John 14:15-25 Love First, Commandment Second

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[f] to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Love First, Commandment Second

In some of the church contexts that I have moved in, the order Jesus gives above is reversed.  In the passage above Jesus says that love results in the actions that he is looking for.  The opposite is not necessarily true.  In other words, we do not carry out the commandments and find love.  In fact, the Bible is clear that starting with the law is good, but ultimately it kills us.

How do we stay in Jesus’ love.  First of all we are forever in Christ’s love if we ask him to take us on.  Secondly the Christian walks in the Spirit.  the Spirit is not a program or a machine which processes us in the right direction.  He is a person who walks with us.  Focusing on him helps us to lose track of time and self.  We naturally die to self.


When we are weary, help us to remember that you are near.


  1. What will those who love Jesus do?
  2. How is this theme taken up again in 1 John?
  3. Why does Jesus talk about the Holy Spirit in this context?
  4. Which comes first for you, behavior or relationship?
  5. How do people learn to feel accepted only if they behave well first?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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18 Responses to John 14:15-25 Love First, Commandment Second

  1. sjcavitt says:

    1) Those who love Jesus will obey His commandments.
    2) 1 John emphasizes that obedience to God is evidence of our salvation and of our love for Him.
    3) The Holy Spirit helps and guides us in obeying Him.
    4) I believe that relationship must come first, because if there is not a solid relationship, then behavior is simply works. When there is a relationship, behavior is a fruit of the love formed from the relationship.
    5) People may feel undeserving of being accepted unless they behave well first. Jesus says to first love Him and that He will come to them.

  2. Jenna says:

    1. They will obey His commandments (in context, the most recent commandments Jesus had given was to love one another, chapter 13, and to believe in Him, chapter 14).
    2. In 1 John 3 John expands on Jesus’ commandment to “love one another” and the idea that love for our Savior should lead us to obey His commandments. 1 John 3:24 sums up John 13, 14, and 15: “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”
    3. How will we be able to obey Jesus’ commandments unless we have the Holy Spirit in us?
    4. For me, it sort of works both ways. Sometimes I am serving Jesus out of love and gratitude for what He has done for me on the cross. But, sometimes I don’t feel particularly loved or loving, and I would rather, in my flesh, not serve Jesus. In those circumstances, I try to choose to serve and obey Christ even when I don’t feel like it. I see it like I see praying for someone you don’t like; when you’re praying for them, at first you may not really enjoy it or them, but as you continue to obey despite your feelings, the Holy Spirit will cultivate your love for Jesus and that person.
    5. I think that how we were raised plays a huge part of it; if we were raised by parents who tended to be more authoritarian, where love was dosed out in accordance with our performance, we can tend to transfer those principles to God and the rest of life.

  3. karas says:

    Because Jesus wanted His love for the Father to be shown, He obeyed the Father. If we love Jesus, we will obey Him. 1 John teaches the same thing, reinforcing that if anyone does not obey, they do not love. I find that sometimes I need to obey even when I don’t feel like it, but that when I do feel like it, the obeying becomes much, much easier. The relationship gives reason and value to the rules, and gives a motivation to follow the rules. Otherwise, it becomes legalistic and cutthroat. Either you perform or you are cut off. Thanks be to God that He does not relate to us in that way.

  4. Lacy says:

    1. Those who love Jesus will keep his commandments.
    2. “This is how we are sure that we have come to know him: by keeping his commandments.” -1 John 2:3
    3. He is reassuring his disciples that, though it will soon look like he is deserting them, he has already set in motion a plan to ensure that they will never be without him.
    4. The more I learn about Jesus, the more I am able to focus on the relationship instead of the behavior… but it’s a process.
    5. They become anxious, fearful, and resentful, knowing that they can never rest in the certainty of being loved when love can be so easily lost (and therefore is not real love in the first place).

  5. Rachel says:

    If I love him, I will obey his commands. The Holy Spirit is the helper who convicts and guides us as we walk in truth. Behavior often comes first for me. I don’t often act out of genuine love for others, instead, I choose to treat someone as if I care about them (or choose to think caring thoughts) and my actions are transformed as a result. I have recognized much hypocrisy in my heart. My heart does not choose God or long to love him; my heart is selfish. I must pray “God, give me love for you that I cannot possess of my own accord. I need your Spirit to give me power to live as one fully loved.”

