John 14:18-24 (ESV) reads:

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.

In verse 21 Jesus says that he will manifest himself to those who love him, and in verse 23 he further explains that he and his Father will "make their home" with such people. How are we to understand and interpret these verses? How does Jesus manifest himself to those who love him?

5 Answers 5


Though others may disagree, I think these verses touch on the mystery of God’s life in the soul. Jesus’ words suggest that this union is meant to be hidden from the eyes of the world:

  • The world will see me no more, but you will see me. (Jn 14:19)
  • “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor 2:9)

This question is almost identical to the one asked by Jesus’ disciple (Jn 14:22). Perhaps there is no answer to the question of “how Jesus manifests himself to those who love him," or not one that can be put into words, but I will share what I hear in these verses and what they say to me.

Jesus’ answer to the disciple's question essentially restates the same ideas in a slightly different way. The first notable difference is that Jesus switches or inverts the first part of his answer. This switch suggests to me the interchangeable relationship between loving Jesus and keeping his commandment:

  • Verse 21: Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.
  • Verse 23: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.

Thus loving Jesus and keeping his commandment are inextricably connected. Furthermore, Jesus repeatedly says in the gospel of John that his commandment is that we love one another as he loved us:

  • A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (Jn 13:34)
  • “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12)

In other words, to love Jesus means to keep his commandment, and to keep his commandment means to love one another. The love that we keep will then be reciprocated by the Father and the Son:

  • Verse 21: And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him
  • Verse 23: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him

Then Jesus will “manifest himself” to us, and he and the Father will come and make their home with us. I cannot say what these words mean, but I think that they are meant to be experienced rather than understood. That said, the word “home” invites reflection. The concepts of home and homelessness harken back to the birth of Jesus, where there was “no room for them in the inn” (Lk 2:7). This theme of homelessness is echoed elsewhere in the text:

  • Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. (Lk 9:58)

The word “home” evokes God’s longing and his dream that we would make room in our hearts for God and for one another. Thus God’s home in this world is the heart of those who love him. And if we truly want to see, then we need to follow him:

  • When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” (Jn 1:38-39)

This is a question about faith, or "seeing" Christ. Faith does not mean that you believe something improbable or unlikely. Faith refers to perceiving something through spiritual sight, through the eyes of the spirit.

manifest in the translation you cited just means "to reveal". It's not a fancy word. This whole passage is a promise that Jesus is making to reveal himself to us so that we will see him, so that we will know that he is living in us.

Here is this promise, in the LEB translation:

“I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. Yet a little time and the world will see me no longer, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. The one who has my commandments and keeps them—that one is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.”

So there are two things happening:

  • seeing
  • knowing

Let's go through this process:

The Process of Seeing

As with all spiritual things, I believe, this process can take many forms, but the scriptural process of faith is that first we hear, and what we hear we see (in spirit), and what we see we believe. It all starts with hearing. "Hear O Israel"

Consequently, faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word about Christ. Romans 10.17

It is this strange thing, that God was pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe. (1 Cor 1.21), but this process happens through preaching and hearing what is preached. And hopefully the subject of the sermon is our place in Christ and his place in us, which is what all sermons should be about.

This is why in Isaiah God promises to plug up the ears of the Israelites so as to prevent them from hearing. But if our ears are not plugged up, if when we hear the scriptures, then something within us testifies "amen" to the word that is spoken, then we are truly hearing, and we are participating in the process of first hearing, then seeing, and then believing our place in Christ and Christ's place within us:

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself confirms to our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer together with him so that we may also be glorified together with him. Romans 8.15-17

So that is the process. We hear the word of God, the Spirit confirms with our spirit our position in Christ. We hear the word of God, and it happens again. It's not just about hearing words being spoken, but the Spirit has to confirm. I'm sure you've experienced it -- some sermons are just information, but at other times, something rises in you to say "yes!". That is the hearing discussed here. When God said he would stop the ears of the Isreaelites, he was not referring to hearing disabilities, but quenching that affirmation in their hearts.

It is from the testimony of those two witnesses, where the Spirit of God testifies in agreement with our spirit, that faith is born as we "see" with spiritual sight.

But the problem is often we stop there, and so faith is stunted. We skip the "testing" part. But all through scripture God always requires testing to confirm the word that was spoken. Everything must be tested.

The process of Knowing

This is one area of the scripture where Christians are urged to look inward and test themselves:

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are unqualified? 2 Cor 13.5 (LEB)

The word "test" here, πειράζω, is also interpreted "temptation", which has two meanings, but the appropriate meaning here is:

to endeavor to discover the nature or character of someth. by testing, try, make trial of, put to the test Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 792). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

And the word "recognize" is ἐπιγινώσκω which is a synonym for "know". If we test ourselves, we will know that Jesus Christ is in us. But it comes from testing.

