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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
Ver. 1. After having answered the questions of S. Peter, Jesus again addresses himself to his disciples, and bids them not to be afflicted or troubled, at what he says to them. Many Greeks and Latins begin this chap. thus: Jesus said to his disciples, let not your hearts be troubled. S. Chrys. — Euthym. Leont. Theophyl. Theodor. &c. agree, that our Saviour wished to encourage his apostles, who were so much troubled, because he had said, that Peter should deny him. They thought within themselves, if Peter, who is the strongest, and most resolute amongst us, shall so far forget himself, as to deny his master, what will become of us? Jesus seeing their anxiety, tells them not to be troubled; but to believe in him, and in his words, for he had said, that he would not lose any, whom his Father had given him; (John c. vi, v. 39.) and that whosoever should believe in him, should have life everlasting. c. iii, v. 15. — Let not your heart be troubled. Christ here begins those incomparable discourses to his apostles, which are set down in the four next chapters. His sufferings and death now approaching, he forewarns them not to be troubled. You believe in God, and put your trust in him; believe also, and trust in me, no less than in him. Wi.
Ver. 2. In my Father's house. He does not say of your Father: for though God be the Father of all by creation, and of the just, by the grace of adoption; yet Christ in several places, calls him his Father, in a quite different sense, that is, as he was his eternal Father, as the ancient interpreters observe. Wi. — These many mansions signify different degrees of glory in heaven. S. Jer. l. ii. adv. Jovin.
Ver. 3. I will come again: not only by rising the third day, but at your death, and at the day of judgment: that where I am, you also may be, and may receive the reward of eternal happiness in my kingdom.
Ver. 4. And whither I go, you know, and the way you know. Thomas replied, we know neither. Jesus saith to him, I am the way. They knew it says S. Aug. (tract. 69.) but they did not know, that they knew it: they knew their Master, Jesus Christ, and he was the way: they also knew, that is, believed, the kingdom of heaven, but they knew not, that he was returning thither: for as yet their imaginations were upon a temporal kingdom. — I am the way, by my doctrine and example: I am the Truth, by my promises; and I am Life, by the graces I offer and give. Wi.
Ver. 7. If you had known me, you would surely have known my Father also. That is, (says S. Chrys. S. Cyril, &c.) did you know me to be his true, and eternal Son, you would always know him to be the Father from all eternity. And from henceforth, especially from the coming of the Holy Ghost, you shall know him with a more perfect knowledge. And you have seen him, not as to the divine nature: in this manner, you have neither seen him, nor me. But,
Ver. 9. He that seeth me, seeth the Father also: that is, he seeth him, who is not a man only, but who also, by my divine nature, am one and the same with the Father: so that he who believes, and as it were sees, or knows by faith, who I am, cannot but know, that I am one with my eternal Father; not one person, as the Sabellians fancied, but one in nature and substance. The ancient Fathers take notice against the Arians, that these words, and others that follow in this chapter, could not be true, if Christ was no more than a creature, though ever so perfect, there being an infinite distance betwixt God and the highest of his creatures. Wi.
Ver. 10. Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? These words confirm the equality of the Father and the Son: nor can they be expounded of an union of affection only, by what Christ told them before. Jo. v. 17. 19. As the Father worketh till now, so I work: and whatsoever things the Father worketh, these also in like manner the Son doth. Wi. — In the Son and in the Father, there is one and the same essence, the same wisdom, the same power; so that what the Son says, he does not say it of himself, and what the Son does, he does not do it of himself; but it is the Father, who abideth in the Son, who both acts and speaks.
Ver. 12. And greater than these shall he do, because I go to the Father. Christ speaks of the greatness of visible miracles, and tells them, that after his ascension, they shall be enabled, even to do greater miracles than he has yet shewn to the world. He would give this power to his disciples, who were to convert the world; and perhaps the greatest miracle of all, was the conversion of the whole world. Wi. — Behold another proof of my divinity, viz. the wonderful miracles those perform, who believe in me. An impostor may seduce the vulgar with false miracles, or, perhaps, with real wonderful prodigies; but he cannot confer that power on others. Behold, I have performed miracles by my own power, without any deceit, and always with a sovereign authority. I have given those, who believed in me, power to work in my name, as great, and even greater miracles, than I have done myself. All this I have done, to shew you, that I am equally God with the Father. I truly am so, then, for it would be impossible for God to assist an impostor, a liar, and an enemy to his honour and glory. Calmet.
