John 14:18
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
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(18) I will not leave you comfortless.—Better with the margin, I will not leave you orphans, which exactly represents the Greek word. “Comfortless” is unfortunate, as it suggests a connection with “Comforter” which does not exist in the original. Our translators have rendered the word by “fatherless” in James 1:27, which is the only other passage where it occurs in the New Testament, and Wiclif has “faderless” here. He thinks of them as His children whom He is leaving in the world (comp. John 13:33), but He will not leave them destitute and bereaved.

I will come to you.—This coming, as is shown by the whole context, is the spiritual presence in the person of the Paraclete.



John 14:18 - John 14:19

The sweet and gracious comfortings with which Christ had been soothing the disciples’ fears went very deep, but hitherto they had not gone deep enough. It was much that they should know the purpose of His going, whither He went, and that they had an interest in His departure. It was much that they should have before them the prospect of reunion; much that they should know that all through His absence He would be working in them, and that they should be assured that, absent, He would send them a great gift. But reunion, influence from afar, and gifts from the other side of the gulf were not all that their hearts needed. And so here our Lord gives yet more, in the paradoxes that, absent He will be present, unseen visible, and dying will be for them for ever, living and life-giving. These great thoughts go to the centre of their needs and of ours; and on them I now touch briefly.

There are then in the words I have read, though they be but a fragment of a closely-linked-together context, these three great thoughts: the absent Christ the present Christ; the unseen Christ the seen Christ; the Christ who dies the living and life-giving Christ. Let us look at these as they stand.

I. First, then, the absent Christ is the present Christ.

‘I will not leave you comfortless,’ or, as the Revised Version has it, ‘desolate-I come to you.’ Now, most of us know, I suppose, that the literal meaning of the word rendered ‘comfortless,’ or ‘desolate,’ is ‘orphans.’ But that is rather an unusual form in which to represent the relation between our Lord and His disciples, and so, possibly, our versions are accurate in giving the general idea of desolation rather than the specific idea conveyed directly by the word. But still it is to be remembered that this whole conversation begins with ‘Little children’; and there seems to be no strong reason for suppressing the literal meaning of the word, if only it be remembered that it is employed not so much to define Christ’s relation to his brethren as to describe the comfortless and helpless condition of that little group when left by Him. They would be like fatherless and motherless children in a cold world. And what is to hinder that? One thing only. ‘I come to you.’ ‘Then, and only then, will you cease to be desolate and orphans. My presence will change everything and turn winter into glorious summer.’

Now, what is this ‘coming’? It is to be observed that our Lord says, not ‘I will,’ as a future, but ‘I come,’ or ‘I am coming,’ as an immediately impending, and, we may almost say, present, thing. There can be no reference in the word to that final coming to judgment which lies so far ahead; because, if there were, then there would follow from the text, that, until that period, all that love Him here upon earth are to wander about as orphans, desolate and forsaken; and that certainly can never be. So that we have to recognise here the promise of a coming which is contemporaneous with His absence, and which is, in fact, but the reverse side of His bodily absence.

It is true about Him that He ‘departs from’ His people in bodily form ‘for a season, that they may receive Him’ in a better form ‘for ever.’ This, then, is the heart and centre of the consolation here, that howsoever the external presence may be withdrawn, and the ‘foolish senses’ may have to speak of an absent Christ, we may rejoice in the certainty that He is with all those that love Him, and all the more with them because of the very withdrawal of the earthly manifestation which has served its purpose, and now is laid aside as an impediment rather than as a help to the full communion. We confound bodily with real. The bodily presence is at an end; the real presence lasts for ever.

I do not need to insist, I suppose, upon the manifest implication of absolute divinity which lies in such words as these. ‘I come.’ ‘Being absent, I am present in all generations. I am present with every single heart.’ That is equivalent to the Omnipresence of deity; that is equivalent to or implies the undying existence of the divine nature, and He that says, when He is leaving earth and withdrawing the sweetness of His visible form from the eyes of men, ‘I come,’ in the very act of going, ‘and I am with you always, with all of you to the end of the ages,’ can be no less than God, manifest in the flesh for a time, and present in the Spirit with His children for ever.

I cannot but think that the average Christian life of this day wofully fails in the simple, conscious realisation of this great truth, and that we are all far too little living in the calm, happy, strengthening assurance that we are never alone, but have Jesus Christ with each of us more closely, more truly, in a more available fashion, and with more omnipotence of influence, than they had who were nearest Him during the days that He lived upon earth.

