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The Apologists  Bible Commentary



John 14

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14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.


Commentary Jesus has declared in verse 12 that those who believe in him will do the same miracles - and even greater ones - because He is going to His Father.  In the  position glory beside His Father, Jesus will answer prayers and "do" whatever is asked in His name (verse 13).  He amplifies this statement here, saying that anything his disciples ask in His name, He will do.  Naturally, this would only include those things which are asked in accordance with God's sovereign will (cf., 1 John 5:14).

The promise Jesus makes could not be clearer:  He will hear the requests we make in His name - as will the Father - and whatever we pray in accordance with God's will, He (Jesus) will do.

The power of the disciples originated in prayer. Jesus could hardly have made more emphatic the declaration that whatever they should ask in his name, he would do. The phrase "in my name," however, is not a talisman for the command of supernatural energy. He did not wish it to be used as a magical charm like an Aladdin�s lamp. It was both a guarantee, like the endorsement on a check, and a limitation on the petition; for he would grant only such petitions as could be presented consistently with his character and purpose. In prayer we call on him to work out his purpose, not simply to gratify our whims. The answer is promised so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. The disciples� obedience to him will be the test of their love (EBC).

Grammatical Analysis ean ti aithste me en tw nomati mou egw poihsw


Whatever you should ask me in my name, I myself will do it.

The use of me (me) here is supported by Aleph B 33 Vulgate Syriac Peshitta.  Just this phrase does not occur elsewhere in John and seems awkward, but see 16:23. If it is genuine, as seems likely, here is direct prayer to Jesus taught as we see it practiced by Stephen in Acts 7:59; and in Rev 22:20 (RWP).

Other Views Considered

Jehovah's Witnesses


objection:  In Appendix E of Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, Greg Stafford argues that the word "me" should not be included in this verse, and hence, it does not reflect Jesus' request that we pray to Him.


ResponseJames Stewart offers the following response:


The issue in this appendix is should �Me� be included in John 14:14 after the word �ask�.  If �Me� is to be included in this verse, it teaches that we can pray to Jesus.  It is very important to a Jehovah�s Witness that Jesus is not prayed to.  If Jesus is prayed to, it becomes evidence that Christ is God in the same sense as the Father is God.  For the Jehovah�s Witness, �Me� has to be excluded from the text, or they are wrong about Jesus.  The Jehovah�s Witness has a vested interest to discount the evidence for the inclusion of �Me� to be included in Jn 14:14.  On the other hand, if �Me� is included or not included, both are compatible with the Historic Christian Faith.  If �Me� is not included, it would just be parallel to Jn 14:13 and somewhat to Jn 15:16 and 16:23-24. 


There is a very helpful tool for making decisions on textual variants in D.A. Black�s book called New Testament Textual Criticism A Concise Guide, 1994, Baker Book House, Appendix 3: A Worksheet For New Testament Criticism.  I will be following it step by step.


I.                   Preliminaries


A.    Biblical reference: John 14:14


C.     Literal Rendering: Whatever you should ask me in my name, I myself will do it.

D.    NRSV Rendering: If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

E.     NKJV Rendering: If you ask anything in my name, I will do it. 

F.      Delineation of problem: Should the variant �Me� be in the text?


Let�s look at the external and internal evidence:


Since we both agree that the entire verse belongs in the text, I will not discuss this issue.


  1. List any alternative readings.

  2. Label each alternative as to the kind of variation is involved (e.g., omission, addition, transposition of words, substitution).

  3. Translate the alternatives so as to bring out the differences in meaning that each conveys.




Kind of Variation



  1. Verse with �Me�


  1. Verse without �Me�


  1. Verse with �the Father�






Whatever you should ask me in my name, I will do it.

Whatever you should ask in my name, I will do it.

Whatever you should ask the Father in my name, I will do it.

