodox Christianity?

        Yours in Christ,

        • Dear Geoff;
          Thank you for your questions, Geoff.
          I’ll respond via a number of points, so please hear me out, and give me a fair hearing, Geoff :

          (1). The personal name of God in the Old Testament is generally thought by both Christian and Jewish scholars, to have been pronounced as ‘Yahweh’. The Old Testament terms of ‘the Spirit of Yahweh’, The Spirit of God’, and, ‘holy Spirit’ are all synonymous terms and refer to the same basic reality. Therefore, ‘Spirit of Yahweh = ‘Spirit of God’ = ‘holy Spirit’.

          (2). In the Old Testament ‘Yahweh’ is the Father (Isa. 63:16-17; 64:7-8)

          (3). The Jews only had one God, Who was Yahweh (the Father) :

          Deut. 6:4 ; “Hear O Israel ! Yahweh is our God, Yahweh alone”.

          (4). Jesus fully recognized the fact that the GOD of the Jews was the Father (John 8:54).

          (5). Jesus, said that the Father is ‘THE ONY TRUE GOD’. (John 17:3)

          (6) Jesus consequently referred to the the Father as “MY GOD”. ( John 20:17; Rev. 3:12).

          (6) The ‘Spirit of Yahweh’ is Yahweh’s personal presence, communicated to humans by His power; or at times, God’s Spirit can just be God’s power (e.g. Judges 14:6 14:19; 15:14; Luke 1:35). By His Spirit, Yahweh God communicates His thoughts and His plans to the Prophets. For example, King David said :

          “The Spirit of Yahweh speaks through me;
          His word is on my tongue,
          The God of Jacob has spoken ..” (2 Sam. 23:3).

          (7). That the ‘Spirit of Yahweh’ (= the ‘holy Spirit’), can be the personal presence of Yahweh God, Himself, is demonstrated by Kind David in Psalm 51:11, where he says :

          ” Do not thrust me from Your presence,
          and do not take Your holy Spirit from me”.

          Here we see here, that God’s ‘holy Spirt’ is equivalent to God’s personal ‘presence’ (i.e. via Hebrew poetic parallelism).

          (8) That ‘the Spirit of Yahweh’ [‘Spirit of God’] is God Himself, is also proved by comparing Isa. 40:13, and it’s quote by the apostle Paul in Romans 11:34 and 1 Cor.2:16. The comparisons will show that the ‘Spirit of Yahweh’ [the ‘Spirit of God’] of Isa. 40:13, is interpreted to mean “God’s mind”.

          (9) God’s Spirit is not only the power conveys the personal presence of God (The Father), but it is ALSO, the power that conveys the personal spiritual presence of the resurrected Jesus, as well. This is demonstrated in the ‘Parakletos’ (‘Advocate/Comforter’) discourses in John 14-16.

          (10). As the Greek word for ‘Spirit’ ( ‘Pneuma’ ) is neuter in gender, it takes the neuter pronoun ‘it’. Hence, the ‘New American Bible (Revised)’ is one of many translations that render John 14:16-17 along the following lines :

          ” I [Jesus] will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate [Gk. ‘Parakletos’] to be with you always. the Spirit of Truth, which the world cannot accept, because it [the world] does not see IT [the Spirit of Truth] or know IT [the Spirit of Truth]. But you know IT [the Spirit of Truth] because IT [the Spirit of Truth] remains with you, and will be in you.”

          However, the Greek word ‘Parakletos’ is masculine in gender, and takes the corresponding pronoun ‘he’ (Gk. ‘ekeinos’). However, grammatical masculine gender for a Greek noun does not necessarily entail biological gender. But having said that, it does look from the whole context of the ‘Parakletos’ discourse in John 14-16, that the noun ‘Parakletos’, and the corresponding pronoun ‘he’, are NOT references to ‘Spirit’ (Gk. Pneuma), but references to the exalted Jesus Christ Himself, coming back in the Spirit, as the ‘Parakletos’ (cf. 1 John 2:1, where Jesus is the ‘Parakleos’ (Advocate)). As leading New Testament Greek scholar, Daniel B. Wallace has repeatedly said, there are no Greek grammatical reasons that prove that ‘Spirit’ (‘Pneuma’) has independent personality. Rather, it is a case that the power of God’s Spirit conveys the Spiritual presence of both the resurrected and exalted Jesus, and the Father, into the lives of Christ’s disciples (cf. John 14:23). As the NET Bible puts it in its notes on John 16:13 :

