May 25 2014 Gospel Lection John 14:15-21; Comments on the Greek Text

Jn 14:15 Ἐὰν ἀγαπᾶτέ[A] με, τὰς ἐντολὰς[B] τὰς ἐμὰς τηρήσετε[C]· If you love me, you will keep my commandments;
Jn 14:16 κἀγὼ ἐρωτήσω τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἄλλον παράκλητον[D] δώσει ὑμῖν ἵνα ᾖ μεθ’ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα[E], and I will ask the Father, and he will give to you another helper to be with you into the age,
Jn 14:17 τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας, ὃ ὁ κόσμος οὐ δύναται λαβεῖν, ὅτι οὐ θεωρεῖ αὐτὸ οὐδὲ γινώσκει· ὑμεῖς γινώσκετε αὐτό, ὅτι παρ’ ὑμῖν μένει[F] καὶ ἐν[G] ὑμῖν ἔσται.[H] the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither perceives [him/her][I] nor knows [him/her].  You know [the helper] because [he/she] stays beside you and will be in/among you.
Jn 14:18 Οὐκ ἀφήσω ὑμᾶς ὀρφανούς, ἔρχομαι[J] πρὸς ὑμᾶς.[K] I will not leave you orphans; I am coming to you.
Jn 14:19 ἔτι μικρὸν καὶ ὁ κόσμος με οὐκέτι θεωρεῖ, ὑμεῖς δὲ θεωρεῖτέ[L] με, ὅτι ἐγὼ ζῶ καὶ ὑμεῖς ζήσετε.[M] Yet a little [while], and the world no longer perceives me, but you perceive me; because I am alive, you also will live.
Jn 14:20 ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ γνώσεσθε[N] ὑμεῖς ὅτι ἐγὼ ἐν τῷ πατρί μου καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐν ἐμοὶ κἀγὼ ἐν ὑμῖν. In that day, y’all will know that I am in my Father and you [are] in me and I [am] in/among you.
Jn 14:21 ὁ ἔχων τὰς ἐντολάς μου καὶ τηρῶν αὐτὰς ἐκεῖνός ἐστιν ὁ ἀγαπῶν με·[O] ὁ δὲ ἀγαπῶν με ἀγαπηθήσεται ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρός μου, κἀγὼ ἀγαπήσω αὐτὸν καὶ ἐμφανίσω αὐτῷ ἐμαυτόν. The one who has my commandments and keeps them—that is the one who loves me; and the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and I will manifest myself to him.

[A] Note that this love is not a one-time event, but a persistent activity, signified by the present tense.

[B] Although this is plural (“commandments” cf.  14: 21, 15:10), there is only one commandment that Jesus explicitly gives in the fourth Gospel:  to love one another (13:34, 15:12f., 17).

[C] Other MSS have an imperative here (and a few an aorist subjunctive).  There’s not so much difference between the future and the subjunctive, and the imperative is in some tension with the next verse.  Not an easy call.

[D] Here is the (edited) BDAG definition, somewhat complex, which calls into question the commonly assumed “legal representative” understanding of this word:  (παρακαλέω) originally meant in the passive sense, ‘one who is called to someone’s aid’. Accordingly Latin writers commonly rendered it, in its NT occurrences, with ‘advocatus’. But the technical mng. ‘lawyer’, ‘attorney’ is rare.  In the few places where the word is found in pre-Christian and extra-Christian lit. as well it has for the most part a more general sense: one who appears in another’s behalf, mediator, intercessor, helper. The pass. idea of παρακεκλῆσθαι retreated into the backgound, and the active idea of παρακαλεῖν took its place. Jews adopted it in this sense as a loanw. The Gk. interpreters of John’s gosp. understood it in the active sense=παρακαλῶν. In our lit. the act. sense helper, intercessor is suitable in all occurrences of the word. Christ is designated as παράκλητος: παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν δίκαιονwe have Jesus Christ the righteous one, who intercedes for us. The same title is implied for Christ by the ἄλλος παράκλητοςof J 14:16. It is only the Holy Spirit that is expressly called παρ.=Helper in the Fourth Gosp.: 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7.

[E] εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα is commonly translated “forever,” but this misses the eschatological connotation implicit in the phrase.

[F] In contrast to the next chapter, where the command is for us to abide/stay in and with Jesus, here the Paraclete abides/stays with us!  Divine action comes first, and is the basis for human response.

[G] When the preposition ἐν takes a plural object, it can mean either “in” or “among.”

[H] Cf. 20:22.

[I] The Greek is neuter, but “it” sounds too impersonal in English.

[J] The first of several present tenses with a futuristic tilt.

[K] It is striking how often in John the presence of the Spirit and the presence of Jesus are conflated.  It is not hard to see why the western church wanted to add the filioque clause!

[L] Cf. the same verb used with respect to the spirit two verses earlier.

[M] A very succinct statement of union with Christ!

[N] Here perception moves to knowledge.

[O] Note the inclusio with verse 15 at the beginning of this text.