Verily, Verily, I Say Unto You

Twenty-five times in the Gospel of John, Jesus used the term"Verily, verily, I say unto you" to stress the importance of His words. In the first part of this study, we looked at the first 12 "Verily, verily" statements Jesus made to His disciples. Now we'll study the remaining 13 statements.

This is part 2 of a 2 part study. Click here to read the first part: Verily, Verily, Part 1


13.) Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keeps my sayings, he shall never see death. (8:51)

Jesus gave them – and us – a promise, with a condition. The condition: “If.... you keep my words”. To “keep” means to hold fast to, to preserve, and to fulfill a command, or obey. By following the things Jesus taught, keeping His words, we are not only freed from sin, but enter into eternal life. Other verses such as John 14:21 and I John 3:24 make it clear, if we love God, we will keep His words. However, do not mistake this to mean it is our works (keeping His words) that save us, for nothing could be farther from the truth. No one can keep all the commandments, all the time - and breaking even one of them is the same as breaking them all (James 2:10). Nothing we can do can ever save us (Eph. 2:8-9). Our works are the result of our salvation, not the cause of it.

The promise: “Shall never see death”. This is not referring to physical death, as obviously, we are all going to die, except those believers who are living when Christ returns, who will be raptured at that time, never having experienced physical death. (1 Thes. 4:15-17) Death of the body is not reckoned death, but merely the gate through which the believer enters into eternal life. The real death is that of the soul, or the second death. (Luke 12:4; Rev. 20:6) The promise is universal: “If any one”; Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free man, young or old, rich or poor - the promise is available to all. (PNTC)

14.) Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (8:58)

The words rendered "was" and "am" are quite different. The one clause means, "Abraham was brought into being"; the other, "I exist." The statement therefore is not that Christ came into existence before Abraham did, but that He never came into being at all, but existed before Abraham had a being; in other words, He existed before creation. (PNTC) Jesus was not created, but rather always existed, as God and with God. John begins his book with this acknowledgment, in fact: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1)

Jesus identified Himself here in the same manner God identified Himself to Moses back in Exodus: “I AM”. In identifying Himself this way, He was alluding to His own deity. Divinity has no past tense, no future, but is always the present: always was, always is, and always will be.

15.) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, that man is a thief and a robber. (10:1)

Jesus had been castigating the Pharisees, the spiritual leaders of Israel, at the end of the previous chapter, for their arrogance and refusal to see the truth. Here He continued to address them, accusing them of climbing up into their positions as shepherds in ways that proved them to be thieves and robbers. Those words are not redundant: a thief steals by cunning and deceitfulness, while a robber takes forcefully, by violence. The Pharisees were both. They usurped dominion over the fold of God, and exerted their power over the flock with cruelty and selfishness for their own private ends. They stole the sheep in Messiah's absence, and they killed the Messiah when he came. (TFG)

This had long been the general character of the Pharisees and scribes, with notable exceptions, of course. Far too often they sought wealth, authority, prestige, and their own comfort, all at the expense of the people, (Jer. 23:1 ; Eze. 24:2-3) and so deserved being compared to thieves and robbers. They insinuated themselves slyly as a thief, and they oppressed without mercy, like a robber. (Barnes)

16.) Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. (10:7)

In John 10:1-5, Jesus speaks of religious leaders, or shepherds of the people, in general. They enter into the fold and go out by the same door as the sheep, they are not doors to the fold. Christ is that door for both the sheep, and the shepherds. There is no other way in,except through Him, for "there is no other name, under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved" [Acts 4:12].(PNTC)

For those today who believe there are many ways to get to heaven, they need to re-read the words of Jesus: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) There is only one door to heaven, and that is Jesus Christ.

17.) Verily, verily, I say unto you, unless a corn of wheat falls into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit. (12:24)

Jesus was explaining the reason for His upcoming death. His disciples thought that He was about to establish His kingdom, which He was, but not an earthly kingdom, like they expected. He told them that the time had come in which He was to be glorified, but not in the manner in which they expected. Instead, His kingdom would be established, and He would be glorified, by His death. This was too much for them to comprehend yet, and would seem to put an end to their hopes, so He illustrates His meaning using this comparison. All the beauty and richness of the harvest results from the fact that the grain had died. If the grain of seed had not died, it would never have produced the glory of the harvest. In this way He emphasises the truth that He would be glorified, but His death is necessary for that to happen. (Barnes)

Jesus was also teaching them what it would require for them to be fruitful in the kingdom. They must be willing to die to self in order to bear much fruit. (Col. 3:5)

18.) Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. (13:16)

Jesus taught by His own example the truth of humility, and humble service to others (Matt. 18:4; John 13:4-17; Phil. 2:5-8) Since a servant is not greater than his lord, he should be willing to follow the example before him, and do what he has seen his Lord do. However, one must also remember that in doing as the Lord did, there is always the very real possibility of being rejected and persecuted, just as the Lord was. Jesus told His disciples in John 15:20: "Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also." Being a servant of Christ means being willing to humbles ourselves, as He humbled Himself, even to dying on the cross. (Phil. 2:8)

19.) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receives whoever I send receives me; and he that receives me receives Him that sent me. (13:20)

Anything, good or bad, done to or for the messengers sent by Christ is considered as also having been done to Him (also see Matt. 25:34-46). He and the Father are so united, that what is done to one is done to the other. Thus, any kindness shown to those who are sent by the Lord is the same as showing kindness to Jesus Himself, and to God the Father, as the two are one. The next verse assures believers that anyone showing kindness to ministers of the gospel of Christ, will also share in their rewards.

