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The Apologists  Bible Commentary

 

 

John 14

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6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me."

 

Commentary

Jesus' answer to Thomas - rightly called the core statement of the Gospel - is striking because not only does Jesus point to the way to the Father, Jesus asserts that He is the way to the Father.  And, indeed, the only way.  Jesus has just said that the Disciples know the way that He is going (v. 4), but Thomas demurs: "how do we know the way?" (v. 5).  Jesus responds by a profound self-identification.  The Disciples can safely place their faith in Him just as they place their faith in God (v. 1) precisely because Jesus is the only way to the Father.  He is the truth and the life - words charged with meaning throughout John's Gospel ("truth" occurs 21 times; "life" 39 times).  Jesus is "full of grace and truth" (1:14) and those who abide in His word "will know the truth," and by this truth, will be "set free" (8:32).  Jesus has "life in him" (1:4), has the same quality of "life in Himself" that the Father has (5:26), and equates "eternal life" to knowing the Father and knowing Him (17:3).

Only One who truly embodies the Father in the deepest sense - who can later say, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father," (v. 9) and who includes Himself in the promised indwelling of believers (v. 23) could make such a claim.  Jesus implicitly points to His Incarnation and grounds His answer in it:

"All truth is God's truth, as all life is God's life; but God's truth and God's life are incarnate in Jesus (Bruce, pp. 298-99).

In a culture that extols inclusivism and rejects all absolutes except the credo: "all truth is relative," Jesus' words are an offense.  Men can cynically ask, as Pilate did, "what is truth?"  But if Jesus is, indeed, the One come from the bosom of the Father to declare Him to us, the answer is clear:  He is!

He did not counter Thomas's skepticism with an argument or a quotation drawn from his memory. He responded with an authoritative assertion as the master of life. He is the way to the Father because only he has an intimate knowledge of God unmarred by sin. He is the truth because he has the perfect power of making life one coherent experience irrespective of its ups and downs. He is the life because he was not subject to death but made it subject to him. He did not live with death as the ultimate end of his life; he died to demonstrate the power and continuity of his life. Because he is the way, the truth, and the life, he is the only means of reaching the Father. Jesus was not exhibiting a narrow arrogance. Rather, he was making the only possible deduction from the fact that he, the unique Son, was the sole means of access to the Father. Jesus' claim parallels the author's pronouncement: "No one has ever seen God, but God the only Son, who is at the Father's side, has made him known" (John 1:18). Jesus is the only authorized revelation of God in human form and he is the only authorized representative of humanity to God. (EBC)

Grammatical Analysis egw eimi `h `odoV kai `h alhqeia kai `h zwh

EG EIMI h hODOS KAI h ALTHEIA KAI h Z

I am the way and the truth and the life

I am the way, and the truth, and the life... Either of these statements is profound enough to stagger any one, but here all three together overwhelm Thomas. Jesus had called himself  "the life" to Martha (11:25) and "the door" to the Pharisees (10:7) and "the light of the world" (8:12). He spoke "the way of God in truth" (Mark 12:14). He is the way to God and the only way (verse 6), the personification of truth, the centre of life. 


Except by me... There is no use for the Christian to wince at these words of Jesus. If he is really the Incarnate Son of God (1:1, 14, 18), they are necessarily true. (RWP)

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