Gospel of John Commentary

HAYDOCK BIBLE COMMENTARY

Background for St. John:

Saint John, the evangelist, a native of Bathsaida, in Galilee, was the son of Zebedee and Salome. He was by profession a fisherman. Our Lord gave to John, and to James, his brother, the surname of Boanerges, or, sons of thunder; most probably for their great zeal, and for their soliciting permission to call fire from heaven to destroy the city of the Samaritans, who refused to receive their Master. St. John is supposed to have been called to the apostleship younger than any of the other apostles, not being more than twenty-five or twenty-six years old. The Fathers teach that he never married. Our Lord had for him a particular regard, of which he gave the most marked proofs at the moment of his expiring on the cross, by entrusting to his care his virgin Mother. He is the only one of the apostles that did not leave his divine Master in his passion and death. In the reign of Domitian, he was conveyed to Rome, and thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil, from which he came out unhurt. He was afterwards banished to the island of Patmos, where he wrote his book of Revelations; and, according to some, his Gospel. Tota antiquitas in eo abundè consentit, quod Domitianus exilii Joannis auctor fuerit. Lampe. Proleg. l. i. cap. 4.

— In his gospel, St. John omits very many leading facts and circumstances mentioned by the other three evangelists, supposing his readers sufficiently instructed in points which his silence approved. It is universally agreed, that St. John had seen and approved of the other three gospels. St. Hier. de vir. illust. Euseb. l. iii, c. 24.

— St. Luke, says a learned author, seems to have had more learning than any other of the evangelists, and his language is more varied, copious, and pure. This superiority in style may perhaps be owing to his longer residence in Greece, and greater acquaintance with Gentiles of good education.

— St. John is properly compared to the eagle, because in his first flight he ascends above all sublunary objects, and does not stop till he meets the throne of the Almighty. He is so sententious, says St. Ambrose, that he gives us as many mysteries as words. De Sacram. l. iii, c. 2.

— From Patmos our saint returned to Ephesus, where he died. Euseb. l. iii. hist. eccles.

— This gospel was written in Greek, about the end of the first hundred years from Christ’s nativity, at the request of the bishops of the Lesser Asia, against the Cerinthians and the Ebionites, and those heretics, or Antichrists, as St. John calls them, (1 John 4:3). who pretended that Jesus was a mere man, who had no being or existence before he was born of Joseph and Mary.

 

Commentary on verses from the Gospel of John:

 JOHN 1 – The Word Became Flesh, The Testimony of John the Baptist, The First Disciples of Jesus

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – John 1:1

In the beginning was the word: [1] or rather, the word was in the beginning. The eternal word, the increated wisdom, the second Person of the blessed Trinity, the only begotten Son of the Father, as he is here called (v. 14.) of the same nature and substance, and the same God, with the Father and Holy Ghost. This word was always; so that it was never true to say, he was not, as the Arians blasphemed. This word was in the beginning. Some, by the beginning, expound the Father himself, in whom he was always. Others give this plain and obvious sense, that the word, or the Son of God, was, when all other things began to have a being; he never began, but was from all eternity. — And the word was with God; i.e. was with the Father; and as it is said, (v. 18) in the bosom of the Father; which implies, that he is indeed a distinct person, but the same in nature and substance with the Father and the Holy Ghost.

 

But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. – John 1:12-13

He gave to them power to be made the adoptive sons of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. They are made the children of God by believing and by a new spiritual birth in the sacrament of baptism, not of blood; (literally, not of bloods) not by the will, and desires of the flesh, not by the will of men, nor by human generation, as children are first born of their natural parents, but of God, by faith and divine grace. Wi.

 

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. – John 1:14

And the word was made flesh. This word, or Son of God, who was in the beginning, from all eternity, at the time appointed by the divine decrees, was made flesh, i.e. became man, by a true and physical union of his divine person, (from which the divine nature was inseparable) to our human nature, to a human soul, and a human body, in the womb, and of the substance, of his virgin Mother. From the moment of Christ’s incarnation, as all Christians are taught to believe, he that was God from eternity, became also true man. In Jesus Christ, our blessed Redeemer, we believe one divine Person with two natures, and two wills; the one divine, the other human: by which substantial union, one and the same Person became truly both God and man; not two persons, or two sons, as Nestorius, the heretic, pretended.

 

The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world. – John 1:29

Behold the Lamb of God. John let the Jews know who Jesus was, by divers testimonies. 1st, By telling them he was the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin, or sins of the world, who was come to be their Redeemer, and to free mankind from the slavery of sin; 2ndly, that he was greater than he, and before him, though born after him; 3rdly, that God had revealed to him that Jesus was to baptize in the Holy Ghost; 4thly, that he saw the Spirit descending upon him from heaven, and remaining upon him; 5thly, that he was the Son of God, v. 34. Wi. — Who taketh away. It was only a being like Christ, in whose person the divine and human natures were united, that could effectually take away the sins of the world. As man, he was enabled to suffer; and as God, his sufferings obtained a value equal to the infinite atonement required. A.

 

And he brought him to Jesus. And Jesus looking upon him, said: Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter. – John 1:42

Thou art Simon, the son of Jona, or of John. Jesus, who knew all things, knew his name, and at the first meeting told him he should hereafter be called Cephas, or Petrus, a rock, designing to make him the chief or head of his whole Church. See Matt. xvi. 18. Wi. — Cephas is a Syriac word, its import is the same as rock or stone. And S. Paul commonly calleth him by this name: whereas others, both Greeks and Latins, call him by the Greek appellation, Peter; which signifies exactly the same thing. Hence S. Cyril saith, that our Saviour, by foretelling that his name should be now no more Simon, but Peter, did by the word itself aptly signify, that on him, as on a rock most firm, he would build his Church. Lib. ii. c. 12. in Joan.

 

JOHN 2 – The Wedding at Cana & Jesus cleanses the Temple

And the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. – John 2:1

The Mother of Jesus was present. It is supposed she was then a widow, since in all the rest of the history of Jesus, not a single word occurs respecting S. Joseph. Calmet.

 

And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come. – John 2:4

Some of the Fathers have spoken without sufficient precaution on this action of the blessed Virgin; supposing she was actuated by some inclination to vanity, in begging her Son to perform a miracle on this occasion; that some of the glory of it might accrue to her, and that on this account our Saviour answers her with severity, saying, Woman, (not Mother ) what is it to thee or me. Other Fathers, with more reason, attribute the interference of the blessed Virgin to her charity and compassion for the new married couple. Whatever turn be given to our Saviour’s answer, it must be acknowledged it has in it the appearance of something severe. But the Fathers have explained it with mildness, observing that our Saviour only meant to say, Mother, what affair is it of ours if they want wine? Ought we to concern ourselves about that? Others think that he wished, by these words, to let his Mother know that she must not forestall the time appointed by the heavenly Father, as if her demand were unseasonable and out of time. But most of the Fathers and best commentators understand, that he speaks here not as man and Son of Mary, but as God; and in that quality, he observes to his Mother, I have nothing in common with you. It is not for you to prescribe when miracles are to be performed, which are not to be expected in compliance with any human respect. I know when my power is to be manifested for the greater glory of God. Calmet.— See the like forms of speech, Mark i. 24. Luke iv. 34. &c. — My hour is not yet come. It is not yet time. He waited till the wine was quite done, lest any should believe that he had only increased the quantity, or had only mixed water with the wine. He would have his first miracle to be incontestable, and that all the company should be witnesses of it. S. Aug. et alii patres passim. — Christ’s first miracle in the New Testament, was a kind of transubstantiation in changing water into wine; the first miracle Moses performed when sent to the Jews, was transubstantiation. Exod. iv. The first Moses and Aaron performed, when sent to the Egyptians, was transubstantiation. Exod. vii.