  6. Mary says:

    Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” Here are my thoughts…

    Jesus says that true belief in him results in loving him, which then produces loving God with our entire being and loving others (aka. “keeping his commands”). The Holy Spirit is given as “another helper”, which I take to mean he helps us love God with our entire being. Since he is here referred to as the Spirit of truth, I believe he is continuously reorienting us toward God by speaking the truth to us. Logically what follows in my mind then, if the Spirit is “another” helper, is that Jesus’ mission was to do the same thing: to reorient us toward God by what he said and did. (Not to minimalize the saving efficacy of his death and resurrection, but that appears to be often times the only aspect we focus on).

    Jesus says, “And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.” What still continues to amaze me is how God always takes the initiative; he speaks and then he acts, he confirms and authenticates what he says. The Father sent his Son because he loved us, and the Son came and sacrificed himself because he loved the Father. The Father revealed through his prophets what his plan was, and the Son revealed in person what his plan was. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection confirmed and authenticated what he said and what the Father foretold through the prophets.

    It seems to me then, Jesus’ ministry (in word and deed) as well as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (who speaks to us and works through us), reorient us toward God so that we are able to love Him with our entire being and in turn love others. We must then (since he gave us the Spirit), need a continual reorientation of self, a continual repentance, turning toward God and away from sin. As the Spirit continues to speak to us the truth of who God is and who we are in relation to Him, and we renew our minds in the Word, we are able to love God and others more.

  7. Amy McCashen says:

    What will those who love Jesus do? Keep Jesus’ commandments.
    How is this theme taken up again in 1 John? 1 John is about our love for God being evident in us keeping his commandments and therefore loving others.
    Why does Jesus talk about the Holy Spirit in this context? He says that the Holy Spirit is our Helper. We do nothing good on our own accord. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can truly love others.
    Which comes first for you, behavior or relationship? Relationship.
    How do people learn to feel accepted only if they behave well first? Without feeling loved and accepted prior to behavior, then they will start to think that their acceptance is based on their works.

  8. Beth Coale says:

    1. keep His commandments, have fellowship with Him (1 John 1:7)
    2. 1 John is all about evaluating our relationship with God
    3. because the Holy Spirit is coming after Him
    4. I don’t know which comes first – I think about them both
    5. because that is what most everyone’s actions communicate (and it’s usually a correct reflection of their thinking too), it’s conditional love, behaviorist model of teaching in the classroom, lack of showing grace

  9. Rebekah Thompson (Bekah) says:

    1. Keep his commands
    2. To show love to him is following his commands, the same love for him as our savior
    3. Because the Holy Spirit is the one who helps us obey the commands
    4. Relationship…because if I love someone, if I love God obeying them or the way I act is going to show the feelings and relationship I have with a person the same with God.
    5. Because it is focused on performance and they only feel loved or valued based on what they do over who they are

  10. Ed says:

    Fruits of the Spirit baby. I can remember several years ago for about six days I walked with the Holy Spirit. Do this and go there I was told, those were the greatest days of joy in a row I have ever had. Now I have taken on community events, work is complicated and family is better. Through prayer these good but wrong directional tasks I selected are being removed and replace by Godly task to learn and share so I can plant seeds. All of you really explained this well and a big thanks.

  11. Janice says:

    1. Those who love Jesus will keep His word by obeying His commandment to love others.
    2. 1 John commands us to love one another because Christ laid down His life for us. We love because God first loved us.
    3. Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit as our Helper because He would be going away so that the Holy Spirit could come and dwell in His followers.
    4. Relationship comes first.
    5. People who behave well first learn to feel accepted when they realize that relationship is what matters.

  12. zacbodine says:

    1. his commands
    2. An expounding upon what it means to do commands
    3. When God talks of himself it must be trinitarian because that’s what he is. He explains that the spirit is a helper for us.
    4. Relationship
    5. They don’t. It creates a mask; if it is behavior first and then relationship. There is no honesty only trickery to earn acceptance. People become magicians and comedians to appear worthy to their audience. There can never be true authenticity or vulnerability if I am trying to play a part and say my lines that are written and expected by you so that way you will be in relationship with me.

