New English Translation
Jesus’ Parting Words to His Disciples
14 “Do not let your hearts be distressed.[a] You believe in God;[b] believe also in me. 2 There are many dwelling places[c] in my Father’s house.[d] Otherwise, I would have told you, because[e] I am going away to make ready[f] a place for you.[g] 3 And if I go and make ready[h] a place for you, I will come again and take you[i] to be with me,[j] so that where I am you may be too. 4 And you know the way where I am going.”[k]
5 Thomas said,[l] “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus replied,[m] “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.[n] No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you have known me, you will know my Father too.[o] And from now on you do know him and have seen him.”Read full chapter
- John 14:1 sn The same verb is used to describe Jesus’ own state in John 11:33; 12:27, and 13:21. Jesus is looking ahead to the events of the evening and the next day, his arrest, trials, crucifixion, and death, which will cause his disciples extreme emotional distress.
- John 14:1 tn Or “Believe in God.” The translation of the two uses of πιστεύετε (pisteuete) is difficult. Both may be either indicative or imperative, and as L. Morris points out (John [NICNT], 637), this results in a bewildering variety of possibilities. To complicate matters further, the first may be understood as a question: “Do you believe in God? Believe also in me.” Morris argues against the KJV translation which renders the first πιστεύετε as indicative and the second as imperative on the grounds that for the writer of the Fourth Gospel, faith in Jesus is inseparable from faith in God. But this is precisely the point that Jesus is addressing in context. He is about to undergo rejection by his own people as their Messiah. The disciples’ faith in him as Messiah and Lord would be cast into extreme doubt by these events, which the author makes clear were not at this time foreseen by the disciples. After the resurrection it is this identification between Jesus and the Father which needs to be reaffirmed (cf. John 20:24-29). Thus it seems best to take the first πιστεύετε as indicative and the second as imperative, producing the translation “You believe in God; believe also in me.”
- John 14:2 tn Many interpreters have associated μοναί (monai) with an Aramaic word that can refer to a stopping place or resting place for a traveler on a journey. This is similar to one of the meanings the word can have in secular Greek (Pausanius 10.31.7). Origen understood the use here to refer to stations on the road to God. This may well have been the understanding of the Latin translators who translated μονή (monē) by mansio, a stopping place. The English translation “mansions” can be traced back to Tyndale, but in Middle English the word simply meant “a dwelling place” (not necessarily large or imposing) with no connotation of being temporary. The interpretation put forward by Origen would have been well suited to Gnosticism, where the soul in its ascent passes through stages during which it is gradually purified of all that is material and therefore evil. It is much more likely that the word μονή should be related to its cognate verb μένω (menō), which is frequently used in the Fourth Gospel to refer to the permanence of relationship between Jesus and the Father and/or Jesus and the believer. Thus the idea of a permanent dwelling place, rather than a temporary stopping place, would be in view. Luther’s translation of μοναί by Wohnungen is very accurate here, as it has the connotation of a permanent residence.
- John 14:2 sn Most interpreters have understood the reference to my Father’s house as a reference to heaven, and the dwelling places (μονή, monē) as the permanent residences of believers there. This seems consistent with the vocabulary and the context, where in v. 3 Jesus speaks of coming again to take the disciples to himself. However, the phrase in my Father’s house was used previously in the Fourth Gospel in 2:16 to refer to the temple in Jerusalem. The author in 2:19-22 then reinterpreted the temple as Jesus’ body, which was to be destroyed in death and then rebuilt in resurrection after three days. Even more suggestive is the statement by Jesus in 8:35, “Now the slave does not remain (μένω, menō) in the household forever, but the son remains (μένω) forever.” If in the imagery of the Fourth Gospel the phrase in my Father’s house is ultimately a reference to Jesus’ body, the relationship of μονή to μένω suggests the permanent relationship of the believer to Jesus and the Father as an adopted son who remains in the household forever. In this case the “dwelling place” is “in” Jesus himself, where he is, whether in heaven or on earth. The statement in v. 3, “I will come again and receive you to myself,” then refers not just to the parousia, but also to Jesus’ postresurrection return to the disciples in his glorified state, when by virtue of his death on their behalf they may enter into union with him and with the Father as adopted sons. Needless to say, this bears numerous similarities to Pauline theology, especially the concepts of adoption as sons and being “in Christ” which are prominent in passages like Eph 1. It is also important to note, however, the emphasis in the Fourth Gospel itself on the present reality of eternal life (John 5:24; 7:38-39, etc.) and the possibility of worshiping the Father “in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:21-24) in the present age. There is a sense in which it is possible to say that the future reality is present now. See further J. McCaffrey, The House With Many Rooms (AnBib 114).
