Monday, May 20, 2019

Stealth Insight and a Special Peace

Below is a rough translation and some initial comments regarding John 14:23-29, the Revised Common Lectionary’s gospel reading for the 6thSunday of Easter. Your comments are welcomed.

I get the feeling that we are watching the development of theology in this chapter, from the post-Easter community, many of whom have not had a face-to-face encounter with Christ but who still experience the risen Christ as alive and among them. It is an experience of love (v.23), obedience (keeping word, v.23), learning (v.26), remembering (v.26), being at peace (v.27), rejoicing (v.28), and believing (v.29).  

23 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεναὐτῷ, Ἐάν τις ἀγαπᾷμε τὸν λόγον μουτηρήσει, καὶ ὁ πατήρ μου ἀγαπήσειαὐτόν, καὶ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐλευσόμεθακαὶ μονὴν παρ' αὐτῷ ποιησόμεθα
Jesus answered and said to him,“If anyone would love me he will keep my word, and my father loves him, and to him we will come and a home with him we will make.
ἀπεκρίθη: API 3s, ἀποκρίνομαι, 1) to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer  
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
ἀγαπᾷ: PASubj 3s, ἀγαπάω, 1) of persons  1a) to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly
τηρήσει: FAI 3s, τηρέω, 1) to attend to carefully, take care of  
ἀγαπήσει: FAI 3s, ἀγαπάω, 1) of persons  1a) to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly
ἐλευσόμεθα: FMI 1p, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come  1a) of persons
ποιησόμεθα: FMI 1p, ποιέω, 1) to make  1a) with the names of things made, to produce, construct,  form, fashion, etc. 
1. The “him” that Jesus is answering is Judas, who asked in v.22 how it is that Jesus would reveal himself to the disciples and not to the world in general. This is the “other Judas,” not Judas Iscariot. 
2. I am reading Elaine Pagel’s Beyond Belief, in which she makes a strong case that the theology of John’s gospel is in contention with the theology reflected in The Gospel of Thomas. A primary dispute is whether the knowledge of the gospel that Christians possess comes by believing in Jesus (per John) or is more innately contained within everyone (per Thomas). If Pagels is correct, Judas’ question in v.22 raises the issue directly and – not insignificantly perhaps – from the mouth of Judas Iscariot. 
3. This verse, then, could be John’s way of disclosing the manner in which Christians are privy to a truth that not everyone else can perceive: The one who loves Jesus will keep his word and God and Jesus will make a home within him. 

24 ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶνμε τοὺς λόγους μου οὐ τηρεῖ: καὶ ὁ λόγος ὃν ἀκούετεοὐκ ἔστινἐμὸς 
ἀλλὰ τοῦ πέμψαντόςμε πατρός.
The one who is not loving me does not keep my words; andthe word which you hear is not mine but of the father who sent me. 
ἀγαπῶν: PAPart nsm, ἀγαπάω, 1) of persons  1a) to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly 
τηρεῖ: PAI 3s, τηρέω, 1) to attend to carefully, take care of  
ἀκούετε: PAI 2p, ἀκούω, 1) to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf  2) to hear
ἔστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present 
πέμψαντός: AAPart gsm, πέμπω, 1) to send 
1. The first clause seems to show the opposite to v.23, again with the order that loving Jesus leads to keeping his word. In v.24, it is plural – ‘my words.’ 
2. The second clause explains that the words of Jesus are actually God’s words. 

25 Ταῦτα λελάληκαὑμῖν παρ' ὑμῖν μένων
These things I have said to you while remaining with you
λελάληκα: PerfAI 1s, λαλέω, 1) to utter a voice or emit a sound  2) to speak 
μένων: PAPart nsm, μένω, 1) to remain, abide
1. I added ‘while’ to relate the present participle to the perfect main verb. 
2. This is one of those places in the gospels where the narrator’s voice seems to speak through Jesus’ voice oddly. Within the narrative itself, Jesus is with the disciples and the use of the perfect tense or even a reference to a time when Jesus was remaining with the disciples makes no sense. So, as a direct quote in story time, this verse is odd. However, as a gospel written after the fact, it makes perfect sense for the narrator to speak of a time when Jesus had said things to them while remaining with them. 

26 ὁ δὲ παράκλητος, τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ὃ πέμψειὁ πατὴρ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου, ἐκεῖνος ὑμᾶς διδάξειπάντα καὶ ὑπομνήσειὑμᾶς πάντα ἃ εἶπονὑμῖν [ἐγώ]. 
Yet the paraclete, the holy spirit which the father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and will remind you all things which I [I] said to you. 
πέμψει: FAI 3s, πέμπω, 1) to send 
διδάξει: FAI 3s, διδάσκω, 1) to teach 
ὑπομνήσει: FAI 3s, ὑπομιμνήσκω(μιμνήσκω with ὑπό implying stealth, prefixed) to call to one's mind, privately, silently, by hints or suggestions; hence, to suggest to one's mind, put in mind of, bring to remembrance.
εἶπον: AAI 1s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  
1. I am transliterating paraclete, because I am unsure whether John is intending the reader to know something by that term of whether he is stipulating a new meaning for the term. It is originally introduced earlier in this chapter, 14:16-17, and the roles that it plays seem far different than what we ordinarily think of with words like “Advocate” or “Comforter.” I am more comfortable letting it be its own word, without assuming that it means anything more than what John says it to mean. 
2. Play close attention to the etymology of the verb ὑπομνήσει (remind). According to the lexicon from, the prefix ὑπό implies “stealth.” That would imply that disclosure from the paraclete to the one who loves Jesus and keeps his word is an unseen, perhaps even uncanny, remembrance of Jesus’ teaching. If this isn’t Gnosticism proper, it seems close. See the notes below to see Henry Paris’ contribution to this question. 

