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16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” 22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.


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16. And I will pray to the Father. This was given as a remedy for soothing the grief which they might feel on account of Christ’s absence; but at the same time, Christ promises that he will give them strength to keep his commandments; For otherwise the exhortation would have had little effect. He therefore loses no time in informing them that, though he be absent from them in body, yet he will never allow them to remain destitute of assistance; for he will be present with them by his Spirit.

Here he calls the Spirit the gift of the Father, but a gift which he will obtain by his prayers; in another passage he promises that he will give the Spirit. If I depart, says he, I will send, Him to you, (John 16:7.) Both statements are true and correct; for in so far as Christ is our Mediator and Intercessor, he obtains from the Father the grace of the Spirit, but in so far as he is God, he bestows that grace from himself. The meaning of this passage therefore is: “I was given to you by the Father to be a Comforter, but only for a time; now, having discharged my office, I will pray to him to give another Comforter, who will not be for a short time, but will remain always with you.”

And he will, give you another Comforter. The word Comforter is here applied both to Christ and to the Spirit, and justly; for it is an office which belongs equally to both of them, to comfort and exhort us, and to guard us by their protection. Christ was the Protector of his disciples, so long as he dwelt in the world: and afterwards he committed them to the protection and guardianship of the Spirit. It may be asked, are we not still under the protection of Christ? The answer is easy. Christ is a continual Protector, but not in a visible way. So long as he dwelt in the world, he openly manifested himself as their Protector; but now he guards us by his Spirit.

He calls the Spirit another Comforter, on account of the difference between the blessings which we obtain from both. The peculiar office of Christ was, to appease the wrath of God by atoning for the sins of the world, to redeem men from death, to procure righteousness and life; and the peculiar office of the Spirit is, to make us partakers not only of Christ himself, but of all his blessings. And yet there would be no impropriety in inferring from this passage a distinction of Persons; for there must be some peculiarity in which the Spirit differs from the Son so as to be another than the Son.

17. The Spirit of truth. Christ bestows on the Spirit another title, namely, that he is the Master or Teacher of truth. 6868     “A scavoir qu’il est Maistre ou Docteur de la verite.” Hence it follows, that until we have been inwardly instructed by him, the understandings of all of us are seized with vanity and falsehood.

Whom the world cannot receive. This contrast shows the peculiar excellence of that grace which God bestows on none but his elect; for he means that it is no ordinary gift of which the world is deprived. In this sense, too, Isaiah says, “For, the darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the people, but the Lord shall arise on thee, O Jerusalem!” 6969     “Sur toy, O Jerusalem!” For the mercy of God towards the Church deserves so much the higher praise, when he exalts the Church, by a distinguished privilege, above the whole world. And yet Christ exhorts the disciples, that they must not be puffed up, as the world is wont to be, by carnal views, and thus drive away from themselves the grace of the Spirit. All that Scripture tells us about the Holy Spirit is regarded by earthly men as a dream; because, trusting to their own reason, they despise heavenly illumination. Now, though this pride abounds everywhere, which extinguishes, so far as lies in our power, the light of the Holy Spirit; yet, conscious of our own poverty, we ought to know, that whatever belongs to sound understanding proceeds from no other source. Yet Christ’s words show that nothing which relates to the Holy Spirit can be learned by human reason, but that He is known only by the experience of faith.

The world, he says, cannot receive the Spirit, because it knoweth him not; but you know him, because he dwelleth with you. It is the Spirit alone therefore, who, by dwelling in us, makes himself to be known by us, for otherwise, he is unknown and incomprehensible.

18. I will not have you orphans. This passage shows what men are, and what they can do, when they have been deprived of the protection of the Spirit. They are orphans, exposed to every kind of fraud and injustice, incapable of governing themselves, and, in short, unable of themselves to do any thing. The only remedy for so great a defect is, if Christ govern us by his Spirit, which he promises that he will do. First then, the disciples are reminded of their weakness, that, distrusting themselves, they may rely on nothing else than the protection of Christ; and, secondly, having promised a remedy, he gives them good encouragement; for he declares that he will never leave them When he says, I will come to you, he shows in what manner he dwells in his people, and in what manner he fills all things. It is, by the power of his Spirit; and hence it is evident, that the grace of the Spirit is a striking proof of his Divinity.

19. Yet a little while. He continues the commendation of special grace, which ought to have been sufficient for alleviating, and even for removing the grief of the disciples. “When I shall have withdrawn,” says he, “from the view of the world: still I shall be present with you.” That we may enjoy this secret beholding of Christ, we must not judge of his presence or his absence according to carnal perception, but we must earnestly employ the eyes of faith for contemplating his power. Thus believers always have Christ present by his Spirit, and behold him, though they be distant from him in body.

