John 14: 8-17 and Waldenström’s Commentary

by Paul Peter Waldenström and translated by Tommy Carlson

Paul Peter Waldenström based his comments on a Greek New Testament text, which he translated into Swedish and published (2nd edition, 1902).

Verse 8 – Phillip said to him: Lord, show us the Father 1, and it will satisfy us 2.

1.Phillip is asking to see a physical revelation of the Father, such as Moses had seen (Exodus 24: 9f) or desired to see (Exodus 33:18).

2. Then we shall not ask for anything else; all our wishes are then satisfied. Some Bible scholars understand the words as if Phillip was saying: “then we will ask for any other revelation,” or “then we shall have the guarantee that your kingdom will come.” But such interpretation is unnecessary, limited by the support of the words. Phillip cannot think of anything higher, than to see God. If he does that, he will not ask for anything else.

Verse 9 – Jesus said to him: I have been with you for such a long time, and you do not know me, Phillip? 1 The one that has seen me has seen the Father. 2 How then can you say: 3 Show us the Father? (See also John 12:45).

1. I really thought that you knew me.

2. To such a complete degree is Christ the true likeness of God’s essence. This word of the Lord is an inflexible judgment over every theology, that gives another picture of the Father than of the Son. See chapter 12:45.

3. There is a strong emphasis on the word “you.”

Verse 10 – Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you are not about myself 1, but the Father who remains in me, and he does his work 2.

1. See 7:16f, 12:49. The words that I speak, I have received from the Father. Thereby the Lord shows that he is in the Father, that is to say, that has his being in him.

2. Namely in and through me. By these words Jesus is showing that the Father is in him. Note also, how he expresses his work directly as his Father’s work, which the Father is doing through his being in him. But now the Son is so completely in the Father, that it is the Father who does the work which the Son performs, then one does not need to ask to see the Father, because one has seen the Son. One has then really seen the Father.

Verse 11 – Believe me 1, that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; otherwise believe me for the work I have done 2.

1. Believe my assurance. The Lord is turning with these words from Phillip to all the apostles.

2. In spite of my assurance. The work is the additional visual proof for his communion with the Father. See 5:17,19f,36; 10:37f.

Verse 12 – Solemnly I say to you 1. The one who believes in me, the work which I 2 do even he shall do; and greater than these 3 shall he perform, because I go to the Father 4.

1. The Lord here gives them a new comfort base, in that he shows, that his departure shall be a blessing for them in their work in the world.

2. There is in the original text a strong emphasis on the “I.”

3. By these works the Lord does not mean miracles. For one thing no greater miracle could be done, than what he did when he raised Lazarus from the dead, and Christ’s own “works,” restricted to miracles. These miracles were not the most essential to his mission. The Lord speaks about his and the apostles’ work in the world for the salvation of sinners, and in this regard it could be said, that the apostles did greater work, had a much greater scale and success than his. “Because he for himself had only a small corner, where he preached and performed miracles, and also only for a short time. On the other hand the apostles and those who came after have gone all over the world” (Luther). He sowed, they harvested (4:38).

4. In order that on his right-hand side reign with all power in heaven and on earth. On one hand, Jesus’ going to the Father was an ending to his earthly work, and on the other, there was a foundation for the enormous success of the apostles.

Verse 13 – And whatever you ask in my name 1, that I shall do 2, so that the Father will be glorified in the Son 3. (See also Matt. 7:7f, Mark 11:24, John 16:23).

1. To pray in the name of Jesus is only expressed in John’s gospel and only in the Lord’s farewell speech to his apostles. It is also noted in the next verse and in 15:16, 16:24,26. To do something in someone’s name generally means to do on their behalf, in his place as his representative or substitute. According to this, one has to ask in this case what this expression means. The Savior is saying: “Whatever you pray on my behalf, which has been initiated by me, that the Father has given to me, that I will do.” The Savior is also speaking about the connection with verse 12, which is shown, about their official work, and he wants them in their work to feel as his representatives, which is according on his behalf. And he promises them whatever the capacity they pray for, he will do it. Some Bible scholars understand the expression, that when the prayer is in Jesus’ name, this name is in the conscience of the one who prays, like the element in which his prayer is moved, so that this name contains the revelation of all of God’s saving grace, is the condition and content and the purpose of the prayer. This interpretation, however lovely the teaching, is far away from the content, and there is nothing here, which gives any reason to deviate from the meaning that is in the expression: doing something in someone’s name.