          ” But the Spirit is not the source or originator of these things – Jesus is the source, and HE will continue to speak to His disciples through the Spirit [of God] who has come to indwell them”

          (2). Asking whether the ‘Spirit of God’ is personal, or is a person, is like asking whether ‘the spirit of a man’ is personal, or, is a person. The answer to the latter, is ‘yes’. The spirit of a man, is the man himself. For example, in Mark 2:8, when it says that Jesus ‘knew in His spirit’ what people were thinking, this means that Jesus knew in his ‘mind’, what people were thinking. The same is basically the case with God, and His Spirit.

          • Thanks Pellegrino,
            It seems that you have set out the Jehovah Witenesses position.
            After setting out your position you are now able to simply answer the questions asked, if you would.
            Neverthless, it is now clear that you don’t believe and worship the Triune God of Christian orthodoxy.
            Yours in union with Christ,

        • Dear Geoff;

          I worship the God of my Lord and Saviour, JESUS Christ, Geoff – and I listen to, and heed JESUS’ words.

          Who you primarily listen to, and who you primarily heed, is up to you, Geoff.

          Thank you for your ‘ad hominem’ and ‘straw man’ fallacies, but I forgive you.

          Wishing you, and all yours, God’s blessings, Geoff,

          Yours sincerely for Messiah’s Kingdom,


          • Hello Pelligrino,

            Asking questions do not amount to ad hom., nor straw man fallacies. Though I do stand to be corrected on that account.

            What does avoiding answering simple questions amount to?
            Other than answering simple questions!
            Your in Christ,
            Every blessing in the name of the God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, three in One.

      • Quite right, whoever you are. You challenge the three gods ‘orthodoxy’ and someone asks “Whose well are you drinking from?” because he does not think that Scripture is an authoritative ‘source’ in this regard.

        The question is certainly relevant to the John 14 passage (John 14:10) and only a little later Jesus says “the Father is greater than I”.

        If Jesus is the Son of God, then the doctrine of the Trinity must be false.

        • I’ve just read John 14 again.
          The impression I get is this : Jesus is explaining the operational dynamic of the Trinity.
          But it’s more than that..we are part of the equation..a quadrinity! Lion, Ox, Eagle and Man.

          • Dear Steve,

            The holy Spirit never sends greetings in any of Paul’s letters, and is never worshipped, sung to, or prayed to. In the Old Testament, Yahweh God’s Spirit is God’s power, which conveys His personal presence. In the New Testament, the power of God’s Spirit conveys the spiritual presence of both Jesus, and God (the Father) into the lives of believers (cf. John 14:23). We need the holy Spirit for moral strengthening, and for spiritual access to God, and His Son (cf. Romans 8:9-11).

            God bless you, Steve.

          • Hi Pellegrino,
            I totally agree with you that the Spirit does not seek to be worshipped. He always points to Jesus as the One to be worshipped.
            He is the One in us who enables us to worship Jesus. But when we do we feel the Spirit’s presence as a person encouraging us, approving of us etc. The Spirit is a person. His role is best illustrated in the Bible in the relationship between Abraham, Isaac and the Chief Steward. He represents the Father to Rebecca. He enables and motivates Rebecca to leave her old life and return with him. Rebecca is totally reliant on him but it is instigated by Father Abraham and it is for Isaac.
            Its not an allegory. The dynamic of Abraham’s family is prophetic of the Trinity. All scripture is about Jesus. So is the story of Isaac, Rebecca, Chief Steward and Abraham tells us something we find hard to understand.
            The Holy Spirit is our Chief Steward. He rides alongside us on the journey home. He is not Abraham but He has all Abraham’s authority invested in Him. He is not the Groom. He points out Jesus coming towards us.
            Obviously, it is more sublime than this ; God in three persons can not be reduced by simple logic but I think if you read the story of Abraham taking Jesus’ tip that everything written by Moses is about Him new wonders will pop out.