Oh, brethren! if we really believed, not as an article of our creed which has become so familiar to us that it produces little impression upon us, but as a vital and ever-present conviction of our souls, that with us there was ever the real presence of the real Christ, how all burdens and cares would be lightened, how all perplexities would begin to smooth themselves out and be straightened, how all the force would be sucked out of temptations, and how sorrows and joys and all things would be changed in their aspect by that one conviction intensely realised and constantly with us! A present Christ is the Strength, the Righteousness, the Peace, the Joy, and as we shall see, in the most literal sense, the Life of every Christian soul.

Then, note, further, that this coming of our Lord is identified with that of His divine Spirit. He has been speaking of sending that ‘other Comforter,’ but though He be Another, He is yet so indissolubly united with Him who sends as that the coming of the Spirit is the coming of Jesus. He is no gift wafted to us as from the other side of a gulf, but by reason of the unity of the Godhead and the divinity of the sent Spirit, Jesus Christ and the Spirit whom He sends are inseparable though separate, and so indissolubly united that where the Spirit is, there is Christ, and where Christ is, there is the Spirit. These are amongst the deep things which the disciples were ‘not able to carry’ at that stage of their development, and which waited for a further explanation. Enough for them and enough for us, to know that we have Christ in the Spirit and the Spirit in Christ; and to remember ‘that if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.’

We stand here on the margin of a shoreless and fathomless sea; and for my part I venture to think that the men who talk about the incredibilities and the contradictions of the orthodox faith would show themselves a little wiser if they were more conscious of the limitation of human faculty, and remembered that to pronounce upon contradictions in the doctrine of the divine Nature implies that the pronouncer stands above and goes round about the whole of that nature. So, for my part, abjuring omniscience and the comprehension of Deity, I accept the statement that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit come together and dwell in the heart.

Then, note, further, that this present Christ is the only Remedy for the orphanhood of the world. The words had a tender and pathetic reference to that little, bewildered group of followers, deprived of their Guide, their Teacher, and their Companion. He who had been as eyes to their weak vision, and Counsellor and Inspirer and everything for three blessed years, was going away to leave them unsheltered to the storm, and we can understand how forlorn and terrified they were, when they looked forward to fronting the things that must come to them, without His presence. Therefore He cheers them with the assurance that they will not be left without Him, but that, present still, just because He is absent, He will be all that He ever had been to them.

And the promise was fulfilled. How did that dis-spirited group of cowardly men ever pluck up courage to hold together at all after the Crucifixion? Why was it that they did not follow the example of John’s disciples, and dissolve and disappear; and say, ‘The game is up. It is no use holding together any longer’? The process of separation began on the very day of the Crucifixion. Only one thing could have stopped it, and that is the Resurrection and the presence with His Church of the risen Christ in His power and in all the fullness of His gifts. If it had not been that He came to them, they would have disappeared, and Christianity would have been one more of the abortive sects forgotten in Judaism. But, as it is, the whole of the New Testament after Pentecost is aflame with the consciousness of a present Christ, working amongst His people. And although it be true that, in one aspect, we are absent from the Lord when we are present with the body, in another aspect, and an infinitely higher one, it is true that the strength of the Christian life of Apostles and martyrs was this, the assurance that Christ Himself-no mere rhetorical metaphor for His influence or His example, or His memory lingering in their imaginations, but the veritable Christ Himself-was present with them, to strengthen and to bless.

That same conviction you and I must have, if the world is not to be a desert and a dreary place for us. In a very profound sense it is true that if you take away Jesus Christ, the elder Brother, who alone reveals to men the Father, we are all orphans, fatherless children, who look up into an empty heaven and see nothing there. It is only Christ who reveals to us the Father and makes our happy hearts feel that we are of His children. And in the wider sense of the word ‘orphans,’ is not life a desolation without Him? Hollow joys, fleeting blessednesses, roses whose thorns last long after the petals have dropped, real sorrows, shows and shams, bitternesses and disappointments-are not these our life, in so far as Christ has been driven out of it? Oh! there is only one thing that saves us from being as desolate, fatherless children, groping in the dark for the lost Father’s hand, and dying for want of it, and that is that the Christ Himself shall come to us and be with us.