Note that we are not testing whether Christ is living in us, but whether we know that he is living in us. It is faith that is being tested. It must be tested. So this is very important - Paul commands the believers to do it. And it has a sense of urgency.

In Psalm 132:4-5, the Psalmist is writing that he will not go to sleep until he finds the dwelling place of Yahweh, but speaking in the spirit he is also talking to us, that we should not stop to rest until we know where YHWH lives, which is within us:

I will give no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for Yahweh, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.

Now I cannot give you a recipe for how to test yourself, I can only tell you to do it with integrity and sincerity. It was much easier during the time of the early church, as people living together in communion were constantly being tested. Persecution also results in testing. So does poverty or lack in this world. It is harder for a rich man to enter heaven, but with God all things are possible.

But what I can say is that in order to pass from "believe" to "know", that process of testing is required.

Assistance from the Father

For those who are in a situation where they are still uncertain, we have surety in more promises given to us by Christ:

We can ask the father to reveal that Christ is in us

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Matt 7.7-8

If we come to the Father and ask, then he will answer. That answer may involve quite a bit of testing. But He will answer. Just as Christ promises to reveal himself to us, and he promises not to turn us away:

John 6.36-40

But I said to you that you have seen me and do not believe. Everyone whom the Father gives to me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never throw out, because I have come down from heaven not that I should do my will, but the will of the one who sent me. Now this is the will of the one who sent me: that everyone whom he has given me, I would not lose any of them, but raise them up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks at the Son and believes in him would have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

The only requirements placed on us in the course of this seeking and asking is to do it in integrity and honesty.

God is spirit, and the ones who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4.24

Here, "worship" just means "bow down to", or "revere". When we come to the Father to ask him, we bow down to him, and this must be done in spirit and truth.

If we do this, then the Holy Spirit will reveal to us and confirm in our hearts that Jesus Christ is in us - we need only ask the Father and he will accomplish this work within us.


How does Jesus manifest himself to those who love him?

God can use a number of different way to manifest his love to us.

Of course we must do our part and try to meet God half way. Thus our lives should try to such that we conform ourselves to that of living according to the Gospels.

Jesus can manifest his himself to those who love him from the mundane to those of mystic revelations.

  • Jesus manifests himself in the simple mundane manner to our prayers. Ever had some interior problem that has been solved after praying for a solution?
  • Sometimes Jesus can manifest himself through others. Jesus can help us in our lives when we take prudent council of Christians that we come in contact with. This reminds me on what Psalmist writes: “From the mouths of children and infants You have ordained praise on account of Your adversaries, to silence the enemy and avenger.” (Psalm 8:2)
  • Interior allocations have been a distinct form of Jesus speaking to many Catholic saints. These according to Wikipedia Supernatural words are manifestations of God's thought which are heard either by the exterior senses or by the interior senses or immediately by the intellect.” An example of the first is Gabriel's appearance to Zachary described in Luke 1:10-20. The latter two more properly fall under interior locutions.”
  • Jesus sometimes manifests his love to various through an apparition or vision, whether it be an intellectual vision, imaginary or corporal.

Evelyn Underhill distinguishes and categorizes three types of visions:3

Intellectual Visions - The Catholic dictionary defines these as supernatural knowledge in which the mind receives an extraordinary grasp of some revealed truth without the aid of sensible impressions and mystics describe them as intuitions that leave a deep impression.

Imaginary - In Teresa of Avila's The Interior Castle, an imaginary vision is defined as one where nothing is seen or heard by the senses of seeing or hearing, but where the same impression is received that would be produced upon the imagination by the senses if some real object were perceived by them.[5] Niels Christian Hvidt refers to them as visions recognized through mechanisms of the human psyche that are made up of things a soul has acquired through contact with reality.

Corporeal - A supernatural manifestation of an object to the eyes of the body. It may take place in two ways: either a figure really present strikes the retina and there determines the physical phenomenon of the vision, or an agent superior to man directly modifies the visual organ and produces in the composite a sensation equivalent to that which an external object would produce. Underhill refers to this vision type as "little else than an uncontrolled externalization of inward memories, thoughts, or intuitions" - Vision (spirituality)


The answer to this question is found in the reference quoted by the OP. John 14:21-24

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.

This theme continues that of a few verse earlier in John 14:9-11

Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I say to you, I do not speak on My own. Instead, it is the Father dwelling in Me, performing His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me—or at least believe on account of the works themselves.