        • Thanks, Steven.

          I think you are absolutely right. The New Testament, when viewed in it’s original Jewish context, does not break the bounds of Jewish Monotheism.

          God bless you, Steven.

  7. To Pellegrino
    You have still not introduced corroberating*others* who hold your view, or are you unique?
    As always I am content to let you have the last word.

    • Dear Alan;

      Anyone who believes the words of Jesus in John 17:3, are my ” corroberating others.”

      Do you believe the words of Jesus in John 17:3, Alan ?

      As always, you can have the last word – especially if you answer the question.

      God bless you, dear Alan.

  8. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Much could be said in relation to these three elements, and Jesus says much himself. John 14:13 (with 14:23) is an explanation of the Way, the teaching on the Spirit an explanation of the Truth (John 14:16, 23, 26) and the teaching on the Vine an explanation of the Life (John 15).

    Modern translations mislead by choosing an incorrect reading at John 14:4, omitting the Greek kai (‘and’). The KJV gets it right: “And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Modern translations give the impression that Jesus is talking about the way to heaven, following on from John 14:3. But this makes poor sense in context. He is making a new point (introduced by ‘And’) about the right way to live, here on the earth, in his bodily absence.

    So verse 6 is not to be understood as “I am the way to heaven …” but “I am the way to the truth, and to the life” (in the interim period, before you join me in heaven where I have prepared a place for you). How to get to heaven is not in point, for Jesus will come again and take them there himself (14:3) – using exactly the same word for ‘take’ (paralambanw) as in Matt 24:40-41.

    • Jesus explicitly answers Thomas’ question. He is the way to the Father, and the only way. The gate through whom all must enter.

  9. Jesus also makes it clear who he is in the “I am” statements, all alluding to Old Covenant types, figures and metaphors. Without doubt, it is known that he is blasphemously claiming to be God. Yahweh.

    Before Abraham was, I am, (John 8:58) is an undoubted well known to his hearers, claim to be the revelation of the I AM in the Shekina Glory of God to Moses in the desert. He clearly identifies and aligns himself with Yahweh.

    The other ‘I ams’ in John roll out of that, and are there conflated into the transcendent Yahweh.

    Other ‘I ams ‘are well known, others not so much.
    1 I am bread of life, John 6:35, 41, 48
    2 I am the light of the world, John8:12
    3 I am the door of the sheep, John 10:7,9
    4 I am the good shepherd, John 10:11, 14
    5 I am the resurrection and the life, John 11:25
    6 I am the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6
    7 I am the true vine John 15:1
    ” Others are more subtle as they are not explicitly used to introduce a metaphor. They are:

    8 Jesus said to her, “I am, who speaks to you” John 4:26
    9 And he said to them, “I am, do not fear”, John 6:20
    10 “…if you do not believe ‘I am’, you will die in your sins” John 8:24
    11 When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that ‘I am,’ John 8:28
    12 “I say it to you now, before it happens, so that you might believe when it happens that ‘I am’ John 13:19
    13 Jesus said to them, ‘I am’, John 18:5; see also John 18:6, 8)
    14 Before Abraham was, ‘I am’ John 8:58

    “Many translations render ‘I am’ in John 6:20 and John 18: 5 as ‘it is I’. This disguises the reference to the divine name of Old Testament precedence.”…


    “All through John, then, Jesus identifies himself, explicitly and implicitly, with the transcendent God of the Old Testament, Yahweh, ‘I AM’. The Creator, John is saying, has taken on creatureliness.”
    ” It is important to see both sets of seven ‘I am’ sayings in John’s Gospel. Not only is the number seven significant in the Bible, indicating completeness and perfection, but both sets of seven ‘I am’ statement provide a crucial piece of encouragement in our understanding of who Jesus is and how he help us.”

    Source, Surprised by Jesus: Dane Ortlund.

    • I regard this as nonsense.

      If Jesus is God, who is the voice that says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”? If Jesus is God, how can Jesus be the son of God? Was he his own father? But of course, holding to the three eternal gods doctrine, you don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God. That is why the doctrine is heretical. ‘This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father.’