II.                External Evidence

A.    Accumulation of Evidence.

1. List readings.

2. Record the evidence for each from UBS4



  1. Addition �Me�
  2. Omission �Me�


  1. Substitution �the Father�

P66 P75vid Aleph B W D Q 060 f13 28 35 33 579 700 892 1006 1342 1184 1514 Byzpt [EH] l1841/2 l514 l547 l672 l6731/2 l813 l8901/2 itc.f vg syrp.h

A D L Y 180 597 (1010) 1071 1241 1243 1292 1424 1505 Byzpt [G Q] Lect ita, aur, d, e, q, r1 vgmss copsa, pbo, bo, ach2, fay eth slav Cyrillem Victorinus-Rome


249 397 (itff2) Augustine1/3


B.     Distribution of Evidence.  Segregate the support for each reading into the various text types.






  1. Addition �Me�







  1. Omission





  1. Substitution 


D Byzpt 28 [E H] 33 579 892 1006 1342

1184 1514 1547 1672 1673 1813 1890 f13




A Y 180 597 1010 1011 1071 1241 1243 1292 1424 1505 Lect Byzpt G Q Cyril

P66 p75vid Aleph B









Itc vg syrph 060








D it vgmss cop eth

Slav Augustine Victorinus-Rome



0249 itff2 Augustine


C.     Evaluation of Evidence.  Arrange the readings in descending order of probability with the �better attested� reading at the top.  Explain why each reading is assigned its particular position.











3.the Father


Adequately supported by the oldest and best manuscripts; Has the greatest number of text-type distribution; Supported in widely separated geographical areas


Not supported by the oldest and best manuscripts; supported in widely separated geographical areas; somewhat supported with text-type distribution


Not the oldest and best manuscripts; only one text-type; not much geographical distribution


III.             Internal Evidence

A. Transcriptional Probabilities.  Test each of the variants in the light of known types of scribal errors.


Possible Error in Transcription

  1. Me


      3. the Father



Omission, Elimination of apparent discrepancies (16:23), Harmonization of parallel passages- 14:13, 15:16. 16:23

Substitution, Elimination of apparent discrepancies (16:23), Harmonization of parallel passages- 14:13, 15:16, 16:23



B. Intrinsic Probabilities.  Examine each variant from the standpoint of the author�s style, vocabulary, and theology.


Author�s Style



  1. Me








  1. the Father


In 14:15, the verse starts out with, �If you love me,��  This has a certain symmetry to it.  Compare to 14:14, �Whatever you ask me��

Parallel to 14:13 and somewhat with 16:23

Parallel to 14:13 and somewhat with 16:23










Same high Christology

Jn 1:1, 18, and 20:28

Also, verse 13 states that Jesus answers prayer.





C. Evaluation. Arrange the variants in descending order of preference on the basis of internal evidence.



1. Me












  1. the Father


    1. It best explains the origin of the other two variants-see conclusion
    2. It is the most difficult reading
    3. Accords with the author�s style, vocabulary, and theology.
    4. It is the less harmonious reading with parallel passages


  1. It is the shorter reading but probably to make the reading less difficult.
  2. It harmonizes with the parallel passages



  1. Longer reading in order to make the reading less difficult.
  2. It harmonizes with the parallel passages


IV.              Summary and Conclusion

Give an overall summary evaluating all areas of investigation and stating your conclusion with regard to the textual problem.

 Reading one is not an addition.  Concerning the external evidence, it is the oldest attested reading from the best manuscripts.  The distribution of manuscript text-type and geography is very good.  Concerning the internal evidence, it explains why the other two variants harmonizes with parallel passages and lessens the difficulty.  The difficulty is prayer to Jesus.  It accords with the author�s style (verse 15), vocabulary, and theology.  And as Metzger states in his textual commentary on page 208, ��seems to be appropriate in view of its correlation with EGW later in the verse.�   

Reading two is an omission.  As to external evidence, it has some attestation but not close to reading one.  It does have good geographical distribution but not text-type.  As for the internal evidence, elimination of apparent discrepancies and harmonization of parallel passages would best explain the omission.  This is why it is the shorter reading.  It smoothes out the difficulty by omitting one word.  