 

And when he had made, as it were, a scourge of little cords, he drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen, and the money of the changers he poured out, and the tables he overthrew. – John 2:15

He drove them all out of the temple. According to S. Chrys. (hom. lxvii. in Matt.) this casting out was different from that which is there related, c. xxi. v. 12. Wi. — How could the Son of the carpenter, Joseph, whose divinity was yet unknown to the people, succeed in expelling so great a multitude from the temple! There was undoubtedly something divine in his whole conduct and appearance, which deterred all from making resistance. The evangelist seems to insinuate this by putting these words: “The house of my Father,” into our Saviour’s mouth, which was making himself immediately the Son of God. This made Origen consider this miracle, in overcoming the unruly dispositions of so many, as a superior manifestation of power to what he had shewn in changing the nature of water at Cana. A. — Jesus Christ here shews the respect he requires should be shewn to the temple of God; and S. Paul, speaking of the profaners of God’s Church, saith: If any man defile the temple of God, him will God destroy. 1 Cor. iii. 17. Which in a spiritual sense may be understood of the soul of man, which is the living temple of the living God. A.

John 3 – Nicodemus visits Jesus, Jesus & John the Baptist, The One Who comes from Heaven

Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. – John 3:5

Unless a man be born again of water, and the Holy Ghost. Though the word Holy be now wanting in all Greek copies, it is certainly the sense. The ancient Fathers, and particularly S. Aug. in divers places, from these words, prove the necessity of giving baptism to infants: and by Christ’s adding water, is excluded a metaphorical baptism. See also Acts viii. 36. and x. 47. and Titus iii. 5. Wi. — Except a man be born again. That is, unless you are born again by a spiritual regeneration in God, all the knowledge which you learn from me, will not be spiritual but carnal. But I say to you, that neither you nor any other person, unless you be born again in God, can undestand or conceive the glory which is in me. S. Chrys.

 

Amen, amen I say to thee, that we speak what we know, and we testify what we have seen, and you receive not our testimony. – John 3:11

We speak what we know. It may perhaps be asked here, why Christ speaks in the plural number? To this we must answer, that it is the only Son of God, who is here speaking, showing us how the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father, and the Holy Ghost proceeding from both. S. Tho. Aquin.

 

For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. – John 3:16

Give his only begotten Son—God sent not his Son into the world. He was then his Son, his only begotten Son, before he sent him into the world. He was not, therefore, his Son, only by the incarnation, but was his Son from the beginning, as he was also his word from all eternity. This was the constant doctrine of the Church, and of the Fathers, against the heresy of the Arians, that God was always Father, [1] and the Son always the eternal Son of the eternal Father. See note on chap. i. v. 14. Wi. — The world may be saved. Why, says S. Austin, is Christ called the Saviour of the world, unless from the obligation he took upon himself at his birth? He has come like a good physician, effectually to save mankind. The man, therefore, destroys himself, who refuses to follow the prescriptions of his physician. S. Aust.

 

He must increase, but I must decrease. – John 3:30

He (Christ) must increase, not in virtue and perfection, with which he is replenished, but in the opinion of the world, when they begin to know him, and believe in him: and in like manner, I must be diminished, when they know how much he is above me. Wi.

 

The Father loveth the Son: and he hath given all things into his hand. – John 3:35

The Father loveth the Son. The Father loveth John, loveth Paul, yet he hath not given all things into their hands. The Father loveth the Son, not as a lord does his servants, not as an adopted Son, but as his only begotten Son; therefore hath he given all things into his hands, that as the Father is, so may the Son be. S. Austin.

 

John 4 – Jesus & the woman of Samaria, Jesus heals an official’s son

 

Jesus answered, and said to her: Whosoever drinketh of this water, shall thirst again; but he that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst for ever: – John 4:13

Shall thirst again. After any water, or any drink, a man naturally thirsts again; but Christ speaks of the spiritual water of grace in this life, and of glory in the next, which will perfectly satisfy the desires of man’s immortal soul for ever. Wi.

 

I have sent you to reap that in which you did not labour: others have laboured, and you have entered into their labours. – John 4:38

By these words our Saviour testifies to his disciples, that the prophets had sown the seed in order to bring men to believe in Christ. This was the end of the law, this the fruit which the prophets looked for to crown their labours. He likewise shews that he himself that sent them, likewise sent the prophets before them; and that the Old and New Testament are of the same origin, and have the same design. S. Chrys. ex S. Thoma.

 

John 5 – Jesus heals on the Sabbath, the authority of the Son, witnesses to Jesus

 

But Jesus answered them: My Father worketh until now; and I work. – John 5:17

My father worketh until now: [3] and I work. The Jews looked upon it of obligation to do nothing on the sabbath, because God is said to have rested the seventh day; on which account the rest on the seventh day was commanded. Christ puts them in mind, that though it be said he rested the seventh day, (that is, produced no more new kinds of creatures) yet that God may be said to work always, by preserving and continually governing the world: and I, saith he, do all things that he doth, I work with him, being one and the same in nature and substance with him: nay, even as man, I do nothing but what is conformable to his will; and so you need not fear that I break the sabbath.

The rest God entered into after the creation, and which he was pleased to honour by that of the sabbath, is no hinderance to the operations of his power in the preservation of his works, nor to the operations of his grace in the sanctification of souls.

 

For neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath given all judgment to the Son. – John 5:22

Neither doth the Father judge any man. It is certain that God is the Judge of all, by divers places of the holy Scriptures; and to judge, belongs both to the Father and to the Son, as they are the same God: so that when it is added, that the Father hath given all judgment to the Son, [6] this is meant of the exterior exercise of his judgment upon all mankind at the end of the world, in as much as Christ then will return, in his human body, to judge all men, even as man, in their bodies. Wi.

 

I cannot of myself do any thing. As I hear, so I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of him that sent me. – John 5:30

I can do nothing of myself, &c. See v. 19. S. Chrys. also take notice, that it may be no less with truth said of the Father, that he can do nothing of himself, nor without his Son, nor both of them without the Holy Ghost; because both they, and their actions, are inseparable. Wi.

 

John 6 – Feeding the Five Thousand, Jesus walks on the water, the bread from Heaven, the words of eternal life

 

Jesus therefore, when he knew that they would come to take him by force, and make him king, fled again into the mountain himself alone. – John 6:15

S. John here corrects what relates to Jesus, and then what relates to the disciples. For if we attend to the order of time, the apostles got into the boat before Jesus went to the mountain. But, in matters of this nature, it is usual for the historians to follow their own choice. Pol. Synop. critic.