Jesus, only a few verse earlier made some important remarks about this. John 13:34, 35 -

A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

In both these comments by Jesus, keeping the commandments, out of love for God, is integral to the way Jesus shows Himself to us and manifests Himself through us. That is, Jesus would be manifest in the lives of the disciples as they interacted with others. We see this in more of Jesus' remarks. Matt 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The other concept of "making a home with believers" is discussed by Paul in 1 Cor 3:16, 17

Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells inb you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Such remarks are made in the context of the kind of quality building that God's workers are doing (V12-15). Again, Paul mentions this 1 Cor 6:18-20 -

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a man can commit is outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.

Again, note the obedience connection here. In 1 John 2:3-6 we also have the component of being "with God" or "in God" as in John's Gospel.

By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments. If anyone says, “I know Him,” but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him: Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked.

John returns to this theme often such as in 1 John 3:7-10

Little children,d let no one deceive you: The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as Christ is righteous.e The one who practices sin is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the very start. This is why the Son of God was revealed, to destroy the works of the devil. Anyone born of God refuses to practice sin, because God’s seed abides in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this the children of God are distinguished from the children of the devil: Anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

That is, Jesus manifests or shows Himself to us by the way we conduct our lives, in the kindness, love, compassion, helpfulness, purity, etc. This theme is one of the most common in the NT, eg,

  • Love as Jesus loved. John 13:34, 35, 15:12, 1 John 4:8, 11, 19, Eph 5:1, 2.
  • Lay down life for friends. John 15:13, Eph 5:2.
  • Because Jesus was persecuted, so are His followers. John 15:20, 21.
  • Conformed to the likeness of the Son. Rom 8:29.
  • Transforming our will and bodies to conform to God’s will. Rom 12:1, 2.
  • Forgive as Jesus forgave. Matt 6:12, 14, 15, 18:35, Eph 4:32, Col 3:13.
  • Be imitators of God. Eph 5:1.
  • Be holy as Jesus is holy. Lev 11:44, 45, 1 Peter 1:15, 16.
  • Be pure as He is pure. 1 John 3:3.
  • Partakers of the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:4.
  • Be kind because God is kind. Luke 6:34, 35.
  • Be merciful because God is merciful. Luke 6:36.
  • Be servants to others as Jesus was. John 13:15-17, 1 Peter 4:11b, Matt 20:24-28.
  • Be patient as Jesus was patient. 1 Tim 1:16.

... and so forth. So, how does all this happen - what is the mechanism for this to occur? It apparently involves two things:

1. Beholding Christ

2 Cor 3:18 - And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Heb 12:2, 3 - Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Col 3:1-3 - Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

2. The Teaching Function of the Holy Spirit

The the OP's quotation stopped two verses too short - part of the answer lies in what Jesus said next:

John 14:25, 26 - All this I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you.

John 16:13 - But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take from Mine and will disclose it to you.

1 Cor 12:3 - Therefore I inform you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

The ultimate goal of all this is clear - Rev 22:3, 4

There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.

  • So does "we will come to him and make our home with him" mean that the Holy Spirit will inhabit the person? Is the expression just the promise of the Holy Spirit in disguise?
    – user38524
    Feb 2, 2021 at 1:39
  • 1
    @SpiritRealmInvestigator - answer updated as promised.
    – Dottard
    Feb 2, 2021 at 4:48

If the question implies how the coming of the Son and the Father in his heart is perceived by a Christian, it is impossible to say, for it is a similar question as to ask an ancient Greek or Roman Olympic champ: "How does god of victory Niké manifests herself to your heart?" - Nobody can say it, even the olympic victor himself, for the joy that overflows such victors is inexpressible in words: we see them leaping with joyful faces, screaming in ecstasy, but how can they express it in words? By just saying something like "It is an unbelievable experience", as the great Bjorn Borg said about his then unprecedented fifth-in-row Wimbledon win in a blockbusting final against John McEnroe.

The same stands for if you ask a lover, say, Romeo, "How does the love to Juliet manifest itself in your heart?" He can answer even by a poem, or by even a more eloquent wordless sigh, but it will tell nothing unless we also have some glimpse of understanding and memory of romantic love in our hearts.

Similarly, if a Christian overcomes a power of sin in his heart through grace of Christ and exertion of his own ascetic exploits, then such a victor - who is incomparably greater a victor than any Olympic champ, due to the reason that he gains not a perishable, but an imperishable crown (1 Cor. 9:25) - enjoys presence of Christ and His Father (John 14:23), together with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19) in his heart, and how is it felt cannot be known by words, even if he gives hundreds of interviews about it, but by co-experiencing such a presence of the Trinune God in one's heart. This is a certain type of inner peace, which how can be expressed by words, when it is unattainable even for an intellectual understanding (Philippians 4:7) that should precede words?

This experience is the experience of the Kingdom of Heaven, i.e. "the righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). Again, what is the manifestation of this joy and peace and how is it felt, cannot be known but by the experiencer himself, for it is not an informational, but experiential knowledge.

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