      Jesus did not ‘without doubt’ blasphemously claim to be God, and I don’t know what you mean when you say ‘it is known’. When the high priest exclaimed, “This is blasphemy!” this was explicitly a reaction to Jesus’s way of answering the question, “Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

      As for ego eimi and all those verses you allege are mistranslated, it follows that the beggar in John 9:10 was also claiming to be God when he says ego eimi. Also Abner in LXX 2 Samuel 2:19. They are not in fact mistranslated.

      The divine name in Exodus 3 is Yahweh, which Yahweh himself glosses by saying “I am (ehyeh) who I am” or simply “I am”; he is explaining the meaning of the divine name Yahweh. In the LXX the Greek has ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν (“I am the one who is”) for the Hebrew “I am (ehyeh) who I am” and ὁ ὢν ἀπέσταλκέ με πρὸς ὑμᾶς (“The one who is has sent me to you”) for the Hebrew “I am has sent me to you” (Ex 3:14), not ἐγώ εἰμι ἀπέσταλκέ με πρὸς ὑμᾶς.

      John 8:58 does not therefore reference Ex 3:14. He says (and the translation is correct), “Before Abraham was, I am” – meaning that he existed already before he was incarnated, and specifically before Abraham was born. Also, that that existence was outside time, i.e. he shared in the timelessness of the Father’s quality of being. He was certainly signifying his divine nature thereby. But it is logically false to draw from this that he was therefore himself the immortal God (whom no one has seen or can see). My father was a human being. I am his son, and that makes me also human, but it does not follow that I am my father. In the same way, Jesus’s father was divine. Jesus was his son, and that made him also divine. It does not follow that he was his father.

      • It is mainstream Christology.
        As part of Christian Triune God orthodoxy.
        Ortlund was used as he sets it out simply.

    • A Closer Look at John’s Use of ‘EGO EIMI’, in Relation to Jesus.

      Dear Geoff,

      Thanks for your comments, which elicit the following Scriptural responses :

      (1) The first use of ‘ego eimi’ with respect to Jesus, occurs in John 4:26, where ‘ego eimi’ is associated with “the Messiah “. This close association lays the foundation for Jesus’ future uses of ‘ego eimi’. For example, the Greek scholars behind the Trinitarian ‘New English Translation’, have supplied a note regarding “ego eimi ” in John 8:24, which reads :

      ” Unless you believe that ‘I am’ ” [John 8:24] : In this context there is an implied nominative (i.e. ‘he’) following the “I am” phrase. What Jesus’ hearers had to acknowledge is that he [Jesus] was who He claimed to be, i.e., THE MESSIAH (cf. John 20:31). ”

      (2). Every time Jesus was explicitly accused by the Jews of claiming to be (Yahweh) God, He always denied the claim, and said He was claiming to be ‘the Son of God’ (cf. John 10:30-26; John 20:31). In view of this explicit denial of Jesus that He was claiming to be God in John 10:30-36, it would be highly unusual for Jesus to, allegedly, be claiming to be (Yahweh) God, earlier on, in John 8:58.

      (3). When Jesus uses ‘ego eimi’ in John 8:58, it may well mean :

      ” Before Abraham was, ‘I am the Messiah’ “; i.e. Before Abraham was even born, Jesus was the Messianic : “Lamb slain before the foundation of the world ” (Rev. 13:8 NKJV, et al).

      The Jews then tried to stone Jesus, because they thought He was a false prophet and a false Messiah.

      That the Jews did indeed think that Jesus was implicitly claiming to be be the Messiah in John 8:58, is confirmed when they next quiz Him, in John 10:24. The Jews say :

      ” How long will you keep us in suspense ? If you are the Messiah, tell us PLAINLY”.

      Jesus replies : ” I TOLD YOU, and you did not believe.” (John 10:24).

      When did Jesus tell them ? The answer has to be in John 8:58, and they didn’t believe Him (and tried to stone Him) – just as the High Priest didn’t believe Jesus to be the Messiah, and the Son of God, are wanted Him executed for insulting (blaspheming) the character, the honour, and the Majesty of (Yahweh) God (cf. Mark 14; Matthew 26). For the Jews, Jesus was executed for claiming to be the Messiah – The King of the Jews (John 19:19-22). Jesus was not crucified by the Jews for claiming to be (Yahweh) God, because Jesus never made the claim.

