John is, in my honest opinion, one of the most fascinating books of the Bible. This fascinating aspect of John often comes attached with a difficulty of interpretation as well. My concern starts with this one verse in the 14th chapter of John:

John 14:12 NIV Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

The Koine Greek for "works" used here is έργα or closely pronounced "erga" in English. This word, έργα, is also translated as "works" and "deeds" in the following verses.

John 9:4 NIV As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.

Matthew 11:2 NIV When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples.

John 8:41 NASB They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus *said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham."

I've come up with some possible definition of works from these verses, such as, a) acts of faith (deeds of Abraham) b) miracles of Jesus ("believe on the account of the work themselves" in John 14:11) or c) the will of the Father (my food is to the will of him who sent me).

My question is from these verses (and, of course, the context surrounding them), how can we know for certain which έργα that Jesus meant when he spoke those words in John 14:12? Could he have meant a possible combination of the three listed above or even something I haven't had the insight to know at the moment? Please enlighten us with your knowledge. Thanks ahead of time.

  • 2
    Great question, and welcome. :) Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 3:45
  • 1
    Notice that Jesus used the plural "they" in "they will do greater things". If we add up everything God has accomplished through followers of Jesus throughout the centuries it could maybe be regarded as being greater than Jesus' works. Although it is probably hard to beat the crucifixion. Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 13:30
  • In view of Jesus' word "because I am going to the Father," He refers to works He did in His ministry: Preaching/Teaching Kingdom of God; demonstrating Kingdom powers with Healing, and Kingdom of God is here and now by exorcism, and these are the "works" He refers to.
    – Sam
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 19:18

7 Answers 7


In my opinion, if you look at Christ's life as a whole, He had a certain priority and order in His works. In fact, next to dying on the cross for our sins, the most important thing He did was preach that the kingdom of God was nearing, as his cousin John did, and loving others.

Yes miracles and all that were there to prove His deity, but remember that when people kept coming to Him only for the miracles and did not want to repent in Luke 5:12-15 He hid away from them. It seemed his priority on kingdom works were as follows:

  1. Dying on the cross.
  2. Preaching repentance/etc. and loving others as God does.
  3. Healing/miracles.

Looking at the apostles and disciples, they too prioritized dying for the faith and preaching repentance to Jew & Gentile so they could come to saving faith in Christ. Sure they healed some people, but healing them physically was not as important as healing them spiritually. And they had much bigger reach of ministry. Jesus was focused on preaching to His own people first. The apostles, on the other hand, traveled farther and wider to places and countries outside their own and therefore reached many more people than Christ did.

In today's world, the advent of technology has certainly allowed us to reach more people across borders compared to the past 2 millenia.

Therefore, I believe that us doing greater works than Christ did is, primarily, reaching out to all peoples - Jew & Gentile as the apostles did - by preaching the Gospel and offering spiritual restoration with God through Christ.


There is one work Jesus did which we cannot and need not do. That is His work of Attonment through crucifiction. Because

Hebrews 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

1. the works I have been doing in John 14:12 refers to all the preaching, teaching, rebuking & miracles that Jesus did. The disciples who beleived in Jesus would also do the same things as Jesus commissions them.

Matthew 10:7-8 King James Version (KJV)

7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

Teaching, baptising & making disciples are mentioned in

Matthew 28:19-20 English Standard Version (ESV)

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

I think it also include taking up our cross and living like Jesus did, loving like Jesus did, going through tribulation and experiencing martyrdom.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Revelation 2:10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

2. even greater things in John 14:12 - I could give you some clues but not a definite answer

Three more works which Jesus did not do but what the disciples will do are mentioned in

Mark 16:17-18 King James Version (KJV)

17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Then we find that during the time of Jesus He prayed for unity among His disciples but up to the last moment there was no unity but competition.

Luke 22:24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.

though Jesus desired & prayed for unity among disciples.

John 17:21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

But after the arrival of the Holy Spirit we find that the disciples were united.

Acts 1:14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

Acts 4:32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.

Then nobody died lying to Jesus but we see in Acts 2 people dying for lying to disciples which was considered as lying to God.

Acts 5:1-11 English Standard Version (ESV)

Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last.

9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last.

Jesus never pronounced judgement on any man but Peter & Paul ( in some level ) did. Jesus only pronounced "woes".

Acts 8:9-25 English Standard Version (ESV)

20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.

Acts 13:11

And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.

Then the whole matter of subjective learning which I answered in Was the power they received in Matthew 10 different from the one they received in Acts 2?


It is my impression that works go hand in hand with faith. Put differently, don’t look for an effect if there is no cause. If there is no faith (cause) then there are no works (effects) and without effects there are no fruits (results).

“constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father,” ‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Also tie into that the verse that says outside of Christ you can do nothing (therefore no works) at least nothing of eternal value.

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” ‭‭John‬ ‭15:5‬ ‭NASB‬‬

So what are the works then?

“Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place-unless you repent.” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭2:5‬ ‭NASB‬‬

What are the first works or deeds? I’m my view they are your first love or that which you dedicate yourself and devote yourself to.

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:42‬ ‭NASB‬‬

What was the consequence or the fruits of their devotion to - Scripture, - fellowship, - sharing meals - praying? The fruits of their “work”

“Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:43‬ ‭NASB‬‬

  • a sense of awe
  • signs
  • wonders
  • G-d added to their numbers daily

These were not works, they were the natural byproduct of the causing agent faith that led to the effect of works, and which yielded the fruits.

Having faith for fruits without works is meaningless. It’s like having a cause, no effect but seeing results. Illogical.