II. The unseen Christ is a seen Christ.

It is clear that the period referred to in the second clause of our text is the same as that referred to in the first, that ‘yet a little while’ covers the whole space up to His Ascension; and that if there be any reference at all to the forty days of His earthly life, during which literally, the work ‘saw Him no more,’ but the Apostles ‘saw Him,’ that reference is only secondary. These transitory appearances are not of sufficient moment or duration to bear the weight of so great a promise as this. The vision, which is the consequence of the coming, has the same extension in time as the coming-that is to say, it is continuous and permanent. We must read here the great promise of a perpetual vision of the present Christ.

It is clear, too, that the word ‘see’ is employed in these two clauses in two different senses. In the former it refers only to bodily sight, in the latter to spiritual perception. For a few short hours still, the ungodly mass of men were to have that outward vision which might have been so much to them, but which they had used so badly that ‘they seeing saw not.’ It was to cease, and they who loved Him would not miss it when it did; but the withdrawal which hid Him from sense and sense-bound souls would reveal Him more clearly to His friends. They, too, had but dimly seen Him while He stood by them; they would gaze on Him with truer insight when He was present though absent.

So this is what every Christian life may and should be-the continual sight of a continually-present Christ. It is His part to come. It is ours to see, to be conscious of Him who does come.

Faith is the sight of the soul, and it is far better than the sight of the senses. It is more direct. My eye does not touch what I look at. Gulfs of millions of miles may lie between me and it. But my faith is not only eye, but hand, and not only beholds, but grasps, and comes into contact with that to which it is directed. It is far more clear. Sense may deceive; faith, built upon His Word, cannot deceive. Its information is far more certain, far more valid. I have better reason for believing in Jesus Christ than I have for believing in the things that I touch and handle. So that there is no need for men to say, ‘Oh, if we had only seen Him with our eyes!’ You would very likely not have known Him if you had. There is no reason for thinking that the Church has retrograded in its privileges, because it has to love instead of beholding, and to believe instead of touching. That is advance, and we are better than they, inasmuch as the blessing of those ‘who have not seen, and yet have believed,’ comes down upon our heads. The vision of Christ which is granted to the faithful soul is better and not worse, more and not less, other in kind indeed, but loftier in degree too, than that which was granted to the men who saw Him upon earth. Sense disturbs, faith alone beholds.

‘The world seeth Me no more.’ Why? Because it is a world. ‘Ye see Me.’ Why? Because, and in the measure in which you have turned away your eyes from seeing vanity. If you want the eye of the soul to be opened, you must shut the eye of sense. And the more we turn away from looking at the dazzling lies with which time and the material universe befool and bewilder us, the more shall we see Him whom to see is to live for ever.

Oh, brethren! does that strong word ‘see’ in any measure express the vividness, the directness, the certainty of our realisation of our Master’s presence? Is Jesus Christ as clear, as perceptible, as sure to us as the men round us are? Which are the shadows and which are the realities to us? The things which are seen, which the senses crown as ‘real,’ or the things which cannot be seen because they are so great, and tower above us, invisible in their eternity? Which world are our eyes most open to, the world where Christ is, or the world here? Our happy eyes may behold and our blessed hands may handle the Word of Life which was manifested to us. Let us beware that we turn not away from the one thing worthy to be looked at, to gaze upon a desolate and dreary world.

III. Lastly, the present and seen Christ is living and life-giving.

The last words of my text may be connected with the preceding, as the marginal rendering of the Revised Version shows. But it is probably better to take them as standing independently, and presenting another and co-ordinate element of the blessedness arising from the coming of the Christ. Because He comes, His life passes into the hearts of the men to whom He comes, and who gaze upon Him.

Time forbids me to dwell upon that majestic proclamation of His own absolute and divine life, from lips that were so soon to be paled with death. Mark the grand ‘I live’-the timeless present tense, which expresses unbroken, underived, undying, and, as I believe, divine life. It is all but a quotation of the great Old Testament name ‘Jehovah.’ The depth and sweep of its meaning are given to us in this Apostle’s Apocalypse, where Christ is called ‘the living One,’ who lived whilst He died, and having died ‘is alive for evermore.’

And this Christ, coming to all His friends, possessor of the fullness of life in Himself, and proclaiming His absolute possession of that life, even whilst He stands within arm’s-length of Calvary, is Life-giver to all that love Him and trust Him.