2. To understand this verse it must be in conjunction with the previous one. That the disciples should do the same and greater than he, this he assures them on two grounds, 1.) he is going to the Father, 2.) he will do everything that they ask in his name. Note that he will do that because of his glorification has all the power in heaven and on earth. And he shall do it, since it is his work the disciples at his command will complete. >>>

3. As the Father has been glorified through the Son’s work on earth (11:4, 12:28, 13:21), he will be glorified through the continuing work of the disciples. And since the disciple’s work is the work of Christ, which from his glory, he is completing through them, so the Father, even through the work of the disciples, is glorified through the Son. Note here, that above everything the glorification of the Father is presented as the ultimate and highest goal for ALL of Christ’s work. In relation to this goal, the salvation of humanity is a tool. Compare Rom. 16:25f, Gal. 1:5, Eph. 3:21, Phil. 2:11, and others.

Verse 14 – If you pray to me 1, about anything in my name 2, I 3 shall do it.

1. Since the Lord never taught his disciples to pray to him, but only to the Father, it is very curious, that he says to them: if you pray to me about anything. But this me is supported by the best manuscript of the New Testament’s original text.

2. To pray to Jesus about something in his name is to pray on his own behalf, for that task which has himself given his disciples. When the apostles, as Jesus’ representatives, worked to the completion of his work for the salvation of sinners they worked in Jesus’ name. And when they in this regard turned to him in prayer to receive from him everything they needed for this work, they prayed to him in his name. That is the way the word “me” is witnessing about the exactness to the commentary to verse 13 about the expression: pray in Jesus’ name.

3. There is in the original text a strong emphasis on the word “I.”

Verse 15 – If you love me, you shall keep my commandments 1.

(See also John 15:10)

1. That is to say: everything that I have given you (compare Matt. 28:29). There is a strong emphasis on the word “my.”

Verse 16 – And I 1 pray to the Father, and he shall give you another helper 2, that he may be with you for eternity 3.

1. There is in the original text a strong emphasis on the word “I.”

2. The Greek word, which is in the original text means really “one, who is called,” so that it denotes one person, who appears for someone’s assistance and help, be it in general or something specific. This only appears in John, here and in verse 26, chapter 15:26, 16:7, 1 John 2:1. When the Lord says another helper, he portrays himself, that up to now has been their helper, as if to say:” I shall pray to the Father, and he shall send you another, who shall help and support you in every circumstance, that I have up to now done.” To use the word “comforter” is not a correct translation. One who appears for someone’s assistance in general, appears as a comforter, but it is only a small part of what he shall do. As the believers’ helper, the Holy Spirit shall support, strengthen, help them against all enemies, comfort them in all their needs and tribulations, lead them in truth etc. in short, for them being everything, that Christ during his time on earth was for them. As usually happens, to translate the word using comforter, when it is used to describe the Holy Spirit, and with defender when it is talked about Christ (1 John 2:1) it is to completely to look past what is written. Christ is his own real helper. When he goes away to the Father, the Father sends by his prayer another helper to them, namely the Holy Spirit. But by that, he does not quit being their helper. But rather it he himself, through the Spirit, who communicates with his own, and completes his work in and through them. Note also, that here and in other places, is shown that the Holy Spirit is a person and not just, from God, an emanating power. Compare Matt. 28:19, 2 Cor. 13:13, Acts 5:4, 1 Cor. 12:11.

3. And not as I have been from you after a short period of time.

Verse 17 – The Spirit 1 of truth, which the world 2 cannot accept 3, while it does not see4 him, does not know 5 him. You know 6 him, because he remains with you and shall 7 be in you.8

1. The Holy Spirit is called the spirit of truth. While he is God’s and Christ’s Spirit it is that Spirit, which leads mankind in the godly saving truth. The opposite of the Spirit of Truth is the spirit of delusion (1 John 4:6), that is to say, the spirit which leads mankind astray.

2. That is to say, the un-believers as opposed to the disciples.

3. The world is accepting of God’s Spirit.

4. To see a person in a corporeal meaning is that with one’s eyes. To see the Spirit is to observe in the phenomenon, with which he manifests himself.

5. To know the Spirit is to ‘in one’s heart’ experience its presence. While the world itself has such experiences of the Spirit, or knows of his work in the believers (perhaps this work is looked upon as a delusion), it is not able to accept the Spirit.

6. Through one’s own living experience. There is in the original text a strong emphasis on the word “I.” In addition, it must be noted that the Lord in this verse brings forth general conditions, without regard to a fixed time. Therefore he says: see - know - feel, while the Spirit was not yet given, and this seeing was the first to be admitted.

7. Since at one time been poured out to you.

8. Note the steps in the expression; he remains with you (in your group) and shall be in you (in your hearts). From these words is shown that the Lord by “knowing the Spirit” means that their own knowledge of their living experiences, is the result of the Spirit’s living there.

Paul Peter Waldenström was a Swedish revival preacher, and served as editor of Pietisten from 1868-1917.

See all articles by Paul Peter Waldenström

Tommy Carlson remodels homes and is an editor of Pietisten.

See all articles by Tommy Carlson