 

But I said unto you, that you also have seen me, and you believe not. – John 6:36

You demand this bread; behold it is before you, and yet you eat it not. I am the bread; to believe in me is to eat me. You see me, but you believe not in me. S. Austin. — It is to this place that those words of S. Austin are to be referred: “Why do you prepare your teeth and belly? believe in me, and you have eaten me.” Words which do not destroy the real presence, of which he is not speaking in this verse. Maldon. 35. — Jesus Christ leads them gradually to this great mystery, which he knows will prove a stumbling block to many. The chapter begins with the miraculous multiplication of the loaves; then Christ walking on the sea; next he blames the Jews for following him not through faith in his miracles, but for the loaves and fishes, and tells them to labour for that nourishment which perishes not, by believing in Him, whom the Father had sent; and then promises, that what their fathers had received in figure only, the manna, the faithful shall receive in reality; his own body and blood.

 

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. – John 6:55

Jesus Christ, to confirm the notion his disciples had formed of a real eating of his body, and to remove all metaphorical interpretation of his words, immediately adds, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. . . . For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed;” which could not be so, if, as sectarists pretend, what he gives us in the blessed sacrament is nothing but a bit of bread; and if a figure, certainly not so striking as the manna.

 

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. – John 6:58

As the living Father hath sent me, his only, his true Son, to become man; and I live by the Father, proceeding always from him; so he that eateth me, first by faith only, by believing in me; and secondly, he that eateth my body and blood, truly made meat and drink, though after a spiritual manner, (not in that visible, bloody manner as the Capharnaites fancied to themselves) shall live by me, and live for ever, happy in the kingdom of my glory. Wi.

 

It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life. – John 6:63

The flesh profiteth nothing. Dead flesh, separated from the spirit, in the gross manner they supposed they were to eat his flesh, would profit nothing. Neither doth man’s flesh, that is to say, man’s natural and carnal apprehension, (which refuses to be subject to the spirit, and words of Christ) profit any thing. But it would be the height of blasphemy, to say the living flesh of Christ (which we receive in the blessed sacrament, with his spirit, that is, with his soul and divinity) profiteth nothing. For if Christ’s flesh had profited us nothing, he would never have taken flesh for us, nor died in the flesh for us. — Are spirit and life. By proposing to you a heavenly sacrament, in which you shall receive, in a wonderful manner, spirit, grace and life in its very fountain. Ch. — It is the spirit that quickeneth, or giveth life. These words sufficiently correct the gross and carnal imagination of these Capharnaites, that he meant to give them his body and blood to eat in a visible and bloody manner, as flesh, says S. Aug. is sold in the market, and in the shambles; [3] but they do not imply a figurative or metaphorical presence only. The manner of Christ’s presence is spiritual and under the outward appearances of bread and wine; but yet he is there truly and really present, by a change of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of his body and blood, which truly and really become our spiritual food, and are truly and really received in the holy sacrament. — The flesh [4] of itself profiteth nothing, not even the flesh of our Saviour Christ, were it not united to the divine person of Christ. But we must take care how we understand these words spoken by our Saviour: for it is certain, says S. Aug. that the word made flesh, is the cause of all our happiness. Wi. — When I promise you life if you eat my flesh, I do not wish you to understand this of that gross and carnal manner, of cutting my members in pieces: such ideas are far from my mind: the flesh profiteth nothing. In the Scriptures, the word flesh is often put for the carnal manner of understanding any thing. If you wish to enter into the spirit of my words, raise your hearts to a more elevated and spiritual way of understanding them. Calmet. — The reader may consult Des Mahis, p. 165, a convert from Protestantism, and who has proved the Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist in the most satisfactory manner, from the written word. Where he shows that Jesus Christ, speaking of his own body, never says the flesh, but my flesh: the former mode of expression is used to signify, as we have observed above, a carnal manner of understanding any thing.

 

Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. – John 6:67-68

Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? He shews them, says S. Chrys. that he stood not in need of them, and so leaves them to their free choice. We may here admire not only the excellency of their faith, but the plain, yet noble motive of their faith: they believe, because he is Christ, the Son of God, (or, as it is in the Greek, the Son of the living God ) who is absolutely incapable of deceiving his creatures, and whose power is perfectly equal to perform the promises he here makes them.

 

John 6 Commentary Overall –

If the blessing of men (he here instances Moses changing a rod into a serpent, and many other miraculous changes) was powerful enough to change nature, what must we not say of the divine consecration, when the very words of the Lord operate? For that sacrament which you receive, is accomplished by the word of Christ. If the word of Elias could call down fire from heaven, shall not the word of Christ be able to change the outward elements? . . . The word of Christ could draw out of nothing what was not, shall it not be able to change the things that are into that which they were not? . . . Was the order of nature followed when Jesus was born of a Virgin? Certainly not. Then why is that order to be looked for here? It was the true flesh of Christ, which was crucified, which was buried; and this is truly the sacrament of his flesh . . . Our Lord himself proclaims, This is my body.” — If Jesus Christ, during his public ministry, performed so many visible and palpable miracles as we read of in the gospels, was it not to induce us to believe without doubting the truths that escape our senses, and surpass our reason? If we believe the water was changed into wine at the marriage feast of Cana; if we believe that the bread in the hands of Christ and his apostles was not diminished, by being broken and divided among five thousand, why cannot we believe the miracle of the Eucharist on the authority of Christ’s word, “the bread that I will give you, is my flesh? This is my body,” &c. Not one of all the ancient Fathers has ever denied the real presence; not one of them all has ever said, that the body of Jesus Christ is received in figure only.

 

John 7 – the unbelief of Jesus’ brethren, Jesus at the festival of Booths, is this the Christ? , officers sent to arrest Jesus, division among the people

 

Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand. – John 7:2

This was the festival of Tabernacles, on which the Jews made tents, in imitation of those which were their habitations during their sojournment in the wilderness, for forty years. See Lev. xxiii. 34. The Jews called it a festival day; though it consisted not of one, but of many days successively. S. Austin, tract. 28. in Joan.

 

And the Jews wondered, saying: How doth this man know letters, having never learned? – John 7:15

Whilst the Jews proceeded no farther than to admire the wisdom of our Saviour, when they could easily have seen that what he taught he knew by the power of God, Christ himself reveals to them the source of his wisdom, saying: My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. S. Chrys. hom. xlviii. in Joan. — S. Thos. Aquinas, the great doctor of the schools, and styled the angelic doctor, informs us that in all the scriptural difficulties he met with, he uniformly had recourse to prayer, and that he acquired greater light and knowledge at the foot of his crucifix than from any books or masters. A.