We live because He lives. In all senses of the word ‘life,’ as I believe, the life of men is derived from the Christ who is the Agent of creation, the channel from whom life passes from the Godhead into the creatures, and who is also the one means by whom any of us can ever hope to live the better life which is the only true one, and consists in fellowship with God and union to Him.

We shall live as long as He lives, and His being is the pledge and the guarantee of the immortal being of all who love Him. Anything is possible, rather than that it should be credible that a soul, which has drawn spiritual life from Jesus Christ here upon earth, should ever be rent apart from Him by such a miserable and external trifle as the mere dissolution of the bodily frame. As long as Christ lives our life is secure. If the Head has life, the members ‘cannot see corruption,’ ‘Take me not away in the midst of my days: Thy years are throughout all generations’ was the prayer of a saint of old, deeply feeling the contrast of the worshipper’s transiency and God’s eternity, and dimly hoping that the contrast might be changed into likeness. The great promise of our text answers the prayer, and assures us that the worshipper is to live as long as does He whom He adores.

We shall live as He lives, nor ever cease the appropriation of His being until all His life we know, and all its fullness has expanded our natures-and that will be never. Therefore we shall not die.

Men’s lives have been prolonged by the transfusion of blood from vigorous frames. Jesus Christ passes His own blood into our veins and makes us immortal. The Church chose for one of its ancient emblems of the Saviour the pelican, which fed its young, according to the fable, with blood from its own breast. So Christ vitalises us. He in us is our Life.

Brethren, without Jesus Christ we are orphans in a fatherless world. Without Him, our wearied and yet unsatisfied eyes have only trifles and trials and trash to look at. Without Him, we are ‘dead whilst we live.’ He and He only can give us back a Father, and renew in us the spirit of sons. He and only He can satisfy our eyes with the sight which is purity and restfulness and joy. He and He only can breathe life into our death. Oh! let Him do it for you. He comes to us with all these gifts in His hands, for He comes to give us Himself, and in Himself, as ‘in a box where sweets compacted lie,’ are all that lonely hearts and wearied eyes and dead souls can ever need. All are yours if you are Christ’s. All are yours if He is yours. And He is yours if by faith and love you make yourself His and Him your own.

John 14:18-24. I will not leave you comfortless — Greek, ορφανους, orphans: a word elegantly applied to those who have lost any dear friend; I will come to you — By my spiritual presence. The Greek, ερχομαι, is literally, I come to you; for what was certainly and speedily to be, our Lord speaks of as if it were already. Yet a little while and the world — Which only sees by bodily eyes; seeth me no more — In the sense it has done for some time past, though it knows me not; but ye see me — That is, ye certainly shall see me; for, after I have done conversing with the world, I will appear again to you, and give you distinguishing marks of my regard for you; because I live, ye shall live also — Because I am the living One, in my divine nature, and shall rise again in my human nature, and live for ever in heaven; therefore, ye shall live the life of faith and love on earth, and hereafter the life of glory. At that day — When I fulfil this promise to you; when ye see me after my resurrection; but more eminently at the day of pentecost, John 14:21. He that hath my commandments — Written in his heart; and keepeth them — Makes them the continual rule of his conduct; he it is that loveth me — And none else have any title to this character, whatever specious pretences they may make to it. And he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father — With a peculiar love, a love of approbation and delight; and I will love him — In an especial manner; and will manifest myself to him — More abundantly. Judas saith — Being much surprised to hear our Lord speak as he had done; not Judas Iscariot — For he, as it was said before, was gone out before our Lord began this discourse; but another apostle of that name, who was also called Thaddeus and Lebbeus, the son of Alpheus, and the brother of James the less. This Judas, upon hearing Christ express himself in such a way, said, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, &c. — Dost thou not intend to make a public appearance, which will be obvious to the eyes of all? For, according to the notions they had conceived of the Messiah, he was to appear unto all the Jews, nay, to the whole world, and was to take unto himself universal empire. Jesus answered, If a man love me — It may be sufficient to tell you, that, as I said before, (John 14:21,) If a man, in deed and in truth, love me, he will keep my words, in an humble, obedient, and conscientious manner; and my Father will love him — Will still more approve of, and take complacency in him, for the more any one loves and obeys God, the more God will love him; and we will come unto him — By still larger communications of the Spirit of truth wisdom, holiness, and comfort; and make our abode with him — Continually. If our Lord had been a mere creature, though of the highest rank, it would have been blasphemy in him to have joined himself in this manner with God. This promise implies such a large manifestation of the divine presence and love as far exceeds the former, given when a person is justified and first obtains peace with God. He that loveth me not — Though he may profess to do it; keepeth not my sayings — With any constancy and resolution, and thereby shows that his professions of loving me are not sincere; and, therefore, he must expect no such spiritual and eternal blessings, whatever outward privileges he may enjoy. See to it, therefore, that you diligently hearken and attend to what I say; for the word which ye hear me speak is not mine — Originally or merely; but the Father’s which sent me — Who has particularly given it in charge to me, that I should thus insist on practical and universal holiness as one great end of my appearance.