20.) When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, One of you shall betray me. (13:21)

By "troubled in spirit", Jesus doubtless foresaw the deep and dreadful sorrows of his approaching death, and was also deeply saddened by the ingratitude and wickedness of a professed friend who was about to betray him. Jesus was man as well as God, and he felt like other men. His human nature shrank from the suffering He would face (Matt. 26:39,42,44) , and his emotions were affected by a friend's betrayal the same way ours would be. (Barnes) He testified, or openly declared what he had hinted at in verse 18-- that one of them would betray him. That comment apparently had not been plain enough to be fully understood by the disciples, except for traitor himself. (JFB)

21.) Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till you have denied me three times. (13:38)

Peter, the bold and brash disciple, had declared he would follow Christ even if to the point of his own death. Jesus repeated Peter's words back to him with a sad but affectionate sense of irony, and Peter would feel the weight of that irony continually in the days to follow. (JFB) Jesus knew Peter was going to deny Him, but Peter's denial did not have the sorrowful effect on Jesus the Judas' betrayal had. The difference was that Jesus already knew that although Peter would temporarily deny knowing Him, he would go on to establish the church after Christ ascended to Glory. (Matt. 16:18)

22.) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believes on me, shall also do the works that I do; and he shall do greater works than these; because I go unto my Father. (14:12)

The word "works" refers not to miracles so much as to the work of establishing the church and preaching the gospel to bring men to repentance and salvation. (Abbott) Not that the apostles had greater power than Christ Himself had, but that their works would reach and affect a far greater number of people. The works of Jesus were confined to Judea. They were seen by few. The works of the apostles were witnessed by many nations, and the effect of their miracles and preaching was that thousands from among the Jews and Gentiles were converted to the Christian faith. (Barnes)

When Jesus returned to His Father, He would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to them. The Comforter would not come until after Jesus left them (John 16:7), The Holy Spirit would teach them everything they needed to know, (John 14:26) would lead and guide them, help them to understand, correct them, and intercede for them with the Father (Rom. 8:26,27). Jesus Himself would return to His Father, to be seated at the right hand of God (Eph. 1:20; Col. 3;1; Heb. 1:3; I Peter 3:22, et al) to intercede for them forever (Heb. 7:25).

23.) Verily, verily, I say unto you, You shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and you shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. (16:20)

The followers of Jesus would weep and lament at his death, while the world, a term used throughout the Scriptures to describe lost, sinful mankind, would rejoice. The tables would soon be turned, however, and their mourning would be turned to joy by His resurrection and ascension, and the bestowing of the Holy Spirit. (FBN)

The disciples could not yet see how their sorrow could possibly turn to joy, because they did not yet see the bigger picture: that Jesus would be resurrected, and would send the Comforter to them. They had only the promise of Jesus that this would all work out to their benefit. And thus, when we are sorrowful in our own afflictions, if we could see the whole picture, we would also rejoice, because we also have the promise of God that He will work things out for our benefit, and our weeping will also turn to joy. (Rom. 8:28; Psalm 30:5) (Barnes)

24.) And in that day you shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you. (16:23)

“That day” is referring to the day of Pentecost, when they first received the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Spirit would make all things clear, and all the mysteries the apostles now questioned Jesus about would then be fully explained. Having spoken of His departure, and the role of the Holy Spirit, Jesus now speaks of what He Himself would do. He entered heaven as our high priest (Heb 9:24), and as such, He would make intercession for His people (Heb 7:24-25).(TFG)

Jesus tells them to address their prayers to the Father, in His name, and the Father would give them what they asked. A grand promise indeed! But what does it mean to pray in His name? It isn't merely tacking His name onto the end of a prayer, like some kind of magic word. To pray in the name of Christ means:

  1. To look up to Christ, as He purchased for us this privilege of going directly to the Father in prayer. It is by the blood of Christ that we draw near to God, and that the throne of grace is open to us. (Heb. 4:14-16)
  2. To pray in the strength of Christ, by the assistance of His grace, and being led by the help and power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8:26-27)
  3. To pray by faith, with assurance of Christ's mediation and intercession, believing that what we ask on earth, He intercedes for and obtains for us in heaven. (Heb 7:24-25) (Burkitt)
25.) Verily, verily, I say unto thee, I say unto thee, When you were young, you dressed yourself, and walked where you wanted to go: but when you are old, you shall stretch out your hands, and another shall dress you, and carry you somewhere you don't want to go. (21:18)

With these words Jesus warns Peter of the suffering he will experience in the future, and indicates that Peter would prove to be more faithful in the future than he had been in the past, when Jesus was arrested and Peter denied Him three times. Jesus was telling him that the time would come when he would no longer be free to do as he wished, but would instead face the being bound (girded) by others and led to his death, but also that Peter would go to his death willingly, and suffer himself to be bound to the cross. Peter is said to have been not nailed, but tied and bound to the cross. (Burkitt)

When Peter was crucified on a cross, historians say that he requested that he might be crucified with his head downward, saying that because he had denied Christ previously, he was not worthy to die as Christ did. Thus did Peter prove the truth of these words Christ spoke to him.

This is part 2 of a 2 part study. Click here to read Part 1 :
Verily, Verily, Part 1


References used for this study include:

Barnes = Albert Barnes Notes on the New Testament
Burkitt = Burkitt's Expository Notes
PNTC = People's New Testament Commentary
TFG = The Fourfold Gospel and Commentary on Acts
FNB = Family Bible Notes
JFB = Jamieson Fausset-Brown Commentary

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