27 Εἰρήνην ἀφίημιὑμῖν, εἰρήνην τὴν ἐμὴν δίδωμιὑμῖν: οὐ καθὼς ὁ κόσμος δίδωσινἐγὼ δίδωμιὑμῖν. μὴ ταρασσέσθωὑμῶν ἡ καρδία μηδὲ δειλιάτω.
Peace I leave to you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled nor fear. 
ἀφίημι: PAI 1s, ἀφίημι, 1) to send away  1a) to bid going away or depart 
δίδωμι: PAI 1s, δίδωμι, 1) to give 
δίδωσιν: PAI 3s, δίδωμι, 1) to give 
δίδωμι: PAI 1s, δίδωμι, 1) to give 
ταρασσέσθω: PPImpv 3s, ταράσσω, 1) to agitate, trouble (a thing, by the movement of its parts to and fro)  1a) to cause one inward commotion, take away his calmness of  mind, disturb his equanimity
δειλιάτω: PAImpv 3s, δειλιάω, 1) to be timid, fearful 
1. I’m curious about the similarities and differences of the first and second clauses here. Is there a difference between ‘peace’ and ‘my peace’? If so, the first and second clauses say different (though closely related) things. If not, the second clause is a repetition of the first in some way. Relatedly, are ‘leaving’ and ‘giving’ peace the same things?
2. Is Jesus making a distinction between howthe world gives and how he gives? Or, is he making the distinction between the peace that the world gives and the peace that he gives? If the ‘peace’ that the world gives is the ‘peace through victory through violence’ that the Pax Romanaoffered, the question might be whether the peace that Jesus gives looks any different or is accomplished differently. 
3. The verb ταρασσέσθω (troubled) is a passive imperative in the 3rdperson – not typical. The next verb, δειλιάτω (fear) is likewise a 3rdperson imperative, but it is active. Many translations treat it as if it were passive as well.

28 ἠκούσατεὅτι ἐγὼ εἶπονὑμῖν,  Ὑπάγωκαὶ ἔρχομαιπρὸς ὑμᾶς. εἰ ἠγαπᾶτέμε ἐχάρητεἄν, ὅτι πορεύομαιπρὸς τὸν πατέρα, ὅτι ὁ πατὴρ μείζωνμούἐστιν
You heard that I said to you, ‘I am going away and returning to you.’If you were loving me you would have been gladdened, because I go to the father, because my father is great.
ἠκούσατε: AAI 2p, ἀκούω, 1) to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf  2) to hear
εἶπον: AAI 1s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  
Ὑπάγω: PAI 1s, ὑπάγω, 1) to lead under, bring under 2) to withdraw one's self, to go away, depart
ἔρχομαι: PMI 1s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come
ἠγαπᾶτέ: IAI 2p, ἀγαπάω, 1) of persons  1a) to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly
ἐχάρητε: API 2p, χαίρω, 1) to rejoice, be glad
πορεύομαι: PMI 1s, πορεύομαι, 1) to lead over, carry over, transfer, to go, to pass
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present 
1. Again, the language of “you heard that I said to you...” would be odd coming in real time. It is language more suited to one who spoke in the past but continues to dwell in the present as the resurrected Christ. 
2. I have translated ἐχάρητε as “gladdened” because it is passive. And, while it is aorist indicative, the particle ἄν gives it a conditional sense, so “would have been gladdened.”

29 καὶ νῦν εἴρηκαὑμῖν πρὶν γενέσθαι, ἵνα ὅταν γένηταιπιστεύσητε.
And now I have said to you before [it is] to begin, in order that when it begins you may believe. 
εἴρηκα: PerfAI 1s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
γενέσθαι: AMInf, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being 
γένηται: AMSubj 3s, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being 
πιστεύσητε: AASubj 2p, πιστεύω, 1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place  confidence in
1. The verb γενέσθαι is in the infinitive mood, but because it is preceded by πρὶν (before) I have supplemented “it is” to make it readable and to keep the infinitive. Other translations make the infinitive read like a present indicative.
2. Again, the narrator time/reader time seems to be overlapping. Jesus said it beforehand, so that when it happened they might believe ... so that the community looking back would believe as well. 


  1. ὑπομνήσει: Great Treasures may say it implies "stealth" but Thayer, Loun & Nida, USB Lexicon all say from Homer on down it simply means recall from memory, remind, remember. It may be that the source in Great Treasures is extracting "stealth" in the sense that memories are often "hidden" in the mind?

  2. Henry, Thanks for the comment. Greattreasures notes the active (cause to remember, remind, or suggest) as well as the passive (to be reminded, to remember) use of this word from Homer on down.
    I think their comment on 'stealth' is to account for the purpose of the prefix, as well as to distinguish this kind of being reminded as a kind of interior process, rather than a memory that is provoked from the outside.
    That's my guess, anyway. Their lexicon seems heavily dependent on Strong's, for better or for worse, and sometimes gets less technical and more preachy.
    I think your last comment is helpful. To some extent, John reminds us that no book can contain everything that Jesus said and did, so there has to be room for memories that are not expressly given in written form. The paraclete seems to be the agent by which that knowledge is evoked.
    Thanks again for chiming in.


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