14:18-24 Christ promises that he would continue his care of his disciples. I will not leave you orphans, or fatherless, for though I leave you, yet I leave you this comfort, I will come to you. I will come speedily to you at my resurrection. I will come daily to you in my Spirit; in the tokens of his love, and visits of his grace. I will come certainly at the end of time. Those only that see Christ with an eye of faith, shall see him for ever: the world sees him no more till his second coming; but his disciples have communion with him in his absence. These mysteries will be fully known in heaven. It is a further act of grace, that they should know it, and have the comfort of it. Having Christ's commands, we must keep them. And having them in our heads, we must keep them in our hearts and lives. The surest evidence of our love to Christ is, obedience to the laws of Christ. There are spiritual tokens of Christ and his love given to all believers. Where sincere love to Christ is in the heart, there will be obedience. Love will be a commanding, constraining principle; and where love is, duty follows from a principle of gratitude. God will not only love obedient believers, but he will take pleasure in loving them, will rest in love to them. He will be with them as his home. These privileges are confined to those whose faith worketh by love, and whose love to Jesus leads them to keep his commandments. Such are partakers of the Holy Spirit's new-creating grace.Comfortless - Greek, "orphans." Jesus here addresses them as children, John 13:33. He says that he would show them the kindness of a parent, and, though he was going away, he would provide for their future welfare. And even while he was absent, yet they would sustain to him still the relation of children. Though he was to die, yet he would live again; though absent in body, yet he would be present with them by his Spirit; though he was to go away to heaven, yet he would return again to them. See John 14:3. 18-20. I will not leave you comfortless—in a bereaved and desolate condition; or (as in Margin) "orphans."

I will come to you—"I come" or "am coming" to you; that is, plainly by the Spirit, since it was to make His departure to be no bereavement.

Comfortless; the word in the Greek is, orphans, persons without father and mother, who for the most part are the most comfortless persons; therefore it is translated comfortless: Christ hath a care, not only of the people’s salvation and life, but also of their comforts while they are here; he will not leave his people without proportionable comfort for their distresses.

I will come to you; in the Greek it is, I do come to you, to denote the certainty and the suddenness of his coming; which is either to be understood of his resurrection, which was (as we know) after the absence of three days; or, which is more probable, (for after his resurrection he stayed with them but a few days), in and by his blessed Spirit, (for the Spirit is called the Spirit of Christ), who was to come, and to abide with them for ever. Though it may also have a reference to his coming again to judge both the quick and the dead, to receive them to himself, that (as he said before) they might always be where he was; but the two former senses are understood as more specially relating to their present distresses, upon account of his bodily absence from them.

I will not leave you comfortless,.... Gr. "orphans", or "fatherless". Christ stands in the relation of a Father to his people, and they are his children, his spiritual seed and offspring; and so the disciples might fear, that as Christ was going from them, they should be left as children without a father, in a very desolate and comfortless, condition: to support them against these fears, Christ promises that he would not leave them thus, at least not long:

I will come to you; in a very short time, as he did; for on the third day he rose again from the dead, and appeared to them, which filled them with great joy. So among the Jews, disciples, and the world too, are represented as fatherless, when their doctors and wise men are removed by death. Says R. Aba, (x) and so sometimes others, concerning R. Simeon ben Jochai,

"woe to the world when thou shall go out of it, woe to the generation that shall be in the world when thou shall remove from them, , "and they shall be left fatherless by thee".''

And in another place (y);

"afterwards R. Akiba went out and cried, and his eyes flowed with water, and he said, woe Rabbi, woe Rabbi, for the world is left, "fatherless by thee".''