Because I live. This statement may be explained in two ways. Either it may be viewed as a confirmation of the former clause, because I live, and you shall live; or, it may be read separately, because I live, you also shall live; and then the meaning will be, that believers will live, because Christ liveth I willingly embrace the former opinion, and yet we may draw from it the other doctrine, that the life of Christ is the cause of our life. He begins by pointing out the cause of the difference, why he shall be seen by his disciples, and not by the world It isn’t because Christ cannot be seen but according to the spiritual life, of which the world is deprived. The world seeth not Christ; this is not wonderful, for the death of blindness is the cause; but as soon as any man begins to live by the Spirit, he is immediately endued with eyes to see Christ. Now, the reason of this is, that our life is closely connected with the life of Christ, and proceeds from it as from its source; for we are dead in ourselves, and the life with which we flatter ourselves is a very bad death. Accordingly, when the question is, how we are to obtain life, our eyes must be directed to Christ, and his life must be conveyed to us by faith, that our consciences may be fully convinced, that, so long as Christ lives, we are free from all danger of destruction; for it is an undoubted truth, that his life would be nothing, when his members were dead.

20. At that day Some refer this to the day of Pentecost; but it rather denotes the uninterrupted course, as it were, of a single day, from the time when Christ exerted the power of his Spirit till the last resurrection. From that time they began to know, but it was a sort of feeble beginning, because the Spirit had not yet wrought so powerfully in them. For the object of these words is, to show that we cannot, by indolent speculation, know what is the sacred and mystical union between us and him, and again, between him and the Father; but that the only way of knowing it is, when he diffuses his life in us by the secret efficacy of the Spirit; and this is the trial of faith, which I lately mentioned.

As to the manner in which this passage was formerly abused by the Aryans, to prove that Christ is God only by participation and by grace, it is easy to refute their sophistry. For Christ does not speak merely of his eternal essence, but of that Divine power which was manifested in him. As the Father has laid up in the Son all fullness of blessings, so, on the other hand, the Son has conveyed himself entirely into us. He is said to be in us, because he plainly shows, by the efficacy of his Spirit, that he is the Author and the cause of our life.

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.

25. These things I have spoken to you. He adds this, that they may not despair, though they may have profited less than they ought to have done; for at that time he scattered a seed of doctrine, which lay hidden, and, as it were, suffocated in the disciples. He therefore exhorts them to entertain good hopes, until fruit be yielded by the doctrine which might now appear to be useless. In short, he testifies that in the doctrine which they had heard they have abundant ground of consolation, and that they ought not to seek it anywhere else. And if they do not immediately see it, he bids them be of good courage, until the Holy Spirit, who is the inward Teacher, speak the same thing in their hearts. This admonition is highly useful to all; for, if we do not immediately understand what Christ teaches, we begin to grow weary, and grudge to bestow unprofitable labor on what is obscure. But we must bring an eager desire to receive instruction; we must lend our ears and give attention, if we desire to make due proficiency in the school of God; and especially we need patience, until the Holy Spirit enable us to understand what we thought that we had often read or heard to no purpose. That the desire of learning may not be weakened in us, or that we may not fall into despair, when we do not immediately perceive the meaning of Christ speaking to us, let us know that this is spoken to us all.

The Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance all things that I have said to you. It is indeed a punishment threatened by Isaiah against unbelievers, that the Word of God shall be to them as a book that is sealed, (Isaiah 29:11) but in this manner, also, the Lord frequently humbles his people. We ought, therefore, to wait patiently and mildly for the time of revelation, and must not, on that account, reject the word. When Christ testifies that it is the peculiar office of the Holy Spirit to teach the apostles what they had already learned from his mouth, it follows that the outward preaching will be vain and useless, if it be not accompanied by the teaching of the Spirit. God has therefore two ways of teaching; for, first, he sounds in our ears by the mouth of men; and, secondly, he addresses us inwardly by his Spirit; and he does this either at the same moment, or at different times, as he thinks fit.

But observe what are all these things which he promises that the Spirit will teach. He will suggest, he says, or bring to your remembrance, all that I have said. Hence it follows, that he will not be a builder of new revelations. By this single word we may refute all the inventions which Satan has brought into the Church from the beginning, under the pretense of the Spirit. Mahomet and the Pope agree in holding this as a principle of their religion, that Scripture does not contain a perfection of doctrine, but that something loftier has been revealed by the Spirit. From the same point the Anabaptists and Libertines, in our own time, have drawn their absurd notions. But the spirit that introduces any doctrine or invention apart from the Gospel is a deceiving spirit, and not the Spirit of Christ. What is meant by the Spirit being sent by the Father in the name of Christ, I have already explained.




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