 

Now this he said of the Spirit which they should receive, who believed in him: for as yet the Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. – John 7:39

s yet the spirit was not given, in that particular and extraordinary manner, because Jesus was not yet glorified by his ascension and the coming of the Holy Ghost. Wi. — It is said that the Baptist was filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb of his mother; that Zachary, when he prophesied concerning his son, and the blessed Virgin, when she prophesied concerning our Lord, were both filled with the Holy Ghost; that Simeon and Anna were inspired by the Holy Ghost, to declare the greatness of Christ. How can this be otherwise reconciled with this text of S. John, that by saying that this gift of the Holy Ghost, after the ascension of Christ, was much more abundant than it had ever been before? It had something which essentially distinguished it from all preceding gifts. For we never read that men inspired by the Holy Ghost before the coming of Christ, spoke languages which they had never learned. S. Aust. 4 de Trin. c. xx. — The Holy Ghost is still received, but none speak with tongues: because the Church herself, being spread over the whole earth, speaks the languages of all. Idem. tract. 32. in S. Joan. — The primitive Christians of Corinth consulted S. Paul on the subject of these spiritual gifts or graces, frequently communicated in the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. In his Epistle, addressed to them, (C. xii.) he explains those gifts, and complains that some among the Corinthians made not a right use of these gifts; especially those who had the gift of tongues, and made use of it rather through vanity, than for the profit of others. In v. ult. ibid. he adds: But be zealous for the better gifts. And I shew to you a yet more excellent way. And in the 13th chapter, he describes the excellence, the characters of charity which he extols far above all other gifts. A.

 

John 8 – Jesus prevents the stoning of Mary Magdelene, Jesus and the light of the world, Jesus foretells his death, true disciples, Jesus & Abraham

 

When therefore they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said to them: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. – John 8:7

We cannot with any propriety reprehend or condemn faults in others, if we ourselves be guilty of the same, or other great faults, S. Cyril, in Joan. — See annotations on Matt. vii, v. 1.

 

Who said: No man, Lord. And Jesus said: Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more. – John 8:11

Hence we may see how impious is the doctrine of those who say that God is the author of sin. Christ did not say to the woman: I do not condemn thy sin; or, go and live now as thou pleasest, I will free thee from all punishment due to any sin thou shalt commit: but he only said, Go, and from henceforth sin no more: thus preserving his amiable virtue of clemency, and still not encouraging vice. S. Aug.

 

Then Jesus said to those Jews, who believed him: If you continue in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed. – John 8:31

If you persevere in the true faith, and in the observance of my words, you shall be my disciples indeed. It is not sufficient to believe; you must likewise do what my words command you to do: nor will it be sufficient to have the true faith for a time; you must persevere in that faith to the end. S. Aug. Ven. Bede. S. Chrys. Theophy. Euthym. &c. — Faith alone without perseverance, or abiding in God’s commandments, will not suffice. B.

 

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof. – John 8:44

You are of your father, the devil, and have made yourselves his slaves. — He was a murderer from the beginning of the world, having brought both a corporal and a spiritual death by sin, upon all mankind. — He abode not in the truth, in the ways of truth and obedience to God. — He is a liar, and the father thereof: that is, the father of lies. I speak truth, being truth itself. Wi. — S. Austin compares heretics, who drive Christians out of the Church, to the devil, who was the cause of our first parents’ banishment from paradise. Cont. lit. Petil. l. ii. c. 13.

 

Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. – John 8:58

Before Abraham was made, I am. [4] Christ here speaks of his eternal existence as God. S. Aug. shews this by these very words, I am. He does not say, before Abraham was made, I was made: because, as the Son of God, he never was made: but I am, which shews his eternal divine nature. Wi.

 

John 9 – man born blind receives sight, pharisees investigate the healing, spiritual blindness

 

And his disciples asked him: Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? – John 9:2

When Christ healed the paralytic, he dismissed him with this injunction: Behold thou art made whole; now sin no more. From this the disciples concluded, that his infirmity was sent him in punishment of former sins. When, therefore, they saw this man afflicted with blindness, they inquired of their divine Master, whether it was on account of his or his parents’ sin. S. John Chrys. hom. lv. in Joan.

 

Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. – John 9:3

When Christ says that neither he nor his parents had sinned, we must not understand that he was born without original sin, nor even that he had not committed other sins. For both he and his parents had sinned; but the meaning is, that this blindness was not a penal blindness inflicted in punishment of any sin either himself or his parents had committed; but, as is afterwards subjoined, it was sent him for the manifestation of the glory of God. S. Austin, tract. xliv. in Joan.

 

When he had said these things, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and spread the clay on his eyes, – John 9:6

He spat on the ground. With clay and spittle he cured the blind man, to make the miracle more visible. Wi. — From the example of Jesus Christ, religious ceremonies are introduced in the administration of the sacraments; and can the Church be blamed for copying her divine Founder? A.

 

And some of the Pharisees, who were with him, heard: and they said unto him: Are we also blind? – John 9:40

The Pharisees then replied: and are we also blind? Jesus said to them: if you were blind, by ignorance in not having heard of me, and my doctrine, you might be excused for not believing; but now saying, we see: and having been yourselves in the occasions and opportunities of seeing, your sin remaineth, and you in your sins. Wi. — If you were blind, &c. If you were invincibly ignorant, and had neither read the Scriptures, nor seen my miracles, you would not be guilty of the sin of infidelity: but now, as you boast of your knowledge of the Scriptures, you are inexcusable.

 

John 10 – Jesus the Good Shepherd, Jesus is rejected by the Jews

 

Amen, amen I say to you: He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber. – John 10:1

In this parable the fold is the Church: the good shepherd, and also the door is Christ: the thieves and robbers are false guides; the hirelings, such ministers as seek their own profit and gain, and a good living, as they call it; the wolves, heretics; the sheep not yet brought into the fold, the Gentiles not then converted. Wi.

 

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. – John 10:11

How happy are we in having such a shepherd, so great, so good, so loving, so careful of our true welfare! O he is the true shepherd indeed, that came down from heaven to seek the poor sheep that was lost; and when he found it, took it upon his own shoulders to carry it home with joy to his heavenly fold. How dearly have his sheep cost him, for truly has he made good in himself this sentence, that the good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. Let us then ever follow and obey, love and embrace this true shepherd of our souls. Meditations for every Day, vol. ii. p. 417. The good pastor gives his life for his sheep; he exposes himself to every danger to save them, no inclemency of the weather, no frost or cold, no rains or tempests, can drive him from looking over his sheep, to defend them from the attacks of wolves, &c. and like Jacob he might say, day and night was I parched with heat, and with cold, and sleep departed from my eyes. Gen. xl. Or, like David speaking to Saul: “Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion or a bear, and took a ram out of the midst of the flock; and I pursued after them, and struck them, and delivered it out of their mouths; and they arose up against me, and I caught them by the throat, and I strangled them, and killed them.” 1 Kings xvii. This is a model of a true pastor. But Jesus Christ has done more than this for us. He has exposed his life and his repose, he has spilled his blood, he delivered himself to the fury of his enemies, and has offered himself as a victim on the cross to his eternal Father, to free us, his lost sheep, from the most cruel wolf, the devil. And ever since his death he has always protected his Church, assisted and consoled his distressed flock under all their sufferings, pouring into their hearts the consolations of the holy Spirit, and sending to them holy teachers, to govern and lead them in the holy path of salvation. Such were the apostles and their successors, the bishops and priests of the holy Catholic Church, whom he has sent, and will continue to send, to govern his flock to the end of time. Calmet.

