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John 14:21-24

21. He who hath my commandments, and keepeth them, is he that loveth me; and he that loveth me will be loved by my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22. Judas (not Iscariot) saith to him, Lord, why is it 7070     “D’ou vient?” — “Whence comes it?“ that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world? 23. Jesus answered and said to him, “If any one love me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him. 24. He who loveth me not keepeth not my words; and the word which you have heard is not mine, but that of the Father who sent me.”

 

21. He who hath my commandments. He again repeats the former statement, that the undoubted proof of our love to him lies in our keeping his commandments; and the reason why he so frequently reminds the disciples of this is, that they may not turn aside from this object; for there is nothing to which we are more prone than to slide into a carnal affection, so as to love something else than Christ under the name of Christ. Such is also the import of that saying of Paul,

Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet henceforth we know him no longer in this manner. Let us therefore be a new creature,
(2 Corinthians 5:16, 17.)

To have his commandments means to be properly instructed in them; and to keep his commandments is to conform ourselves and our life to their rule.

And he that loveth me will be loved by my Father. Christ speaks as if men loved God before he loved them; which is absurd, for,

when we were enemies, he reconciled us to him,
(Romans 5:10;)

and the words of John are well known,

Not that we first loved him, but he first loved us,
(1 John 4:10.)

But there is no debate here about cause or effect; and therefore there is no ground for the inference, that the love with which we love Christ comes in order before the love which God has toward us; for Christ meant only, that all who love him will be happy, because they will also be loved by him and by the Father; not that God then begins to love them, but because they have a testimony of his love to them, as a Father, engraven on their hearts. To the same purpose is the clause which immediately follows: —

And I will manifest myself to him. Knowledge undoubtedly goes before love; but Christ’s meaning was, I will grant to those who purely observe my doctrine, that they shall make progress from day to day in faith; “that is, “I will cause them to approach more nearly and more familiarly to me.” Hence infer, that the fruit of piety is progress in the knowledge of Christ; for he who promises that he will give himself to him who has it rejects hypocrites, and causes all to make progress in faith who, cordially embracing the doctrine of the Gospel, bring themselves entirely into obedience to it. And this is the reason why many fall back, and why we scarcely see one in ten proceed in the right course; for the greater part do not deserve that he should manifest himself to them It ought also to be observed, that a more abundant knowledge of Christ is here represented as an extraordinary reward of our love to Christ; and hence it follows that it is an invaluable treasure.

22. Judas (not Iscariot) saith to him. It is not without reason that he asks why Christ does not cause his light to be imparted 7171     “Pourquoy Christ fera que sa lumiere sera manifestee.” to more than a few persons; since he is the Sun of Righteousness, (Malachi 4:2) by whom the whole world ought to be enlightened; and, therefore, it is unreasonable that he should enlighten but a few, and not shed his light everywhere without distinction. Christ’s reply does not solve the whole question; for it makes no mention of the first cause, why Christ ‘manifested himself to a few,’ conceals himself from the greater part of men; for certainly he finds all men at first alike, that is, entirely alienated from him; and, therefore, he cannot choose any person who loves him, but he chooses from among his enemies those whose hearts he bends to the love of him. But he did not intend, at present, to take any notice of that distinction, which was far from the object he had in view. His design was, to exhort his disciples to the earnest study of godliness, that they might make greater progress in faith; and, therefore, he is satisfied with distinguishing them from the world by this mark, that they keep the doctrine of the Gospel.

Now, this mark comes after the commencement of faith, for it is the effect of their calling. In other passages, Christ had reminded the disciples of their being called by free grace, and he will afterwards bring it to their recollection. At present, he only enjoins them to observe his doctrine, and to maintain godliness. By these words, Christ shows in what manner the Gospel is properly obeyed. It is, when our services and outward actions proceed from the love of Christ; for in vain do the arms, and the feet, and the whole body toil, if the love of God does not reign in the heart, to govern the outward members. Now, since it is certain that we keep the commandments of Christ only in so far as we love him, it follows that a perfect love of him can nowhere be found in the world, because there is no man who keeps his commandments perfectly; yet God is pleased with the obedience of those who sincerely aim at this end.

23. And my Father will love him. We have already explained that the love of God to us is not placed in the second rank, as if it came after our piety as the cause of that love, but that believers may be fully convinced that the obedience which they render to the Gospel is pleasing to God, and that they may continually expect from him fresh additions of gifts.

And we will come to him who loveth me; that is, he will feel that the grace of God dwelleth in him, and will every day receive additions to the gifts of God. He therefore speaks, not of that eternal love with which he loved us, before we were born, and even before the world was created, but since the time when he seals it on our hearts by making us partakers of his adoption. Nor does he even mean the first illumination, but those degrees of faith by which believers must continually advance, according to that saying,

Whosoever hath it shall be given to him, (Matthew 13:12.)

The Papists; therefore are wrong in inferring from this passage that there are two kinds of love with which we love God. They falsely maintain that we naturally love God, before he regenerates us by his Spirit, and even that by this preparation we merit the grace of regeneration; as if Scripture did not everywhere teach, and as if experience also did not loudly proclaim, that we are altogether alienated from God, and that we are infected and filled with hatred of him, until he change our hearts. We must therefore keep in view the design of Christ, that he and the Father will come, to confirm believers, in uninterrupted confidence in his grace.

24. He who loveth, me but keepeth not my words. As believers are mixed with unbelievers in the world, and as they must be agitated by various storms, as in a troubled sea, Christ again confirms them by this admonition, that they may not be drawn away by bad examples. As if he had said, “Do not look upon the world so as to depend on it; for there will always be some who despise me and my doctrine; but as for you, preserve constantly to the end the grace which you have once received.” Yet he likewise intimates that the world is justly punished for its ingratitude, when it perishes in its blindness, since, by despising true righteousness, it manifests a wicked hatred towards Christ.

And the word which you hear. That the disciples may not be discouraged or waver on account of the obstinacy of the world, he again procures credit to his doctrine, by testifying that it is from God, and that it was not contrived by men on the earth. And, indeed, the strength of our faith consists in our knowing that God is our leader, and that we are founded on nothing else than his eternal truth. Whatever then may be the rage and madness of the world, let us follow the doctrine of Christ, which rises far above heaven and earth. When he says that the word is not his, he accommodates himself to the disciples; as if he had said that it is not human, because he teaches faithfully what has been enjoined on him by the Father. Yet we know that, in so far as he is the eternal Wisdom of God, he is the only fountain of all doctrine, and that all the prophets who have been from the beginning spoke by his Spirit.


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