(x) Zohar in Num fol. 96. 3. & in Lev. fol. 42. 3. & in Exod. fol. 10. 3. & 28. 3.((y) Midrash Hannealam in Zohar in Gen. fol. 65. 4.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
John 14:18. Development of the consolatory element in this promised communication of the Spirit, onwards to John 14:21.

οὐκ ἀφήσω ὑμ. ὀρφ.] I will not leave you behind, as those who (after my departure) are to be orphans (John 14:27; Mark 12:19; Tob 11:2; Sir 6:2; 1Ma 12:41; Soph. Aj. 491; Phil. 484). The expression itself (comp. τεκνία, John 13:33) is that of the πατρικὴ εὐσπλαγχνία (Euth. Zigabenus).

ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς] Without mediatory particle (γάρ) in the intensity of the emotional affection. That Jesus means by this coming, i.e. according to the connection coming again (see on John 4:16), not the final historical Parousia (Augustine, Beda, Maldonatus, Paulus, Luthardt, Hofmann), is shown by the whole of the following context (quite otherwise, John 14:3). See, especially, John 14:19, where it is not the world, but the disciples who are to see Him, which is as little appropriate to the Parousia as the ἔτι μικρόν;[150] further, John 14:20-21, where spiritual fellowship is spoken of, the knowledge of which cannot first begin with the Parousia, and John 14:23, where μονὴν παρʼ αὐτῷ ποιησ. is not in harmony with the idea of the Parousia, since in this the disciples take up their abode with God (John 14:3, comp. 2 Corinthians 5:8), not God with them, which takes place through the communication of the Spirit. Most of the older expositors refer to the Resurrection of Christ, and to the new union with the Risen One. So Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Ruperti, Erasmus, Grotius, and many others, and again Kaeuffer, Hilgenfeld, Weiss, and, with a spiritualizing view of the resurrection, Ewald. But opposed to this are John 14:20-21; John 14:23; John 16:16; John 16:22-23, expressions all of which equally point to a higher spiritual fellowship,[151] as the οὐκ ἀφ. ὑμ. ὀρφ. also already presupposes a new abiding union. Justly, therefore, have most of the moderns (Lücke, Tholuck, Olshausen, B. Crusius, Frommann, Köstlin, Reuss, Maier, Baeumlein, Godet, Scholten, but also already Calvin and several others) understood by the Paraclete the spiritual coming of Christ, in which He Himself, only in another form of existence, came to the disciples. It is not yet, indeed, the consummation of the reunion; this latter first takes place at the Parousia, and therefore up to that time the state of orphanage still relatively continues, the community seeks its Lord (John 13:33), and waits for Him; and believers have to regard themselves as ἐκδημοῦντες ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου (2 Corinthians 5:6), whose life in Him with God is not yet revealed (Colossians 3:1-4) (in answer to Luthardt’s objections). Others explain it in a twofold sense, so that Christ intended His Resurrection, and at the same time His spiritual return. So Luther, Beza, Lampe, Bengel, Kuinoel, De Wette, Brückner, Lange, Ebrard; where De Wette, with this interpretation, assigns the first place to the spiritual thought, as also Hengstenberg. But the bodily ἔρχεσθαι is not indicated at all (as, if so, it would have been, in opposition to the mission of the Paraclete, by the addition of an ἐγὼ αὐτός), and the entire promise of the Paraclete, of which the present passage is an integral part, transports to a time in which the Resurrection of Christ had long passed. Generally, however, to maintain a twofold sense can only be justified by evidence from the connection.

[150] Without ground, 1 John 2:18, Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12, are appealed to for the setting aside of this shortness of time. How much later were these passages written than our ἔτι μικρόν was spoken!

[151] Which historically took its beginning, not with the appearances of the Risen One, so enigmatic to the disciples themselves, removed and estranged from the old confidential relations, but first with the outpouring of the Spirit. Thence-forward Christ lived in them, and His heart beat in them, and out of them He spake.


That Jesus, according to John, does not speak at all in express terms of His resurrection, but only in allusions like John 2:19, John 10:17-18, is in entire harmony with the spiritual character of the Gospel, according to which the return of the Paraclete was the principal thing on which the hopes of the disciples had to fix themselves. From death to the δόξα, out of which Jesus had to send the Spirit, the resurrection formed only the transition. But that He also cannot have in reality predicted His resurrection with such definiteness as it is related in the Synoptics, is clear from the whole behaviour of the disciples before and after the occurrence of the resurrection, so that in this point also the preference belongs to the Johannean account. See on Matthew 16:21.