 

Jesus answered them: Is it not written in your law: I said you are gods? – John 10:34

This is addressed to princes established to govern the people of God. They are the image of God on earth by the authority they exercise, and which they have received from Him. — Is it not written in your law, (under which were also comprehended the Psalms) I have said: you are Gods? &c. Christ here stops the mouths of the Jews, by an argument which they could not answer, that sometimes they were called Gods, who acted by God’s authority. I have said: you are Gods. Psal. lxxxi. 6. But then he immediately declares, that it is not in this sense only that he is God. 1st, Because he has been sanctified by the Father, which S. Aug. and others understand of that infinite sanctification, which he has necessarily by always proceeding from the Father. Others expound it of a greater sanctity and fulness of grace above all other saints, given to him, even as he was man. But 2dly, he adds at the same time, and confirms what he had often told them, that he was the Son of God, sent into the world: that his works shew that he was in the Father, and the Father in him. By this they saw that he was far from recalling or contradicting what he had said before. And therefore (v. 30.) they sought to apprehend him, and put him to death for blasphemy. Wi. — Eloim, which name of God was so called from judging, and may be interpreted judges. M.

 

 

John 11 – the death of Lazarus, Jesus the resurrection and the life, Jesus weeps, Jesus raises Lazarus to life,  the plot to kill Jesus

 

Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live: – John 11:25

I am the resurrection, and the life. That is, the author of both. Wi. — I am the resurrection, I am he who will at the last day raise him up; I can, therefore, if I will, raise him up now also. S. Aust.

 

Jesus, therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews that were come with her, weeping, groaned in the spirit, and troubled himself, – John 11:33

He groaned in the spirit, and troubled himself. The Latin and Greek, both in this and the 38th verse, express a more than ordinary inward trouble. Christ, as he was truly man, had the affections and passions of human nature; yet so that he was master, even of the first motions, which could not raise in him any disturbance or disorderly inclinations. He permitted, therefore, and, as it is said, raised in himself these affections of compassion and grief at this time. Wi.

 

And Jesus wept. – John 11:35

Jesus wept. A mark of his human nature, when he was going to give them a proof of his divinity, in raising the dead to life. Wi. — The tears of the disconsolate sisters called forth tears from the tender commiseration of Jesus. Nor was it unworthy the Son of God to shed tears. See Luke xix. 41. About to give proofs of his divinity in raising the dead, he is pleased to give, first, undoubted proofs of his humanity, that he might shew himself both God and man.

 

And presently he that had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with winding bands; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them: Loose him, and let him go. – John 11:44

Loose him, and let him go. Christ, says S. Greg. by giving these orders to his apostles, shews that it belongs to his ministers to loose and absolve sinners, when they are moved to repentance, though it is God himself that forgiveth their sins; and they by his authority only. Wi. — Lazarus comes forth bound from the sepulchre, that he might not be thought to be a phantom; and that the bystanders might themselves loose him, and touching and approaching him, might know for certain that it was he. S. Chrys. hom. lxiii. in Joan. — S. Cyril and S. Austin both adduce this verse to shew the power of priests in absolving sinners. See S. Cyril l. vii. c. ult. in Joan. and Aug. tract. 49. in Joan.

 

But one of them, named Caiphas, being the high priest that year, said to them: You know nothing. – John 11:49

But one of them, named Caiphas, being the high priest, &c. He said not this, says the evangelist, of himself, but as the high priest of that year. The spirit of prophecy was given him, and he foretells that Jesus was to lay down his life both for the nation of the Jews, and for all mankind. The gift of prophecy itself does not make a man holy. It was also given to the wicked Balaam. Numbers c. xxiv. Wi. — It is supposed that he exercised the sacrificial office alternately with his father-in-law, Annas, who, as we have seen in Luke iii. 2. was also high priest. V.

 

Neither do you consider that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. – John 11:50

How great is the power of the Holy Ghost? From a wicked mind he brings forth the words of prophecy. And how great is the power attached to the pontifical dignity! For Caiphas having becoming high priest, though unworthy of that dignity, prophesies, not knowing indeed what he says. The Holy Ghost makes use of his tongue only, but touches not his sinful heart. S. Chrys. hom. lxiv. in Joan.

 

And this he spoke not of himself: but being the high priest of that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation. – John 11:51

The same words have an impious and sacrilegious sense in the intention of the high priest, the enemy of Jesus Christ: and a divine and prophetic sense, in the intention of the Holy Ghost. V. — We here behold the privilege of the office and order, though in a wicked person: and as we have the assistance of God for the utterance of truth, which Caiphas neither meant nor knew, we may rest satisfied that Christ will not leave Peter’s chair; (Luke xxii. 32.) whose faith he promises should never fail, though the occupants be as bad as their enemies describe them.

 

 

John 12 – Mary anoints Jesus, the plot to kill Lazarus, Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, some Greeks wish to see Jesus, Jesus speaks about his death, the unbelief of the people, summary of Jesus’ teachings

 

Jesus therefore, six days before the pasch, came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life. – John 12:1

On the tenth day of the month the Jews were accustomed to collect the lambs, and other things in preparation for the ensuing great feast. On this day, likewise, they generally had a small feast, or treat for their friends, at which time Jesus coming to Bethania, joined his friends in their entertainment. This was most likely in the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Martha served at the table herself, thinking herself happy in waiting on Jesus, whom she considered as her Lord and God. Lazarus was one of them that were at table, to shew himself alive, by speaking and eating with them, and thus confounding the inexcusable incredulity of the Jews. And Mary too shewed her loving attachment to Jesus, by anointing his feet with her precious ointment. Theophyl. S. Aug. and S. Chrys.

 

Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein. – John 12:6

Judas did not then begin to be wicked: he followed Christ, not in heart, but in body only. This our Master tolerated, to give us a lesson to tolerate the bad, rather than divide the body. S. Aug. in Joan. tract. 50.

 

Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause I came unto this hour. – John 12:27

Now is my soul troubled. Christ permitted this fear and horror to come upon his human nature, as he did afterwards in the garden of Gethsemani. Father, save me from this hour; yet he presently adds, but for this cause I came unto this hour; that is, I came into this world for this end, that I might die on a cross for all mankind. In like manner, when he had said in the garden, let this cup pass from me, he presently joined these words: but not my will, but thine be done. Wi. — Lest the disciples, upon hearing our Saviour exhorting them willingly and courageously to suffer death, should think within themselves, that he could well exhort them to these things, being himself beyond the reach of human misery, he assures them in this place, that he himself is in agony, and yet does not refuse to die for them. S. Chrys. hom. lxvi. in Joan.

 

John 13 – Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, Jesus foretells his betrayal, the new commandment, Jesus foretells Peter’s denial

 

After that, he putteth water into a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. – John 13:5

S. Ambrose and S. Bernard shew that this washing was mysterious, and significative of the very great purity expected of those that receive the blessed Eucharist.