  13. Dominic Shortridge says:

    1. Those who keep Jesus’ commandments are those who love him.
    2. This is similar in the sense that we will have communion with God when we keep his commands
    3. Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit this way because they are separate, and as Jesus describes his departure and the coming of the Spirit it is clear that they are separate, but also one.
    4. Behavior can lead us to ask questions about our relationship, but ultimately the right relationship will bring about the behavior and heart state that God desires.
    5. They feel accepted because they have conformed their behavior to fit that of others.

  14. Kathleen says:

    If we love Jesus, we will obey his commands. The Holy Spirit guides and directs us in obedience to Christ’s commands. I think as a result of our relationship, we will want to obey. So behavior comes after the relationship. Because I know what Christ did for me, I want to live my life for him.

  15. ashleypdye says:

    1. Those who love Jesus will keep his commandments.
    2. 1 John emphasizes commandments and love.
    3. Jesus is explaining that he is with his disciples always through the Spirit.
    4. I think relationship comes first for me.
    5. If people are only accepted after good behavior, they begin to receive their worth and value from behavior alone.

  16. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. What will those who love Jesus do?
    Keep his commandments
    2. How is this theme taken up again in 1 John?
    He says in chapter two that if we love him, we keep his commandments.
    3. Why does Jesus talk about the Holy Spirit in this context?
    He is talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit after Jesus ascends to the Father.
    4. Which comes first for you, behavior or relationship?
    Yes. Both. Me personally, of course I didn’t begin to show my husband I loved him until we were dating. But as a Christian, once we are saved, in thst moment we enter into a relationship, we also act in new behavior.

  17. nataliaria says:

    Jesus tells His disciples that if they love Him, they will manifest their love by obeying His commandments. 1 John 2:3 states that “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments,” which both supports and further expands Jesus’ original statement.

    I believe that Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit here for two reasons. First, He does so in order to comfort them, and assure them that He is not going to abandon them when His time on this earth comes to a close. Second, the works and obedience that He desires from His followers are only possible through the heart-changing work of the Holy Spirit, and so He introduces the Spirit here.

    This is a fascinating question that I have not previously considered in exactly these terms. I am trying to conceptualize it in terms of my own personal life, that I might answer honestly. If the behavior to which we are referring is love, or devotion of some sort, I believe that relationship comes first; it is just about impossible to display genuine love for someone with whom we are not familiar. However, if “behavior” is understood in terms of the underlying habits that characterize a person, I believe that these permanent characteristics and habits of interaction precede and shape the relationship.

    Believing that you are accepted only on the basis of good behavior is a very familiar concept to me, and something with which I have wrestled in recent months and years. I believe that, at least for some, there is an element of pride to this view; I am able to identify ways in which I contributed to you and your wellbeing, and thus can claim part of your goodwill towards me as a direct result from my actions. However, this is not always healthy, and not always true, and I believe that one way to take steps away from this mindset is to recognize the many elements of relationships for which I am not responsible, and intentionally recognize where I have favor or merit in someone’s eyes that I simply do not deserve.

  18. Austin Knight says:

    What will those who love Jesus do? Those who love Jesus will follow His commandments.
    How is this theme taken up again in 1 John? The book of 1 John talks about our love for Him being evident through the following of His commands.
    Why does Jesus talk about the Holy Spirit in this context? Jesus tells His followers that He is departing and that the Holy Spirit is coming to dwell within them.
    Which comes first for you, behavior or relationship? Relationship comes first. If behavior came first, Christ’s death on the cross would mean nothing. He died for our sins before we ever thought about changing. He died for sinners, not for the righteous. Righteousness before God is the result of His love while we were sinners. Out of our love for God in our relationship, we will behave as His children.
    How do people learn to feel accepted only if they behave well first? People with this mindset believe that they are earning acceptance. They think that as long as they behave a certain way, they have earned it. This is exactly what legalism is: people believe that in order to be acceptable in God’s eyes is by performing well enough to cover up the wickedness in their hearts.

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