Belief in God Biblical doctrines hermeneutics

Only in Jesus is found the way, the truth and the life

In John chapter 14 Jesus tells His disciples not to be worried because He has a plan and that plan includes a place (actually a ‘residence’) in heaven prepared for them.

John 14:1-4 Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Firstly, Jesus identifies Himself as God  (verse 1). He speaks with full knowledge as only the omniscient God can. Here He speaks in absolute terms. He does not say “If you stay away from sin, or if you are good, then I will give you a mansion in heaven”. No, His language is definite. The disciples were chosen and from the moment they were saved they had this promise of eternal life in heaven. But they were not saved until later, which we read in John chapter 20. That was after Jesus’ resurrection.

John 20:21,22 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be to you: as My Father has sent Me, even so send I you. 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive you the Holy Ghost:

It was then they were born again as real Christians. Jesus breathed His Spirit into them that they might be saved and have the Holy Spirit indwell them. This was a pivotal point in the lives of the disciples as it is in the lives of those saved by God now. All saved Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives the believer an understanding of spiritual things (John 14:26). But at this time, in John 14, they did not have that understanding. Jesus said,

John 14:4,5 And where I go you know, and the way you know. Thomas said to Him, Lord, we know not where You go; and how can we know the way?

Even though Jesus spoke of preparing a place for them in heaven, they did not understand.  Jesus even said that they knew where and the way they knew also. But they didn’t have the understanding of the Holy Spirit to recognise it at that time.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him [Thomas], I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me.

This verse is probably one of the most important verses in the Bible. There is no other way to heaven but through Jesus Christ. Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna or any other guru will just not do it. There is no other truth than through Jesus Christ and that includes Moses and the law. There is no other life than through Christ. The reason for that is that the word ‘life’ here has the meaning of eternal life.

On this verse John Gill wrote:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way,…. Our Lord takes the opportunity of this discourse about the place he was going to, and the way unto it, more fully to instruct his disciples concerning himself, saying, “I am the way”; Christ is not merely the way, as he goes before his people as an example; or merely as a prophet, pointing out unto them by his doctrine the way of salvation; but he is the way of salvation itself by his obedience and sacrifice; nor is there any other; he is the way of his Father’s appointing, and which is entirely agreeable to the perfections of God, and suitable to the case and condition of sinners; he is the way to all the blessings of the covenant of grace; and he is the right way into a Gospel church state here; no one comes rightly into a church of Christ but by faith in him; and he is the way to heaven: he is entered into it himself by his own blood, and has opened the way to it through himself for his people: he adds,
the truth he is not only true, but truth itself: this may regard his person and character; he is the true God, and eternal life; truly and really man; as a prophet he taught the way of God in truth; as a priest, he is a faithful, as well as a merciful one, true and faithful to him that appointed him; and as a King, just and true are all his ways and administrations: he is the sum and substance of all the truths of the Gospel; they are all full of him, and centre in him; and he is the truth of all the types and shadows, promises and prophecies of the Old Testament; they have all their accomplishment in him; and he is the true way, in opposition to all false ones of man’s devising. And this phrase seems to be opposed to a notion of the Jews, that the law was the true way of life, and who confined truth to the law. They have a saying {r}, that משה ותורתו אמת, “Moses and his law are the truth”; this they make Korah and his company say in hell. That the law of Moses was truth, is certain; but it is too strong an expression to say of Moses himself, that he was truth; but well agrees with Christ, by whom grace and truth came in opposition to Moses, by whom came the law: but when they say {s}, אין אמת אלא תורה, “there is no truth but the law”, they do not speak truth. More truly do they speak, when, in answer to that question, מה אמת, “what is truth?” it is said, that he is the living God, and King of the world {t}, characters that well agree with Christ.
And the life: Christ is the author and giver of life, natural, spiritual, and eternal; or he is the way of life, or “the living way”; in opposition to the law, which was so far from being the way of life, that it was the ministration of condemnation and death: he always, and ever will be the way; all in this way live, none ever die; and it is a way that leads to eternal life: and to conclude all the epithets in one sentence, Christ is the true way to eternal life. It is added by way of explanation of him, as the way,
no man cometh unto the Father but by me; Christ is the only way of access unto the Father; there is no coming to God as an absolute God, not upon the foot of the covenant of works, nor without a Mediator; and the only Mediator between God and man is Christ: he introduces and presents the persons and services of his people to his Father, and gives them acceptance with him.
{r} T. Bab. Bava Bathra. fol. 74. 1. Bemidbar Rabba, fol. 223. 2. {s} Hieros. Roshhashanah, fol. 59. 1. Praefat. Echa Rabbati, fol. 36. 2. {t} Ib. Sanhedrin, fol. 18. 1.