John 14:18-21. The third encouragement: that Jesus Himself will come to them and make Himself known to them.

18. comfortless] Rather (with Wiclif) fatherless, as the word is translated James 1:27, the only other place in the N.T. where it occurs; or (with the margin) orphans, the very word used in the Greek. The inaccurate rendering ‘comfortless’ gives unreal support to the inaccurate rendering ‘Comforter.’ In the Greek there is no connexion between orphans and Paraclete. We must connect this rather with the tender address in John 13:33; He will not leave His ‘little children’ fatherless.

I will come to you] Or, I am coming to you, in the Holy Spirit, whom I will send. The context seems to shew clearly that Christ’s spiritual reunion with them through the Paraclete, and not His bodily reunion with them either through the Resurrection or through the final Return is intended.

John 14:18. Οὐκ ἀφήσω, I will not leave) although you fear that I will. Ye shall have joy from Me and from the Father.[351] This is the consolation given to those who were fearing that they should be orphans.—ὑμᾶς, you) O little children: ch. John 13:33.—ὀρφανοὺς, orphans [Engl. Vers. loses the force, ‘comfortless’]) The tie of relationship which the disciples had was with Christ, not with the world.—ἔρχομαι, I come) The Present implying the speediness of His coming. I come, after the resurrection; My presence not being done away with after the Ascension, but confirmed by it. Also saith He, I come, not, I return. All His other Comings are rather continuations of His first Coming than repetitions of it. Also He says, in the Present, I come, and presently after, Ye see, and, I live, in John 14:19 : this is owing to the very vivid realising of the thing as present, which was about to be immediately after, and for certain: John 14:27, “Peace I leave (Present) with you, My peace I give,” etc.

[351] Referring to which latter He says, I will not leave you orphans, i.e. Fatherless.—E. and T.

Verse 18. - I will not leave you behind as orphans, bereft of my paternal guardianship. Though the disciples were his brethren, yet, as we have seen, he calls them (John 13:53) τεκνία his "little children;" and (Hebrews 2:11) the apostles reckoned him as Arthur (in 'Guinevere') does when he speaks of "our fair Father Christ." His departure might be the signal for the most utter sense of desertion, exposure, and peril; and even the promise of another Advocatus would hardly console them before the time would arrive when he would receive them unto himself; but, says he, I am coming to you. Much unnecessary comment has here arisen as to whether this coming was the last triumphant παρουσία of which he speaks in part in Ver. 3, - this would be incompatible with the assurances that then the world would and will see him: "Every eye shall" then be prophetic and "see him," and "before him shall be gathered all nations;" or whether this coming be simply his resurrection with his transitory appearances in the flesh; for both of these representations would fail of the full consolation which would terminate their orphanhood. Surely he speaks of his own spiritual coming in the bestowment of the other Advocate, who, by being with them and in them, would prove to them, notwithstanding his own apparent departure, that he had come again in his glorious fullness of love. In the thought of the early Church the Lord was the Spirit: the glorified Lord, the Christ, who had "all power in heaven and earth," was manifested, was veritably present, in all the work of the Spirit of God in his Church. The Spirit was not only the Unity of the Father and the Son, the one Self-consciousness of both, but the one Consciousness of the Son of God and Son of man, the uniting Energy which represents the one Personality of the Christ, the Spirit-power which blends all the members of the mystical body with the Head. Throughout the Acts of the Apostles we see that all the great operations of the Holy Spirit are but the energies of the living, reigning Lord. John 14:18Leave (ἀφήσω)

See on John 4:3.

Comfortless (ὀρφανούς)

Literally, bereft or orphans. Only here and James 1:27, where it is rendered fatherless. Compare my little children (John 13:33). "He hath not left us without a rule (John 13:34); nor without an example (John 13:15); nor without a motive (John 14:15); nor without a strength (John 15:5); nor without a warning (John 15:2, John 15:6); nor without a Comforter (John 14:18); nor without a reward (John 14:2) (James Ford, "The Gospel of St. John Illustrated").

I will come (ἔρχομαι)

Present tense, I come. See on John 14:3.

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