 

Jesus saith to him: He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all. – John 13:10

He that is washed, &c. The feet are always apt to contract some dust or dirt; and in the mystical sense, he that is washed by the sacraments of baptism, or penance, from greater sins, must still endeavour to cleanse, and purify his affections from lesser failings of human frailty. And you, my apostles, are clean from greater offences, but not all of you, meaning the traitor Judas. Wi. — It is impossible that the extremities of the soul (if we may be allowed the expression) should not, as long as we tread upon this earth, receive some stain or other; although in the opinion of men, the soul appear just. Many indeed after baptism, are covered with the dust of sin, even to the head, but those who are disciples indeed, need only to wash their feet. Origen, tract. 32. in Joan. — The foulness of the feet, when the rest is clean, signifies the earthly affections, and remains of former sins remitted, which are to be cleansed by devout acts of charity and humility. S. Amb. l. iii. de Sacram. c. 1. S. Ber. de cæn. Dom. ser. 1. — Though his disciples were clean, still he washed their feet, comformably to that of the Apocalypse, c. xxii. “He that is clean, let him be cleansed still.” Origen, tract. 32. in Joan.

 

A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. – John 13:34

The commandment of mutual love had been previously given, but evidently misconstrued and abridged by the Jews to friends only, to this life only, and for earthly respects: but Jesus Christ reneweth it and enlargeth it after the form of his own love towards us, and giveth grace to observe it. B.

 

Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered: Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow hereafter. – John 13:36

You cannot follow me yet to the dying for justice sake, for you are not yet prepared for martyrdom; you cannot yet follow me to the glory of my body, when risen from the dead, but must wait till the general resurrection; you cannot follow me to the bosom of my Father, being not yet sufficiently perfected in charity. S. Aug. tract. 64. in Joan.

 

John 14 – Jesus the way to the Father, the promise of the holy spirit

 

In my Father’s house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you. – John 14:2

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.

 

Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me – John 14:6

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.

 

Otherwise believe for the very works’ sake. Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do. – John 14:12

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.

 

And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. – John 14:16

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.

 

In that day you shall know, that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. – John 14:20

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.

 

You have heard that I said to you: I go away, and I come unto you. If you loved me, you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than I. – John 14:28

The Father is greater than I. [3] 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.

 

John 15 – Jesus the true vine, the world’s hatred

 

Every branch in me, that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. – John 15:2

He here shews, that the virtuous themselves stand in need of the help of the husbandman; therefore the Almighty sends them tribulations, and temptations, that they may be cleansed, and rendered firm, like the vine, which, the more it is pruned, the more vigorous are its shoots. S. Chrys. hom. lxxv. in Joan.

 

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you. – John 15:7

On account of our being in this world, we sometimes ask for that, which is not expedient for us. But these things will not be granted us, if we remain in Christ, who never grants us any thing, unless it be profitable to us. S. Aug. tract. 81. in Joan. — If we abide in Christ, by a lively faith, and his words abide in us by a lively, ardent charity, which can make us produce the fruits of good works, all that we ask, will be granted us. V. — These conditional expressions, if you remain in the vine, if you keep my commandments, &c. give us to understand, that our perseverance and salvation are upon conditions, to be fulfilled by us. — S. Aug. de cor. & gra. c. 13.

 

You are my friends, if you do the things that I command you. – John 15:14

You are my friends. A wonderful condescension, says S. Aug. in our blessed Redeemer, who was God as well as man, to call such poor and sinful creatures, his friends; who, when we have done all we can, and ought, are still but unprofitable servants. I have called you my friends, because I have made known to you, &c. We can only understand these words, as S. Chrys. takes notice, of all things which they were capable of understanding, or which it was proper to communicate to them; for, as Christ tells them in the next chap. (v. 12.) I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. Wi.

 

You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you; and have appointed you, that you should go, and should bring forth fruit; and your fruit should remain: that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. – John 15:16

O ineffable grace! For what were we, before Christ chose us, but wretched and abandoned creatures? Such we were; but now we are chosen, in order that we may become good by the grace of Him that hath chosen us. S. Aug. tract. 86. in Joan.

 

If the world hate you, know ye, that it hath hated me before you. – John 15:18

If the world hate you. The wicked, unbelieving world, hate and persecute you, as they have done me; remember, that the servant must not desire to be treated better than his master. Wi.

 

But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me. – John 15:26

Whom I will send. The Holy Ghost is sent by the Son: therefore he proceedeth from him also, as from the Father; though the schismatical Greeks think differently; (B.) otherwise, as Dr. Challoner says, he could not be sent by the Son.

 

John 16 – The work of the Spirit, sorrow will turn into joy, peace for the disciples

 

But I tell you the truth: it is expedient to you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. – John 16:7

I tell you . . . it is expedient for you that I go: that I leave you, as to my corporal presence: that I suffer death, for the redemption of all men. And if I go not, the Paraclete will not come, according to the order of the divine decrees: his coming to sanctify you with his gifts, and to teach you all things, is not to be till after my ascension. When I am gone, I will send him to you. The Father and I will send him, for he proceedeth from both. Wi.

 

But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you. – John 16:13

When he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will teach you all truth; will direct you and the Church, in the ways of truth. For he shall not speak of himself, or of himself only, because, says S. Aug. he is not from himself, but proceedeth from the Father and the Son. Whatsoever he shall hear, he shall speak [3]; this his hearing, says S. Aug. is his knowledge, and his knowledge is his essence, or being, which from eternity is from the Father and the Son. The like expressions are applied to the Son, as proceeding from the Father. Jo. v. 30. and viii. 16. &c. Wi. — If he shall teach all truth, and that for ever, (c. xi. v. 26.) how is it possible, that the Church can err, or hath erred in matters of faith, at any time, or in any point of doctrine? In this supposition, would not the Holy Ghost have forfeited his title of Spirit of Truth?

 

John 17 – Jesus prays for his disciples

 

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me: because they are thine: – John 17:9

I pray for them, I pray not for the world. That is, now in this prayer, when I desire special graces and assistances for them, to discharge their duty, as my apostles; yet we must take notice, that (v. 20.) Christ prays for all those, who should believe in him. He also prayed (Luke xxiii. 34.) for all, even for those that crucified him, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Wi. — The prayer I now offer up to thee, O my Father, is all in behalf of my disciples, it is not for the world. I pray not now for the incredulous Jews, nor for such of the Gentiles as shall afterwards believe in me; for them I will pray at another time. At present I speak to thee for my apostles only: they call for my first care, because they are thine, and thou has given them to me. Calmet. — Jesus Christ prayed with an absolute and an efficacious prayer, for all those, for whom his prayer was to be heard: he begged for them, whatever his Father had predestined to give them; but he asked for nothing, that his Father had predestined not to give them.

 

John 18 – The betrayal and arrest of Jesus, Jesus before the high priest, Peter denies Jesus, Jesus before Pilate, Jesus sentenced to death

 

As soon therefore as he had said to them: I am he; they went backward, and fell to the ground. – John 18:6

Jesus again shews the Jews his power, and works another miracle before them, to give them another opportunity of being converted; but they would not: they still persevere in their hardness of heart; he therefore now delivers himself up to them, as now they can have no excuse for their incredulity. S. Chrys.