Reading three is a substitution.  As for external evidence, it does not have much manuscript support at all.  As for internal evidence, it is the same as for reading two.

P.W. Comfort was quoted in Mr. Stafford�s appendix from an article he wrote for NTS entitled "The Greek Text of the Gospel of John According to the Early Papyri."  Mr. Stafford refers to Comfort�s article in an effort to undermine Codex B, but the authority he cites found over 40 places to suggest revisions, but not where Mr. Stafford wants it.  As Philip W. Comfort states in Early Manuscripts & Modern Translations of the New Testament on page 207 under concluding observations, �14:14 change ask anything to ask me anything�� I completely agree.    

Mr. Stafford attempts to refute three arguments given by Bruce Metzger for the inclusion of �Me� in the first edition of his textual commentary.  There were actually four arguments given by Metzger.  The one Mr. Stafford neglected was TON PATERA substituted for �Me�.  

Argument one: �Parallel texts in the book of Psalms��  Metzger listed three verses in the Psalms as parallels to Jn 14:14.  In the second edition of Metzger�s textual commentary (1994), this argument is omitted.  

Argument two: ��early manuscript support�� Mr. Stafford states on page 584, �One might consider giving the nod to me as far as external evidence is concerned.�  Notice how he downplays the external evidence.  This is not surprising.  He has to do this because he can�t have Jesus prayed to.  Ray Franz had the same problem when he was working on the subject of Chronology in the Aid to Bible Understanding.  He stated on page 26, �Thus, in preparing the material for the Aid book, much of the time and space was spent in trying to weaken the credibility of the archeological and historical evidence that would make erroneous our 607 B.C.E. date and give a different starting point for our calculations and therefore an ending date different from 1914�The arguments I presented were honest ones, but I know that their intent was to uphold a date for which there was no historical support.� As can be seen from the worksheets above, the external evidence is very good.  The evidence goes way beyond a �nod.

Mr. Stafford then tries to make it seem as if textual critics are in a state of flux as to the science of textual criticism.  He states on page 584, �However, if one wishes to research the issues involved he will find that scholars are not at all agreed as to which methodology should be followed for collating the witnesses into text-type readings descending (allegedly) from this or that prototype, that either is extant or that exists in theory, at least.�  Mr. Stafford then quotes Bart Ehrman pointing out a mistake made by Frederick Wisse.  This is a subtle way to downplay the opinions of the experts.  Of course, there are going to be disagreements between scholars.  Of course, there will be mistakes made by scholars.  This is how science progresses.  But, when one reads the textbooks and articles, there is more agreement than disagreement.  Notice what Bart Ehrman states on page 23 of his article quoted by Mr. Stafford, �Textual scholars are generally agreed on the three advantages of determining textual groups�Finally, most scholars agree�� This is the first page of his article.  On page 45 (the last page of his article), he states, �The past half-century has obviously witnessed important methodological advances in our methods of analyzing and classifying the documentary evidence of the NT.�  This does not sound like textual critics are in a state of flux.  

Kurt and Barbara Aland in their The Text of the New Testament on pages 275-276 gave �Twelve Basic Rules for Textual Criticism.�  I quote Rules 2, 3, and 4 on page 275: 

�2-Only the reading which best satisfies the requirements of both external and internal criteria can be original.

3-Criticism of the text must always begin from the evidence of the manuscript tradition and only afterward turn to a consideration of internal criteria. 

4-internal criteria (the context of the passage, its style and vocabulary, the theological environment of the author, etc.) can never be the sole basis for the critical decision, especially when they stand in opposition to the external evidence.