Ver. 13. That will I do. He does not now say, this the Father will do: to shew that the power of both is equal, and the same. Wi.
Ver. 15. Instead of afflicting yourselves at our separation, and my going to the Father, you ought, if you truly love me, to testify your affection, by a faithful observance of my commandments. Behold, this is the best proof you can give me of your attachment: better far than any exterior sign of grief and tenderness. S. Chrys.
Ver. 16. Paraclete. This is a comforter: or also an advocate: inasmuch as by inspiring prayer, he prays, as it were, in us, and pleads for us. — For ever. Hence it is evident, that this spirit of truth was not only promised to the persons of the apostles, but also to their successors, through all generations. Ch. — I have not changed the word Paraclete, which signifies, both and advocate and a comforter. He shall remain with you, and in you, for ever. What greater happiness, what greater security for the faithful, than to have this divine promise, the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth, remaining with the Church for ever, to protect her, and preserve her from all errors and heresies? Wi. — If the Holy Ghost had been promised only to the apostles, their successors could not have challenged the promise. But the promises and privileges were not merely personal, but attached to their office perpetually. Hence, the Holy Ghost, in every age and clime, perpetually watches over the Catholic Church, and preserves her from both open and secret attacks of her enemies.
Ver. 19. The world seeth me no more, after my death; but you shall see me, conversing with you for forty days, after my resurrection. Wi.
Ver. 20. In that day, when I am risen again, or when the Holy Ghost is come, you shall know that I am in the Father, and how, and in what manner: as also, how I am in you, and you in me. Our Saviour Christ, on several occasions, speaks of different ways of being united, or of being one; as first, of being one in nature and substance, and by such an union, as agrees only with the divine persons, who are one in all things. 2dly, Persons may be one, or united in affection and love, which also, as to its most perfect manner, agrees only with the three divine persons; but a similitude, and an imitation of this union of love, is found among creatures, both when they love God, and when for God's sake, they love one another: yet these unions are as different as God, and his creatures. The Arians and Socinians lay hold on these expressions, and of the words, (c. xvii. v. 21.) when Christ prays, that his disciples may be one, as he and his Father are one, which words imply no more than a similitude, and an imitation of that union of love (with which the three divine persons love one another) though at an infinite distance. If the old or new Arians examined, with a sincere desire of finding the truth (which they ought to seek from many passages in the New Testament, as well as from the sense and tradition of the Church, guided by the promised Spirit of Truth) they might certainly find how different is the union of nature and substance of the eternal Son with his eternal Father, and of that union of the three divine persons, when they are said to be one, from that inferior and lesser union of love and affection, by which either God loves his adoptive children, his faithful servants, or they love one another: they would easily discover, that many things are said of the unity and union of the divine persons, which could not be true, unless they were one and the same God, coeternal and consubstantial, which by no means can be said of God and his creatures, nor of the union of affection only, by which the creatures love one another. Wi.
Ver. 21. Now that Christ in this place speaks only of this imperfect union of affection, appears by the following words: he that keepeth my commandments, loveth me: and he that loveth me, shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and I will manifest myself to him: that is, by particular graces and favours, and by a recompense of glory in the next life. Wi.
Ver. 22-25. Lord, how is it? Lit. what is done, or, what will be done, that thou art about to manifest thyself to us, and not to the world? This apostle imagined, that the Messias would make manifest his glory of a temporal kingdom, not to them only, but to all the world. But Christ, by his answer, lets him know, that he spoke only of a manifestation of his love to those that loved him. If any man love me, my Father will love him, and we will come to him, that is, the three divine persons, will come to his soul, in a special manner, so as to bless him with an infusion of graces, and make our abode in his soul. Wi.