      (4) ‘Ego eimi’ at John 8:58, could be legitimately translated in Greek, using a past tense.

      The meaning therefore, would be along the lines of :

      “Before Abraham was born, I have been”,

      or ” I existed before Abraham was born”.

      This is employed ., amongst others, by eminent New Testament scholars such as James Moffatt, Edgar Goodspeed, William F. Beck and Charles B. Williams.

      God bless you, Geoff.

      • ‘Before Abraham was, ‘I am the Messiah’ – you shouldnt try to put words into Jesus’ mouth to justify your view – that is NOT what Jesus said. He was clearly claiming, at the very least, self-existence before Abraham, given the Jews’ statement and His response – He had witnessed Abraham’s rejoicing. His Jewish hearers knew exactly what He was claiming and the implications, and picked up stones to kill Him. I am not aware of would-be messiahs being threatened with death by Jews or being executed for claiming to be messiah.

        • Thank you, Peter (PC1).

          In response to your points :

          Some people want to put into the mouth of Jesus the words “I am God”, at John 8:58, but there is ample evidence that Jesus meant ” I am Messiah”. Apart from contradicting the clear words of Jesus at John 17:3, other reasons for this would include :

          1. The Greek ‘HO ON’, rather than ‘ego eimi’ is used when describing Almighty God the Father in the New Testament – as the Septuagint Greek version of Exodus 3:14, reads, “God said to Moses ‘ego eimi ho on’ (= “I am the One Who is”)…..tell them “HO ON” [not, ‘ego eimi’] has sent you” (‘HO ON’ = ‘the One Who is”). Thus, in Revelation 1:4; 4:8; 11:17; and 16:5; the Greek “HO ON” [not “ego eimi”] is used to describe Almighty God, the Father”.

          (2). That the Jews understood Jesus to mean ‘ Before Abraham was, I am the Messiah’ (which would of course establish Jesus’ superiority over Abraham) is confirmed by John 10:24-37, where the Jews seem to directly pick up on the aftermath of John 8:58-59. The Jews ask ;

          ” If you are the Messiah , tell us PLAINLY” (i.e. not cryptically, as in John 8:58).

          Note, the Jews do not NOT ask Jesus in John 10:24 :

          “If you are God, tell us PLAINLY”,

          – which strongly suggests that Jesus’ use of ‘ego eimi’ in John 8:58, was NOT interpreted by the Jews to mean “I am God”.

          (3). Later on in the discussion with the Jews, following John 10:24, Jesus says, ” I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). “One” is the Greek word ” hen “, and can mean “one in mind and purpose” , or a ‘numerical one’. The Jews make the mistake of thinking Jesus was saying He was ‘numerically one’ and the same, with the FATHER (Who, according to Jesus, the ‘ONLY TRUE GOD’; John 17:3), and thus the Jews WRONGLY think that Jesus is “making Himself God”. However, Jesus DENIED HE WAS CLAIMING TO BE GOD, and CLAIMED HE WAS THE SON OF GOD. (See John 10:30-36). This is why John says in John 20:31, that his Gospel was written to prove that Jesus is the MESSIAH, and THE SON of GOD, When Jesus used the Greek word “Hen” in John 10:30, he meant “One with the Father in “mind and purpose”. This is proved by Jesus, not only in John 10:34-36, but also by Jesus, in John 17:20-22. Thus Jesus’ oneness with the Father is a ‘oneness of mind and purpose’.

          (4). You concede, Peter, that Jesus may only have been claiming that He pre-existed Abraham (i.e. “I HAVE EXISTED BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS BORN”, as with James Moffatt). If only mere pre-existence is the meaning, then Jesus wasn’t meaning ” Before Abraham was, I am God ” – was He, Peter ?

          (5). I don’t think we have any indisputable claimants to Jewish Messiahship who lived within reach of the Jewish authorities, before Jesus. Would you like to put forward any, Peter ?

          Thank you for your points, Peter, and God bless you.