Argument three, ��the correlation with EGW (ego, �I�) in the same verse.�  Also, Mr. Stafford states on page585, �Regarding the correlation between ego and me in John 14:14, it is not a necessary correlation.�  Right, and Metzger never said it was necessary.  Metzger stated that ME, ��seems to be appropriate in view of its correlation with EGW later in the verse.�  Metzger is right.  It fits the context because �ME� belongs.

The second paragraph on page 585 is Mr. Stafford�s internal evidence for why �ME� does not belong in the text.  I want to refer you to the above worksheets on internal evidence.  The evidence points to �ME� to be included in the text.  Now, let�s look at 14:13, 14, 15:16, and 16:23.  Verse 14:13 states, �And whatever you should ask in my name, this I will do in order that the Father might be glorified in the Son.�  Notice in this verse that the Son answers the prayer.  Also, it doesn�t state whether to ask the Son or the Father.  Verses 13 and 14 teach that Jesus answers the prayer.  Notice also the symmetry between verse 14 and verse 15:

Verse 14-Whatever you should ask me�

Verse 15-If you would love me�

In verses 15:16 and 16:23, there is the same theme about prayer.  Except this time, it is the Father that answers the prayer.  Neither of these texts contradicts 14:13-14.  They simply state that the Father answers prayer and that the Son answers prayer.  In 16:23, the first half of the verse does not refer to prayer.  It is stating that after the resurrection, the disciples will not need further information from him.  The NWT reflects this understanding, �And in that day you will ask me no question at all.�

Mr. Stafford now leaves Jn 14:14 and makes a short comment on Acts 7:59.  He can�t have Stephen praying to Jesus, so he stated that EPIKALEW means �appeal�. He claims this �appeal� is the same �appeal� Paul gave to Caesar in Acts 25: 11-12, 21.  The same Greek word is used.  

There are several problems with this argument.  One, he is committing an etymological fallacy.  A word does not have just one basic meaning.  It has a range of meanings.  Here are a few of the meanings: call, name, appeal, and prayer.  Two, his presupposition that Jesus can�t be prayed to causes him to equivocate on the meaning of this word.  By his line of reasoning whenever this word is used in reference to the Father, I can say that the Father is just being appealed to just like appealing to Caesar.  

Words have components of meaning.  The key is the context of how the word is used.  This word is used 30 times in the New Testament.  It has an everyday secular use, and a sacred religious use.  

Moulton and Milligan in The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament page 239 states, �The middle usage �invoke,� �call upon,� as in Acts 7:59, is frequent in the magic papyri�� And in BAGD page 294, it states, �b. of calling on a divinity�Acts 7:59.�  See also H. Cremer�s Biblico-Theological Lexicon of New Testament Greek and Kittel, Vol. 3 page 497.  Here is a list of scriptures where EPIKALEOMAI signifies prayer: Gen. 12:8 (LXX), Acts 2:21, 9:14, 9:21-22, 16, 22:16, 2 Cor. 1:23, 2 Tim 2:22, Ro. 10: 12-14, and 1 Cor. 1:2.  

Even the NWT translators put as an alternative translation, �invocation; prayer� in the footnotes of the KIT page 556.  �Appeal� should have been put in the footnotes because this is a religious context, not secular and/or legal.  In the NWT revised 1984, the translators reference Psalms 31:5, �Into your hand I entrust my spirit.� to Acts 7:59.  This is quoted in Luke 23:46. You cannot help but see a parallel between Luke 23:46 and Acts 7:59.  In Luke, Jesus entrusts his spirit into the hands of the Father.  In Acts, Stephen asks Jesus to receive his spirit.  Think about it, if you are about to die, you pray!  Act 7:55 states that Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit and was given a vision of Heaven.  There is no doubt that Stephen prayed.  If EPIKALEOMAI does not mean prayer in Acts 7:59, then neither does it mean prayer anywhere else.  

F.F. Bruce stated it very well in his commentary on Acts page 180, �That the request made by our Lord to the Father should so soon be repeated to Himself by Stephen is evidence of the early date of the belief in the essential Deity of Christ.�

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