Ver. 26. The Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, as proceeding also from me: and therefore Christ saith, in the next chapter, (v. 26) that he himself will send him from the Father. He will teach you all things, &c. He will give you a more perfect knowledge of all those truths, which I have taught you. Wi. — Teach you all things. Here the Holy Ghost is promised to the apostles, and their successors, particularly, in order to teach them all truth, and to preserve them from error. Ch. — The Scripture, in different places, remarks, that the apostles did not understand the accomplishment of prophecies, as soon as they were fulfilled. Luke xxiv. 27. They could not draw the comparison between the actions of our Saviour, and the figures of the old law: but no sooner had the Holy Ghost descended upon them, than they explained the Scriptures, their hearts and eyes being opened and enlightened by the light of the Holy Spirit. Calmet. — See c. xvi. v. 12. and 13.
Ver. 28. The Father is greater than I. According to the common exposition, Christ here speaks of himself, as made man, which interpretation is drawn from the circumstances of the text, Christ being at that time, going to suffer, and die, and shortly after to rise again, and ascend into heaven, all which agree with him, as man, and according to his human nature. But the Arians can take no advantage from these words, (though with divers of the ancient Fathers, we should allow them to be spoken of Christ, as the Son of God:) the Father may be said in some manner to be greater than the Son, if we consider the order of the divine processions, that is, that the Father is the first person, and proceeds from no other; whereas the Son proceeds from the Father. If any one, says S. Chrys. will contend, that the Father is greater, inasmuch as he is the cause, from which the Son proceedeth, we will bear with him, and this way of speaking: provided he grant that the Son is not of a different substance, or nature. S. Athanasius allows the same, and takes notice, that though the Father is said to be greater, yet he is not said to be better, nor more excellent, than the Son; because they are one and the same in substance, nature, and other perfections. Wi. — The enemies of the divinity of Christ here triumph, and think they have the confession of Christ himself, that he is less than the Father. But if they would distinguish the two natures of Christ, their arguments would all fall to the ground. Jesus Christ, as man, and a creature, is inferior to his Father, the Creator; but, as God, he is, in every respect, equal to him. S. Basil, S. Aug. &c. — Others, likewise, answer it thus: Following the confused opinion of the world, and even of the apostles themselves, who as yet only considered Christ as a prophet, and as a man, eminent in virtue and sanctity, he was less than the Father. S. Chrys. Leont. Theophyl. Euthym. — And likewise the title of Father, (as we generally use the word) is greater, and much more honourable, that that of Son; and in this respect, Christ is inferior to his Father. S. Athanas. S. Hilar. S. Epiph. S. Greg. Nazianz. and S. Cyril. — But this appellation, though really true, does not destroy the equality of the persons, because Christ has declared, in numerous other places, that he is equal to the Father; that he is in the Father; and that he and the Father are one. The apostles ought to have rejoiced that Christ was going to the Father, who was superior to him, considering him in his human nature; because, then, would the Son shew forth his honour and glory to be equal to the Father's, in heaven. This would have been a mark of a pure, solid, and disinterested love, which ought to have inspired the apostles, if they truly loved their divine Master. Calmet. — Protestants assume to themselves the liberty of making the Bible only, the exclusive rule of faith, yet refuse this privilege to others. Thus Luther insisted, that his catechism should be taught, and followed. Calvin burnt Servetus for explaining his faith, by his own interpretation of the Bible, particularly of these words, the Father is greater than I. The Church of England compels every clergyman to swear to the Thirty-nine Articles, and has inflicted the severest penalties on such as interpreted the Bible according to the principles of Socinus; and on Catholics, who understand the words of Jesus Christ, This is my body: this is my blood, in the literal and obvious sense of the words. As long as each individual is at liberty to expound Scripture by the private spirit, it is a great injustice to compel any one, by penal laws, to yield his judgment to any authority, that is not less fallible than his own.
Ver. 31. As the Father hath given me commandment, so I do. — He again speaks of himself, as man. Arise, let us go hence. Yet by c. xviii. v. 1. Christ still continued the like instructions, either in the same place, or in the way to Gethsemani. Wi.