The Greek word "ergon" (= work or deed; plural "erga", works or deeds) occurs 169 times in the NT in a large variety of phrases and settings. For example, "good work(s)" ("agathos ergon" Acts 9:36, Rom 2:7, 13:3, etc 14 times) (also "kalos ergon" Matt 5:16, 26:10, etc 15 times); "lawless works" (2 Peter 2:8); "work of the Lord" (1 Cor 15:58, 16:10), etc.

This question about John 14:12 is specifically about "the works that I [Jesus] do". The works of Christ or an implied variant occurs in Matt 11:2, John 5:36, 7:3, 21, 10:25, 32, 33, 38, 14:11, 12, 15:24, Rev 2:26. All these talk about Jesus' works being the works of the Father (with the conspicuous exception of John 7:21 which was a miracle of healing). So let us examine the occurrence of the "works of God" and similar.

"Works of God" or similar occurs in John 6:28, 29, 9:3, 10:37, 14:10, Acts 13:41, Rom 14:20, Heb 1:10, 3:9, 4:3, 4, Rev 15:3. These fall into a few simple categories:

  • Work of God in creating the world; Heb 1;10, 4:3, 4
  • Work of God in recreating (or saving) His people; John 9:3, 4, Acts 13:41, Rom 14:20, Rev 15:3. (See also Gal 6:15, 2 Cor 5:17.)
  • Work of God is to believe the one He has sent, ie, Jesus; John 6:28, 29, 10:37, 14:10.

The works of God are in contradistinction to the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

Thus, when Jesus said, "you will do the works that I do" was actually saying that Jesus' followers would do the works of the Father - things that He directs us to do such as miracles, (when needed), teaching about Jesus, and the salvation of non-believers. Jesus thus delivers a wonderful promise that believers would become an instrument for the work of the Father in reaching out to an unsaved world. This was prophesied by Jesus in Matt 28:19.


This section of John in particular is just so amazing and enlightening!!!

I believe that your answer lies in the preceding verses:

John 14:9-11 ESV 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

So Jesus is saying that he has represented God so faithfully in the things that he has said & done, that the disciples can consider themselves to have seen and known God Himself. And specifically, that the works that Jesus did, were actually the Father's works. Done through Him.

What is so amazing is that he then goes on to explain that he is about to make the way for us to be in exactly the same kind of relationship!!! What an honour!!!

John 17:11 ESV And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

John 17:21 ESV that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Chapter 15 - The parable of the Vine-dresser gives us such a rich picture of what this looks like - and indeed what these works look like.

John 15:4 ESV Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

So the Father is the vine-dresser, Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. We can infer that the life of the vine (the Holy Spirit) flows out from Jesus into us and enables us to grow and produce "fruit". And the fruit that God wants, is the fruit that Jesus produces, and He produces it THROUGH US as His branches. It's actually a requirement!

There is soooo much in this!!

So what exactly is this fruit? These works? Well it has to be the same as Jesus'. A vine with only one branch, can only produce so much fruit. But with so many more branches grafted in, He's going to produce much more fruit. And this is what 14:12 is talking about.

Jesus's mission was to "destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8) "doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him." (Acts 10:38)

This is our mission also. Anything that you do that frees someone from the devil's oppression, whether it be giving them a glass of water, a hug, preaching truth, healing a sick person, casting out a devil, is a work - is a piece of fruit - and our duty as Christians to perform as we represent God here on this Earth.

We are saved by grace. We are able to be sons of God through no work of our own. Nothing we could have done on our own accord could have enabled us to be grafted into the vine. But now that we are sons, we have a duty to represent him faithfully just as Jesus did, or else we prove to be no son at all!


Christ specifically said we should do as he did which included great works like keeping the commandments from God. Consider that the modern Christian churches do not actively follow all the commandments and thereby fail their congregations in the Sabbath law and you begin to realise that somebody has made a mistake by tradition. It is no small matter to keep all the law from God but that is not the the laws of Moses which were statutory laws for civil order and religious ceremony.

God's laws are 12 and easily remembered with no great burden which is why Jesus declared "my burden is light" compared to the religious piety imposed by religious orders such as wearing a habit in public, women not traveling outside the home without a male family member etc.


This is the book, chapter and verse that Catholics and Christians wish they could erase for nobody has done any of the works the Jesus man did, nor greater works, as Jn 14:12 "PROMISES" for all those who trust and obey the Jesus man?

And the reason why is because Deuteronomy 18:22 tells Israelite's and Jews that the Jesus man is not a prophet sent by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Not even one single Pope, who is suppose to be like the Jesus man in the flesh, has ever fulfilled Jn 14:12?

So Jn 14:12 merely proves that the Jesus man is of the Roman gods, not the God of gods, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

  • 1
    Your opening statement is not only unwarranted, but it is untrue. Answers here show how Christians accept that scripture and that it is explainable in light of the rest of scripture. Answers here require actually dealing with the information given in the question, and not merely ranting against it with flat denials minus even one iota of proof. That is why I have thumbed your non-answer down.
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 18:05
  • How about spreading the gospel throughout the world? Note it is works that Jesus thought as greater, not necessarily what humanity thought as greater.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 0:24
  • Down vote because you say That jesus is only the God of the roman Gods. This biblically false, and the gospel of John drips with evidence of That truth.
    – sara
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 13:21
  • 1
    Down vote, because, it appears that you are above the Scripture, the written word of God, and denying O.T and N.T. What is your faith based on, the Word of God or your own opinion?
    – Sam
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 19:33
  • specify the difference, where is Rome from? Commented Apr 30 at 19:28

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