 

The maid therefore that was portress, saith to Peter: Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples? He saith: I am not
John 18:17

S. John gives here Peter’s first denial, which is reunited to the other two by all the preceding evangelists. This is one of the circumstances, which the others may have neglected, to unite three similar facts, and relating to the same object. V. — S. Peter, the prince and head of the Church, was permitted to fall, to teach him to treat with more mildness and condescension those, whom he would afterwards have to raise out of the same miserable state of sin. One weak and frail man is placed over another, that seeing him unhappily fallen, he may give him his kind and helping hand, to free him from that unhappy state, in which he knows himself to have been. S. Chrys. — Of all which our divine Saviour suffered in the court of Caiphas, nothing so much affected him as the dangerous fall of Peter, the chief of all his apostles, who had received the most signal favours from him. He had boasted that very night, that although all the rest of the disciples should abandon their master, he would never forsake him. Yet, see the weakness and inconstancy of human nature; at the voice of a poor maid, he forthwith denies his master; repeats his denial a second, and a third time, and even swears with an imprecation, that he never knew the man. O what is man, when he confides too much in himself! Let us look to ourselves, and see, that we never fall into the same unfortunate state. But if we have the misfortune to imitate this apostle in his fall, let us likewise imitate him in his speedy repentance: for immediately after his fall, going out, he wept bitterly; a practice which, it is said, he ever after retained, as often as he heard the cock crow. Butler’s Lives of the Saints.

 

Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thy own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee up to me: what hast thou done? – John 18:35

It pleased God, that Christ, who was to die both for the Jews and the Gentiles, should be betrayed by the one, and put to death by the other. B.

 

John 19 – Jesus sentenced to death, the crucifixion, Jesus’ side is pierced, the burial of Jesus

 

And it was the parasceve of the pasch, about the sixth hour, and he saith to the Jews: Behold your king. – John 19:14

The Parasceve of the Pasch; that is, the day before the paschal sabbath. The eve of every sabbath was called the Parasceve, or day of preparation. But this was the eve of a high sabbath, viz. that which fell in the paschal week. Ch. — It was about the sixth hour when they crucified him. S. Mark, in his gospel, says, it was at the third hour that Jesus was crucified. These two evangelists are easily reconciled, if we consider that according to the custom of the Jews, all that took place between the third hour and the sixth hour of their day, was said to have happened in the third hour: their days being divided into four parts of three hours each, in the same manner as the nights were into four watches, of three hours each. S. Mark, therefore, might say very well, that the crucifixion of our Saviour took place in the third hour: though it might have been towards the conclusion of this general division of the day: whilst S. John, with a reason equally as good, says that it happened about the sixth hour. John Nicolaus, in his marginal notes on S. Thomas’ Aurea Catena.

 

This title therefore many of the Jews did read: because the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin. – John 19:20

As there were probably many Gentiles at Jerusalem at this time, on account of the festival day, this inscription was written in three different languages, that all might be able to read it. S. Chrys. hom. lxxxiv. in Joan. — It was written in Hebrew, on account of the Jews, who glorified in the law of God; in Greek, on account of the wise men of all nations; and in Latin, because of the Romans, who at that time commanded almost every nation of the earth. S. Aug. tract. 118. in Joan.

 

The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified him, took his garments, (and they made four parts, to every soldier a part,) and also his coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. – John 19:23

“That the Bible is the foundation of our religion, is new doctrine, unless in the divinity of the conventicle. We are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. Eph. ii. 20. On this foundation others still build, who are labourers together with God; (1 Cor. xi. 9. 10.) of which divine co-operation the successors of the apostles have an express promise, to the end of the world. Matt. xxviii. 20. And by persons thus authorized (John xx. 21.) apostolical tradition has been delivered down to the present day, p. 63. The one body, of which our Lord was resolved his Church should consist, was to have one faith, (Eph. iv. 4, 5.) it was to contain no schism, (1 Cor. xii. 25.) but the present confederacy is formed on the principle of combining every sect and party, and this, while we have received an express prohibition against associating with those, who reject apostolical traditions, committed to the Church.” 2 Thess. iii. 6. 14. In a foot-note on the above, the learned divine very appositely cites S. Ignatius, in which quotation we find these emphatic words: Μη πλανασθε αδελφοι μου, ει τις σχιζοντι ακολουθει, Βασιλειαν θεου ου Κληρονομει . Be not deceived, my brethren, not only acknowledged schismatics, but whoever shall join with a schismatic, shall not inherit the kingdom of God. The same apostolic Father, in another part, adds: he who corrupts the faith of God, for which Christ suffered, shall go into unquenchable fire: εις το πυρ το ασβεστον χωρησει . S. Alexander, in the fourth century, says of the Arians: that seamless garment, which the murderers of Jesus Christ would not divide, these men have dared to rip asunder. Του αρρηκτον χιτωνα σχισαι ειολμησαν .

 

When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. – John 19:26

Though there were other holy women standing by the cross, he takes notice of none but his mother, teaching us, by this, what we owe to our parents. For although it is our duty to disown them, when they place obstacles in our way to salvation; yet when they do not thus impede us, we owe every thing to them, and must prefer them to all. S. Chrys. hom. lxxxiv. in Joan. — We learn also here, what should be our respect and confidence in this Virgin Mother, so highly honoured by her divine Son.

 

But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water. – John 19:34

There came out blood and water, which naturally could not come from a dead body. Wi. — Hence it is, that the sacred mysteries flow; as often, therefore, as thou approachest the awful cup, approach it as if thou wert going to drink from thy Saviour’s sacred side. S. Chrys. hom. lxxxiv. in Joan. — The holy Fathers say, that the spouse of Jesus Christ was here taken out of his side, whilst sleeping on the cross, as Eve was from Adam’s side, when he was cast asleep in Paradise.

 

For these things were done, that the scripture might be fulfilled: You shall not break a bone of him – John 19:36

You shall not break a bone of him. This, which was literally spoken of the paschal lamb, (Exod. xii. 46.) the evangelist applies to Christ, of whom the lamb was a figure. Wi. — This had been said of the paschal lamb, which was a figure of Jesus Christ. Exod. xii. 46. and Numb. ix. 12.

 

John 20 – resurrection of Jesus, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, Jesus appears to disciples, Jesus and Thomas

 

And on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen cometh early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre; and she saw the stone taken away from the sepulchre. – John 20:1

 

And when he stooped down, he saw the linen cloths lying; but yet he went not in. – John 20:5

He saw the linen cloths lying. S. Chrys. takes notice, that Christ’s body being buried with myrrh, the linen would stick as fast to the body as pitch, so that it would be impossible to steal, or take away the body without the linen cloths. Wi.

 

Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you. – John 20:19

And the doors were [1] shut, or being shut; and remaining still shut, his glorified body entered by penetration through the doors, as he did at his resurrection. Maldonate takes notice, that Calvin was the first that denied this, against the belief of all the ancient Fathers and interpreters, who call this a miracle of divine power. Wi. — The same power which could bring Christ’s whole body, entire in all its dimensions, through the doors, can, without the least question, make the same body really present in the sacrament; though both the one and the other be above our comprehension. Ch. — Therefore it is a want of faith to limit the power of Christ, by the ordinary rules of place, and to deny that he can be in the blessed Sacrament, and on so many altars as he pleaseth. We do not still join with the Ubiquists or Brentiani, who, quite contrary to the Zuinglians, maintain, that the humanity of Jesus Christ is in every place where his divinity is. This is contrary to faith. B.