- John 14:2 tc A number of significant mss (P66c א A B C* D K L W Ψ ƒ13 33 565 579 892 al lat) have ὅτι (hoti) here, while the majority lack it (P66* C2 Θ M). Should the ὅτι be included or omitted? The external evidence is significantly stronger for the longer reading. Most Alexandrian and Western mss favor inclusion (it is a little unusual for the Alexandrian to favor the longer reading), while most Byzantine mss favor omission (again, a little unusual). However, the reading of P66*, which aligns with the Byzantine, needs to be given some value. At the same time, the scribe of this papyrus was known for freely omitting and adding words, and the fact that the ms was corrected discounts its testimony here. But because the shorter reading is out of character for the Byzantine text, the shorter reading (omitting the ὅτι) may well be authentic. Internally, the question comes down to whether the shorter reading is more difficult or not. And here, it loses the battle, for it seems to be a clarifying omission (so TCGNT 206). R. E. Brown is certainly right when he states: “all in all, the translation without ὅτι makes the best sense” (John [AB], 2:620). But this tacitly argues for the authenticity of the word. Thus, on both external and internal grounds, the ὅτι should be regarded as authentic. tn If the ὅτι (hoti) is included (see tc above), there are no less than four possible translations for this sentence: The sentence could be either a question or a statement, and in addition the ὅτι could either indicate content or be causal. How does one determine the best translation? (1) A question here should probably be ruled out because it would imply a previous statement by Jesus that either there are many dwelling places in his Father’s house (if the ὅτι is causal) or he was going off to make a place ready for them (if the ὅτι indicates content). There is no indication anywhere in the Fourth Gospel that Jesus had made such statements prior to this time. So understanding the sentence as a statement is the best option. (2) A statement with ὅτι indicating content is understandable but contradictory. If there were no dwelling places, Jesus would have told them that he was going off to make dwelling places. But the following verse makes clear that Jesus’ departure is not hypothetical but real—he is really going away. So understanding the ὅτι with a causal nuance is the best option. (3) A statement with a causal ὅτι can be understood two ways: (a) “Otherwise I would have told you” is a parenthetical statement, and the ὅτι clause goes with the preceding “There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house.” This would be fairly awkward syntactically, however; it would be much more natural for the ὅτι clause to modify what directly preceded it. (b) “Otherwise I would have told you” is explained by Jesus’ statement that he is going to make ready a place. He makes a logical, necessary connection between his future departure and the reality of the dwelling places in his Father’s house. To sum up, all the possibilities for understanding the verse with the inclusion of ὅτι present some interpretive difficulties, but last option given seems best: “Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going to make ready a place.” Of all the options it provides the best logical flow of thought in the passage without making any apparent contradictions in the context.
- John 14:2 tn Or “to prepare.”
- John 14:2 tn Or “If not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” What is the meaning of the last clause with or without the ὅτι? One of the questions that must be answered here is whether or not τόπος (topos) is to be equated with μονή (monē). In Rev 12:8 τόπος is used to refer to a place in heaven, which would suggest that the two are essentially equal here. Jesus is going ahead of believers to prepare a place for them, a permanent dwelling place in the Father’s house (see the note on this phrase in v. 2).
- John 14:3 tn Or “prepare.”
- John 14:3 tn Or “bring you.”
- John 14:3 tn Grk “to myself.”
- John 14:4 tc Most mss (P66* A C3 D Θ Ψ ƒ1,13 M lat sy sa) read “You know where I am going, and you know the way” (καὶ ὅπου [ἐγὼ] ὑπάγω οἴδατε καὶ τὴν ὁδόν οἴδατε, kai hopou egō hupagō oidate kai tēn hodon oidate). The difference between this reading and the wording in NA28 (supported by P66c א B C* L Q W 33 579) is the addition of καί before τὴν ὁδόν and οἴδατε after. Either assertion on the part of Jesus would be understandable: “you know the way where I am going” or “you know where I am going and you know the way,” although the shorter reading is a bit more awkward syntactically. In light of this, and in light of the expansion already at hand in v. 5, the longer reading appears to be a motivated reading. The shorter reading is thus preferred because of its superior external and internal evidence.sn Where I am going. Jesus had spoken of his destination previously to the disciples, most recently in John 13:33. Where he was going was back to the Father, and they could not follow him there, but later he would return for them and they could join him then. The way he was going was via the cross. This he had also mentioned previously (e.g., 12:32) although his disciples did not understand at the time (cf. 12:33). As Jesus would explain in v. 6, although for him the way back to the Father was via the cross, for his disciples the “way” to where he was going was Jesus himself.
- John 14:5 tn Grk “said to him.”
- John 14:6 tn Grk “Jesus said to him.”
- John 14:6 tn Or “I am the way, even the truth and the life.”
- John 14:7 tc There is a difficult textual problem here: The statement reads either “If you have known (ἐγνώκατε, egnōkate) me, you will know (γνώσεσθε, gnōsesthe) my Father” or “If you had really known (ἐγνώκειτε, egnōkeite) me, you would have known (ἐγνώκειτε ἄν or ἂν ἤδειτε [egnōkeite an or an ēdeite]) my Father.” The division of the external evidence is difficult, but can be laid out as follows: The mss that have the perfect ἐγνώκατε in the protasis (P66 [א D* W] 579 it) also have, for the most part, the future indicative γνώσεσθε in the apodosis (P66 א D W  sa bo), rendering Jesus’ statement as a first-class condition. The mss that have the pluperfect ἐγνώκειτε in the protasis (A B C D1 L Θ Ψ ƒ1,13 33 M) also have, for the most part, a pluperfect in the apodosis (either ἂν ἤδειτε in B C* [L] Q Ψ 1 33 565 al, or ἐγνώκειτε ἄν in A C3 Θ ƒ13 M), rendering Jesus’ statement a contrary-to-fact second-class condition. The external evidence slightly favors the first-class condition, since there is an Alexandrian-Western alliance supported by P66. As well, the fact that the readings with a second-class condition utilize two different verbs with ἄν in different positions suggests that these readings are secondary. However, it could be argued that the second-class conditions are harder readings in that they speak negatively of the apostles (so K. Aland in TCGNT 207); in this case, the ἐγνώκειτε…ἐγνώκειτε ἄν reading should be given preference. Although a decision is difficult, the first-class condition is to be slightly preferred. In this case Jesus promises the disciples that, assuming they have known him, they will know the Father. Contextually this fits better with the following phrase (v. 7b) which asserts that “from the present time you know him and have seen him” (cf. John 1:18).