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21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.

Jesus returned to the thought of verse 15 in verse 21. He spoke of the dispensation of the Spirit in verses 16–20. Following Christ’s precepts requires the enablement of the Holy Spirit.

In verse 15 love was the catalyst for responding to Jesus’ words. Here appropriation of Jesus’ precepts or principles is the sure sign of love for Him.

21 He who has My commandments [precepts]

At this point John turned from the apostles to any disciple in general— “he who.”

The word “has” means to grasp principles from God’s Word for one’s life. It is to make Jesus’ precepts one’s own, to embrace them as the right way to live. The idea is to make them one’s own, to make them personal. “Commandments” are precepts or principles of God’s Word. A precept is a general principle to guide a way of life and action.

and keeps them,

“Keeps” here means to apply truth to experience, to maintain and appropriate Jesus’ principles to our lives. The idea of “keeps,” then, is to maintain Jesus’ precepts in daily life. This is far more than a simple, intellectual grasp of them.

The meaning of “keep” in John 14 is to maintain or follow the precepts of Christ; that is, to conform to His principles. Jesus wants us to conform to His worldview.

it is he who loves Me.

The apostle John qualified the keeping of Jesus’ words by “love” (1 Jn 2:3-5). At the heart of responding to Jesus’ precepts is love for Him. There is a longing to please Him. No doubt this is stronger in some than others. It rises to higher levels and goes to lower stages at other times even within the individual believer (Php 3:12). At the minimum, there is a basic love for Jesus in every believer.

Love is the cause but keeping Jesus’ protocols is the effect. We trace the effect back to its origin—love.


Love is the root desire of conforming to the criteria of Christ.


Love is at the root of keeping Jesus’ word; response to His love by appropriating His precepts to life is the effect. Application of truth is the proof of love for Jesus. Possession of principles is not enough. We must both “have” or possess and “keep” or apply them. The person who continually does this shows that he constantly loves the Lord.

Some believers love the Lord more than others. These types respond to Him in greater ways and fellowship with God to a greater degree.

We need two dynamics to live a godly life: (1) learn and grasp principles from God’s Word and (2) apply them to our lives. Both need to be fully integrated into our experience. To appropriate God’s truth should be a way of life, a philosophy of a godly life. Possession of principles is not enough; we must practice the principles to engage them properly.