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John 14:29-31

29. And I have told you now, before it take place, that, when it shall take place, you may believe. 30. Henceforth I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. 31. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and that I do as the Father hath commanded me. Arise, let us go hence.

 

29. And I have told you now. It was proper that the disciples should be frequently admonished on this point; for it was a secret far exceeding all human capacity. He testifies that he foretells what shall happen, that, when it has happened, they may believe; for it was a useful confirmation of their faith when they brought to recollection the predictions of Christ, and saw accomplished before their eyes what they had formerly heard from his mouth. Yet it appears to be a sort of concession, as if Christ had said, “Because you are not yet capable of comprehending so deep a mystery, I bear with you till the event has happened, which will serve as an interpreter to explain this doctrine.” Although for a time he seemed to speak to the deaf, yet it afterwards appeared that his words were not scattered in vain, or, as we may say, in the air, but that it was a seed thrown into the earth. Now, as Christ speaks here about his word and the accomplishment of events, so his death, and resurrection, and ascension to heaven, are combined with doctrine, that they may produce faith in us.

30. Henceforth I will not talk much with you. By this word he intended to fix the attention of the disciples on himself, and to impress his doctrine more deeply on their minds; for abundance generally takes away the appetite, and we desire more eagerly what we have not in our possession, and delight more in the enjoyment of that which is speedily to be taken from us. In order, therefore, to make them more desirous of hearing his doctrines, he threatens that he will very soon go away. Although Christ does not cease to teach us during the whole course of our life, yet this statement may be applied to our use; for, since the course of our life is short, we ought to embrace the present opportunity.

For the prince of this world cometh He might have said, in direct language, that he would soon die, and that the hour of his death was at hand; but he makes use of a circumlocution, to fortify their minds beforehand, lest, terrified by a kind of death so hideous and detestable, they should faint; for to believe in him crucified, what is it but to seek life in hell? First, he says that his power will be given to Satan; and next he adds, That he will go away, not because he is compelled to do so, but in order to obey the Father.

The devil is called the prince of this world, not because he has a kingdom separated from God, (as the Manicheans imagined,) but because, by God’s permission, he exercises his tyranny over the world. Whenever, therefore, we hear this designation applied to the devil, let us be ashamed of our miserable condition; for, whatever may be the pride of men, they are the slaves of the devil, till they are regenerated by the Spirit of Christ; for under the term world is here included the whole human race. There is but one Deliverer who frees and rescues us from this dreadful slavery. Now, since this punishment was inflicted on account of the sin of the first man, and since it daily grows worse on account of new sins, let us learn to hate both ourselves and our sins. While we are held captives under the dominion of Satan, still this slavery does not free us from blame, for it is voluntary. It ought also to be observed, that what is done by wicked men is here ascribed to the devil; for, since they are impelled by Satan, all that they do is justly reckoned his work.

And hath nothing in me. 7474     This is the literal rendering of καὶ ἐν ἐμοὶ οὐκ ἔχει οὐδὲν and corresponds to other modern versions; as, for example, the German, und hat nichts an mir; though Wolffus quotes a marginal reading of a German translation, an mir wird er nicht nichts unden, — he will find nothing in me. The latter agrees with a Greek reading καὶ ἐν ἐμοὶ οὐχ εὑρήσει οὐδὲν and will find nothing in me; and. with another reading καὶ ἐν ἐμοὶ οὐκ ἔχει οὐδὲν εὑρεῖν, and hath nothing to find in me. — Ed It is in consequence of the sin of Adam that Satan holds the dominion of death, and, therefore, he could not touch Christ, who is pure from all the pollution of sin, if he had not voluntarily subjected himself. And yet I think that these words have a wider meaning than that in which they are usually explained; for the ordinary interpretation is, “Satan hath found nothing in Christ, for there is nothing in him that deserves death, because he is pure from every stain of sin.” But, in my opinion, Christ asserts here not only his own purity, but likewise his Divine power, which was not subject to death; for it was proper to assure the disciples that he did not yield through weakness, lest they should think less highly of his power. But in this general statement the former is also included, that, in enduring death, he was not compelled by Satan. Hence we infer, that he was substituted in our room, when he submitted to death.

31. But that the world may know. Some think that these words should be read as closely connected with the words, Arise, let us go hence, so as to make the sense complete. Others read the former part of the verse separately, and suppose that it breaks off abruptly. As it makes no great difference in regard to the meaning, I leave it to the reader to give a preference to either of these views. What chiefly deserves our attention is, that the decree of God is here placed in the highest rank; that we may not suppose that Christ was dragged to death by the violence of Satan, in such a manner that anything happened contrary to the purpose of God. It was God who appointed his Son to be the Propitiation, and who determined that the sins of the world should be expiated by his death. In order to accomplish this, he permitted Satan, for a short time, to treat him with scorn; as if he had gained a victory over him. Christ, therefore, does not resist Satan, in order that he may obey the decree of his Father, and may thus offer his obedience as the ransom of our righteousness.

Arise, let us go hence. Some think that Christ, after he said these things, changed his place, and that what follows was spoken by him on the road; but as John afterwards adds, that Christ went away with his disciples beyond the brook Kedron, 7575     “Que Christ s’en alla avec ses disciples outre le torrent de Cedron.” it appears more probable that Christ intended to exhort the disciples to render the same obedience to God, of which they beheld in him so illustrious an example, and not that he led them away at that moment.


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