 

He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. – John 20:21

As the Father hath sent me. The word mission, when applied to our Saviour Christ, sometimes signifies his eternal procession from the Father, and sometimes his mission, as he was sent into the world to become man, and the Redeemer of mankind: the first mission agrees with him, as the eternal Son of God; the second, as man, or as both God and man. The mission which Christ here gives his apostles, is like this latter mission, with this great difference, that graces and divine gifts were bestowed on Christ, even as man, without measure: and the apostles had a much lesser share in both these missions. See S. Aug. l. iv. de Trin. c. xix. xx. tom. 4. p. 829. and seq. Wi. — Jesus Christ here shews his commission, and so giveth power to his apostles to forgive sins, as when he gave them commission to preach and baptize throughout the world, he made mention of his own power. Hence, whosoever denies the apostles, and their successors, the right of preaching, baptizing, and remitting sins, must consequently deny that Christ, as man, had the power to do the same. S. Cyprian, in the 3d cent. ep. lxxiii. says: “for the Lord, in the first place, gave to S. Peter, on whom he built his Church, super quem ædificavit Ecclesiam, the power that what he loosed on earth, should be loosed also in heaven. And after his resurrection, he speaks also to his apostles, saying, as the Father sent me, &c. whose sins you shall forgive,” &c. Why, on this occasion, passing over the other apostles, does Jesus Christ address Peter alone? Because he was the mouth, and chief of the apostles. S. Chrys. de Sacerd. l. ii. c. 1.

 

When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. – John 20:22

Receive ye the Holy Ghost. It was said, (John vii. 39.) that the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not glorified. The sense must needs be, that the holy Spirit was not given in that solemn manner, nor with so large an effusion of spiritual gifts and graces, till the day of Pentecost, after Christ’s ascension: but the just, at all times, from the beginning of the world, were sanctified by the grace of the Holy Ghost, as no doubt the apostles were, before this time. Now at this present, he gave them the power of forgiving sins. Wi. — Some say, that our Saviour did not then confer the Holy Ghost on his disciples, but only prepared them for the receiving of the Holy Ghost. But surely we may understand, that even then they received some portion of spiritual grace, the power, not indeed of raising the dead, and working other miracles, but of forgiving sins. S. Chrys. hom. lxxxv. in Joan. — S. Cyril of Alexandria, speaking of the remission of sins, promised in this text, asks, “How then, or why, did Christ impart to his disciples a power, which belongs to the divinity alone? It seemed good to him, that they, who had within themselves his divine Spirit, should likewise possess the power of forgiving sins, and of retaining such as they judged expedient; that Holy Spirit, according to his good pleasure, forgiving and retaining, through the ministry of men.” In Joan. l. xii. c. 1.

 

Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. – John 20:23

Whose sins you shall forgive, [2] &c. These words clearly express the power of forgiving sins, which, as God, he gave to his apostles, and to their successors, bishops and priests, to forgive sins in his name, as his ministers, and instruments, even though they are sinners themselves. For in this, they act not by their own power, nor in their own name, but in the name of God, who as the principal cause, always remitteth sins. This is generally allowed to be done by God’s ministers in the sacrament of baptism, as to the remission of original sin; and the Catholic Church has always held the same of God’s ministers, in the sacrament of penance.

 

The other disciples therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. – John 20:25

I will not believe. S. Cyril thinks, that the grief and trouble S. Thomas was under, might partly excuse his want of belief: however, we may take notice with S. Gregory, the his backwardness in believing, was permitted for the good of Christians in general, that thereby they might be more convinced of Christ’s resurrection. Wi. — The doubts of S. Thomas are of greater advantage to the strengthening of our faith, than the ready belief of the rest of the apostles. For when he proceeded to touch, to assure his faith, our minds, laying aside every, even the least doubt, are firmly established in faith. S. Greg. Great.

 

John 21 – Jesus appears to seven disciples, Jesus and Peter, Jesus and the beloved disciple

 

That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved, said to Peter: It is the Lord. Simon Peter, when he heard that it was the Lord, girt his coat about him, (for he was naked,) and cast himself into the sea. – John 21:7

It is the Lord. S. Chrysostom says, we may here see the different characters of the two apostles, Peter and John; the former is more ardent, the latter more sublime; the first more vehement, the last more penetrating; for these reasons, John was the first to know Christ, Peter the first to hasten to him. Hom. lxxxvi.

 

When therefore they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. – John 21:15

Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these? That is, more than any one of these love me. Christ puts this question thrice to S. Peter, that this triple protestation of love, says S. Aug. might correspond to his triple denial. S. Peter did not answer that he loved him more than the rest did, which he could not know, but modestly said: yea, Lord, thou knowest I love thee: and the third time, thou knowest all things, and the hearts of all men, thou knowest how much I love thee. At each protestation, Jesus answered, feed my lambs; and the third time, feed my sheep. To feed, in the style of the Scriptures, is to guide, rule, and govern. S. Ambrose and some others take notice, as if by the lambs, might be understood the people, and by the sheep, those placed over them, as bishops, priests, &c. but others make no such difference in this place, betwixt lambs and sheep, only as comprehending all the members of Christ’s Church, of what condition soever, even the rest of the apostles. For here it was that Christ gave to S. Peter that power which he had promised him, (Matt. xvi. 18.) that is, He now made S. Peter head[1] of his whole Church, as he had insinuated at the first meeting, when S. Andrew brought him to our Saviour, when he changed his name from Simon to Peter: again, when he chose him, and made him the first of his twelve apostles; but particularly, when he said, thou art Peter, (a rock) and upon this rock will I build my Church, &c. Upon this account the Catholic Church, from the very first ages, hath always reverenced, and acknowledged the supreme power of the successors of S. Peter, in spirituals, over all Christian Churches. This appears also by the writings of Tertullian, of S. Irenæus, of S. Cyprian, of the greatest doctors and bishops, both of the west and east, of S. Jerom, S. Augustin, of S. Chrysostom, in several places, of the first general Councils, particularly of the great Council of Chalcedon, &c. Wi. — Simon (son) of John. The father’s name is here added, to discriminate him from Simon Thaddeus, that every one might know that the chief care of the universal Church was not given to any other apostle but Peter. This Simon of John is the same as Simon Bar-jona. See Matt. xvi. 17. Menochius. — S. Peter had three times renounced his master; and Jesus, to give him an opportunity of repairing his fault by a triple confession, three several times demanded of him, if he loved him more than these? That, as S. Augustin remarks, he who had thrice denied through fear might thrice confess through love. Calmet.

 

Jesus saith to him: So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? follow thou me. – John 21:22

Jesus saith: so I will have him remain, [3] &c. That is, in case I will have him remain; or, as it is in the Greek, if I will have him remain, what is that to thee? It is thy duty, and thy concern, to follow me. Wi. — When Christ told S. Peter to follow him, he meant, that he should go like himself to the death of the cross; but when he says of S. John, So I will have him to remain till I come, he insinuates that his beloved disciple should not undergo a violent death; but remain in the world, till he should visit him by death, and conduct him to glory. It may likewise be understood of the Revelations, in which our Saviour manifested himself in his glory to this his beloved disciple. In the Greek, it is, if I will have him to remain; and this is the true reading, according to Estius, and Jansenius, bp. of Ghent, authorized by many Latin copies. Others refer these words of Christ to his coming to destroy Jerusalem: an epoch which S. John survived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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