  10. Dear Geoff,

    You disregard the crucial words of Jesus of John 17:3 (as did Augustine, who, in ‘Tractate’ CV, ch. 17, tried to scandalously change the inspired Scriptural text) – in order to support your faith in a 4th Century Christology. I, and apparently, Dr. Steven Robinson, are much more concerned with the actual words of Jesus, and the Christology of the First century Christology. This is the crucial difference between us.

    God bless you, Geoff.

    • Hello Pellegrino,
      That text is far from disregarded. There is a distinction without a difference in the Trinity. It is of a piece with the whole Book of John, including the prologue. As are the ‘I ams’.
      But it remains clear that you don’t worship the Triune God of Christianity.
      As this is not the forum to discuss the question of the Trinity; it is Ian’s blog and if he wants to get involved, it’s up to him, and I’ll draw a line under it, thanks. While I can’t speak for him, it is clear that he believes in the Triune God of Christian orthodoxy. And both you and Steven don’t.
      Yours in Christ,

      • Dear Geoff;

        The Gospel of John has everything to do with the ‘Trinity’ doctrine, but the conclusion of John’s Gospel (John 20:31) does Not say :

        ” these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and God, and that believing you may have eternal life, in Jesus’ name.”;

        INSTEAD, the inspired Gospel of John says, in its (original) conclusion :

        ” these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the SON OF GOD, and that by believing you may have eternal life “.

        The inspired conclusion of John 20:31 is in complete conformity to the words of our beloved, Lord Jesus Christ, in John 17:3. Furthermore, John 20:31 is in absolute agreement with the crucial salvific requirements specified in John’s First epistle. Salvation in Christ requires belief in Jesus as the Messiah, and the SON OF GOD (cf. 1 John 3:23; 4:15; 5:1; 5:5; 5:10; 5:12; 5:13;).

        You cannot lay more burdens on people, than what our Lord Jesus Christ did, Geoff.

        God bless you, Geoff.
        Yours in Christ, on the authority of Christ, and Christ alone.


  11. Not having the luxury of Ian’s column inches it is impossible to engage with the Arians on here, seeing that we are not sure if they are Unitarians, JW’S, Muslims or even unique in working it all out for their selves.
    Throughout the history of the Church intrepid church leaders opposed them and some together formed Creeds to counter their heresies.
    If Arianism had triumphed we most likely would have all been Islamists.
    On the history of these epic battles and their demise I heartly recommend a brilliant church history of these periods by Hilaire Belloc
    THE GREAT HERESIES by Hilaire Belloc
    Chapter Three – The Arian Heresy

    Paul – 1 Tim 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
    Why was Jesus crucified?
    John 10:33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
    Mark 14:64 Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death
    The Arians will return with their familiar trope no doubt,- just saying.

    • Dear Alan;

      As a general point :

      It is wrong to use a verse as a ‘proof text’ if there is very definite reason to believe that it is based upon a textual corruption. A vast majority of Trinitarian Bible scholars now recognize that the way you have presented 1 Timothy 3:16, is, unfortunately, based upon such a textual corruption.

      As for the wrong conclusions you draw from John 10:30-36, and Mark 14:64, please see my responses to Geoff and Peter (PC 1).

      O, and by the way, I’m not an Arian.

      God bless you, Alan.

      Yours sincerely for Messiah’s Kingdom,


  12. So then you are Unique,a new bread of duck perhaps?.
    Having ” tried the spirit,” as St. John advises, I am convinced that you are not of God 1 John 4 v 1
    And that you have no part or lot in this matter Acts 8 v 21.

      • There is a cohort if bible teachers that hold that
        1 Jesus did not die on the cross AND
        2 Jesus was ONTOLOGICALLY raised on which their faith is based.
        3 Jesus was not bodily raised
        4 Archangel Michael is Jesus.

        And they are part of a well known corporation.

  13. Please Mr.Pellegrino do not be vexed with us so,
    we simple fellows on the Number 48 find the Bible is all Greek to us.
    Could you recommend a corruption free translation so that we can be learned like what you are.
    Also we were all wondering “What is it that you and your esteamed doctor friend not understand about* Arianism*??


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