Jesus is the life

The word translated ‘life’ in verse 6 is the Greek word ζωή (zoe). It has the meaning ‘life-above’ and is used in a mortal, temporal sense and in an eternal sense. It has the meaning of eternal life, heavenly life, which Jesus gave us via His death on the Cross. Then and there He paid our debt with the Father and secured our place in heaven, for those who believe.

This Greek word zoe is the one used in the New Testament when referring to eternal life.

Matthew 19:16 And, behold, one came and said to Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life (αἰώνιος ζωή)?

Here αἰώνιος (aionios) is translated ‘eternal’ and ζωή (zoe) is translated ‘life’. But the meaning of life is only found in the believer.

Matthew 18:8 Why if your hand or your foot offend you, cut them off, and cast them from you: it is better for you to enter into life (zoe) halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting (aionios) fire.

Here Jesus is teaching that ‘life’ is synonymous with being saved. Because those who are dead are cast into everlasting fire, meaning the lake of fire, at the great white throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). Those who are unsaved are spiritually dead.

The unsaved are physically born in sin, and inherit Adam’s penalty, which is death. This is what Scripture refers to as the first death. This concept of the first death being spiritual death of the unregenerated in Christ is supported by Jesus (in Luke 9 and Matthew 8) when He was challenging some potential disciples to count the cost and follow Him. To one man He said:

Luke 9:59,60 … Follow Me. But he said, Lord, permit first me to go and bury my father. Jesus said to him, Let the [spiritually] dead bury their [physically] dead: but go you and preach the kingdom of God.

Jesus said to the man to leave his relatives, the spiritually dead, to bury their physically dead. Those are the unregenerate relatives, who spiritually are already dead, even though they are still living in the flesh. But what counts to God is the spiritual life and those who are not spiritually alive are dead.

So in Matthew 18:8, what Jesus is effectively saying is that it is better to enter into eternal life minus an appendage than to enter the lake of fire fully intact. This life, eternal life, is only found in Christ the Messiah. Thank God for that. We don’t have to do it. He died to save those who put their trust in Him.


To the young man in Matthew 19 Jesus gave some tests that he might ‘enter into life (zoe)‘ (verse 17-24). This led to Jesus saying “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (verse 24). The first part is a Jewish expression about which John Gill wrote:

…thus, when the Jews would express anything that was rare and unusual, difficult and impossible, they used a like saying with this. So speaking of showing persons the interpretation of their dreams {g};
“Says Rabba, you know they do not show to a man a golden palm tree i.e. the interpretation of a dream about one, which, as the gloss says, is a thing he is not used to see, and of which he never thought, ולא פילא דעייל בקופא דמחטא, “nor an elephant going through the eye of a needle”.”
Again, to one that had delivered something as was thought very absurd, it is said {h};
“perhaps thou art one of Pombeditha (a school of the Jews in Babylon) דמעיילין פילא בקופא דמחטא, “who make an elephant pass through the eye of a needle”.”
That is, who teach such things as are equally as monstrous and absurd, and difficult of belief. So the authors of an edition of the book of Zohar, to set forth the difficulty of the work they engaged in, express themselves in this manner {i}:
“In the name of our God, we have seen fit, להכניס פילא בקופא דמחטאלהכניס פילא, “to bring an elephant through the eye of a needle”.”
And not only among the Jews, but in other eastern nations, this proverbial way of speaking was used, to signify difficulties or impossibilities. Mahomet has it in his Alcoran {k};
“Verily, says he, they who shall charge our signs with falsehood, and shall proudly reject them, the gates of heaven shall not be opened to them, neither shall they enter into paradise, “until a camel pass through the eye of a needle”.”
All which show, that there is no need to suppose, that by a camel is meant, not the creature so called, but a cable rope, as some have thought; since these common proverbs manifestly make it appear, that a creature is intended, and which aggravates the difficulty: the reason why instead of an elephant, as used in most of the above sayings, Christ makes mention of a camel, may be, because that might be more known in Judea, than the other; and because the hump on its back would serve to make the thing still more impracticable.
{g} T. Bab. Beracot fol. 55. 2. {h} T. Bab Bava Metzia, fol. 38. 2. {i} Prefat. ad Zohar, Ed. Sultzbach. {k} Chap. 7. p. 120. Ed. Sale.

But …

Matthew 19:25,26 When [Jesus’] disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said to them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

By John Gideon Hartnett

Dr John G. Hartnett is an Australian physicist and cosmologist, and a Christian with a biblical creationist worldview. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Physics from The University of Western Australia, W.A., Australia. He was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, with rank of Associate Professor. Now he is retired. He has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.